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Rhymes of the Times By: Harold Matthew Nash Reviewed by: John Lehman I particularly liked the first

few pages of this book where the poet acknowledges those who have helped him and tells us something about his life. Too often writing is a lonely task and poetry so personal that it excludes others until they read the final result. But both poets and audiences are intimately involved in the process. Readers are not consumers looking for a pair of shoes, but people trying to discover something about how they feel, as well as understand the emotions of the person writing the poem. This spirit of openness and participation is right here from the start in this collection. Harold is one of nine children, raised by his mother. In the Introduction he tells us about public moments that have shaped his life (Martin Luther Kings I Have a Dream speech, Muhammad Alis I can float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.) as well as very private ones like attending the wedding of a girl he was still very much in love with. This not only gives us an insight into the person behind these poems, it helps us understand their inspiration and connection to things outside of the words. The Bee in the Web draws on the butterfly/bee of Alis boast, yet expands on it to a message of racial harmony as opposed to one of militant aggression and separatism. There are some great titles (The Martian and the Wino, W Stands for Wrong", Fasten Your Seatbelt) and lines that make us think (Sometimes I feel that lifes a curse, has front-wheel drive and no reverse and the very poignant I hate in order to protect yourselfyou pack a gun or mace. So why dont I say what the hell and hate the human race.) There are also some bad lines: Her skin is cream, her body is slim. Looking at her makes the average saint sin.perhaps, but what or who is the average saint? The book ends with a sweet poem by Charla Angeline Hultmann (and I really like the candor of her bio) called Gift and giving is the real spirit of this book of poetry. I will be honest, I am not a fan of rhyme. There is a delight in adjacent sounds rubbing togethervowels held and savored, consonants clicking in a rowbut easy rhymes (head/dead; love/dove; moon/prune) tend to overshadow poetic subtleties, determine word choice and the words themselves lose their meaning, becoming clichs. But this is the music of this poets generation, and there is no denying that poetry is more alive, more meaningful and more accessible than it has ever been at any other time during my life. PS I do love the Osama

mama rhyme. In general I think it would benefit Harold Nashs development to read more of the published contemporary Black poets.

But form aside, this is an honest (courageous and unflinching) look at life todayone we need to share together for the survival of us all. That is Rhymes of the Times message. And it is a good one.