Author: Tiki Black
Publisher: Self-Published / No Sugar Added Records
Published: May 22, 2022
Genres: Fantasy, Magic Realism, Poetry
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“We are… as we should teach our children, in the image of life.” – Tiki Black
The Sound of the Broken Wand is a triage of finding, deciphering, and unlearning the bias filters through which conditioning entraps and indoctrinates us. Cameroonian-French poet and musician Tiki Black writes her emancipatory poetry collection in six parts: the blood (life and death), the cage (prison and refuge), the mirror (reflection and deflection), the crown (power and duty or debt), the shoe (journeys and unbeaten paths), and the wand (bewitchment and magic). The human condition is a catch-22 made of comforts and challenges. Black shares a thoughtful recognition of the dangers of living a life with an imbalance between the two.
In her poem “The Wound,” Black speaks of “the source” or the promise and pain of existence: “So, here I am hugging my wound / To dig deeper than who’s to blame.” Relying on comfort or sameness is willful ignorance in “In the Arms of Morpheus” and choosing power before self and others, as well as being speechless or powerless to injustice, leads to circuitous cycles of moral decay in “But I…” A healthy self-awareness paints this collection and each facet of life a different color, a new enlightened direction towards accountable posterity and away from declension.
However, most of the poems, idyllic yet grounded (the first more prevalent than the latter) in delivery, are whisked away in its rhyme scheme. The structure deflates and inflates the ideas until they have no more elasticity to breathe or extend into truth. They compartmentalize the feelings of these visual and cognitive biases but they fall prey to grandiose gestures that are broad and out of reach. “Home” felt generic with its vague memories and metamorphosis of home and house. Black’s poems read better as songs, this is apparent due to its intentional beats or refrains and insertions of sheet music.
Mixed media is not unusual; the comingling of song and verse separates this collection from others for the better. The discrepancy lies in the mechanics of each form clashing despite the flowery language. A shining moment came in the speculative essay “Blue” in which Black goes beyond language and cultural barriers to understand human nature and the misleading value systems we inflict on each other. We learn that consciously and unconsciously, survival (conditioning, mistrust, protection) supersedes thriving (exploring, creativity, possibility).
There is a Stoicism to Black’s work, it brings to mind French surgeon and biologist Alexis Carrel: “Man cannot remake himself without suffering for he is both the marble and the sculptor.” The idea of suffering is challenged in this collection. In the case that suffering is unnecessary, suffering should be replaced with enlightenment, reformation, and reparation. Black’s poems are celebrating otherness in all of us, free of overbearing adulation and pomp with instead a humble camaraderie and kinship, individuality and community. The Sound of the Broken Wand has ideas of multiculturalism with a sober and selfless conscience interplaying with selfish and judgmental fears of discomfort and uncertainty interloped throughout, but these facets of life we are unaware of and become aware of, while acknowledged, are buried by the veil of magic it critiques and uses against itself.