dic tion ary: A Book Review

If you’re like me, the word poetry sums up a few other words. Stuffy. Old. Unapproachable. Tired images of William Shakespeare and memories of classroom recitals assault my mind, and I run to the place where poetry is not.

When Sharea Harris released her self-published collection of poems “dic tion ary,” I was surprised to find myself running toward poetry instead of away. At a public reading, her recital of “the protestor” haunted and compelled me to look at the genre with new eyes.

If you’ve ever had the privilege of seeing Harris perform, you’ll know that it is a moving experience. As she spoke that day, I found myself transported from the room where I sat to the time and place where she wanted me to be, experiencing the raw emotion she wanted me to know. I needed more than just the sneak peak that “the protestor” afforded me.

As I feverishly read “dic tion ary,” it became clear that the page does not hinder the potency of Harris’ words.  “dic tion ary” stimulates the senses in an unexpected and thoughtful way that leaves nothing unattended. Harris utilizes visual techniques from collage and erasure to spacing and contrasting to enrich the meaning of every letter, syllable, word, line, and stanza.

Intimate utterances, heart wrenching confessions, and unpretentious vulnerabilities force her words from the page and into the deeper places in your soul. Harris’ words jump from the page, take you into their firm grasp, and threaten to never let you go, all the while forcing poetry out of the shadows of inaccessibility and leaving you affected.