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Almost Invisible by Kateema Lee

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 44 pgs.
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Almost Invisible by Kateema Lee, who read at the fourth DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading, is a short collection that explores the nature of family and how oftentimes as children we can feel like we’re on the periphery of others’ lives. Even as the narrator in these poems laments the life and relationships that she did not have with her father and sister, for example, it is clear she still views them as positively as she can.

From "Taraxacum" (pg. 19)

the passenger window of a police car
three little girls innocently giggling,
talking to someone who's vowed to be impartial,
to defend, nothing menacing in that scene,

I felt afraid. At that moment I remembered
being nine or ten, learning that to some
I was cute for a brown girl and to others
I was no more than a weed needing to be pulled,"

Through juxtaposition of innocent scenes, she clings to the good, but the darker memories of hate and racism creep in. The narrator also strives to remember relatives as they would like to have been remembered if war had not harmed their psyches — a war in Vietnam and a war with drugs.

“Elegy for My Sister” is a poem that will evoke deep sadness. The narrator’s sister, an artist who captured faces in charcoal beautifully, realistically, is dies long before she ages. “But somewhere deep in the District/my sister haunts hallways and vacant lots,/never taking flight,” the narrator laments after watching red birds fly. A moment she wishes her sister could have. She also speaks of a father who was proud of her as the new beginning he almost made. The narrator is “almost” invisible in her own life with these larger than life relatives, but she also is a reluctant pessimist.

Almost Invisible by Kateema Lee is a daring and deeply emotional collection of poems that lament what was, wishes for a better beginning, and has made peace with how it has arrived. Lee has a strong voice that echoes throughout the shadows of the District.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Poet:

Kateema Lee is a Washington D.C. native. She earned her M.F.A in Creative Writing at the University of Maryland at College Park. She’s a Cave Canem Graduate Fellow, and she’s a Callaloo Workshop participant. Her work has appeared in anthologies, print, and online literary journals, including African American Review, Gargoyle, Word Riot, and Cave Canem Anthology XIII. When she’s not writing, she teaches English and Women’s Studies courses at Montgomery College.

2014 War Through the Generations Read-a-Longs

Here’s the schedule of read-a-longs for the 2014 War Through the Generations Reading Challenge With a Twist.

  • February: Sunrise Over Fallujah by Walter Dean Myers for the Gulf Wars (this one is about Operation Iraqi Freedom).
  • April: I Am Regina by Sally M. Keehn for the French and Indian War.
  • June: War Babies by Frederick Busch for the Korean War
  • August: Stella Bain by Antia Shreve for the 100th anniversary of WWI.
  • October: The Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel and Bret Witter for WWII.
  • December: Going After Cacciato by Tim O’Brien for the Vietnam War.

We hope that you’ll be joining us for at least one or more of these read-a-longs in 2014.

Guest Post: John Aubrey Anderson, Author of The Cool Woman

John Aubrey Anderson‘s The Cool Woman is a novel that is on my Vietnam War reading list, and I plan to read and review it here before the end of the year.   Book Reviews by Molly already reviewed the book, so check that out.

In the meantime, I’ve got a treat for you!  I’m going to tantalize you with a portion of the author’s guest post, which you can read in full at War Through the Generations.

Check out an excerpt and then head on over.

As part of a school project, my granddaughter was required to interview a Vietnam War vet . . . she chose me. Her questions served to remind me . . . that I was relaxed about going to Vietnam because that was my job, that I wept when we buried one of my best friends in Arlington National Cemetery, and that my best memory of that part of my life is of returning home to my family.

The reality of the hell of war cannot be captured in the written word — be it fact or fiction. Nonetheless, I chose the chaos of the war in Vietnam as the backdrop for my fourth novel, The Cool Woman, because I wanted my main characters in an environment that would help “refine their thinking.” I tell much of the story from the cockpit — a vantage point familiar to me.

Please read the rest of the guest post at War Through the Generations today!

Also, the new 2011 War Through the Generations Topic is posted!

Sign up for the new 2011 Reading Challenge!

Guest Post: Richard Vnuk Talks About the Vietnam War

Today at War Through the Generations, Author Richard Vnuk discusses the Vietnam War and his book, Tested in the Fire of Hell, which he wrote after 40 years of silence.

I hope that you will hop on over to check out this author and his book and what inspired him to finally write about a war that he had kept silent about for a very long time.

Also, please remember to vote in the WTTG poll on what war should be covered in 2011.  There are three options: 1 year of American Revolution; 1 year of American Civil War; and 6 months each of the American Revolution and the American Civil War.

The poll will close on Nov. 22, and we will post the results after Thanksgiving.

Also, if anyone has some recommendations for books on either the Civil War and the American Revolution, please feel free to send them to warthroughgenerations AT gmail DOT com