I am Nobody’s Nigger by Dean Atta is the debut collection of his poetry. I’ll be honest, I haven’t finished reading it yet. I read a couple of the poems every day. More than that, and I’m afraid my brain might explode–these are THAT good! This is the first time I’ve been compelled to write a review prior to finishing the book.
Dean is British, male, brown skinned, and gay. Many of his poems deal with one or more of these topics. And when they don’t, they are certainly from his unique point of view. I am none of these things. Yet each of his poems speaks to me. While they are about his individual circumstances, they have universal appeal. Themes of sex and sexuality, identity (as an individual, a citizen of his country, and a member of a larger global community), education, rights and responsibilities, and the larger social condition feature prominently in his work.
As a poet myself, I struggle daily with trying to find the words to express my own inner turmoil as I make my way through this life. I found myself saying, “Yes!” out loud as I read some of these. He so eloquently hits the nail squarely on the head. Some of them are intimate. All are special.
I first found Dean’s work on the Indie Feed Performance Poetry Podcast. He performed the title poem and I was completely blown away. He has a number of videos on YouTube and has free albums available at BandCamp.
Here’s the description of this volume from Dean’s site:
Revolutionary, reflective and romantic, I Am Nobody’s Nigger is the powerful debut collection by one of the UK’s finest emerging poets. Exploring race, identity and sexuality, Dean Atta shares his perspective on family, friendship, relationships and London life, from riots to one-night stands.
If you haven’t already guessed, I am a huge fan of Dean’s work. These poems are phenomenal when performed but more importantly, they stand up on their own alone on the page. So well, in fact, that I have to limit myself to just a few at a time…savoring them slowly before moving on to the next.