Quintin Collins writes the types of poems I wish were available to me as a child. The 2021 Pushcart Prize winners’ The Dandelion Speaks of Survival (Cherry Castle Publishing) is a debut full-length poetry collection about Black boyhood as well as a coming of age story, chronic illness, resisting and surviving in America. Despite the specificity of locations for many of the poems, Collins’ lyricism paired with his imagery transplants the reader feeling as if you are next to him at that very moment. A great example of this is in the poem “Getting Jacked By A Kid Called Mookie Outside Country Pantry”, when Collins writes “fighting means you get jumped and stomped like a cricket & you feel small with Mookie in your shoes”.
What makes The Dandelion Speaks of Survival special is that it is more than a collection by a Black writer, but rather an Ode to Blackness. You find this experience in poems like “Adrift in Waves”, which took me back to high school when I would brush my hair during history class to my teacher’s frustration. It also has gems like “Stomping in Your Air Force Ones”, a poem I honestly wish I wrote myself. With lines like “the clerk offered a box with a goldfish glow. Inside a pair, fresh-snow white”, how could you not love this collection?
This is a book that came out during the pandemic, and in the future I think we will look back at this collection with more appreciation. During a time of lockdowns, vaccine appointments, and uncertainty, Collins lets the reader escape to what once was, without letting them forget that sometimes life is hard and circumstances are beyond our control. The biggest lesson I think Collins offers (without giving too much away), is that even if you “poison the soil to stunt his growth”, the dandelion survives.
Get your copy of The Dandelion Speaks of Survival here