Spells of My Name by I.S. Jones is a collection that viscerally illustrates the life of a third-culture redacted individual in America. To be a Nigerian-American, to be once-removed from one’s homeland into a land that knows nothing of home is an experience that knows a certain violence like no other. I.S.’s words digest the reality of having to swallow multiple names and thus multiple identities, the reality of being continually misspoken for and misrepresented and thus a redacted and piecemeal version of one’s true self.“there are so many names i’ve been called/ i said to memory, but none belong to me.” 

 “The speaker seeks to survive translation.             Now, all of us are speaking.” 

Spells of My Name is an incantation that integrates trauma through exposure and deliberation utilizing the mastication process of the poetic form. Thus it is an act and declaration of resistant resilience.  The gut-punch use of language demands that the reader witness the gnashing nature of what it means to be a woman under the conditions of a society that neglects, plunders, and ravages all soft things until they are hardened, cold, and desolate. “History never had the ambition to account for people like me/ How many times did History try to devour my mother/ Her bottom lip torn off her face/ She was left for dead/ During the Biafran war”

Jones holds our wombs in her hands and massages their quaking as she wages a war against the violence of a forked tongue. 

This entire collection is a canal–a wrenching chasm opening for rebirth–a witness to the psyche, split apart, in a world ruled by men who abandoned their humanity for the sake of domination. “I tell my doctor pain/ is less impressive when you surrender to its whim.”

“Sorrow, send your best flood.”

It is a witness to the beast of love that this world demands that black women become for the sake of our own salvation. “Safety is an illusion I’ve told myself so daylight would return.”

A radical howl as we return to the land who calls us by the fullness of our names. “Its true:/ I survived my father and now I am endless–”

Melissa Ferrer & (she/they) is a multidisciplinary artist, poet, educator, organizer, and friend living in Kansas City, MO. She lives chanting hallelujah into the liminal spaces of life. She is a Poetry MFA Candidate at Randolph College. Her work can be found in Fahmidan Journal, ZinDaily, and elsewhere. She was longlisted for the 2021 Palette Poetry Emerging Poet Prize. She is a lover of Asian dramas, rapture, and you.

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