Jonterri Gadson is a poet whose poems make you proud to be a woman. The poem “Instructions for Leaving Your Body” tells the reader to
dipping into your own darkness
and in her book Pepper Girl, Gadson’s not afraid to do the same. This collection is ripe with desire in its many forms of doubt, confrontation, and acceptance. It makes you long to hug and be hugged.
The poems “Advice,” and “Patricide Epistles,” address the hurt an absent father has caused his daughter so poignantly, a hurt that’s tangible early on in the collection, especially in the following lines from “Forget, For Now”:
How tempting to wish to be encased,
to have a hardened shell, to appear frightening enough
not to suffer the closeness that leads to harm.
This desire for protection later transforms into a longing to love a child effectively and fully, and to learn to love oneself in this same way.
Pepper Girl tells of innocence, the losing and regaining it, and about the power of acceptance and hope in one’s life. Any woman who’s ever sang into a hair brush as a makeshift microphone while standing naked in her bathroom, longed for a lover to “make enough heat to twist tongues/dry”, or prayed over a child and how he or she is held in this life, will connect with these poems and turn to them in times of need and reassurance.
The vinyl cover and its artwork are beautiful reflections of the work contained within the pages of this book. The ordering of these poems creates a compelling narrative. Thanks YesYes Books for another excellent collection.