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Girl Saints

Were it not for the angels and patron saints surrounding fifth grader CX Dillhunt’s orphanage bed, he may never have written a book of poems–or at least that’s the impression I came away with after reading his book of poems, “Girl Saints.” Each saint is, poem after poem, as carefully crafted as each morning, yesterday, and tomorrow–so much so, that while reading, I too felt the greenness of the lawn under the sky full of stars, as he describes (lying twixt his siblings) his thoughts in an early poem, “Three Sisters.” In that particular work, and in most of the others, Green Bay native Dillhunt openly invites readers into his youthful life in a way that is reveals without revealing too much. A writer commenting about Dillhunt’s life described it as a “mysterious mixture of traditional Roman Catholicism, Dickensian orphanage and gender ambiguity.” I believe the power of poetry is the ability to connect with readers through a series of word images. Consider this from “Reinventing Desire:” “…This is called the privilege of the heart, the unspeakable. At times it is called both the living and the unliving. This is not understanding. This is not the fire… This is not what burns. This is the burning. Eventually, if a man loves a woman, he is to become a woman. If a woman is to love a man, she sometimes becomes woman enough for both. This is unwritten, this is untold, but is known by all lovers female and male.” The words in this book of poetry are more than just space on a page. They redefine metered couplets, multiply haiku, and tell a heroic story far closer to prose than not. The poems, intensely personal yet with a global appeal, speak to me, a black woman. I see their unwavering spirituality and taste the issues of love, requited and fulfilled. The sense of abandonment flies fiercely off his pages and land in the sacred space of my heart. The power of those who pen poetry is the power to touch hearts. It is also the power to break them.