﷯Difficult Fruit grapples with personal experience—with naming and claiming the “fruits” of Alleyne’s specific journey into womanhood, which includes coming to terms with violence and loss, celebrating love and connection, as well as standing witness in the world that shaped the journey. It is a collection of poems about self-knowledge—of fighting for and winning personhood as a woman. The speaker understands that “maybe older and wiser is just learning/ how to put yourself in your own good hands.” The poems of age scattered throughout the manuscript both chronicle and disrupt time—they look back into the speaker’s past as a way to understand the present, as well as to find something that the speaker needs in order to move forward. The many elegies within consider the ultimate price of life, which is death, and as the poem “How It Touches Us” comes to realize, “all laws of matter must hold true”. The poems are a movement through fracture—both necessary and unwarranted—toward wholeness and transformation.

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 of Difficult Fruit.

Lauren Alleyne's voice is a revelatory and formidable fusion of irrepressible music and uncompromising craft. Like snippets of cinema, these poems arrest the senses and challenge what's known. Every door this exceptional work opens opens onto a larger light.

—Patricia Smith

 

 

 

To go back "is a verb conjugated in dreams," Lauren Alleyne writes in her debut volume Difficult Fruit, inscribing the governing mystery of this work, the secret knowledge of the dead. In anaphoric bursts of incantatory disclosure, in ghazals of love and survival, eros and the infinite, she does, indeed, go back, past all griefs and illuminations, "to the song beneath the song." There is uncommon spiritual knowledge here as well as political discernment. There is much to learn while accompanying Alleyne on her "raft of language," through a troubled world and an imagined heaven, to the place "from which comes all singing." I have gone with her and would do so again and again.

                                                                        —Carolyn Forché

 

 

 

Difficult Fruit is a book I wish there were no need for. But need there is; and Alleyne delivers poems of loss and grief and, thankfully, hope. "Meaning is the closest we get to salvation,/which is to say the word changes nothing/--it does not unmake the rivers," she writes. But addressing the ages in ghazal and crown and free verse forms, she reminds us, in the "flaming sentence" that in one's life, "it is in the raft of language we begin our escape."

 

­—Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

 

REVIEWS

 

All great poetry is an act of courage, I suspect, but this is courage that rises to the heroic . . . what this collection makes clear is that, though the future may be unimaginable, the past is not. It is perhaps the poet’s calling to reimagine the unimaginable in one’s own experience and in the experience of others, and thus to make sense of what is otherwise senseless. Alleyne rises to this challenge.

-- Jeanne Emmons

The Briar Cliff Review

 

 

These poems are rife with dichotomies – passion and indifference, radiance and gloom, arrivals and departures. They examine life through music, religion, nostalgia, and sensation. But all work with an urgency to put their reflections out where they can be examined and grasped . . . Lauren K. Alleyne has stripped away the pretenses so often found in such collections and given readers the assignment to examine their own lives and find the essences of their souls.

— Rosi Hollinbeck

San Francisco Book Review

 

 

Copyright 2013 Lauren K. Alleyne | Difficult Fruit | Red Olive Creative Consulting