If Akwaeke Emezi is a “silly little god” then I’m about to become their most zealous devotee. Their debut poetry collection, Content Warning: Everything, lives up to its title, fair warning. This is a HEAVY book. Emezi doesn’t shy away from topics like sexual abuse, suicide, vengeance, and long-term trauma. And they’re absolutely gorgeous. They seem to draw divinity from the baseness of the earth, singing of rivers, eyeteeth, and fucking in fresh graves. Content Warning: Everything rallies against boundaries at every turn, shattering expectation like the trumpets did Jericho’s walls. It careens between heart-smashing and “are you allowed to say that about Jesus?” and yet this collection feels as polished and purposeful as any novel! It’s confusing, frequently concerning, and utterly entrancing. Confessional poet Sylvia Plath once wrote “The Moon is not my mother. She is not sweet like Mary.” Content Warning: Everything goes further, making the Virgin Mary a beloved auntie who “moves in with my mother / they are not so lonely now” Not content to stop at confessing, Akwaeke Emezi has sculpted a book of poems that christen, excommunicate, and heal.
Content Warning: Everything by Akwaeke Emezi, (List Price: $16, Copper Canyon Press, 9781556596292, April 2022)
Reviewed by Terrance Hudson from Epilogue Books Chocolate Brews in Chapel Hill, North Carolina