Margaret Randall (review date March-May 1995)
SOURCE: "Dreams Deferred," in American Book Review, Vol. 16, No. 6, March-May, 1995, p. 26.
[In the excerpt below, Randall discerns "considerable craft" in the poems of American Dreams.]
Sapphire's American Dreams is a first book and as such suffers from some of the problems such endeavors often display. It is also startlingly raw in places, imbued with a haunting power…. Sapphire is African-American;… concerned with the ugliness of race hatred, the mindless misogyny of woman-hatred, the despair of poverty-induced disease and injustice. The landscapes of these American Dreams range from the tenement bed to South Central LA, from the shabby stage of "lesbian love teams" to the girl child who tries to substitute her own story of sexual abuse for the fairy tale her mother insists upon forcing down her throat.
Sapphire is at her best in her rich prose. There are stories in American Dreams that stay with you, like "A New Day for Willa Mae," "There's a Window" and "Eat." Prose poems like "Reflections from Glass Breaking" and "Human Torso Gives Birth" are as close to perfect as anything in the book. This writer is less successful when she combines prose and the poetic line; some narrative pieces dwindle into several pages of lines rambling to no purpose I could discern. I have a feeling hearing Sapphire read might help to resolve some of my questions about why she has chosen...
(The entire section is 411 words.)