Lauren Alleyne hails from the twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. (Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths)

Lauren Alleyne hails from the twin-island nation of Trinidad and Tobago. (Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths)

 

Poetry is like ice-cream,” poet Lauren Alleyne recently told an interviewer when asked to compare poetry to a food. “It completes joy, but is also a natural remedy for heartache. You can enjoy it in all its flavors, and yet its essential nature doesn’t change. It’s good for your bones, will delight your tongue, and I don’t know about you, but it makes me a happier human being.”

As writers prepare to descend on the AWP writer’s conference in Seattle this week, a number of publishers have chosen the occasion to release new titles. One of the new books on my “watch list” is Alleyne’s debut collection, Difficult Fruit, which has just been released by Peepal Tree Press.

(If you’re heading to Seattle, be sure to check out Lauren K. Alleyne’s reading and book launch party at The Project Room at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, February 28th. She’ll also be joined by Gwarlingo Sunday Poet Patricia Smith and a line-up of other fine writers. Get details here.)

Alleyne has black belt in TaeKwonDo, loves the TV series Bones, and lists Jeanette Winterson, Frances Driscoll, Jamaica Kincaid, and Lucille Clifton amongst her favorite writers. She also working on a collaborative project about Hansel and Gretel with her best friend, writer Catherine Chung.*

While the title of her first book, Difficult Fruit, is a nod to Billie Holiday’s famous song, “Strange Fruit,” it also recalls Christina Rossetti‘s sensuous, provocative poem “Goblin Market” and the symbolic forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden. Like Rossetti, Alleyne’s poems are both sensual and spiritual and beautifully capture the narrator’s journey into womanhood and her struggle for self-knowledge.

Difficult Fruit-Click to PurchaseOne of my favorite poems about female youth is Patricia Smith‘s “13 Ways of Looking at 13” (featured here on Gwa