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A Review of The Shaping of an Angry Black Woman by Tamara Woods

Updated on September 11, 2014
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It is a rare opportunity to collaborate with another poet, but chances to share thoughts about writing with a poetess, who is also a fine friend, is even rarer.

It is my honor to introduce to everyone Tamara Woods, a writer with whose gift for words many of us envy. She brings to the literary world finesse that surpasses many.

She has recently published a new anthology of poetry, The Shaping of an Angry Black Woman, that addresses the perceptions that society has of African-American women. True to character, Tamara broaches the subjects she writes about in a candid, tell-it-all way.

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A. Who is Tamara Woods?

With that, it is time to satisfy your curiosity about who Tamara Woods actually is.

Based in Honolulu, Tamara is an African-American writer who specializes in edgy poetry that tells it as it is. Her short stories, too, offer a no-holds-barred look at humanity.

Tamara graduated from the West Virginia University with degrees in Integrated Marketing Communications and Journalism.

My chats with her have unveiled the truthfulness that surrounds her approach to life. Tamara never shies away from honesty.

What is instantly striking about her is how she balances sensitive, hard-to-broach subjects with gentility, grace and a definite sense of humor. She describes herself, humorously, as a “hillbilly hermit in Honolulu living with her Mathemagician.”

B. Her Writings and Inspiration

Tamara’s writing voice shone through as I asked her about her writing and inspiration.

She knew that writing was the profession for her when she wrote a poem entitled “I Am” for the summer program at Fairmont State College. She was only in the sixth grade, but she knew then that writing was the perfect fit.

This prolific writer counts among her influences Maya Angelou, whose poem “Phenomenal Woman” has reminded her of her own femininity for years. The poem encouraged her when she read it during a poetry recital in front of her school. She has since memorized nearly all of it throughout her life.

For those who are starting out in the writing arena, Tamara advises them to “just do it”. The only way to start a writing career, she says, is if you plunge right in.

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C. A Review of the Shaping of An Angry Black Woman

She wrote her own book, The Shaping of an Angry Black Woman, over a span of 15 years. Some of her poems are those she performed at poetry slams in Oahu.

She conceived the idea for the book when she and a friend talked about how society perceived black women. Three stereotypes stood out.

Tamara realized that black women were often perceived as seductive, nurturing and lastly, angry. The book germinated as a protest against these stereotypes.

When I read the poems, I found that they touched base with the human condition. Tamara gives her readers revealing insights into the curve balls often thrown in the path of life.

I did not find her “angry” either. Far from being rants, her poems are simply nuggets of truth that open the eyes. The Shaping of An Angry Black Woman is a poignant picture of life’s sometimes harsh realities.

Here is an example to illustrate what I mean.


Hot Combs Self-Deception

D. Sample Poem: Laundry List

Gasp for breath,

The air that makes tooth throb,

Battery acid boils,

over in socket.

Where’s that clove juice that girl said could help?

Wait ’til income tax time

To get that pulled.

This a’int even a poem.

Just a list of the costs of bootstraps living.

The only way to go is

Up?

These boosts squeeze my heels

Limping through the system

Keeping me in the system.

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E. Conclusion

Tamara’s book is for those of us who want thoughtful, provocative insights into life’s tough realities.

Do visit her at her blog, PenPaperPad, for a look at more of her short stories and poetry.


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    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Aviannovice! She is an amazing lady!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I have a wonderful friend named Theresa, who also just keeps 'keeping on.' There is nothing angry about her, either, she just wants to support herself and her daughter. I have seen some of her written word, and her art is SPECTACULAR. She will be getting back into art soon, and I am lucky enough to have a piece that she created for ME. Tamara's company sounds like someone that I would truly enjoy in my life.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Dianna.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Paula.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Nithya.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      A pleasure, Tamara!!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Manatita!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Yes, it can, Sandra!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      Thanks for sharing this woman's background. She sounds like she has a wealth of inspiration for living life well. The poem is lovely.

    • Paula Atwell profile image

      Paula Atwell 3 years ago from Cleveland, OH

      Thanks for sharing this. It was interesting meeting the poet through your eyes.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 3 years ago from Dubai

      Great review and a great poem.Harsh realities of life.

    • profile image

      Tamara Woods 3 years ago

      This is such a lovely piece Michelle. Thank you so much for writing it!

    • manatita44 profile image

      manatita44 3 years ago from london

      I like the way you expressed your love in that review, Michelle. A fine poem too! Seems an excellent kind of woman. I wish the book well.

    • Sandra Eastman profile image

      Sandra Joy Eastman 3 years ago from Robbinsdale MN

      Reality can really smack us in the face sometimes. Great to see someone telling it like it is and doing a great job of it.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks a million, Devika!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      An interesting individual and thanks for the introduction with a lovely poem.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Bill.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you for the review. I love the poem...and I will check her out.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Deal for a Living. Certainly does!

    • DealForALiving profile image

      Sam Deal 3 years ago from Earth

      Wow, that poem really kicks you in the teeth, huh.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 3 years ago from Singapore

      A review of Tamara Woods' The Shaping of an Angry Black Woman