A few nights ago, I heard the remarkable Niki Herd read her poetry. What a talented and fresh poet. She read mostly from her new book The Language of Shedding Skin. This book offers the reader poems that provoke and move. Her language is, at times conversational, then she stuns you with a description, a plea, an urging, that is entirely unexpected. From the book’s opening poem “50 Bullets, One Dead, Many Questions,” to its closing poem, “The Language of Shedding Skin,” she implores her readers to remember the savagery human beings can do to each other. Through that remembering, we know we can do better.
Niki Herd uses the whole page when she writes. Some of her poems use traditional stanza styles, but others are scattered across the page—all for good reasons. She controls the pace, the line, and the rhythms, but her poems often open out at the end, leaving them ultimately in the hands of the reader.
She takes us from a litany of lament, built around the “N” word, to a more hopeful take on the “L” word, love. Her skills here are clear, creating a book that is a thoughtful call to action. I love this book. I bet you will too.