Foreword . . .
Author Shantelle McLin’s extraordinary talent leaves me in awe. She can make words jump, turn, spin and plié. They bend at her will. She is a language contortionist. Her words are pained, pulled and stretched into creating an experience both truthful and beautiful. Such a talent is rare. Such a talent is nurtured. Such talent is praised. Such praise is earned. Such praise is deserved for Beyond Nursery Rhymes.
Nursery rhymes are poems and songs used to teach and entertain young children. In McLin’s collection, there are no “to market, to market” or “cock a doodle doos.” Rather, she crafts a uniquely adult experience through her work that cajoles her readers into the full experience of adulthood. McLin reveals both darkness and light, despair and hope, and love and hate in ways that are truthful, authentic and transparent to the human experience. If music and rhyme increase a child’s ability in spatial reasoning and aid in their development, then McLin’s work matures and perfects the ability of adults to face their realities with grace, strength, and love.
Beyond Nursery Rhymes provides its readers with a collection of poems that cultivate more developed and complex imagery and narrative about life. In many ways, her collection, like nursery rhymes, mimics the love of tragedy, which invokes in its audience catharsis, drama, pleasure, and a paradoxical response. McLin takes universal themes that are well represented in traditional nursery rhymes, shows conflicting sides, and presents them in a more contemporary context. Here is a set of examples.
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. In Self Destruction and My Scars, McLin openly shares defeat and brokenness in the public domain, which is reminiscent of Humpty Dumpty’s fall and the inability of the king’s men to put him back together again. McLin’s work shares that true repair cannot be accomplished through the effort of others, but rather through one’s own self-reflection, honesty, and plight for healing.
And Jill came tumbling after. Jill loved Jack so much that she went up when water is normally found downhill. McLin shows the seductive and misleading, yet powerful and passionate power of love in her collection. These themes are examined in Your Lies and Read My Mind Part III. The reader has a tactile response to the dimension of love expressed in these poems.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do. McLin’s Dear Sweet Darling poetically captures the classic themes of responsibility, love, and despair that the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe experienced when she couldn’t feed her children. McLin’s poem queries, “Why does mommy cry?” which captures the same sentiment of despair when you can’t give your children what they need, despite your best intentions.
He’s under a haystack fast asleep. McLin’s daring declaration, “scratching off other’s expectations with my sharpie” shows that sometimes you should care for self and your needs must come first despite your responsibilities and the broader demands of the world. Like Little Boy Blue, McLin’s words in Not a Pessimist stake value and strength in self-care and meeting one’s own personal needs.
Why, Mary loves the lamb, you know. McLin captures the full spectrum of love in several of her pieces. In Love Visage, McLin writes, “Cause love is music on its own,” which captures the sinuous nature of love’s movement. In I love My Ugly and Me, Myself and I, McLin capture the importance of self-love and embracing the complexity of your being to truly find understanding, peace, and happiness. Throughout McLin’s collection, you find that she is retelling Mary Had a Little Lamb’s core lesson—that love attracts love.
Simply said, Mother Goose has nothing on McLin. McLin is a talented, truthful poetess, with an amazing ability to transport you through her words. After reading Beyond Nursery Rhymes, you will be completely satisfied and exposed. Your experience will be aptly and concisely wrapped up and articulated in four of the nine lines composing Poetic Affair.
“the birth of a melodic concoction
forms a brew of passion
a love dance is inspired
songs of the soul transpired”
On a personal note, this amazing author, Shantelle McLin is my sister. I have seen the growth in her work and have witnessed her toil to perfect and mature her craft. To write a foreword for her is such an honored and challenging task, because I hope to capture words that encompass my honest respect for her work, doesn’t pale in contrast to her genius and shows my breathing, palpable love for the author.
Lastly, I leave you with words directly from McLin in Divinity’s Pull. “Softer thoughts greet me this morn; My inner voice whispers reasoning; Says to me… give birth; Labor unto the world your gift. Share your shine.” And to that, I say, “Thank God, she listened, thank God she shared.”
Tonya Allen, a serial “idea-preneur,” serves as the Skillman Foundation’s president & chief executive officer.
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