Book Review: ‘Paper Planes: A Collection of Poems not Crumpled on the Floor’ by Lovar Davis Kidd

Paper Planes: A Collection of Poems not Crumpled on the Floor

By Lovar Davis Kidd — Self-published

Cedar Rapids-based dancer, educator and poet Lovar Davis Kidd started the new year by self-publishing a volume of poetry entitled Paper Planes: A Collection of Poems not Crumpled on the Floor. This collection calls to mind the author’s spoken word performances, and most of these pieces beg to be read aloud. The short book is divided into three sections: On Life, On God and On Love.

The first section moves from thoughts on growing up to Netflix to racism. The poem “Slant” offers questions with few solid answers other than “… turn your head to get a new perspective. / The question is when will it all change?” From there, Kidd turns to reflections on identity when he writes, in the poem “Racism,” “I felt like another stereotype … / Birthed into societal injustices of a choice a white mother and a black / father made when they laid in a bed with no thoughts of my present / tense.” He pushes on in this poem to question society and the way people view themselves and others.

On God is a 13-page section that reads more like a modern devotional than poetry, with Kidd taking scripture from the Old and New Testaments of the Bible and offering meditations on the verses. In the piece “Ask of Me,” Kidd cites a verse in Psalms and then offers exhortations to his reader on how to apply this to life, writing, “Shake off the dust of despair. There’s no burden too great…” Certainly there are poetic elements at play, as in the entry “Unashamed,” where Kidd writes, “So, in this attempt to live transparent, I’ll use my conclusion to show you God’s grace is inherent.”

Again, I found myself wanting to hear Kidd perform this piece rather than read it on the page. Sometimes it is the prosody of a poem that really brings it to life, and if you’ve ever seen this author perform, you know exactly what I mean.

The final section contains the title poem, which challenges the reader with these lines: “Love demands you stay but flight is required to escape. Your folds / shaped me into this paper plane pilot and you co-exist.” The abstractions in this particular poem leave to the reader a variety of interpretations. Kidd pays tribute to his sons in “#myloveisgrowinformylesandkohen” before moving on to a lost love and his own love of writing.

While the fonts change distractingly from poem to poem, the content is heartfelt and real. Kidd offers his readers a glance into his life, his devotion and his art. In a unique twist, the book closes with several blank pages and the admonition to “Use these last few pages to uncrumple your words and let your story take flight.”

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 278.

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