By: Deborah Jean Burris-Kitchen
Publisher: Atmosphere Press
Publication Date: Jan 14, 2023
Reviewed By: Rebecca Jane Johnson
Review Date: January 2, 2023
Exposed is a laudable collection of short stories, poems, essays, letters, and photographs by a powerful female voice. The short stories explore themes of narcissism, gang rape, social inequality, peer pressure, true friendship, and self-love. The poems explore themes of racism, disenfranchisement, greed, homophobia, and sexism. The letters describe a girlhood spent with a father who fought for equality and justice for all and a mother who sang in church choir. This author grew up in the American south and achieved education and expertise in Criminal Justice. Her experience and expression encourage resilience in the face of adversity.
“Chapter One: Love and Respect” offers a powerful poem about what it feels like to have blonde hair and stand less than five feet tall in a society that prejudges blonde-haired women and shorter stature people. This poem is in English and Spanish and is followed by letters to the poet’s mother, father, lover, and best friends as well as photos of friends and family. In the poem, “A Myth Too Dangerous to Believe In,” there is a gradual acceptance of the power of death. "Short Changed: The Narcissistic Twin" is a memorable short story about twin sisters: one becomes popular, athletic, smart, and successful at everything she does while the other twin languishes in the shadows of the narcissist, mostly because she is about four inches shorter than her successful twin.
The second section is entitled “Women’s Victimization, Empowerment, and Freedom” with poems, like “But He Doesn’t Know You Like I Know You,” that support a battered victim reclaiming self-love. Photos of models and victimized women insist readers reconsider standards of beauty. "The Final Beating" is about a woman finding strength to leave an abusive relationship. Every expression feels accessible and relatable.
In “Chapter Three: The Poems of Protest and Change,” the poems are pointed, clear, and cutting. There is homage to Paul Laurence Dunbar and Maya Angelou. There is remembrance of tragedy in Alabama in 1944. “Climate Change” suggests a way to acknowledge the power of nature and mother Earth as compared to the vulnerability of an individual human being. The poem, “Exposure of a Caste,” contains these lines: “Governing in your false crown, protesting you are deserving. You proclaim you fought hard for your high rank in the oligarchy” and offers insights into the horror of white supremacy, nepotism, and classist society.
The collection ends on a hopeful poem called “Someday” in which the narrator of the poem envisions a time when the world will wake up and work for justice and freedom for all.
This important, brutally honest exposure can help society maintain vigilant sensitivity towards rape, human trafficking, racism, and violence against women. Burris-Kitchen uses powerful writing to confront stereotypes and injustice. She asks sensible questions about food equity, and her directness reveals how it is necessary for all of us to contribute to ending poverty and suffering.
Quill says: This robust collection implores readers to create a world of freedom from racism, sexism, rape, homophobia, greed, war, and poverty and gives a strong reminder of ways to overcome adversity.