By Bobbi Booker
Social activist, renowned author of more than 20 books, iconic feminist, and beloved teacher—bell books (lower case, please) is well known for her unapologetic intellectual writing. In language that is both spare and powerful, the poetry of “When Angels Speak of Love” (Atria Books, $16.95) offers the romantic reading public hooks as a major modern poet to contend with. Each of the 50 poems of “When Angels Speak” are designed to be read aloud, cherished and celebrated. Each numbered poem captures an emotion, or offers wisdom with straightforward language and clarity, leaving the reader with the resonance of hook’s fiery voice.
Readers of bell hooks’ scorching attacks on racism and sexism might be surprised to see her take on the elusive subject of love, but her previous four titles on the topic—from “All About Love” to “The Will to Change” –have made her the go-to source for contemplative contemporary literature on love. A theme in hooks’ most recent writing is the ability of community and love to overcome race, class, and gender. The interconnectiveness of these series of books on the elusive emotion was evident when she first wrote in “All About Love” the following: “When angels speak of love they tell us it is only by loving that we enter an earthly paradise. They tell us paradise is our home and love our true destiny.”
All of her books on love deal with the fleeting aspects of romance and society’s misuse, yet dire need of it. In poem Number 2 from “When Angels Speak”, hooks writes: in love/there are no closed doors/each threshold/an invitation/to cross/take hold/take heart/and enter here/at this point/where truth/was once denied.
hooks adopted her pen name from those of her mother and grandmother. Her name uses an unconventional lowercasing, which, to hooks, signifies that what is most important in her works is the “substance of books, not who I am.”
In her own unique way hooks continues to engage the public with the subject that is universal to all: Love.
=Originally published in the Philadelphia Tribune on February, 23, 2007=