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 many of the pieces in the book would gain strength from live reading -- their cadence

 seems to ask for performance -- yet they still stand up on the page



Songs in Search of a Voice

By Marcus Harris  


The confessions of a silver-tongued playboy ... the musings of a jilted lover haunted by the scent of the departed ... the prayers of a single mother pregnant with both hope and fear in a world beyond her control ... crafted in searing, vivid language, the poems in this exciting debut are masterfully sculpted to resonate throughout the very core of the reader like a melody unchained.

Through a variety of different voices, Marcus relates universal truths that span the boundaries of race, color, creed, and gender. Whether the fertile promise of new love, the lingering sting of domestic violence, the emotional scarring of child abuse, or the beguiling face of blind patriotism – no matter which voice you hear them in, these are truly 'songs' from the chorus of everyday life.


“Langston Hughes goes street,” was my feeling as I read Songs in Search of a Voice by Marcus Harris.

In “Songs”, Harris takes philosophical and prophetic thoughts and eloquently transforms them into a modern, hip-hop revolution.  The poems selected for this innovative public missive hold feelings of love, honor, life and introspection.  Harris’ words allow the reader to envision the full potential of life while at the same time, calling a spade a spade.  That’s right, Harris pulls no punches regarding the mixed up world and the mixed up thoughts that plague it, however, it is far from judgmental.

Harris does not project his words from a pulpit.  Though some of the poems plead to the broken masses, Marcus Harris does not talk about or talk at these situations. Instead, he speaks through these subjects allowing the reader a glimpse as to what the people see. Harris shows his capability to lift up even those individuals that tend to let themselves down. 

Two of my favorites from the book are "Woman to Player" and "Player to Woman".  These two works describes the feelings of a woman trying to hold a relationship with a player and, of course, the player’s attempt to “maintain” while dealing with the attitude of the woman.  After reading these two poems, there is a realization that both have their eyes on the prize yet they refuse to work together to obtain it.   

Harris goes on to present "Two Little Piggies" which details the story of two boys committing the same crime yet receiving completely different “justice” because they possess a different color skin.  Controversial, but so real and revolutionary—and Harris doesn’t stop there.  He introduces magnificent art through Haiku, presenting "Chainless Gangs", "New School Hip-Hop" and "NCAA Football".  They take just a moment to soak in, but once they do—they will shake you to the core.

I highly recommend this insightful, prophetic journey of emotion through poetry and prose.  As founder and president of The Lady Oya Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports domestic violence survivors and their families, Marcus Harris speaks not only for himself but also for many souls that long for love, justice and equality.Robert Denson III, Sunpiper Press

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Following yesterday's conversation on Walter Moseley's Washington Post article, I thought it was great timing to be in the process of preparing a review of a rising American poet, Marcus Harris. As Moseley states that poetry and politics should have a place in writing fiction, Harris speaks on the things of controversy, sound and reason.

Marcus Harris Songs in Search of a Voice  doesn't have to look any further than its author for what it seeks. This lover's lament, romantic refrain, psalms politik paints a truthful experience line after line. Divided into six chapters appropriately titled for the sound of mood: umbrous undertones (hushed quiet), key of melancholy (lover's lament), etc., when read aloud these poems sing at their loudest. Tight prose, packed emotion. A perfect compliment to the silence in the room.

My favorite poem, "Heart-Shaped Bruises (The Truth According To Tonya)":  

you claim you love me--
so your heart must have been tucked
somewhere in your fist...  

Great small, huge workDee’s Books Reviewed

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I love poetry with depth and works that show that the poet is versatile with the ability to write using voice to match the tone of different pieces. I was definitely not let down by Songs in Search of a Voice.

The poems in this collection illustrate a wide range of topics from racism and domestic abuse to hope and love. Each of these topics was expressed in a different voice matching the topic perfectly. For instance, one piece discusses a pregnant single mother. In this piece, the reader can feel the anger and the frustration rising off the page as he or she reads the realistic sounding phrases, including the usage of slang. In contrast, another poem talks about a lost love. This sensual piece almost has an air of worship with an edge of classic regalness. Such power, such passion, such talent.

Songs in Search of a Voice  by Marcus Harris is available at AmazonTami Brady


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This is a varied collection, in terms of style, voice and subject. Harris ranges comfortably from love to domestic violence to politics (and other places in between), shifting from humor to seriousness with apparent ease. The cover art is of a winged microphone which fits perfectly, since I think many of the pieces in the book would gain strength from live reading -- their cadence seems to ask for performance -- yet they still stand up on the page. This is definitely a good thing, since poetry that works as spoken word often doesn't read well on paper. Whether awed by love, talking politics, or delving into the rhythm of the street, the poetry in this collection rings true and comes from an honest place. Songs in Search of a Voice will be available for purchase in March.Jamelah Earle (jamelah) Dec 12, 2005


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Author Bio

Marcus Harris has long been hailed for his insightful, timely, and often poignantly humorous body of poetry, prose, and commentary. His writings have been featured in several national and international publications, and can also be seen on his website. He is also the Founder and President of The Lady Oya Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit organization that supports domestic violence survivors and their families. Marcus currently resides in Durham, NC. 

Marcus Harris, Songs in Search of a Voice (7 March 2006), 96 pages, $9.95, /

posted 21 February 2006

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#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

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#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

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#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
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#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created

By Charles C. Mann

I’m a big fan of Charles Mann’s previous book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, in which he provides a sweeping and provocative examination of North and South America prior to the arrival of Christopher Columbus. It’s exhaustively researched but so wonderfully written that it’s anything but exhausting to read. With his follow-up, 1493, Mann has taken it to a new, truly global level. Building on the groundbreaking work of Alfred Crosby (author of The Columbian Exchange and, I’m proud to say, a fellow Nantucketer), Mann has written nothing less than the story of our world: how a planet of what were once several autonomous continents is quickly becoming a single, “globalized” entity.

Mann not only talked to countless scientists and researchers; he visited the places he writes about, and as a consequence, the book has a marvelously wide-ranging yet personal feel as we follow Mann from one far-flung corner of the world to the next. And always, the prose is masterful. In telling the improbable story of how Spanish and Chinese cultures collided in the Philippines in the sixteenth century, he takes us to the island of Mindoro whose “southern coast consists of a number of small bays, one next to another like tooth marks in an apple.” We learn how the spread of malaria, the potato, tobacco, guano, rubber plants, and sugar cane have disrupted and convulsed the planet and will continue to do so until we are finally living on one integrated or at least close-to-integrated Earth. Whether or not the human instigators of all this remarkable change will survive the process they helped to initiate more than five hundred years ago remains, Mann suggests in this monumental and revelatory book, an open question.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Related files: Poems from Songs in Search of a Voice   Songs Review