Off the Cuffs: Poetry by and About the Police
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Sheeler speaks truly when she says her anthology is both about police brutality and a tribute to the police. The poems in it appear in sections according to perspective. "Eyewitnesses" report everything from Rochelle Ratner's observation of police not noticing a man sleeping in a park to Sparrow's fed-up warning to New York Mayor Giuliani after "seeing" too many unarmed blacks shot by cops. In the fat heart of the book, "Victims & Perpetrators" are objects of compassion, condemnation, and mixed emotions on the parts of poets intimate with them. The "Insiders" include teachers of prisoners, correctional personnel, and one prisoner; while the "Dreamers" of the last section project visions of cops as they might be and of cops as some fantasize they are. Unjust, but not entirely baseless, rants sit next to expressions of deep love. The formal poems "An Operation" by master poet Thom Gunn and "Street Justice," a Kiplingesque ballad by the LAPD's Nat Read, stand out amid all the free verse, but nearly every piece here is a stunner. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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