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This We Pray | Sea of People by W. Nikola-Lisa

A hard-hitting, compelling collection…

Nikola-Lisa uses a light hand to delve into topics that include violence against black people, ethnic disparity, and systematic racism in this compelling collection. Arranged in two sections, Nikola-Lisa juxtaposes startling observations with more common images, making the collection feel familiar and at the same time candid and original. Immediate in tone, the first section “This We Pray” captures moments that are seen, felt, and processed, and rooted in today’s social and political context. Heartbreaking and unsettling, the unnamed protagonist’s fate sets the stage for the first poem. Biting and designed to awaken audiences to the political needs of colored Americans, Nikola-Lisa stresses on the importance of community, the need to be there for each other, and prayer and contemplation. Through urgent questioning (“Why? / Why has this come to pass? / What? / What sense does it all make? / How? / How long shall the killing be?”), he stresses on the importance of finding one’s voice amid ethnic disparity. Told in sparse prose and loaded with poignant emotions and details that connect clearly to current experiences, the second part “Sea of People,” is a synthesizing call to action in which Nikola-Lisa explores the anger of common people as they come together to protest against police brutality and systematic racism. With stunning black and white photographs, the text feels immersive while the moving phrasing and economical verses (“A sister weeps. / A mother wails. / A father clenches his fists / and walks away.”) help maintain a brisk, compelling pace. Timely and reflective, the book offers the reader a lasting meditation on prejudice and racial disparity.

This We Pray | Sea of People

By W. Nikola-Lisa

Gyroscope Books

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Pub date September 20, 2020


Price $7.50 (USD) Kindle edition, $20.99 Hardcover, $10.99 Paperback

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