Book Review: 40 Dayz of Motion

15 Apr 2009

40 dayz

Few artists on either the local spoken word or hip hop scene can boast to have the skills to seamlessly navigate between both worlds. Toronto-born and bred artist Motion, a.k.a. Wendy Braithwaite, is just such a rare talent.

Over the years, she has opened for such renowned artists as Mos Def, Wycelf Jean, Talib Kweli, Jill Scott and more. Her vocal chops have also been showcased on the soundtrack for the film, When Moses Woke (Itoti Productions) which premiered on Bravo! Television.

And to all that, add published author as well.

Motion recently launched her latest book of poetry entitled 40 dayz. A follow-up to her book Motion in Poetry, published by Women’s Press in 2002, 40 dayz is an intensely personal and reflective exploration of her journey as woman, mother, lover and world citizen.

Still ever rooted in her Torontonian universe, Motion takes us back to her Antiguan and Bajan heritage to show how her family, friends and other individuals have shaped who she is.

Motion has a gift for bringing back days gone by through infusing her reminiscing tales with lyrical smells and scents of familiar experiences. As you are transported back with her in a funkadelic time machine, we encounter Malcolm, Maya and Alice along the way.

Her piece “dem say” is a prime example of how, in just a few lines, Motion takes us back to an idyllic and more care-free past.

But eventually, sure as the sun rises from the east every morning, innocence is broken, hope battles with regret and dreams are too often deferred.

Despite all of that, and perhaps because of those growing pains, one’s sense of community remains a major pillar amid it all.

This T-dot community that Motion illustrates encompasses it all. From the busloads of people going along with their mundane existence, to the mournful mothers and guilty lovers, all play a part.

The bustling city landscape she describes is also sometimes a metropolis under menacing clouds. In “hedlines” we find a city under curfew where “somewhere a poet is detained” and a “high court decides the fate of men”.

Motion depicts a post-911 world where “ownland security” justifies the oppressing rule of a police state. She longs to spend her Friday night watching “pre-war N.Y. on Sex and the City.”

In a cold mega-city where “skyscrapers grow where green trees used to greet” and “good mornings are swallowed up down fearful throats and stuck-up tongues”, we often find ourselves feeling suffocated.

But far from wallowing in despair, the bliss of passion, lust and love remains a permanent fixture in Motion’s poetic cityscapes. From jonesing under the Bronx bridges by the Hudson River to fantasies of making love while riding the rocket in the T-dot, she leaves with this burning question: … where is the love?