Having followed Akwaeke Emezi through their writing career, it was inevitable I would pick up their debut poetry collection this year. Content Warning: Everything is a fearless, intimate collection that explores desire and sexual abuse from the author of the acclaimed The Death of Vivek Oji and Dear Senthuran. Though it’s Emezi’s poetry debut, poetic imagery underpins her previous work, so it is no surprise that they’ve released a poetry collection.
Content Warning: Everything is a tad on the short side, filling 45 pages, but those pages really pack it in. As a reader of Emezi’s work, I’d advise starting with Dear Senthuran and then Vivek Oji before immersing yourself in this collection. Not only do they provide an insight into Emezi’s history but also into their commitment to spiritual writing. With no lack of spiritual approach to Content Warning, Emezi’s work is deeply magical and explores the darkness that can linger, affecting their mental health.
‘What If Jesus Was My Big Brother’ is the poem that haunts me the most after walking away from this collection. The line, ‘our parents leave us steel voicemails about duty. / neither of u returns their calls’ is loaded beyond belief about the dynamics of this family and highlights another trait of Emezi’s writing. It’s sparse but damn, it is stunningly selective, making you feel so much with so little.