The World Will Follow Joy (Alice Walker)

As promised in my review of milk and honey, I will continue to read more poetry this year. Here’s a lovely little collection from the legendary Alice Walker.

Title – The World Will Follow Joy: Turning Madness Into Flowers

Author – Alice Walker

Page count – 189

Goodreads rating – 3/5 (liked it)

(As a side note, I sometimes worry that if I give a book “only” three stars out of five, it will be seen as a negative review of that particular book. I’m especially conscious of that with this book because I also gave a 3/5 rating to Alice Walker’s The Color Purple. For me, a 3/5 rating means that while I don’t necessarily want to read it again – if I did, that would merit a bump up to 4/5 – I am definitely glad I read it and would likely recommend it to a friend.)

This collection of poems started off a bit slow but grew on me as I got further along. Walker uses her spirituality and politically progressive voice to write about the collective human experience, about the good that comes from treating each other with empathy and the terrible consequences of forgetting to see our own humanity reflected in other people. Always in the background (and sometimes the foreground) is her grounded spirituality and love for the earth.

Her poems range from subtly humorous (the start of “Why Peace Is Always a Good Idea”):

Because you could plant peach trees

And because of peace

You could eat them in five or six

Years

Peaches not trees

…to melancholy (from “Sailing the Hot Streets of Athens, Greece”):

Even

the spies

among them

we hope

will learn

something

they may never

have guessed

before:

That a boat

filled

with love letters

from children

is a threat

to those

with

apparently

little memory

of youth

or experience

of love.

…to empowering (from “In This You Are Wrong”)

Killing the prophet

will not make

you right.

Her blood sent flying

in all directions

by your assault

will become

innumerable seeds

that sprout

blades of bright grass

announcing the truth

like flags.

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