Complex Contemplations: An overview of Winsome Monica Minott’s Zion Roses

Written by Nadi Edwards for Spiderweb Publications on Wednesday, December 8th, 2021

Zion Roses’ complex contemplations are woven from Minott’s adroit and fluid shifting between temporalities. Her poems mine collective and personal memory in ways that suture past hurts and dark legacies to present reflection and cathartic recollection. In a language that mines the rich expressive possibilities of Jamaican Creole and Standard English, Minott gives us poems which evoke the heartfelt memories of childhood vacations (“Floorboards – Oracabessa”), ancestors, a mother’s mental illness (“Before the Rains Came”), and the unspoken histories of maternal love enacted in cooking (“Rundown”). Simultaneously unsentimental and filled with empathy, the poems of Zion Roses reveal Minott’s commitment to unflinchingly examine, scrutinize, and reflect on past and present memories, and actions - the whole gamut of human experiences – love and its complications, childhood, art, music, dance, and the irrevocable grounding of self in specific places. The taut, tough tenderness of her language and lyrical sensibility is strikingly exemplified in her suite of six poems centered on the figure of the Neo- Expressionist African American (of Puerto Rican and Haitian descent) artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960 - 1988). In these poems, Minott ventriloquizes Basquiat, becoming the artist, synthesizing image and word in an act of reflexive contemplation and questioning that suggests the boldness and ambition of Minott’s poetic enterprise in Zion Roses: “Why are my lines spiderweb thin/ on which I balance reality, and where / will this road, my road, your road end?” Zion Roses suggests that Minott’s road will be marked by even more powerful poetic achievement.