Book review: Not all Mangoes are Sweet

I was perusing A Different Booklist's site, and Marlene R Gordon's "Not all Mangoes are Sweet" caught my eye. I can't help it, I'm a desi diaspora kid! But also, my parents were immigrants that never moved 'up' out of poverty, and mangoes were a sign of good times, that they were financially okay, a once in a blue moon treat.

I'm an artist whose work is often motivated by food security, food as culture, memory and food aesthetics. So chapter 1 "Manger", was inevitably my favourite section of Gordon's book. I was sitting on my dusty balcony, reading the matte jacketed book during the pandemic when I laughed out loud at 'Canteloupe' on page 12. It reads,

You taste like nothing

And your cousin honeydew

Two basic bitches (Gordon p 12)

My other favourites were:

  • Know Thyself (p 58)
  • Conversing with the Full Moon (p 62)
  • Pleasantries (p 73)
  • Concealed Poverty (p 84)

Not all Mangoes are Sweet is sometimes silly and occasionally vulnerable. Gordon gives me big Scorpio sun Taurus rising vibes. If you're reading this blog and queer and/or on the acesexual spectrum and/or sex repulsed, I will say that some poems in chapter II: Heavenly Bodies may not be for you. The book isn't marketed as being 2SLGBTQ+ but that's one of my social locations and being queer, trans and demisexual informs the lens with which I view the world - and chapter II is too cishet and biologically essentialist for my taste. That being said, while some poems like Know Thyself my new scorpio anthem spoke to me, I know that Gordon isn't writing for me - and that's okay! It's clear from the start that her poems are informed by her experiences as a racialized Black woman.

All in all, Not all Mangoes are Sweet is a sweet read hehe, and I would recommend it to pals looking for new poets to support.