When Kanye West is mentioned, people know where they stand. Love him or hate him, West is a force to be reckoned with. As someone who was never swayed to love or hate the man who stole Taylor Swift’s shining moment, Sarah Blake’s book of poetry about West, aptly named “Mr. West,” reminds a reader about who he is – a human who makes mistakes like the rest of us.
Blake shows how she grappled with her own view of the controversial rapper in her book of poetry. Surprisingly dense, she weaves a narrative throughout her poetry that centers around West, but also includes insights into her own personal life as a fan. Unsurprisingly, Kanye West’s lawyers prevented Blake from including his lyrics into the book of poetry. In the end, the redacted lyrics only add to the poems and allow a wide range for interpretation for readers.
While it can be argued that a subject like Kanye West is an easy move to sell a book of poetry, there’s more to Blake’s book than just the overbearing, over-hyped Kanye people love to love/hate. In the verse, she battles with conflicted feelings of her own impending motherhood while looking at West’s mother for a sort of guidance. In a section labeled “Dear Donda,” Blake writes of West’s mother, and a sense of protectiveness radiates from her language. Furthering her inner conflict, she writes about her pregnancy and says “I have made Noah [her husband] promise he will save me over the boy if it came to that” in the poem “I Want A House to Raise My Son In.” Blake delves deeper into Kanye and Donda’s relationship, and there’s a sense that the author is looking for some answers from the rapper’s mother.
Elevating him to Greek mythology, Blake compares West to Paris, the Trojan prince who fell in love with Helen of Sparta. Of course, Kim Kardashian is Helen. “The Trojan War is sex itself,” Blake declares. Other times, Kanye is Achilles, a Greek hero killed by an arrow shot into the only vulnerable place on his body: his heel. Even more confusing, West is the Egyptian god of the sun, Horus. While Horus, too, had an interesting (to put it mildly) relationship with his mother, the conflicting mythologies are distracting. But in the end, Blake and other fans and critics alike bring West back down to Earth.
This quick dissension from the throne is seen while she plays with form in an interesting twist in “Hate for Kanye.” YouTube comments make up the poem, as audiences react to the T-Swift debacle. As a Kanye West fan, Blake makes her own commentary in a poem titled “Taylor Swift Doesn’t Speak Out Against Racism.”
While a reader could get offended or caught up in rehashing the past, there’s an overall message that can be missed if you’re too much of a Taylor Swift fan. Past the social taboos and the mythological comparisons, we forget that figures like Kanye West (and even T-Swift) are actually real, live human beings. And human beings need a break sometimes, even if you hate them or love them.