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Even the Saints Audition

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Even The Saints Audition: A book of poems exploring the relationship between blackness, shame, and what it is to live a life tied to the church. Rich with historical context and a deeply engaging personal narrative.


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Even The Saints Audition: A book of poems exploring the relationship between blackness, shame, and what it is to live a life tied to the church. Rich with historical context and a deeply engaging personal narrative.

30 review for Even the Saints Audition

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kristy K

    I’ve come to love most poetry released by Button Poetry, but this on was just okay. I particularly liked the poems on Job (from the Bible), but felt others were too similar to the Instagram poets I tend to stay away from (only longer).

  2. 4 out of 5

    Reading_ Tam_ Ishly

    This collection gave me The Poet X vibes when I started reading it. The book is divided into three sections or Acts tackling with themes like feminism, religion, family, relationships. The first two sections really got me. The lines are hard hitting. Somehow the hype died down a little when I reached the third section/act. I somehow could not relate with the lines dealing with sexual content and for me it sounds like a bit insensitive. I like the collection for one time read. Thank you #NetGalley This collection gave me The Poet X vibes when I started reading it. The book is divided into three sections or Acts tackling with themes like feminism, religion, family, relationships. The first two sections really got me. The lines are hard hitting. Somehow the hype died down a little when I reached the third section/act. I somehow could not relate with the lines dealing with sexual content and for me it sounds like a bit insensitive. I like the collection for one time read. Thank you #NetGalley for the book #EvenTheSaintsAudition.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kylie Psaila

    I received a digital advanced reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Actual rating 1.5 stars (rounded up to 2) This poetry collection talks about spirituality and religion. I must admit, I am nor spiritual neither a religious person - at all, so it didn’t end up to be my cup of tea. Adding to that, I didn’t like the writing style as well as some poem designs. On a more positive note, there was a verse in a certain poem that I really liked and I related to: “When he I received a digital advanced reader copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Actual rating 1.5 stars (rounded up to 2) This poetry collection talks about spirituality and religion. I must admit, I am nor spiritual neither a religious person - at all, so it didn’t end up to be my cup of tea. Adding to that, I didn’t like the writing style as well as some poem designs. On a more positive note, there was a verse in a certain poem that I really liked and I related to: “When he leans in I jump & hold my cry Until I get home; a skill he’s helped me Practice. I’m still me. I’m still me. I’m still My happiest alone, have to fight myself.” Although I did not like it, I still recommend it to those who likes to read about spirituality and religious related books and poems.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Dre

    "Time is rumored to heal all wounds. No one claims it erases them." Even the Saints Audition pulled me in closely, held me tighter than a distant relative quickly becoming familiar, and sat right next until I devoured the very last poem. I could not put this book down. And while this book was not on my radar, I was instantly lured in with one look of the cover. Even if you weren't sure of the subject matter, the title and beautifully haunting cover illustration alone would make the most "Time is rumored to heal all wounds. No one claims it erases them." Even the Saints Audition pulled me in closely, held me tighter than a distant relative quickly becoming familiar, and sat right next until I devoured the very last poem. I could not put this book down. And while this book was not on my radar, I was instantly lured in with one look of the cover. Even if you weren't sure of the subject matter, the title and beautifully haunting cover illustration alone would make the most unbothered person curious. So, I went into this poetry collection with a completely open mind and was pleasantly surprised. Even the Saints Audition reads like a series of letters to the Church Girls who've experienced shame and fear of looming punishment for committing sin. And because I was raised in the church, I could relate so much to the experiences Jackson highlights in her poems. She confesses "impure" thoughts, mourns the loss of her "fun" aunt, and shares moments of overwhelming depression in such a raw and lyrical way, I somehow felt connected to her-- as if I was eavesdropping in on her life's story. Jackson made me feel things, made me question things, and made me hopeful that she'd found a peace in sharing her truth with such brilliant metaphors and rhythm. Though Jackson and I may not share the same feelings about growing up in the church, I appreciate the honesty and heart she poured into each of these poems. It's def worth the read. Major thanks to Netgalley and Button Poetry for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alicia Bayer

    I loved this poetry collection that circled around themes of faith and blackness, Job, God, guilt, sin, sex, drug addiction, poverty and loneliness. Jackson plays with words wonderfully, making you work to understand some of the poems while spelling it out for you in others. The poems are uncomfortably honest, dealing with topics like her guilt for masturbation as a preteen and her aunt's suicide. This collection won't be everyone, which is my favorite kind of poetry collection. I read a I loved this poetry collection that circled around themes of faith and blackness, Job, God, guilt, sin, sex, drug addiction, poverty and loneliness. Jackson plays with words wonderfully, making you work to understand some of the poems while spelling it out for you in others. The poems are uncomfortably honest, dealing with topics like her guilt for masturbation as a preteen and her aunt's suicide. This collection won't be everyone, which is my favorite kind of poetry collection. I read a temporary digital ARC of this book for the purpose of review.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Honestly when I started this book I wasn’t sure how much I was going to enjoy it. It’s one of very few that I’ve read in this genre and I realized I’m not as religious as I was before. The writing was beautiful though and I kept reading even though I felt some of it was provocative. I would recommend it to a mature audience that’s very religious.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Zahiryn Vélez Hernández

    *I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review* Like all of Button’s books, “Even the Saints Audition” was transparent, painfully honest, brimming with sharp edges and hard questions. The blurb says it explores “the relationship between blackness, shame, and what it is to live a life tied to the church…” It does exactly what it promises, with a gripping narrative that is extremely personal and visceral. Jason tackles religion —tackles God and her complicated *I received an ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review* Like all of Button’s books, “Even the Saints Audition” was transparent, painfully honest, brimming with sharp edges and hard questions. The blurb says it explores “the relationship between blackness, shame, and what it is to live a life tied to the church…” It does exactly what it promises, with a gripping narrative that is extremely personal and visceral. Jason tackles religion —tackles God and her complicated relationship with Him and His church and everyone in her congregation— with brutal sincerity. It doesn’t shy away from all the murky waters the church can create for women awakening to their sexuality, or dealing with mental health, or simply asking questions. And her faith shines through, never lukewarm, but scolding hot and eager to be found. I loved the recurrent use of Job and his story, and the complexities of not knowing, as a Christian, what one must take from it. That God will protect us? That God will bet on us? Though my favorite poems were those full of rebellion, angry and questioning, I really appreciated how the book came full circle, starting with lines like “God will give you nothing…” and “She reminds her Eve was also a curious woman, who God cursed…”, but ending with two poems in which she fully embraces her faith, with all its complications and limitations: “I practice praying while he snores in my ear. His sighs are my cheat code. God must have a soft spot for me. I’m not dead yet. I perfect my amen to close our future prayers. I nudge him to roll on his side & soften his breathing. He reaches out to hold me without opening an eye. Thank you God, amen I whisper. How can I claim God doesn’t listen to sinners? How else could I get such a blessing?” - I can’t say I fully loved the poetry, because its technical and figurative constructions left me wanting for… a little more. The most exploratory pieces, structure wise, lost me. But I’m not saying the poetry was bad, because it wasn’t; just not my type. Despite this, I fully recommend it to fans of the genre. The thoughts Jackson shared in her poems still have me thinking as I write this review, days after closing the book. The lines were compelling, jarring in the way only delicious sentences can be, thought provoking, soul barred, open, ready to swallow the reader like the ground that swallowed Korah. What else can you demand in a book? What else can you demand in a poet? Trigger warnings: racism, mental illness, suicidal thoughts.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Timothy Alan

    I got the book in the mail and sat on it for a few days. There's something especially intimate to me about a physical copy of work, and I wanted to approach it in its own time. The artwork drew me in, and I finally succumbed to it. Bro, this book is for real so good that it makes me a little mad. Like, Raych for real just out here releasing magic? It's a journey through the stifled thoughts and feelings of an emotionally-curious young woman failing to convince herself she's not a circle in a I got the book in the mail and sat on it for a few days. There's something especially intimate to me about a physical copy of work, and I wanted to approach it in its own time. The artwork drew me in, and I finally succumbed to it. Bro, this book is for real so good that it makes me a little mad. Like, Raych for real just out here releasing magic? It's a journey through the stifled thoughts and feelings of an emotionally-curious young woman failing to convince herself she's not a circle in a congregation - and world - of square holes. Taking off the blindfold too many times and seeing too much of the light to willingly go back to the darkness. Wondering why people who claim to love you don't understand that you're different. It brims with so much truth. It's the artistic personification of growing up in a church and being shushed when you ask for unbiased explanations on sensitive topics; it's the whooping you get in the bathroom because you were acting up in youth service; it's the unfair pressure that can be put on impressionable young people in religious settings to suppress urges or thoughts, or else reap the punishment of burning for eternity. Dealing with the everyday woes of being a human and having few people, if anyone, to go to for answers. This book provides a raw perspective of an intimate and well told tale of so many of our lives. I would love to see these issues directly addressed in congregations and households everywhere. Your children think and feel too; listen to them. Look. The artwork is dope. The formatting is crazy. The attention to detail in each poem is literal genius. It even smells good. Buy it. Experience it for yourself.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Micah

    The first page of this book quotes gospel singer Andre Crouch and (not at all gospel) rapper P. Rico. I knew right then, this author understood me. Raych dedicated her book to family and fellow church babies. I don't know her personally, but being black and also raised in church, these poems felt like home. I've struggled with some of the same questions she wrestles with, many of which, in the end, are rhetorical. As hurt as it seems she was by such a rigid upbringing, faith is not something she The first page of this book quotes gospel singer Andre Crouch and (not at all gospel) rapper P. Rico. I knew right then, this author understood me. Raych dedicated her book to family and fellow church babies. I don't know her personally, but being black and also raised in church, these poems felt like home. I've struggled with some of the same questions she wrestles with, many of which, in the end, are rhetorical. As hurt as it seems she was by such a rigid upbringing, faith is not something she can simply amputate from her soul. For every understandable criticism of strict religion in these poems, she also has moments of gratitude to God for simple blessings in life, like in the pen-ultimate poem where the "Church girl learns to pray again". Throughout the book, she is curious and confused about the god she learned about in church, even angry and afraid at times. And yet, the book opens with the words "To God be the glory" and ends with "Thank you reader, and thank you God." Not quite the framing you would expect from the content of the pages, but neither does it feel like hypocrisy. Whether you're religious or not, we all struggle with trying to decide what to hold on to from the things we were taught as children. For most of us, it's not all good or all bad. In the end, Raych's faith is hers. Not her parent's or her church's. This book is her deconstructing and rebuilding a house of prayer, where she once again learns to pray in her own way. I would highly recommend it.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jess M

    As a brown person who grew up in a very white Catholic Church, this book hit really hard for me. Not everyone will understand the importance of this and no matter what, when questioning something as controversial as the Bible, there is no “right” way to do this. What I appreciate about this book is instead of purely dismantling and dismissing religion, the reality shines through from the author’s experiences growing up and and we are able to see firsthand the validity of the questions of a young As a brown person who grew up in a very white Catholic Church, this book hit really hard for me. Not everyone will understand the importance of this and no matter what, when questioning something as controversial as the Bible, there is no “right” way to do this. What I appreciate about this book is instead of purely dismantling and dismissing religion, the reality shines through from the author’s experiences growing up and and we are able to see firsthand the validity of the questions of a young person growing up with this rigid concept of sinner versus saint which can be very harmful for kids, especially when it seems like there is no gray area. Raych uses humor, stone cold facts from the Bible itself, and tackles topics all the way from drug use to masturbation, family addictions, sexism etc... I applaud the author for her honesty and can’t wait for her next book!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca L.

    I’m a huge fan of spiritual poetry, so I was interested to read this book. I really enjoyed the author’s unique perspective on growing up in the African American church. My favorite pieces were the ones in which she interpreted the book of Job and struggled with issues of the double standards that many women face in the church. As a fellow church girl, I can relate to many of her struggles; however, I was not prepared for the graphic nature of some of these poems. I would have preferred some I’m a huge fan of spiritual poetry, so I was interested to read this book. I really enjoyed the author’s unique perspective on growing up in the African American church. My favorite pieces were the ones in which she interpreted the book of Job and struggled with issues of the double standards that many women face in the church. As a fellow church girl, I can relate to many of her struggles; however, I was not prepared for the graphic nature of some of these poems. I would have preferred some type of warning or indication because many of the pieces were triggering and dealt with very mature content. Not for the easily offended or faint of heart- this visceral collection is not your typical book of religious poems.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Siobhán

    *I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for the free book.* "Even the Saints Audition" is a collection of poetry navigating the abyss between religious belief and sexual self-discovery and independence. There are also other poems about religion & family, going to Church when feeling like a sinner because of one's mind and thoughts. I quite liked the collection. The poems were brutally honest, creating an intimacy between focalizer and reader. However, I felt *I received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Thanks for the free book.* "Even the Saints Audition" is a collection of poetry navigating the abyss between religious belief and sexual self-discovery and independence. There are also other poems about religion & family, going to Church when feeling like a sinner because of one's mind and thoughts. I quite liked the collection. The poems were brutally honest, creating an intimacy between focalizer and reader. However, I felt that the poems were connected but I also found that many poems weren't going anywhere - at least for me. As a white agnostic I lack knowledge & experience in that very specific setting, yet I enjoyed them. I learned a lot. 4 Stars

  13. 4 out of 5

    Peter Kerry Powers

    I found myself liking what this book was about more than I liked the book. For those of us who struggled and fought as young people with what are very often the controlling absurdities of life in church, the themes and images will resonate, sometimes painfully or bitterly. There are especially some nice contemporary renditions of the story of Job and its implications, if adding nothing absolutely new to the 30 centuries of midrashim turned over and over again to explain or protest Gods I found myself liking what this book was about more than I liked the book. For those of us who struggled and fought as young people with what are very often the controlling absurdities of life in church, the themes and images will resonate, sometimes painfully or bitterly. There are especially some nice contemporary renditions of the story of Job and its implications, if adding nothing absolutely new to the 30 centuries of midrashim turned over and over again to explain or protest Gods complicity in and impassivity towards Job’s suffering. In the end I felt there were too many theses and too few poems. Still, it is a book in earnest. Though it records the poet’s pain and joy more than it makes me feel it, I felt there were more and better books to come.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Jackson

    I’ve held off from writing about or even reviewing this book for some time not because of dislike but because I like it so much. Reading these collection of poems inspired me to write, to feel. I grew up in the church connecting to it for far different reasons than Raych but still reading each poem and understanding or just hearing. I’m not longer a religious person not even sure if spiritually connected to any one idea but still to this date I reread each poem and feel like the idea of feeling I’ve held off from writing about or even reviewing this book for some time not because of dislike but because I like it so much. Reading these collection of poems inspired me to write, to feel. I grew up in the church connecting to it for far different reasons than Raych but still reading each poem and understanding or just hearing. I’m not longer a religious person not even sure if spiritually connected to any one idea but still to this date I reread each poem and feel like the idea of feeling the bad egg in a sea of chickens can relate to me and is cool even when a piece doesn’t. Read it you never know how you’ll relate and what you might even find about yourself if you don’t.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lianne

    This collection is a heartfelt exploration of what it's like to be a person prone to questioning the theology they're taught since childhood. I was especially interested on the "On Job" poems which push back against the lessons we're "supposed" to learn from the story. On the other hand, I was a little disappointed in the hymn erasure poems; they didn't seem to be saying anything all that different from the originals, and I thought they could have pushed it much further. I appreciate the This collection is a heartfelt exploration of what it's like to be a person prone to questioning the theology they're taught since childhood. I was especially interested on the "On Job" poems which push back against the lessons we're "supposed" to learn from the story. On the other hand, I was a little disappointed in the hymn erasure poems; they didn't seem to be saying anything all that different from the originals, and I thought they could have pushed it much further. I appreciate the intersectionality of many of these poems, giving glimpses into experiences that I both can and can't relate to.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    I didn't love this poetry book. I loved the themes, the messages, and some of the poems. But I did not love this book. Lines like "My Sunday school teacher thinks we've forgotten God is a murderer" and "I return to the Devil asking permission to torment. I can't overlook God saying yes" are lines that have stuck in my head for days. Most of the poems at the beginning and the end are stunning. But the ones in the middle all mush together. If it wasn't for them, this would probably be a 4 star I didn't love this poetry book. I loved the themes, the messages, and some of the poems. But I did not love this book. Lines like "My Sunday school teacher thinks we've forgotten God is a murderer" and "I return to the Devil asking permission to torment. I can't overlook God saying yes" are lines that have stuck in my head for days. Most of the poems at the beginning and the end are stunning. But the ones in the middle all mush together. If it wasn't for them, this would probably be a 4 star review. Overall, it was an interesting poetry book but not one I'm going to read again.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Dora Okeyo

    This right here is looking at what it means to be righteous, exploring the understanding of Scripture in real life struggles. You'll love titles like "Jonah was trapped before he met the fish" and take a step back to feel what the author invites you to experience on every time you come across "On Job." The author incorporates various formats for the pieces herein, so you are up for some surprises if you think this collection follows the normal book formatting. Thanks Netgalley for the eARC, and This right here is looking at what it means to be righteous, exploring the understanding of Scripture in real life struggles. You'll love titles like "Jonah was trapped before he met the fish" and take a step back to feel what the author invites you to experience on every time you come across "On Job." The author incorporates various formats for the pieces herein, so you are up for some surprises if you think this collection follows the normal book formatting. Thanks Netgalley for the eARC, and to the publisher- I love the cover.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Georgette

    Raych Jackson and I may hail from opposite sides of the earth but the (former) church girl and Christian guilt heaped upon us is the same everywhere, which makes me both feel a kinship and yet sad at the same time. Using Job from the Bible as a running theme, Jackson takes us on a trip through problems in both religious and reality, pointing out that human behaviour will always be in conflict with religious teachings. I have experienced and questioned the same things. It resonates. I hear you. Raych Jackson and I may hail from opposite sides of the earth but the (former) church girl and Christian guilt heaped upon us is the same everywhere, which makes me both feel a kinship and yet sad at the same time. Using Job from the Bible as a running theme, Jackson takes us on a trip through problems in both religious and reality, pointing out that human behaviour will always be in conflict with religious teachings. I have experienced and questioned the same things. It resonates. I hear you. This eARC of 'Even the Saints Audition' is courtesy of NetGalley.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Joe

    This poetry is honest. This book resonated with me in many ways and challenged me in others. I was the kid who was told to stop asking questions in Sunday School and sometimes felt like God was more hurtful than holy. I often feel like my life is some laughable audition...and yet somehow...there is grace. I was especially intrigued by the erasures and found the weaving in-and-our of Jon to be the most compelling.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jake Albaugh

    Words this honest aren’t solely meant for the reader. Although this work was a direct hit in my specific gut, it mustn’t be ignored that ETSA ushers you to places most people attempt to repress the memory of, in what I can only assume is the culmination of years spent learning to embrace one’s true self. Take this admirable work as a reflection of the grace the author has clearly learned how to appropriately apply.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Layla

    I bought this book after hearing Raych Jackson perform a few of the poems at a poetry slam. I went home and read the whole thing immediately. I really enjoyed the unique but relatable voice of her poems. Definitely one of my new favorites and I plan on buying a copy for my friend who also grew up in church and struggles reconciling that upbringing and her current faith. Great book!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Briana

    I love this book. As a church kid myself it was relatable and amazingly written. Rachel’s work has a great flow, a consistent story, and the poems themselves are strong on their own but together they make for a phenomenal book.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Stuti Sharma

    I wish I could time travel and give this book to my 14 year old self. Rachel has taken time to explore the shadows of religion, the shadows of light, and has emerged with this book, her own testament of sorts and one that feeds and feeds and feeds.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    This just wasn’t for me.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Maya Williams

    This collection is potent in its beautiful transparency in the tensions faith may bring in mental health, sex, and family. It is worth your time. I couldn’t put it down.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Fannetta

    This book made my church girl heart so happy with its realness. I felt the questioning and the guilt but also the relief and the praise. This is a brilliant work. Highly recommend.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kendal

    Gorgeous.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Demarcus Robinson

    Absolutely beautiful. Will definitely be rereading a few times.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Elke

    terror is a sinner's uniform. all my panic attacks are a couple sizes too big. forgotten hand-me-downs. it's poetry time again! i received this collection as an arc from netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion BUT it came out last week so you can go ahead and order/request it already. this was phenomenal. i was absolutely blown away. my copy has more than 70 highlights, which is a lot for a book just shy of 100 pages. i was baptised by my own choice. how can i show god i'm committed without terror is a sinner's uniform. all my panic attacks are a couple sizes too big. forgotten hand-me-downs. it's poetry time again! i received this collection as an arc from netgalley in exchange for my honest opinion BUT it came out last week so you can go ahead and order/request it already. this was phenomenal. i was absolutely blown away. my copy has more than 70 highlights, which is a lot for a book just shy of 100 pages. i was baptised by my own choice. how can i show god i'm committed without practising to drown? obviously, poetry is always a deeply personal thing. you can feel it here. on the other hand, poetry connects people and sometimes others see themselves in what you wrote and it becomes personal for them too. (it's me, i'm them.) this hit really close to home. i really connected to the stories and words about growing up in a church and questioning things/being questioned by the church. obviously, as a white reviewer, there are parts of this collecion i'll miss - WHICH IS GOOD, not eveything needs to be catered to white people. it's just important to note when i talk about seeing myself in these poems. sadness is a wolf. you could think you've built everything strong but with a woosh, sadness can huff & puff & blow all that happy down. then your other feelings eat you. "church" is not the only theme here but having never read something that feels like this, it is what my reading was focussed on. i know this is important info going in for some people: the collection questions faith a lot and show a lot of pain because of the church. i read the end as something positive and hopeful and about finding or (re)creating a connection to belief in a different way. however, as always and especially with poems, this is just my interpretation! we pray on the edge of my bed before we sleep. i still get a nightmare. my parents pray to remind god they're still here. i stay quiet & hope god forgets me. i really liked the recurring pieces on job. i absolutely loved the writing, which made me feel inspired and also slightly sad that it is nowhere near my own (shorter) style of poems. i will definitely be rereading this often and would highly recommend it if you think this is something you might be interested in. i sin & misery wanders into my home. i get saved & it never leaves. content warnings: masturbation, guilt, shame, suicidal idolation, suicide attempt, depression, panic attacks, anxiety, disordered eating, ableism by the church, death, funerals (including one for a baby). possibly more i've missed all of my art betrays me. all of my art leaves without asking permission.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    I didn't love this poetry book. I loved the themes, the messages, and some of the poems. But I did not love this book. Lines like "My Sunday school teacher thinks we've forgotten God is a murderer" and "I return to the Devil asking permission to torment. I can't overlook God saying yes" are lines that have stuck in my head for days. Most of the poems at the beginning and the end are stunning. But the ones in the middle all mush together. If it wasn't for them, this would probably be a 4 star I didn't love this poetry book. I loved the themes, the messages, and some of the poems. But I did not love this book. Lines like "My Sunday school teacher thinks we've forgotten God is a murderer" and "I return to the Devil asking permission to torment. I can't overlook God saying yes" are lines that have stuck in my head for days. Most of the poems at the beginning and the end are stunning. But the ones in the middle all mush together. If it wasn't for them, this would probably be a 4 star review. Overall, it was an interesting poetry book but not one I'm going to read again.

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