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On Knowing: Quasi-intelligibility, or Good-bye National Poetry Month! May 3, 2013: In On Photography, Susan Sontag discusses Walter Benjamin’s ideal work of literary criticism. According to Sontag, for Benjamin, the ideal work of literary of criticism would be made up of nothing but quotes. Sontag writes: “Benjamin’s own ideal project reads like a sublimated version of the photographer’s activity. This project was a [...] by

Our Slaves: Caring for Masters, Deforming Mastery (Part 2 of 2) May 2, 2013: [caption id="attachment_66854" align="alignright" width="500"] Cape Coast Slave Castle[/caption] “Cape Coast Castle,” a poem in Yusef Komunyakaa’s Chameleon Couch (his most recent book), begins with a haunting. The speaker of poem declares in the first line: “I made love to you, & it loomed there.” The “it” returns again and [...] by

Our Slaves: Caring for Masters, Deforming Mastery (Part 1 of 2) May 1, 2013: This post is a continuation of the conversation I started last week with the same title. There’s so much that can be written on both Natasha Trethewey’s “Native Guard” and Yusef Komunyakaa’s “Cape Coast Castle.” I am just venturing in a toe in a mighty deep pool. Please, after reading this blog, won’t you come wade with [...] by

Our Slaves: Meditations on the Traffic of Black Bodies in Print (Part 2 of 2) April 25, 2013: I want to think through these questions raised in my last post a bit differently than Saidiya Hartman and Toni Morrison. Their investigation tends to focus upon the playing in the dark archive of slavery by white writers and artists. I am interested in locating the discussion of the trafficking of black bodies in print in the African-American [...] by

Our Slaves: Meditations on the Traffic of Black Bodies in Print (Part 1 of 2) April 24, 2013: April 18, 2013 The Chicago River is swollen; and for the first time in over a century, they are allowing it to flow into Lake Michigan, the lake that provides the city’s drinking water. A fertilizer plant in Waco, Texas smolders after a violent explosion. In Copley Square, the FBI and all manner of secret and not-so-secret police tweeze [...] by

Speculating Darkly, or The Folk Surreal Future (3 of 3) April 17, 2013: [continued from part 1, and part 2] AND WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH MAKING POEMS OR ART? I’m sorry I just got distracted trying to figure out if Diddy, of “I created the remix” fame, was really dating Kate Upton. And then, there was the story about a komodo dragon in Indonesia biting an 83 year-old woman on the arm. Did you know [...] by

Speculating Darkly, or The Folk Surreal Future (2 of 3) April 16, 2013: [continued from part 1] LADDER FOR BOOKER T. WASHINGTON This section header from Terrance Hayes's “Arbor for Butch” reads as both dedication and a humorous, signifying/subverting of Booker T. Washington’s famous strategy of social uplift for African-Americans at the turn of the nineteenth century, commonly referred to as [...] by

Speculating Darkly, or The Folk Surreal Future (1 of 3) April 15, 2013: [caption id="attachment_64991" align="alignright" width="500"] Photo by Sally Mann[/caption] It’s April in Chicago which means it feels like January in east Texas which means it’s still rather cold for a Southerner, which is the way I’ve come to think of myself though I was born and raised in New Jersey and only came to the South in [...] by