Marcus Wicker Challenges Preconceived Notions of American Blackness
At Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Dave Harris reviews Marcus Wicker's latest collection, Silencer (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017). Harris writes that, at every turn, Wicker's verse upends readers' preconceived notions about race and culture. Harris: "The politics of expectation are cuffed into Mr. Wicker’s stunning second poetry collection...The book’s dedication page reads, 'For all of us,' which in turn asks: Who is us? Is it all lives? Is it all black people?" From there:
Is it uniting the reader with the poet? The “us” is an invitation that Mr. Wicker weaponizes, implicating the reader as audience, assailant and agent.
In the opening poem “Silencer to the Heart While Jogging Through a Park,” Mr. Wicker writes, “Surely, I don’t have to tell you there’s a gun,” wherein the line shifts depending on who inhabits the role of “you.”
The you could be a white reader who assumes the black man in the park is dangerous; or, the you could be a black reader who assumes what the white gaze assumes.
There are as many possibilities as there are eyes to read this. The flexibility of the line re-enacts how a black middle-class Midwesterner must be conscious of the self, the white expectations of the self, and then manipulate both for his survival.
Read more at Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.