Monday, April 30, 2012

Realism as Fantasy: From Jonathan Franzen to Colson Whitehead

By Emily A. Phillips

In his 1996 article,  “I’ll be Doing More of the Same,” Jonathan Franzen defends his use of realism as a novelist. He claims “When the times get really, really awful, you retrench; you reexamine old content in next contexts; you try to preserve; you seem obsolete…The day comes when the truly subversive literature is in some measure conservative. Maybe it’s time for us to ask ourselves whether apocalypse might be self-indulgence” (38).

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

April poetry blog for HBW

If you are post-weary of post-human discourses about contemporary African American poetry, you will find reading

Jahannes, Ja  A. WordSong Poets: A Memoir Anthology. Savannah: Turner Mayfield Publishing, 2011

to be refreshing.

WordSong Poets is a pre-future book.

Jahannes, a scholar and accomplished poet, speaks to people not to promotion and tenure committees or to the prison guards of deconstructed intelligence. His language is not besmirched by the jargon of post-reason.  He invites us to live with poetry.

His memoir anthology is a thoughtful and original genre, and we can profit from his selection of works by Langston Hughes, Larry Neal, Ron Welburn, Everett Hoagland, Keorapetse William Kgositsile, Gil Scott-Heron, and himself.  We can profit most, however, from his insights about seven word song poets and how their lives and works are interrelated by their experiences at Lincoln University (Pennsylvania).

Jahannes honors his alma mater as a site for acquiring and using literacy to affirm humanity and to triumph over a hostile world.  His book encourages us to meditate on an oral/print/aural/visual lineage extending from the cultural articulations of Langston Hughes to the cultural recuperations of Gil Scott-Heron.

WordSong Poets is a crucial contribution to our study of poetry as an act of human necessity. As Tony Medina has aptly noted, the book “is bridge and foundation  ---  an aggregated Black fist of love and fury.”

Jerry W. Ward, Jr.
April 3, 2012