Class Notes 9-22


  • failure & openness of experimental form / process allow an un-telling
  • whose loss is being addressed? whose story is it? who needs it to be told and untold?
  • law has material outcomes; does poetry also?
  • silence vs. Silences
  • always at least 2 poems
  • how does the reader become implicated in Zong!?
  • “It is happening always, repeating always, the repetition becoming a haunting” (203)
  • What are the themes, phrases, voices?
  • if you only ever knew your second language, what would it be like?
    • an attempt to speak? either an attempt that’s stalled, or one that there’s no reference point for it
    • fluency is always inaccessible

Renegade Poetics, Introduction

  • what do we mean by “black aesthetic”?
    • risks of essentializing / parochialism
    • imposed or organic?
    • orality, musicality, overt celebration of black heroes & history
  • “aesthetics are not universal, but culturally specific” (4)
  • “to recognize and insist upon the validity of an African American culture that emcompases not only the retentions of the African cultures from which the enslaved population was drawn, but also the unique culture that the enslaved developed out of the conditions and imperatives of their lives in the U.S.” (4)
  • a theory of African American literature
    • cultural context in meaning and operation of literary language (6)
    • foreground literary structure and form as the evidence cultural specificity (6)
    • what is excluded?
  • writerly texts vs speakerly texts
  • redefinition of “black aesthetics” to be descriptive not prescriptive (7)
    • plural
    • “describes the subjectivity of the African American writer–that is, the subjectivity produced by the experience of identifying or being interpolated as ‘black’ in the U.S.–actively working out a poetics in the context of a racist society.” (9)
    • contingent and must be contextualized
    • “othering” (9)
  • experimental attempts to “coax from the available tools of language something that is felt to have been excluded, repressed, or rendered impossible” (10)
    • Mullen: “I would define innovation as explorative and interrogative, an open-ended investigation into the possibilities of language, the aesthetic and expressive, intellectual and transformative possibilities of language.” (10)
  • Does it take something more or different for Black poets to be understood as experimental poets?” (13) or is “simply being Black” avant-garde?
    • essentialist?
    • Moten: “To say that Blackness is intrinsically experimental is not the same thing as to say that Black folks are intrinsically experimental” (13)
    • being read and heard (and seen / constructed as being) “black” functions as a constraint on artists
    • who is it that’s understanding black as experimental? self-determined or othered and exoticized?
    • Hunt’s oppositional poetics

About Erica Mena

Erica Mena is a Puerto Rican poet, translator, and book artist. Pronouns: they/them.
This entry was posted in Class Notes and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s