Details

ISBN-10: 0872868842
ISBN-13: 9780872868847
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publish Date: 04/12/2022
Dimensions: 0.00" L, 0.00" W, 0.00" H

Published by City Lights

Before Whiteness: City Lights Spotlight No. 21

Price: $15.95 $11.17

Overview

A searing indictment of anti-Black social and political violence by British Jamaican poet and leading scholar of Afro-pessimism D.S. Marriott. Like Aimé Césaire, whom he sees as a revolutionary black modernist who delegitimized modernism’s imitative structure of readymade experimentation, Marriott’s work resists categorization.–Sandeep Parmar, author of Eidolon A book that turns Blackness into a question […]

A searing indictment of anti-Black social and political violence by British Jamaican poet and leading scholar of Afro-pessimism D.S. Marriott.

Like Aimé Césaire, whom he sees as a revolutionary black modernist who delegitimized modernism’s imitative structure of readymade experimentation, Marriott’s work resists categorization.–Sandeep Parmar, author of Eidolon

A book that turns Blackness into a question of reading, seeking to at once destroy and reimagine the various traditions of inscribing and decoding Blackness in poetry, Before Whiteness draws on a sweeping range of cultural references from the medieval Beowulf to 19th century German Romantic poet/philosopher Hölderlin to contemporary UK grime rapper Stormzy. Born in Britain but now living in the U.S., Marriott trains his analytical gaze on such grim American subject matter as the Middle Passage of the Atlantic slave trade and the lynching of Melby Dotson in Louisiana, yet also finds inspiration in African American poets Stephen Jonas and Bob Kaufman and the artist Kara Walker. Other works find him celebrating fallen poetic comrades like Sean Bonney and Dambudzo Marechera.

The book ends with Another Burning, an ambitious and agonized memorialization of the 2017 Grenfell Tower disaster in London, where an out-of-control fire spread throughout a high-rise building of council flats due to neglect and unsafe materials, resulting in the deaths of 72 poor, largely ethnic minority residents. The poem is both a mournful elegy for the victims and stirring rebuke of the structural racism of contemporary UK society that allowed such a preventable and even forewarned-of tragedy to occur.

With its necessarily critical transatlantic perspective, Before Whiteness provides poetic resistance to the injustices experienced by people of color in the postcolonial Anglophone world.

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Reviews

More than most poets, Marriott always seems to be responding to something: refuting it, or adapting it, or inverting it, or making a grim parody. ... He tries to use poems to learn (not to show, but to learn) how systems of knowledge, systems that tell us what and how we can speak, emerge from and depend on systems of domination, and of sexual pleasure, and when tastes and standards function as weapons, or masks .... Marriott wants to know how and whether the art of poetry, his art, can construct something better than what we get from history, from familiar traditions, from prose. ... When Marriott says "negritude" he means it. It would be a mistake to overlook the Jamaican-born poet's blackness, his Afro-diasporic identity; some of the poems insist on it. But it would be almost as mistaken to reduce his variety to that single subject, or to any single subject.–Stephanie Burt, poetry critic and author of Don't Read Poetry and Advice from the Lights

Like Aimé Césaire, whom he sees as a revolutionary black modernist who delegitimized modernism's imitative structure of readymade experimentation, Marriott's work resists categorization.–Sandeep Parmar, author of Eidolon

Marriott's poems broker a profound engagement with the violence involved in the jurisdiction of love as well as the jurisdiction of colonialism . . .These poems are something else."–John Wilkinson, author of My Reef My Manifest Array

Marriott's deployment of such mythological materials and even 'hoodoo' itself in his theatre of 'real ghosts, ' fears and emergent desires enacts his forging of new relations with the past and his many interlocutors in this book, as well as his Rilkean 'refusal to refuse, ' a seeming double negative that opens a new way through the many locked doors and crossroads his speakers encounter in these poems. I'm overwhelmed by the beauty that is this book.–Romana Huk, author of Stevie Smith: Between the Lines

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Details

ISBN-10: 0872868842
ISBN-13: 9780872868847
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publish Date: 04/12/2022
Dimensions: 0.00" L, 0.00" W, 0.00" H
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