Details

ISBN-10: 0872868842
ISBN-13: 9780872868847
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publish Date: 04/26/2022
Dimensions: 0.00" L, 0.00" W, 0.00" H

Published by City Lights

Before Whiteness: City Lights Spotlight No. 21

Paperback

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.

A book that turns Blackness into a question of reading, seeking to destroy and reimagine the various traditions of inscribing and decoding Blackness in poetry, Before Whiteness draws on a sweeping range of references from medieval Beowulf to contemporary UK grime. Born in Britain but now living in the U.S., Marriott trains his analytical gaze on grim American subjects like the Middle Passage and lynchings, yet also finds inspiration in African American poets and artists. The book ends with “Another Burning,” a mournful elegy for the victims of the 2017 Grenfell Tower fire in London and stirring rebuke of the structural racism of contemporary UK society. With its critical transatlantic perspective, Before Whiteness provides poetic resistance to the injustices experienced by people of color in the postcolonial Anglophone world.

“In Before Whiteness, Marriott inhabits the names we remember, such as Lester Young and Dambudzo Marechera, and victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, names we never knew. All of them people who have no place at the table where the Human family feasts. ‘Blackness /’ Marriott reminds us, ‘wasn’t in the language–we saw it / being evacuated / but we still inhabited / the ashes.’ These are not poems for the faint of heart, or those in need of denouncements. But with the evocative language of a wordsmith and the fearless insights of a philosopher, these poems guide us through the inner life of social death.”–Frank B. Wilderson III, author of Afropessimism

“The mature poetry of the British-Caribbean poet D. S. Marriott is often possessed by a majestic full-throatedness, but Before Whiteness makes audible his more intimate tone, the sound of an approachable vulnerability. Before whiteness comes infancy, a time before language and the impingement of the white world, but this writing also stands in the face of whiteness, can stand against whiteness. Its words may be placed on white ground, the long history of English verse, but also are hauled from a dense Black record of suffering, resistance and joy. … Only a great poet’s writing can be at once so rich with echoes, so exacting in its thought, and so emotionally open.”–John Wilkinson, author of My Reef My Manifest Array and Lyric in Its Times

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Reviews

Praise for Before Whiteness:

"In Before Whiteness, Marriott inhabits the names we remember, such as Lester Young and Dambudzo Marechera, and victims of the Grenfell Tower fire, names we never knew. All of them people who have no place at the table where the Human family feasts. 'Blackness /' Marriott reminds us, 'wasn't in the language–we saw it / being evacuated / but we still inhabited / the ashes.' These are not poems for the faint of heart, or those in need of denouncements. But with the evocative language of a wordsmith and the fearless insights of a philosopher, these poems guide us through the inner life of social death."–Frank B. Wilderson III, author of Afropessimism

"The mature poetry of the British-Caribbean poet D. S. Marriott is often possessed by a majestic full-throatedness, but Before Whiteness makes audible his more intimate tone, the sound of an approachable vulnerability. Before whiteness comes infancy, a time before language and the impingement of the white world, but this writing also stands in the face of whiteness, can stand against whiteness. Its words may be placed on white ground, the long history of English verse, but also are hauled from a dense Black record of suffering, resistance and joy. ... Only a great poet's writing can be at once so rich with echoes, so exacting in its thought, and so emotionally open."–John Wilkinson, author of My Reef My Manifest Array and Lyric in Its Times

Praise for D.S. Marriott:

"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

"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 not beauty (in the sense of the riveting image) that is this book."–Romana Huk, author of Stevie Smith: Between the Lines

"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

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Details

ISBN-10: 0872868842
ISBN-13: 9780872868847
Publisher: City Lights Books
Publish Date: 04/26/2022
Dimensions: 0.00" L, 0.00" W, 0.00" H
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