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The Black Interior: Essays

4.09  ·  Rating Details ·  35 Ratings  ·  6 Reviews
With a poet's precision and an intellectually adventurous spirit, Elizabeth Alexander explores a wide spectrum of contemporary African American artistic life through literature, paintings, popular media, and films, and discusses its place in current culture. In The Black Interior, she examines the vital roles of such heavyweight literary figures as Gwendolyn Brooks, Langst ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published January 1st 2004 by Graywolf Press
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Mar 06, 2011 Anna rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, nonfiction
See my full review here:

Poet Elizabeth Alexander situates her first collection of essays, The Black Interior (Graywolf Press) at the question of what the creative inner lives of African-American people looks like, separate from the overlay of stereotypes, presumption, and "limited imagination." It is a broad topic, the kind of question that spills liquidly over the edge of the table; I entered the inner life of this book with skepticism (and intrigue) abo
Jul 28, 2011 Phillip rated it liked it
the book was a kind of interesting cultural/aesthetic/political survey, but I have significant problems with the essentialist concepts that inform Alexander's work. She has this technique of simultaneously disavowing essentialism in publications like Jet magazine, and using an essentialist rhetoric of "black experience," "black reactions," "black lifestyles," and claiming a fundamental difference between white reactions and black reactions to something like Rodney King--Alexander claims a certai ...more
Jan 14, 2009 Terry rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: People interested in the breadth of American culture including the contributions of Black artists
Recommended to Terry by: I went looking for it when I learned that Elizabeth Alexander wo
Literary criticism, art criticism, these are not genres that usually inspire hyperbole. The language is almost always that of academia. But Alexander has drawn out the themes and ideas from both well known and little known black artists, primarily writers, that are both stridently part of the Black American (African American) culture and yet cross over often into universality. She quotes Langston Hughes in one essay, just for example, that "poets are lyric historians" and extrapolates from there ...more
Jane Alberdeston
Aug 07, 2007 Jane Alberdeston rated it it was amazing
I found this book especially useful/helpful in my coursework and for my students. The essay on poet Gwendolyn Brooks (Alexander is a Brooks scholar) was fantastic! One of my students, after reading this essay, decided to write about Brooks for her final research paper. It helped me, it helped my students.
May 21, 2015 Julene rated it it was amazing
I loved the essays in this book. She carries forth the rich history of jazz and writing and how they combine. The book is full of history every American should know. She is a scholar, a historian who brings it forth to poetry with jazz as her underbeat.
Tara Betts
I've read the opening essay, which really pulled me in. I need to come back to it when I unpack my books.
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Elizabeth Alexander is a Quantrell Award-winning American poet, essayist, playwright, university professor, and scholar of African-American literature and culture. She teaches English language/literature, African-American literature, and gender studies at Yale University. Alexander was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard during the 2007-08 academic year.

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“Using the voice is a physical act, one that first announces the existence of the body of residence and then trumpets its arrival in a public space.” 6 likes
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