Here it is only March, and I think this might be the best book of poems I'll have read this year. Certainly a high bar to clear for any other contende...moreHere it is only March, and I think this might be the best book of poems I'll have read this year. Certainly a high bar to clear for any other contenders.
Very little objective to say about this one at the moment -- it simply knocked me flat and then sang to me as I was coming to.(less)
Amazing work of scholarship on the slave ship as essentially the "shop floor" of Atlantic capitalism. In many ways, this develops in deep, human detai...moreAmazing work of scholarship on the slave ship as essentially the "shop floor" of Atlantic capitalism. In many ways, this develops in deep, human detail a theme from C.L.R. James, Robin Blackburn and others, which positions slavery as central to the historical emergence of a capitalist Western hemisphere -- rather than an unfortunate exception to a linear progressivist historical template. Also recognizably Jamesian is the insistence on the primacy of the resistance and creative insurgency of workers, slave and free, to exploitation and bondage. The expansion of the "shipmate" concept into a root-formation of resistant Afro-diasporic culture and politics transforms an otherwise horrifying chronicle into something paradoxically optimistic, and militantly liberatory.
My one quibble might be the long chapter of extensive citation from Equiano's narrative. I'm not sure how universal the assignment of this text as undergraduate reading is elsewhere, but given how deeply invested the curricula of my own formal education were in reading and re-reading this particular text, it did feel a bit like rehearsal of the known in the midst of a book that had so much else to reveal.
But that's certainly a very minor objection to raise, and one that's linked more to idiosyncrasies of my own reading than anything else. Trying to imagine myself as a reader encountering Equiano's text for the first time in this book's context, I'd hazard a guess that it would be a pretty profoundly revelatory experience. (And one which would go some distance toward countering the usual de-politicized readings of that narrative that seem to dominate in undergraduate lit classes).(less)
Several of these essays are otherwise available (notably in the "Theoretical Writings" collection, also published by Continuum). Nonetheless, the fina...moreSeveral of these essays are otherwise available (notably in the "Theoretical Writings" collection, also published by Continuum). Nonetheless, the final essay on Beckett makes the whole book worth buying or stealing.(less)
My overwhelming sense in reading girl scout nation is one of gratitude, as one is grateful perhaps for an earth to "go up and down in," however diffic...moreMy overwhelming sense in reading girl scout nation is one of gratitude, as one is grateful perhaps for an earth to "go up and down in," however difficult may be the terrain. One sees here not as a colonist mapping the landscape as an alien quantity, but as a participant in the rhythms and forms of an ecology:
the human eye
a striated leaf
In girl scout nation, I am grateful that the desert West, the California North Coast, and the Sierra it proposes are actual, and exceed their roles in allegory. I am grateful that it goes some way toward uttering a public language of responsibility, in which, among other talismanic words, we find "Abu Ghraib" written in the cells of the American body and across the vistas of the American landscape. I am grateful for the hand and eye and leaf in "Survivor North Coast (Shelter Cove)," a beautiful and true and (in this book's context) exceptionally hard-won new approach to the nature poem. I am grateful that it teaches this transplant to the West the names of birds and bushes, while not neglecting the names for industrial chemicals, bombs, and new, possibly unofficial body parts. I am grateful that it knows I was once a girl, even when I was a boy.
I am grateful that it ends by inviting me-and us, as readers-to get lost. Again.(less)