So, while ...more
Boone's inability to play Joplin's final outpouring note for note is a gut-wrenching conceit for the inability to fully empathize with another's personal anguish and seems to imply the sin of Slavery (Jim Crow, lynchings, burning churches, et al.) will not and cannot ever be atoned (note for note).
Absolutely blown away by this work. It ranks a ...more
Joplin appears in the ambitions second collection of poetry by Tyehimba Jess, who ...more
This book was overwhelmingly brilliant! It is poetry, performance, history, prose, art, witness, confession...I could go on... The sheer amount of care that went into the creation of this beautiful book is evident...it is impeccably researched and rendered; Jess has excavated the unsung black heroes from the period just after emancipation, giving them ownership of their legacies, all told in intoxicating, dazzling, dizzying language. I've never read anything like this in my life and I t ...more
I feel physically full from this work, unable to completely digest it. I've been listening to Jess' recordings of sections of the poem ...more
not mined from the mind of poets,
artists rewriting the past blow
by blow till it's pulverized past
the barely recognizable?
I was born when I was written,
then hammered out of a mountain."
This is one of the best books I have ever read. Apart from being one of the most ambitious volumes of poetry probably ever, it is also consistently surprising—and never becomes less so over the course of its hefty 230 oversized pages. Jess's project here is a big one: how have narra ...more
Jess was the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for this collection of poems and I can totally understand the accolades. This is an amazing, mind-blowing piece of art. I mean I just can't say enough about what a master of words Jess is ... seriously.
The book focuses on the lives of various artists, writers, entertainers from the Antebellum South and beyond. Jess has c ...more
the poems are okay. they're better in free form. that's where most of Jess's ability is displayed. he manages to work up some unexpected emotion in the stories of real musicians who lived not too long ago. as for the "syncopated sonnets", they almost always read awkwardly, both because of his struggle with iambic pentameter and his struggle with combining two poems. it very rarely adds significant new meaning ...more
From the editors: "Poet Tyehimba Jess’s second collection mixes sonnet, song, and narrative to chronicle the experiences of black performers in America from Reconstruction to World War I. Jess, an associate professor of English at the College of Staten Island, brings these mostly unrecorded voices to life and demonstrates how these performers challenged and transcended conceptions of the minstrel."
Before even thinking of the content in any substantive way, Olio marks itself in its form as an extremely ambitious, meticulously crafted work. It's difficult to settle on any particular description of its form when we use our traditional array of terms. I'm reticent to call it an out-and-out poetry collection because ...more
Olio by Tyehimba Jess deals with subject matter than many people don't want to deal with but should. For being mostly a style of poetry I can not stand, they were better than most. I can absolutely see why he won the Pulitzer.
- history lessons on ragtime
- interactive structural poetry
- lists that will make you cry
- a cast of characters
- some of the most incredible, beautiful words, telling stories about survival and the sly wit and tremendous bravery that survival required. words about thriving under impossible conditions.
it was all just really wonderful put together. each page was a surprise and a revelation and you should read it.
It was astounding, it was magical, it was soulful. In many ways, it was mind-blowing.
Listening to this as an Audible Original performance I enjoyed the music and the beautiful rhythms of Contemporary Black Poetry. Felt like being at a Poetry Slam combined with a lesson in the History of the Blues and the Cultural Appropriation of the Black Experience for entertainment purposes.
America has a long history of doing exactly that and, unfortunately, White America has benefitted mightily from it.
An olio is
• a miscellaneous collection of things.
• a variety act or show,
• a specialty act performed downstage while the upstage set is changed
• a performance, as a musical number, presented between scenes or acts.
• the second half of a minstrelshow.
Jess, (who also wrote Leadbelly) is a young poet, and the winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. A large book at 233 pages, Olio is mu ...more
A fascinating and unconventional winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, w ...more
I don't know what I expected from this book, but whatever it was, I didn't expect to feel like I do after I read Milton's Paradise Lost. As I write this, it doesn't seem like BS to mention Milton to discuss Jess. I don't think I've ever read another book of African American poetry which seems, as a whole, as a book, to merit the comparison. Jess seems to have altered my thinking. (Whether this is true or not will be born out in the future.)
What Jess does is to take individuals and the Fisk ...more
Olio has a wider scope and also uses historical figures, mostly, but not exclusively, musicians and performers, to consider the first ge ...more
I should've come into this review with my nose up and mumbled something like "Masterpiece" and "Genius" and "contrapuntal" and "syncopated sonnets" and I could've put on airs and my best pretention and acted like this book didn't mind fuck me, but if you've ever read any of my other reviews you'd pick me out as a fraud straight away, so what's the point...
Just so you know: contrapuntal means counterpoint, so contrapuntal poems are a combination of two poems, and the genius of this in Olio is tha...more
On Sissieretta Jones, Jess writes: "See, Sissie would know how to let folks into one mask and out through another. She'd even raise a toast to the mask, jokin about whether folk–black and white–really believed that the opera was wearing her as a mask, or if it just tickled them to see her puttin on that white mask of Vivaldi. Was it her voice or someone else's? they'd seem to ask. Well, it was all her. Every note, in whiteface or blackface or in just plain old American, went straight down to her bones. That's what I heard when I truly listened, anyway. She'd pour those opera songs all over her body and then dress herself in the church frock of hymns. She told me one time, that in order to hear her true voice, she'd had to ask herself about her own masks. What kind of mask might I have on? she said. Because let me tell you, most don't even know they're wearing a mask. You've got to know which masks, how many masks you're wearing before you can put it down and see your true self. Those that do, they know just how to slide in and out of it, how to make the world spin inside it and out of it. How to spread their song all over that mask and make it one with the world, no matter how thick or thin the truth in that song might be.”