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You Are Not Alone: An Apocalyptic Reading List from mónica teresa ortiz

The future feels very uncertain right now, for many of us unaccustomed to instability and precarity; but it is a reality vulnerable and marginalized populations have known for awhile.
Given our circumstances, I ask that we not trade our humanity for economic exploitation in this chaos. If and when possible, practice care. Let us think and act collectively rather than individually.
While we grapple with a global pandemic and a failed state, our lives will continue to be disrupted - but my hope is that these disruptions will lead us to strive for a better path. In these times, I reach for my teachers, for books, for artists, for those who have lived and thought during moments of difficulty and strive for liberation.
mónica teresa ortiz
1. In the Wake: On Blackness and Being by Dr. Christina Sharpe

"Activating multiple registers of "wake"—the path behind a ship, keeping watch with the dead, coming to consciousness—Sharpe illustrates how Black lives are swept up and animated by the afterlives of slavery, and she delineates what survives despite such insistent violence and negation"

2. Look by Solmaz Sharif

"Solmaz Sharif’s astonishing first book, Look, asks us to see the ongoing costs of war as the unbearable losses of human lives and also the insidious abuses against our everyday speech. In this virtuosic array of poems, lists, shards, and sequences, Sharif assembles her family’s and her own fragmented narratives in the aftermath of warfare."

3. A Map to the Door of No Return by Dionne Brand

"A timely book, drawing on cartography, travels, narratives of childhood in the Caribbean, journeys across the Canadian landscape, African ancestry, histories, politics, philosophies and literature, that explores the relevance and nature of identity and belonging in a culturally diverse and rapidly changing world. It is an insightful, sensitive and poetic book of discovery."

4. M Archive: After the End of the World by Alexis Pauline Gumbs

"Engaging with the work of the foundational Black feminist theorist M. Jacqui Alexander, and following the trajectory of Gumbs's acclaimed visionary fiction short story “Evidence,” M Archive is told from the perspective of a future researcher who uncovers evidence of the conditions of late capitalism, antiblackness, and environmental crisis while examining possibilities of being that exceed the human."

5. Dictionary of Midnight by Abdulla Pashew

"Dictionary of Midnight collects almost 50 years of poetry by Abdulla Pashew, the most influential Kurdish poet alive today. Pashew’s poems chart a personal cartography of exile, recounting the recent political history of Kurdistan and its struggle for independence."

6. Some of Us Did Not Die by June Jordan

"The essays in this collection, which include her last writings and span the length of her extraordinary career, reveal Jordan as an incisive analyst of the personal and public costs of remaining committed to the ideal and practice of democracy. Willing to venture into the most painful contradictions of American culture and politics, Jordan comes back with lyrical honesty, wit, and wide-ranging intelligence in these accounts of her reckoning with life as a teacher, poet, activist, and citizen."

7.  Mourning Diary by Roland Barthes

"The day after his mother's death in October 1977, Roland Barthes began a diary of mourning. For nearly two years, the legendary French theorist wrote about a solitude new to him; about the ebb and flow of sadness; about the slow pace of mourning, and life reclaimed through writing."

8. The Iceland by Sakutarō Hagiwara

"Hagiwara writes in the preface: 'The author’s past life was that of a disconsolate iceberg that drifts and flows in the extreme regions of the northern seas. Above his heart were always the disconsolate clouded skies of the extreme regions, the soulripping winds of the Iceland howling, screaming. He wrote all that painful life and the diary of a real person in these poems.'"


9. Blindness by Jose Saramago

"A city is hit by an epidemic of "white blindness" which spares no one. Authorities confine the blind to an empty mental hospital, but there the criminal element holds everyone captive, stealing food rations and raping women. There is one eyewitness to this nightmare who guides seven strangers—among them a boy with no mother, a girl with dark glasses, a dog of tears—through the barren streets, and the procession becomes as uncanny as the surroundings are harrowing. A magnificent parable of loss and disorientation, Blindness has swept the reading public with its powerful portrayal of our worst appetites and weaknesses—and humanity's ultimately exhilarating spirit." 

10. The Poems of Nizar Qabbani 

Though his books are very difficult to find in English, you can find his work online. However, if you ever see one of his books, make sure you grab itespecially if you find a copy of The Lover's Dictionary (1981). Qabbani is a "love poet" and his transcendent poetry is something we may really need right now. 




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