After the passage of the Patriot Act in 2001, the law effectively empowered the United States government to act even further with impunity. Nearly 20 years later, amid lockdowns in a pandemic impacting our most vulnerable communities, many people also continuously suffer under a police state, as we witness common violations of civil rights such as voter suppression, imprisonment and detention, and a threat aimed at one of our most important institutions, the United States Postal Service. The man allegedly in charge of what once was the United States of America, now claims final authority. And in the tradition of this country, many of our dead are buried anonymously. How do we collectively mourn?
For this week, I offer writers whose lives and work grapple against the construction of myths and dishonesty often perpetuated by empire. To quote the amazing Audre Lorde: “Your silence will not protect you.”
We are living in restless times.
But we do not have to be restless, nor silent.
mónica teresa ortiz
With wit and candor, Assata Shakur recounts the experiences that led her to a life of activism and portrays the strengths, weaknesses, and eventual demise of Black and White revolutionary groups at the hand of government officials. The result is a signal contribution to the literature about growing up Black in America.
The poems in A Theory of Birds draw on inherited memory, historical record, critical theory, alternative geographies, and sharp observation. In them, birds--particularly extinct species--become metaphor for the violences perpetrated on othered bodies under the colonial gaze.
"Why do you need to read this book in America today? Because a US journalist asked if it really was worth it to write poems that might get you killed. Because Ashraf Fayadh, as poet, artist and human being, is being jailed and tortured for doing his job, that is for daring to expose & deride the two-headed Moloch governing the country he lives in (Saudi Arabia) and ours (these States): Fundamentalist religion & oil-money. Because Ashraf Fayadh is inventing a needed poetics to break not only those taboos but also the shackles of standard Arab poetics, freeing the language—& a freed language is needed for free thinking." —Pierre Joris
Gaining recognition as a post-Misty poet in the late ’80s, Xi Chuan was famous for his condensed, numinous lyricism, and for radiating classical Chinese influences as much as Western modernist traditions. After the crushing failure of Tiananmen Square and the death of two of his closest friends, he stopped writing for three years. He re-emerged transformed: he began writing meditative, expansive prose poems that dismantled the aestheticism and musicality of his previous self.
"With each passing day, details of an important event-or one lost to history's selective memory-illuminate the humanity and barbarism of our species. Good and evil, beauty and ugliness, generosity and greed-all are juxtaposed to great effect.... [T]his is a heady portrait of the human story rendered in broad, though no less incisive and affecting, strokes." —Publishers Weekly
In Dark Matters Simone Browne locates the conditions of blackness as a key site through which surveillance is practiced, narrated, and resisted. She shows how contemporary surveillance technologies and practices are informed by the long history of racial formation and by the methods of policing black life under slavery, such as branding, runaway slave notices, and lantern laws.
The first history of the United States told from the perspective of indigenous peoples reveals how Native Americans, for centuries, actively resisted expansion of the US empire. Dunbar-Ortiz adroitly challenges the founding myth of the United States and shows how policy against the Indigenous peoples was colonialist and designed to seize the territories of the original inhabitants, displacing or eliminating them.
In 1993, a conference was organized around the question, 'Whither Marxism?', and Derrida was invited to open the proceedings. His plenary address, 'Specters of Marx', delivered in two parts, forms the basis of this book. Hotly debated when it was first published, a rapidly changing world and world politics have scarcely dented the relevance of this book.
"Intense, intimate, often dark collection of poems by dissident Cuban poet imprisoned in early 1990s and now living in Puerto Rico. Translations replicate this highly personal poetic voice with mixed success. En face. Useful biographical introduction by Cruz-Bernal" —Handbook of Latin American Studies, v. 58.
Avery Gordon demonstrates that past or haunting social forces control present life in different and more complicated ways than most social analysts presume. Written with a power to match its subject, Ghostly Matters has advanced the way we look at the complex intersections of race, gender, and class as they traverse our lives in sharp relief and shadowy manifestations.