Commentaries

Music for the ecoelegaic

Cecily Nicholson's 'Wayside Sang'

Cecily Nicholson’s poetry expresses a deep solidarity extended across time and space, and across divisions between the human and nonhuman, animate and inanimate. As I try to prise apart what the term “biotariat” might be made to mean, I find poetry instructive because of its willingness to attend to just such “crossings” and movements amongst and between language’s subjects and objects — to, literally, lay them out on the paratactic page. For a diasporic poet like Nicholson this has something to do with “blackness” — I have in mind Fred Moten’s comment (from In the Break) that “the history of blackness is testament to the fact that objects can and do resist.” Everywhere in her poetry Nicholson is concerned with the resistance of “objects” — of those who have been rendered (reduced to) “objects” through regimes of racialized violence and colonization, and the fluid affinities the variously objectified find and found.

Cecily Nicholson’s poetry expresses a deep solidarity extended across time and space, and across divisions between the human and nonhuman, animate and inanimate. As I try to prise apart what the term “biotariat” might be made to mean, I find poetry instructive because of its willingness to attend to just such “crossings” and movements amongst and between language’s subjects and objects — to, literally, lay them out on the paratactic page.

Performing Coolitude at the Queens Museum

On March 29, 2014, four Coolitude artists assembled a performance that engaged with the present state of Coolitude as a concept. The four performers displayed, screened, and read their works for a crowd of about sixty people at the Queens Museum of Art in Flushing. Known locally as the heart of Little Guyana and Trinidad, Queens is a blooming metropolis of language and cultures. Sponsored by the Indo-Caribbean organizations Jahajee Sisters, the Rajukamri Cultural Center, Urban+Out, and the Indo-Caribbean Alliance, this event highlighted notable works that interrogate the history of British indenture and its postcolonial fallout in North America. Chaired by Lisa Outar, this was the brainchild of Andil Gosine and Gaiutra Bahadur.

On March 29, 2014, four Coolitude artists assembled a performance that engaged with the present state of Coolitude as a concept. The four performers displayed, screened, and read their works for a crowd of about sixty people at the Queens Museum of Art in Flushing. Known locally as the heart of Little Guyana and Trinidad, Queens is a blooming metropolis of language and cultures.

Jerome Rothenberg: “A Book of Dreams,” a pastiche for Robert Kelly’s 82nd birthday

1/

The way her knee swells

& she feels it

swelling & it turns into

a babe’s head.

No one has a countenance

more rich

& no one has a mouth

that opens wider,

lets a sound like

dreaming come into

Girmit ideology, douglarization, and Kala Pani poetics

More theories of the Indian Labor Diaspora

Above: The original uploader was Greensburger at English Wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Coolitude is not the only way that scholars have written about the Indian Labor Diaspora; in fact it is one of several. The others I will briefly outline below, citing major sources and outlining their tenets. They move from girmit ideology to douglarization to Kala Pani poetics, each one invested in locating a subjectivity that is both specific to the particularities of each new diasporic context.

Jason Zuzga wins prize for best dissertation

Zuzga at the award ceremony. Photo: Charles Bernstein

Scholar and poet Jason Zuzga has won the Diane Hunter Prize for Best Dissertation, 2017, from the English Department of the University of Pennsylvania.  Prize judges Rita Barnard and Rita Copeland wrote this commendation of  Zuzga's "Uncanny World: Envisioning Nature in Documentary":

The committee was extremely impressed by the range and quality of the work submitted for the award.  We extend our sincerest congratulations and admiration to all of the nominees, whose collective work is testimony to the intellectual energy and rigor of Penn’s English department.  We agreed, however, to name Jason Zuzga’s “Uncanny World:  Envisioning Nature in Documentary,” as the winner of the prize for the best dissertation.