Articles - June 2019

Leav Rupi alone

eXXXtreme #instapoetry

“[O]ne ventures to guess that what Kaur is selling is not merely the neat, non-threatening lines of her poems, but her persona itself. In other words, Kaur the poet is Kaur the poetry.” Adaptation of a screenshot of Rupi Kaur’s Instragram feed, @rupikaur_.

A specter is haunting poetry. All the powers of prior poetic generations have entered into a holy alliance against them: lyric and language, conceptual and confessional, page and performance. It is the specter of social media, and the extreme popularity of the individuals who flourish on platforms such as Tumblr and Instagram, as well as off them.

Imagining assemblage as maintenance

Rachel Blau DuPlessis and the 'Graphic Novella'

“[P]oetry is full of garbage, which is to say, the textual traces drawn from literature are frequently reinscribed into new formats and configurations that speak to a desire to reorganize rejectamenta.” Detail of page 27 of ‘Graphic Novella’ by Rachel Blau Duplessis.

During a discussion with M.


On Dingane Joe Goncalves

“[I]n the brick-and-mortar New Day Book Store, and in a half-dozen and more unmentioned projects, Dingane Joe Goncalves sought to determine unrealized territory. And this territory wasn’t just conceptual, or artistic, if you take either to mean immaterial.” Above: cover, book catalogue, ‘New Day Book Store: Books by for & about Black People Everywhere,’ 1970. Courtesy of the Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.

In an apartment on Masonic Avenue in San Francisco, the same year Huey Newton and Bobby Seale founded the Black Panther Party across the bay in Oakland, poet and Black Power activist Dingane Joe Goncalves (b. 1937) started the Journal of Black Poetry (1966–1975), “the poetic Bible of the ’60s Black Liberation/Black Arts Movement.”[1] A literary magazine of poetry, essays, art and news, ranging from the West Coast to Africa and the Caribbean, the journal encouraged a “political paradigm” for poetic aesthetics — “an unapologetically Black paradigm,” as Kalamu y

On being prone

Violence and vulnerability in Bhanu Kapil's 'Ban en Banlieue'

“It was the fashion, I learned, of ancient men to love this way; it was the policy of well-groomed soldiers. In these stories, rape was always connected to desire. It was portrayed as an excess of love, the extremity of love, the consequence for one who is desired too much.” Detail of ‘Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus’ (1618), by Peter Paul Reubens.

The first image of a rape that I saw was Peter Paul Rubens’s Rape of the Daughters of Leucippus. I was paging through my father’s art history books. I had just learned to read and even before I encountered the word r-a-p-e, I knew there was something wrong with it. Something ugly. Being brought up, as many of us were, on the Western canon of Greek myths, I understood that rape had something to do with love. When a god loved a mortal too much, the result was rape. But this painting did not show rape; it portrayed the epigraph to rape.

The assassination of Kathy Acker

Connie Samaras, ‘Kathy’s Rat,’ platinum print, 3" x 2", c. 1998 (courtesy of the artist).

What kind of writer would Kathy be if she were still alive? So much of her work speculated on the future that would arise from the nightmarish neoliberal present. Could you call it prophetic? Her apocalyptic work, In Memoriam to Identity, or The Burning Bombing of America. Her attention to Islam, colonialism, and terrorism, to the symbol of the World Trade Center, which fell four years after her death. Her sense of the ever-expanding police state and the utter collapse of an unjust economy, leading inexorably to worse.