Academy of American Poets
View Cart | Log In 
Subscribe | More Info 
Find a Poet or Poem
Advanced Search >
Want more poems?
Subscribe to our
Poem-A-Day emails.
FURTHER READING
Poems about Ancestors
Ancestors
by Cesare Pavese
Arabic
by Naomi Shihab Nye
At the Public Market Museum: Charleston, South Carolina
by Jane Kenyon
Deer Dancer
by Joy Harjo
How I Got That Name
by Marilyn Chin
How Palestinians Keep Warm
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Ladders
by Elizabeth Alexander
Many Asked Me Not to Forget Them
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Nunaqtigiit
(people related through common possession of territory)

by Joan Kane
On the Gallows Once
by Kofi Awoonor
On this Very Street in Belgrade
by Charles Simic
Passing
by Carl Phillips
Prayer for My Unborn Niece or Nephew
by Ross Gay
Snow
by Naomi Shihab Nye
Teach me I am forgotten by the dead
by Ralph Waldo Emerson
The Forgotten Dialect of the Heart
by Jack Gilbert
The Multitude
by Ellen Hinsey
What I Am
by Terrance Hayes
Poems about the Body
A Hand
by Jane Hirshfield
After tagging the dust your body is made of
by Jen Tynes
Anatomy
by Monica Ferrell
Bodyweight
by Matthew Schwartz
Brokeheart: Just like that
by Patrick Rosal
Danse Russe
by William Carlos Williams
Flux
by Afaa M. Weaver
For the Man with the Erection Lasting More than Four Hours
by John Hodgen
Ghost in the Land of Skeletons
by Christopher Kennedy
Guessing My Death [excerpt]
by CAConrad
Headaches
by Marilyn Hacker
homage to my hips
by Lucille Clifton
Human Atlas
by Marianne Boruch
I Sing the Body Electric
by Walt Whitman
In the Surgical Theatre
by Dana Levin
Love Letter to a Stranger
by Jenny Browne
Multiple Man: Guest-starring me & you
by Gary Jackson
My Skeleton
by Jane Hirshfield
Self-Portrait in a Wire Jacket
by Monica Youn
Slight Tremor
by Linda Gregerson
Textbook & Absence (Anatomy)
by Catherine Barnett
The Tongue
by Chris Martin
These Hands, If Not Gods
by Natalie Diaz
With Child
by Genevieve Taggard
Sponsor a Poet Page | Add to Notebook | Email to Friend | Print

Post-Dissertation-Intervention (i.)

 
by Ronaldo Wilson

I always tell my dancers. You are not defined by your fingertips, or the top of your head, or the 
bottom of your feet. You are defined by you. You are the expanse. You are the infinity. 

—Judith Jameson
Elizabeth Alexander in The Black Interior writes about beauty, and how black artists resist monstrousness by their own self-definitions. I’m interested in this repair, too, but find comfort in the ugly. I love monsters. We both consider Brooks. In the poem, “The Life of Lincoln West,” when Elizabeth hones in on two white men describing little, black Lincoln, specie, I zip to the poem’s end, to what I read as Lincoln’s release: “it comforts him to be the real thing.” I align after June Jordan, whom am I when pinched, patted, and bent? Get behind her defense of Black English in On Call: How can I be who I am? We do with what’s given. I suppose, I may not share viewpoints, but still, I connect. Of prose, Meena Alexander says she uses it to clear the underbrush to make space for the poem. Vacate fields, ropes, a body. Don’t hate on Elizabeth. Do you. Frame how she pairs Brooks with Lawrence and Bearden. To argue, she opens walls, and living rooms. So, you like death? Is your project Fanon’s? Is this all a setup? Fan – on – it was a jolt in perception, then. Pieces of this, repeat. Toni Morrison, where she writes: the remains of what were left behind to reconstruct the world these remains imply. Ties to Brooks’s litany of the black body that endures, a stream of violent verbs to enter, under buzz and rows of halogen: burned, bricked, roped to trees, and bound. Now, what contexts shift in the stacks that glare before you? And how do you return, after, to what seized Brooks at Fisk, standing to face all those Blacks?
About this poem:
"'Post-Dissertation-Intervention (i),' maneuvers between poetic interrogation and critical analysis, exploring figurations of the Black Body through poetry, literature, and visual art. The poem’s stream of logic interposes fragments of texts with one another— dance, other poems, the essay— to raise questions, to pose alternative readings, and to examine literary lineages and contrastive theoretical approaches. Fusing essayistic ideation through the poem’s own form of lyric sense making was and is crucial in my thinking and writing practice within the theater of my then dissertation and through my current scholarly book project: Black Bodies |Black Fields: A Poetics of Violence."

—Ronaldo Wilson






Copyright © 2014 by Ronaldo Wilson. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on January 16, 2014. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.
Larger TypeLarger Type | Home | Help | Contact Us | Privacy Policy Copyright © 1997 - 2014 by Academy of American Poets.