Wednesday, April 26, 2006


I'll be heading home to California in the morning, dragging a summer's worth of clothes and reading materials across the continent in my annual return to Santa Barbara. Anna has been in Tunisia and Virginia, so she'll just be getting back home herself.

But first there's the last meeting of my graduate seminar this afternoon. The course has been an examination of Afro-Futurism, Black avant gardes and African American science fiction. We've been pursuing the future anterior into, well, the future. Today we're concluding our deliberations with a discussion of DRAG, the impressive first book by Duriel Harris. Duriel has been back and forth across the country quite a bit herself lately. Following a stint working at the University of Illinois Chicago campus, she spent a year as a research fellow at the University of California, and now she is teaching at Saint Lawrence University in the far northern reaches of New York state. Part of the small band of radical poetry activists that suddenly erupted within the Cave Canem workshops, THE BLACK TOOK COLLECTIVE, Harris confounds just about every cliche of poetry in performance that you've ever heard. Here's a brief sample of her work:

Phaneric Display No. 2:
The Meta

The intellect must be taught | extremities are first to go babythataway™ |_red scotch plaid skirts and vests kneesocks and peterpan collars | poppa wheelie into dream poppa rave cap and cruise | blank as normal templates’ throaty viral erasure | intellect is the primal faculty | plucked swollen like a muscle | guitar neck cave secret hand-thrown into a shallow bowl | blood cooling to jelly on the blue rim | where you have been collecting | you need not know the name of a thing to know it | pinkseamed joint and toes the child will chop the blonde | mop to sheer plugs and plastic until the frames collide | but she’s always looked like that

and raggedy ann™ and raggedy andy™

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