Sierra Leone’s devastating civil war barely caught the attention of Western media, but it raged on for over a decade, bringing misery to millions of people in West Africa from 1991 to 2002. The atrocities committed in this war and the accounts of its survivors were duly recorded by international organizations, but they run the risk of being consigned to dusty historical archives.
Derived from public testimonies at a UN-backed war crimes tribunal in Freetown, this remarkable poetry collection aims to breathe new life into the records of Sierra Leone’s civil war, delicately extracting heartbreaking human stories from the morass of legal jargon. By rendering selected trial transcripts in poetic form, Shanee Stepakoff finds a novel way to communicate not only the suffering of Sierra Leone’s people, but also their courage, dignity, and resilience. Her use of innovative literary techniques helps to ensure that the voices of survivors are not forgotten, but rather heard across the world.
This volume also includes an introduction that explores how the genre of “found poetry” can serve as a uniquely powerful means through which writers may bear witness to atrocity. This book’s unforgettable excavation and shaping of survivor testimonies opens new possibilities for speaking about the unspeakable.
Frieda Ekotto and Corine Tachtris
Don't Whisper Too Much was the first work of fiction by an African writer to present love stories between African women in a positive light. Bona Mbella is the second. In presenting the emotional and romantic lives of gay, African women, Ekotto comments upon larger issues that affect these women, including Africa as a post-colonial space, the circulation of knowledge, and the question of who writes history. In recounting the beauty and complexity of relationships between women who love women, Ekotto inscribes these stories within African history, both past and present. Don't Whisper Too Much follows young village girl Ada's quest to write her story on her own terms, outside of heteronormative history. Bona Mbella focuses upon the life of a young woman from a poor neighborhood in an African megalopolis. And "Panè," a love story, brings the many themes from Don't Whisper Much and Bona Mbella together as it explores how emotional and sexual connections between women have the power to transform, even in the face of great humiliation and suffering. Each story in the collection addresses how female sexuality is often marked by violence, and yet is also a place for emotional connection, pleasure and agency.
Sharrell D. Luckett
Signaling such recent activist and aesthetic concepts in the work of Kara Walker, Childish Gambino, BLM, Janelle Monáe, and Kendrick Lamar, and marking the exit of the Obama Administration and the opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, this anthology explores the role of African American arts in shaping the future, and further informing new directions we might take in honoring and protecting the success of African Americans in the U.S. The essays in African American Arts: Activism, Aesthetics, and Futurity engage readers in critical conversations by activists, scholars, and artists reflecting on national and transnational legacies of African American activism as an element of artistic practice, particularly as they concern artistic expression and race relations, and the intersections of creative processes with economic, sociological, and psychological inequalities. Scholars from the fields of communication, theater, queer studies, media studies, performance studies, dance, visual arts, and fashion design, to name a few, collectively ask: What are the connections between African American arts, the work of social justice, and creative processes? If we conceive the arts as critical to the legacy of Black activism in the United States, how can we use that construct to inform our understanding of the complicated intersections of African American activism and aesthetics? How might we as scholars and creative thinkers further employ the arts to envision and shape a verdant society?
Vincent L. Stephens and Anthony Stewart
The concept of a "postracial" America - the dream of a nation beyond race - has attracted much attention over the course of the presidency of Barack Obama, suggesting that this idea is peculiar to the contemporary moment alone. Postracial America? An Interdisciplinary Study attempts to broaden the application of this idea by situating it in contexts that demonstrate how the idea of the postracial has been with America since its founding and will continue to be long after the Obama administration's term ends. The chapters in this volume explore the idea of the postracial in the United States through a variety of critical lenses, including film studies; literature; aesthetics and conceptual thinking; politics; media representations; race in relation to gender, identity, and sexuality; and personal experiences. Through this diverse interdisciplinary exploration, this collection skeptically weighs the implications of holding up a postracial culture as an admirable goal for the United States.
Venus of Khala-Kanti is a tale of life-altering loss and mystical recovery. Set in an imaginary West African village that becomes a charming cul-de-sac, the unintended consequence of a national roadwork project gone awry, the story follows characters drawn with humor, irony, and empathy. The heart of the story beats with the laughter and tears of three women. Having faced incredible hardship, they come together to build their lives anew, armed with the age-old spirit of human resilience, understanding, and tenderness. Tapping into the very soil of Khala-Kanti, Bella, Assumta, and Clarisse construct spaces, both internal and external, where they and others can rejuvenate their bodies, minds, and spirits. They build the Good Hope Center, which embraces both the physical and the mystical landscape of the story. The Center fuels the restoration and growth of the village's inhabitants, and offers sanctuary for those who visit and those who stay.
James Braxton Peterson
In Media Res is a manifold collection that reflects the intersectional qualities of university programming in the twenty-first century. Taking race, gender, and popular culture as its central thematic subjects, the volume collects academic essays, speeches, poems, and creative works that critically engage a wide range of issues, including American imperialism, racial and gender discrimination, the globalization of culture, and the limitations of our new multimedia world. This diverse assortment of works by scholars, activists, and artists models the complex ways that we must engage university students, faculty, staff, and administration in a moment where so many of us are confounded by the "in medias res" nature of our interface with the world in the current moment. Featuring contributions from Imani Perry, Michael Eric Dyson, Suheir Hammad, John Jennings, and Adam Mansbach, In Media Res is a primer for academic inquiry into popular culture; American studies; critical media literacy; women, gender, and sexuality studies; and Africana studies.
Carmen R. Gillespie
Toni Morrison, the only living American Nobel laureate in literature, published her first novel, The Bluest Eye, in 1970. In the ensuing forty-plus years, Morrison's work has become synonymous with the most significant literary art and intellectual engagements of our time. This collection, Toni Morrison: Forty Years in the Clearing, enables audiences and readers, critics and students, to review Morrison's cultural and literary impact and to consider the import and influence of her legacies in her multiple roles as writer, editor, publisher, reader, scholar, artist, and teacher over the last four decades.
What distinguishes this collection from the many other publications that engage Morrison's work is that the collection is not exclusively a work of critical interpretation or reference. This is the first publication to contextualize and to consider the interdisciplinary, artistic, and intellectual impacts of Toni Morrison using the formal fluidity and dynamism that characterize her work. Toni Morrison: Forty Years in The Clearing adopts Morrison's metaphor as articulated in her Pulitzer Prize-wining novel, Beloved. Morrison describes her clearing as "a wide-open place cut deep in the woods nobody knew for what . . . In the heat of every Saturday afternoon, she sat in the clearing while the people waited among the trees." Beloved's clearing is a complicated and dynamic space. Like the intricacies of Morrison's intellectual and artistic voyages, the figurative space she imagines is both verdant and deadly, a sanctuary and a prison. Morrison's vision invites consideration of these complexities and confronts these most basic human conundrums with courage, resolve and grace. Toni Morrison: Forty Years in the Clearing attempts to reproduce the character and spirit of this metaphorical terrain.
Catastrophic Bliss contemplates the longing to understand connections and disconnections within a world ever more fragmented yet interdependent. With allusions to Dante, Stevie Wonder, Fernando Pessoa, Persephone and Marianne Moore, these poems move from the tumultuous to the sublime: a pit bull killing an invading thief, two people on a New York City subway playing chess, Billy Eckstine recording in Rio de Janeiro, to an imagined Barack Obama writing poems to his father. Myronn Hardy's third collection comprises war, place, love, and history all yearning to be reconciled.
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