It’s generally awkward for me to talk about my writing and art. I create out of darkness and talking about it, how it came to be, is like backing into that tunnel. Creating is what happens on walls as I attempt escape, a clawing at what confounds and thus constricts me. Some of what happens is questions, some of it is plans, some of it is where the mind travels when it’s feeling trapped and wounded.
The “darkness” I explore in the two poems I’ve shared in J Journal interpret historical events when the black body was objectified by matter of law. As the owner of one of these bodies, I am ever aware that I’m implicating the word “history” because by matter of law and socialization, the black body continues to be objectified and weaponized.
In “What Makes a Man,” the bodies forced overboard and those who weaponize themselves by jumping overboard the overloaded and thus sinking Zong slave ship in 1781 are “cargo.” And Darnell, a pedestrian the speaker strikes with her vehicle “could be a tree branch.” At 14, African American teen George Stinney (who remains the youngest person ever executed for a crime in the U.S.) “offers” and “barters” his body in “In Defense of a Body,” his body a weapon that uses itself against the boy as much as his jailers do.
These poems remain to some degree in the elusiveness of exploration. The perception and reflexive treatment of black bodies is a dark and storied continuum. I was considering both those who would define black bodies as object and the owners of black bodies who would not but would still behave the same way towards those bodies whether by reflex or in protest. As the speaker in “What Makes A Man” some of my own complicity came into view when the suicidal Darnell becomes a “$500 bill.” Darkness, after all, expands the pupils for visual acuity.