Sunday, July 12, 2015
The Worlds of Elizabeth Alexander
This summer, I'll work at an institute on African American poetry, so of course, I've been re-reading Elizabeth Alexander's work. She's a foundational and gateway poet for me, or as I've said, she's a crucial connector. Her works really are touchstones for all kinds of topics that appear throughout African American poetry.
Although I own several of her books -- pictured above -- I'm still missing a few of her books. That's a problem I'll correct over the next month or so.
Alexander reminds me of some of my favorite black arts era writers in the sense that she produces works across genres, especially poetry and essays. She's also an editor, and her home department for the last 15 years has been in African American Studies, not creative writing.
The mix of her varied interests and travels fuse into her poetry, or her poetry fuses into her mix of interests. And so what we end up with while reading are these worlds of Elizabeth Alexander.
• Elizabeth Alexander
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I've stopped through your place from time to time (always a pleasure) and I recently read your excellent book. So I'm really looking forward to building with you next week in Kansas. There's so much I like about your work--to name a few things: it seems wide-ranging, fair-minded and exploratory, and your scholarship seems to emerge from a place of generosity rather than competitiveness. So, really looking forward to the Institute.
And to keep it on topic--I’d talk about Alexander in relation to numbers 5, 11, 17, 20 & 25 on your list of Black Poetry Debates, which is great. Also, Hayden is my guy—I’m finishing a manuscript on him—so I’m finding the Hayden influence in Alexander’s research poems like “The Venus Hottentot.”
Thanks so much for the generous feedback. Greatly appreciated.
And I'm looking forward to next week as well. So rare to get to spend so much time on poetry with folks actually interested in the subject and field.
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