Saturday, February 11, 2023

Cultural Catalogs and Creativity

Over the years, I became fascinated by the inclination of several different writers referencing an assortment of concepts, historical figures, places, and compositions in a single poem, essay, novel, and so forth. I referred to such creations as a "concentrated cultural catalog." 

I was thinking about the abundance points of reference in Black Thought's epic 2017 freestyle or in Amiri Baraka's poems "Dope" and "Jungle Jim Flunks His Screen Test." I was thinking of Colson Whitehead's essay, "A Psychotronic Childhood," where he mentions several horror movies and Paul Beatty's The White Boy Shuffle (1996) and The Sellout (2015), where he's noting dozens and dozens of different people. You see it in Tyehimba Jess's poem "When I Speak of Blues Be Clear," and in Jason McCall's volume of poetry Dear Hero, (2013).  

Hey, I could produce a whole cultural catalog of folks who do cultural cataloging in their works. Those catalogs speak to creativity of artists to absorb and re-present large bodies of information in engaging ways. 


Note: For a 30% discount, use the promo code 10FEB23 when and if purchasing the book on the University of Virginia Press site.  (For February 2023 only).

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