Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Reginald Harris's Autogeography and poetry blogging -- 10 years later

It felt like yesterday, but my notebook says something different. In the summer of 2013, I purchased and began reading Reginald Harris's Autogeography (2013). Then, in August, out of nowhere, Harris mailed me a copy. Autogeography is one of the relatively few books I've received from an author, so I was and remain excited about that gift).

Ten years later, it's worth returning to the book. For one, I've spent the last few days re-reading the poems, the works still resonate. More important, I'm re-reading and saw so much that I did not comment on enough when I read the first couple of times years ago. The book's titled Autogeography, and yet, I'm embarrassed that I somehow did not say enough about the multiple mentions of places and locales across the book. 

Overall, in some ways, Harris's book echoes that character from Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon (1977), who says, "I do believe my whole life's geography.” 

Speaking of geography, I did comment on Harris's spacing and placement of words across the page. That stood out to me as I've been re-reading Autogeography this time.  

Really, my reading experience this time around felt more varied. On the one hand, I was thinking about the play on the page with the arrangement of words. So it was a visual experience. On the other hand, with some of the poems, I was thinking about the storytelling nature of the poems, that is, I was imagining Harris reading/narrating some of the passages. 

Alright, but another reason it's been good for me to return to Harris's book is that doing so has given me a chance to take a look back on where I was 10 years ago with my blogging about poetry. I began actively writing about poetry on this site in 2011. 

Where was I in 2013? My three entries on Harris's volume were among the approximately 215 blog entries on poetry that I published that year. Back then, I blogged much more than I do today.

That year, in addition to blogging about Harris, I wrote about Jayne Cortez, Amiri Baraka, Kevin Young, Cornelius Eady, Evie Shockley, Adrian Matejka, Frank X. Walker, and Allison Joseph among several others. 

In December 2013, here's a roundup of 16 volumes that I listed had been published that year.
• Ai. The Collected Poems of Ai (hardcover)
• Bonair-Agard, Roger. Bury My Clothes
• Cherry, James E. Loose Change (paperback)
• Diggs, LaTasha N. Nevada. TwERK (paperback)
• Harris, Reginald. Autogeography (paperback)
• Harvey, Yona. Hemming the Water (paperback)
• Jordan, A. Van. Cineaste (hardcover)
• Kocher, Ruth Ellen. Domina Un/blued (paperback)
• Matejka, Adrian. The Big Smoke  (paperback)
• McCall, Jason. Dear Hero (paperback)
• Moon, Kamilah Aisha. She Has a Name (paperback)
• Osbey, Brenda Marie. History and Other Poems (paperback)
• Phillips, Carl. Silverchest: Poems
• Walker, Frank X. Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers (paperback)
• Weaver, Afaa Michael. The Government of Nature
• Wilson, Lamar. Sacrilegion
Re-reading Harris's poems and looking at my blog entries from 2013 feel far away and close at the same time. 

1 comment:

Reginald Harris said...

Thank you so much for remembering Howard. You're right it doesn't feel like ten years. It was a joy and an honor to be part of that 2013 list.