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Accuracy and Ampersands
HERE WE LEARN from the ghost of Marvin Gaye, question the ethics of Nikola Tesla, examine the character of God, and drift in lament and wonder.
In these poems by Hanif Abdurraqib, violence appears in different forms. In some lines, it is a fistfight between teenagers in a schoolyard, in others the anti-Blackness of a suburb or the music industry: “[T]he mailman still hands me bills like I should feel lucky to have my name on anything in this town,” Abdurraqib writes.
Thirteen of the 51 poems are titled after a criticism he heard from a white woman at a poetry reading in 2016: “How can black people write about flowers at a time like this?”
D.L. Mayfield Questions the Myth of the American Dream
IN HER LATEST book, writer D.L. Mayfield welcomes readers on a journey of seeing. This essay collection weaves an exploration of the desires embedded in the American Dream with stories of Mayfield’s own social justice conversion and portraits of her Portland neighborhood.
These narratives of how colonialism, capitalism, racism, and consumerism store themselves in privileged American hearts invite self-reflection. Mayfield challenges the American Dream’s toxic individualism, dividing the book into four themes: affluence, autonomy, safety, and power. “We do not care that people will suffer and die,” she writes, “due to our own desire for safety.”
Mayfield reflects on her own awakening and exposure to xenophobic faith communities, where she began to have “serious problems reconciling the Suffering Servant with a conservative religious agenda.” The text also walks her readers through the gentrification of her neighborhood and how her community is affected by travel bans, the U.S. education system, and other aspects of local and national politics.
I am Peter at Gethsemane
where I wake to oak
spinning like hair in water.
blanched, a prophet’s
chanting, every caesura’s
quiet steeping, transfiguring
grief to alms.