Review of Zoe Dzunko's Selfless in Poetry Northwest!
For about as long as I've been reading contemporary poetry, I've been thinking about the intersections between contemporary poetry and histories of racialized violence in the United States, particularly the legacy of slavery and white supremacy. I've found Toni Morrison's Playing in the Dark, The Racial Imaginary anthology (ed. by Claudia Rankine), and Roger Reeves' Poets & Writers craft talk (among many other articles, interviews, and conversations) extremely helpful in formulating at least a rudimentary understanding of the ways in which white writers are often accidentally perpetrating harmful stereotypes or feeding the f****d up system. One of the ways that this kind of reading and thinking has impacted me is that I now read every poem through a racial lens, even—if not especially—when the writer is white.
Often, when a person of color publishes a book, the topic of race features heavily in the reviews that are written about that book. For white writers, this is not the case. It's important to me to help tip these scales and talk about the kinds of racial arguments white writers make in their work, even (OK, especially) when the work is not explicitly "about" race. I hope someday when (God willing) I have a book of my own, reviewers see fit to analyze my poems in a similar way, with a critical eye towards how and to what extent my language challenges, or upholds, the status quo.
I adored Zoe Dzunko's Selfless from basically the first sentence onward; it was such a joy to spend time with these poems—tumbling through them, mulling them over, tumbling through again. Read the review here.