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“Black Is…an’ Black Ain’t”: Twenty-First Century African American Poetics

  • 4:30 PM to 5:30 PM
  • Room 104, College Hall

Keith D. Leonard, an associate professor of English at American University and the author of Fettered Genius: The African American Bardic Poet from Slavery to Civil Rights, will give a presentation on contemporary African-American poetry.

When Ezra Pound famously said "make it new," he could not have anticipated that for African American poets, the innovation on poetic form meant the innovation on blackness. Indeed, many contemporary African American poets have made blackness new by thinking of it as form, breaking it down, and then escaping those forms into new and liberating beauty. A distinctive antiracist dissidence has emerged, one that is neither a capitulation to the cudgel of post-racialism nor a quixotic avant-garde politics of the obscure. It is instead the flourishing of a defiant poetic unmaking whose "new" contours we can trace only if we unmake our assumptions about blackness itself.