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Eintou, or my government name

Edwards, Cymelle Leah (2021) Eintou, or my government name. Masters thesis, Northern Arizona University.

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These poems are working to negotiate joy with sorrow. Upon hearing from an agent that she is no longer accepting stories of Black trauma because she would rather read about joyful Black experiences, I took it upon myself to write through this confliction. Vinson Cunningham wrote this in The New York Times regarding the Black literary movement, “The joy of expression and the sorrow of experience, properly commingled, might result in something new — and true.” I have taken this formula: Joy of Expression + Sorrow of Experience = New/True and have used it to map my work. Joy and sorrow are aware of one another in each poem, they coexist through the speaker’s memory. While recurring images of the Black body appear throughout my work, this is compromised by a memory that shape-shifts. At once the body is an object, then a graveyard, then it is a color asking for permission to ascend. The speaker is learning that perhaps memory itself is not unstable, but it is the present that is unstable. Water (whether earthly or celestial) has often been used in my work to help communicate or is a catalyst for intimacy. As a Black woman, it is difficult to write without an agenda. As I think about those whose work I am in conversation with, those like Tracy K. Smith, Rita Dove, and Hortense J. Spillers, and those I learn from such as Arthur Sze, and Adrienne Rich to name a few, I am all the while learning from Toni Morrison’s deliberate critique of language while simultaneously elevating it; how this informs my own choreography of language. I am writing to invent—these poems, this collection, voices the Black experience because I am Black, and they are my experiences. I am either writing to carve a space into the canon, or ether, or whatever we are calling our poems’ homes these days, that allows other voices like mine to not be limited to a singular grievance, time, place, or feeling, or I am writing to avoid the canon altogether, which feels like something one only learns in hindsight. The poems here express this deep confliction and are working to convict readers of their own obligations to language and body, specifically, the Black body.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Publisher’s Statement: © Copyright is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the Cline Library, Northern Arizona University. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
Keywords: Black ; Body; Performance ; Poetry; Theory
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PS American literature
NAU Depositing Author Academic Status: Student
Department/Unit: Graduate College > Theses and Dissertations
College of Arts and Letters > English
Date Deposited: 24 Feb 2022 16:13
Last Modified: 19 May 2023 08:30
URI: https://openknowledge.nau.edu/id/eprint/5753

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