The Sealey Challenge: Boys Quarter

Chukwuma Ndulue’s Boys Quarter is an exquisite, difficult, sometimes haunting chapbook, a collection of poetry that deeply explores time and space and self and, along with them, the haunting, violent presence of coloniality. Ndulue’s epigraph comes from Hart Crane, a snippet from “Voyagers” that sure sounds like it’s kissing goodbye to the innocence of youth, pointing out that “The bottom of the sea is cruel.” … Continue reading The Sealey Challenge: Boys Quarter

The Sealey Challenge: Lineage of Rain

There are times—like, a LOT of times—when I think about my MA advisor. I hear her voice; I see her banging a book on the table or emphasis, or waving it in the air, or demonstrating how one properly annotated one’s texts. (By which I mean: every single inch of potential white space is covered in one’s handwriting, which often loops out across the typeset … Continue reading The Sealey Challenge: Lineage of Rain

The Sealey Challenge: The Twenty-Ninth Year

Hala Alyan’s The Twenty-Ninth Year is a story of violence. Of things broken and reforged, of identities shaped and twined, of selves broken and remade. It is dark and beautiful and haunting, poetry of womanhood and of diaspora, of longing and fear, of love and death and country after country after country, the world made small enough to fit inside a poem. Alyan is Palestinian … Continue reading The Sealey Challenge: The Twenty-Ninth Year

Barkskins on Hulu: The Turtle King

Everything is awful today (except for the snow showers earlier, I liked those), so I finished up episode two of Barkskins: “The Turtle King.” It’s a great episode! There’s a lot that felt really accurate to me, and I truly appreciated that the chracters stayed dirty once they got dirty—or they were just grubby all the time. (That works, too.) I still think Goames is … Continue reading Barkskins on Hulu: The Turtle King

Barkskins on Hulu: New France

I finally started watching the television adaption of Annie Proulx’s eponymous novel, Barkskins, yesterday, and I am really not sure why on earth I waited this long to do so. It’s pretty obviously my sort of content. I should start this with an acknowledgement: I haven’t read the source material! So I have no clue how closely this adaption (originally on National Geographic, who’d have … Continue reading Barkskins on Hulu: New France

The Sealey Challenge: A Theory of Birds

Birds are everywhere in Zaina Alsous’ A Theory of Birds: live birds, dead birds, birds as metaphor and myth and presence, birds in lost homelands, lost birds in the pages of books and the halls of natural history museums. The birds tangle and flow alongside the pervasive, violent, ever-violating colonialism, in the U.S. and in Palestine; they fly alongside women, and move across land and … Continue reading The Sealey Challenge: A Theory of Birds

The Sealey Challenge: Thrall

It was the cover that drew me, first, to Natasha Trethewey’s Thrall: detail of a casta painting, one of the De español e india, mestiza ones, paintings everyone with a background in colonial Spanish America knows in a hundred different types. Thrall is exquisite, and elegant. Trethewey reaches back into the past to interrogate constructions of race, building a poetry of historical memory from such … Continue reading The Sealey Challenge: Thrall

The Sealey Challenge: Bitter English

Ahmad Almallah’s Bitter English came across my feed last year, in the times before COVID: Almallah came through the Seminary on a book tour, and I meant to go, and had something late at work, and went in the next week to pick up Bitter English. Bitter English is divided into four sections, and begins with a poem—”Bitter English”—that, bleak and unstinting and frustrated, sets … Continue reading The Sealey Challenge: Bitter English

The Sealey Challenge: Underworlds

Sometimes poetry comes at just the right time, fitting the moment and the mood and the zeitgeist like a tailored glove. Patrick Sylvain’s unflinching Underworlds is such poetry: drawing an unflinching line from Christopher Columbus’s reign of terror to bloody dictatorships and violent U.S. interventions on Haitian soil, doggedly detailing anguish tinged always, even in the face of natural disaster, with defiance and with pride, … Continue reading The Sealey Challenge: Underworlds