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: 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: 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

UChicago Folk Fest 2019: 59 Years Strong

The University of Chicago Folklore Society’s Folk Festival has been a part of the world (in its current form, at least) for fifty-nine years, this past Folk Fest being its fifty-ninth. (It began in the infancy of the American folk revival, a wee bit before my mother’s jug band days.) It’s been part of my life since I was a few months old. We went … Continue reading UChicago Folk Fest 2019: 59 Years Strong

Showing History: or, [Yes, There Really Were] Records Before the Spanish Came

Scribes at work: “Codex-Style Vessel with Two Scenes of Pawahtun Instructing Scribes; c. A.D. 550–950; Possibly Mexico or Guatemala, Maya culture, Late Classic period (A.D. 600–900).” Image by FA2010, 2009. Wikimedia Commons. We peoples of letters have a knack for believe that we, and only we, are capable of creating literature, of composing epics, of recording our histories. We are the greatest at convincing ourselves that our way–only … Continue reading Showing History: or, [Yes, There Really Were] Records Before the Spanish Came