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Read through 2021, Late & Unanticipated

I think I’d like to respect the attention I put into language this year. I mean, make a list of most of the things I’ve read without reducing it entirely to books. Reading is not understanding. And books aren’t always the most important things I’ve read. Or I pour attention thinly out over their pages. Also, the more I read, the more I find I need to triage my memory of that reading or it becomes meaningless, a way of killing time. And, who knows, maybe you’re interested in some of these; maybe you’ve got something to say about these books? I’m dying to converse/act. But also, while scrolling through my phone looking for pictures of books I found one of a printout of a handout for the last class I might ever teach with the lyrics of WAP. We had to *scan poems* and I asked my students what pop song we should start practicing with. One suggested “WAP.” Before the next class I found the lyrics and made a loop of part of the song for us to listen to in class as we worked our way through annotating the rhythm. So the rhythm of these lyrics, the cascade of phonemes, occupied more of my attention than, say, half the academic articles listed below. And that’s what this list risks excluding, that language I don’t have a record of, those poems I sat with on a SM feed, the graffiti, murals, and billboards of Buffalo, the brilliant things friends have said, the functional language of work and email, the endless medium form articles that are sources of information and loathing I read between tasks at work, too much Twitter.

Here’s the other stuff. It’s organized by intention. Like was I intentionally following a thread or not. It’s hard to tell sometimes, the line between purposive and nonpurposive reads, and categories, of course, overlap (so the +):

Poetry+:

A lot of casting about here, of reading just to read, of books friends passed along, of reading to teach. It never feels like I’ve read enough but, also, the more stress I experience in life, the less bandwidth I have for poetry. And, listener, you know what 2021 was like.

Big Energy Poets: Ecopoetry Thinks Climate Change (Ed. Heidi Lynn Staples, Amy King)

Knar Gavin’s Vela

Sean Bonney’s Our Death (2019) and Letter’s Against the Firmament (2015)

Several Issues of Edric Mesmer’s Among the Neighbors series on poetry communities, journals, formations, etc.

Coursepack of poems for my Advanced Poetry and Form & Theory seminars.

Anastacia Renée’s (v.)

John Weiner’s Black Sparrow Selected – browsed

Daniel Borzutzky’s Lake Michigan

Several of Buck Downs’ postcards, Buck’s New Personal Problem

At least 3 manuscripts by friends

Attack of the Fifty-Foot Centerfold by Dorothy Chan

Anaïs Duplan’s Blackspace: On the Poetics of an Afrofuture

Toxicon & Arachne by Joyelle McSweeney

Issue #1 of Here Poetry Journal

Frank: sonnets by Diane Suess

Carrie Olivia Adams’ Be The Thing of Memory

The Thorn by David Larsen

Snail Trail III

Ethel Zine #8

Last Psalm at Sea Level by Meg Day – in preparation for her virtual visit

Corpse Whale by dg nanouk okpik

A scattering of essay’s in Annulet by Khadijah Queen, Julia Madsen, Marty Cain, among others.

A Day at the Beach by Robert Grenier

Post-Colonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz

Wendy Chin-Tanner’s Turn

Yes, I Am A Corpse Flower by Travis Sharpe

Conversations with Lucille. This was a book of transcribes conversations between Lucille Clifton and visiting poets to St. Mary’s College of Maryland. A special read for me, as I was present for many of these conversations and could appreciate both the content of what Clifton had to say and the wide arc of her thinking more fully as an older, less stupid me.

Death to the Settler State/17th C Threads/Racial Capitalism/Indigenous History & Thought+

I’m a deprofessionalizing scholar of 17th C history and literature and– fuck empire.

Gerald Horne’s Trilogy: The Dawning of the Apocalypse, The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism, The Counter-Revolution of 1776.

Our Beloved Kin by Lisa Brooks

Dark Matters: On the Surveillance of Blackness by Simone Browne

The Adventures of Emmera; or, The Fair American (1767) by Arthur Young. One of the first novelistic representations of Western New York. America was a perpetual war zone as settlers launched wave after wave of genocidal violence; Young finds in it British Yeoman farmers reading Milton. Of course.

1602 by Neil Gaiman – Quite bizarre.

The earth-quake of Jamaica describ’d in a Pindarick Poem (1693) by John Tutchin

Several essays on racial-capitalism — by Charisse Burden-Stelly, including the excellent “Modern U.S. Capitalism” and Michael Dawson’s “Hiding in Plain Sight: A Note on Legitimation Crises and the Racial Order.”

“The Savage Constitution” by Gregory Ablavsky (in Duke Law Journal)

“Confluence: Water as an Analytic of Indigenous Feminism” by Joanna Barker

Introduction of Andy Clarno’s Neoliberal Apartheid

Climate Crisis/Environmentalism/Waste+

Hmm. I didn’t read as much of this as I thought I did; my hope is to circle back and put in dialogue the histories and analysis from the above list w/what I’ve read in this field.

How to Blow Up a Pipeline by Andreas Malm

Standing with Standing Rock: Voices from the #NODAPL Movement

Facility (A zine about…bathrooms)

Reread portions of LaPorte’s History of Shit

“On Paul Kingsnorth and the Unruly Nature: The Romantic Challenge to the Left” by Anthony Galluzzo.

The Red Deal: Indigenous Action to Save Our Earth by The Red Nation

“Marx’s Theory of Metabolic Rift” by John Belamy Foster. Some back-fill here

“An Intimate Inventory of Race & Waste” by Pavithra Vasudevan

Several seed catalogs

From Space to the Place of Excrement: Samuel Delany Book Club

Flight from Neverÿon by Samuel Delany

Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand ” “

The Mad Man ” “

The Jewel-Hinged Jaw ” “

About Writing ” “

Strays

Paper Concert by Amy Wright

My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris

Conclusions in two sentences. Racial-capitalism is (and has always been) interwoven into the fabric of the United States’ political and economic structures, which are built on the superexploitation of racialized peoples (which, consequently, creates cross-class solidarity between white ppl) in the pursuit of extraction that devastates ecologies, social relations, and imaginations. I remain haunted by poetry’s role, if any, in this situation, if it cannot create solidarities and/or (re)produce revolutionary, shit-stirring energy. Welcome 2022!

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About the Author

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Joe Hall is the author of five books of poetry, including Someone's Utopia (2018) and Fugue & Strike (forthcoming). His poems, reviews, and scholarship have appeared in Poetry Daily, The Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day, Postcolonial Studies, Peach Mag, terrain.org, PEN America Blog, Poetry Northwest, Ethel Zine, Gulf Coast, Best Buds! Collective, and Eighteenth-Century Fiction. He has taught poetry workshops for teachers, teens, and workers through Just Buffalo and the WNYCOSH Worker Center.

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