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Chapter 24 - What Is Missing?

Black History, Black Loss, and Black Resurrectionary Poetics

from Part VII - Reflections and Prospects

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 May 2022

John Ernest
Affiliation:
University of Delaware
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Summary

This essay explores how poets respond to the re:memory project of slavery and its many refracted afterlives. Can a resurrectionary poetics stitch the ephemerality and partiality of Black pasts into a quilt of recovery? This essay suggests that Black poets join historians in employing “new methodologies that disrupt” and enlarge “conventional historical processes and methods,” to extend from Marisa Fuentes. In their ongoing turns to the past, such poets resurrect disremembered histories, demonstrating how poetry can burst past history’s (archival and methodological) boundaries to offer both new work and methods that influence public memory. In its focus on Tiana Clark’s “Conversations with Phillis Wheatley” poems in her debut collection, I Can’t Talk about the Trees without the Blood (2018), this piece examines how Clark is in conversation with Wheatley and also with scholars who engage (spiritual and theoretical) space that holds both missing and surviving historical remnants. Finally, this essay is a meditation on Black loss and longing. What’s missing in the archives of Black history is an endless series of lost and unpreserved papers and missing objects. For Black communities, “missing” is not only items that weren’t preserved in repositories; what’s missing is also archival ache and historical longing over time.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2022

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