Early in my studies I stumbled across, “I, Too” by Langston Hughes and have returned to the poem many times since; discovering each read some new emotion or reality that was not there before. In his novel, A History of Reading Alberto Manguel discusses these new discoveries, and attributes them to the development of our reading skills. At first glance the chapter, “Learning to Read” intrigued me, but I was unsure of what to expect.
As an avid reader I like to think the array of tools and resources I have learned to use throughout the years, have been sufficient in guiding me in my dissections of literature. Upon diving further into his insights, however, it is clear that learning to read is not the discussion, but rather the focus is on why we read the way we do. This explanation guided me in discovering the old habits of teachers whose primary responsibilities, consisted of educating publics in order to obtain, “a common social history of [shared] politics, philosophy, and faith.” (Manguel 83).
Collected below is an inquisitive collection of photography by Lennart Lundh, which considers the common small details of our everyday lives.
Lennart Lundh’s Bio:
Lennart Lundh (b. Chicago, 1948) is a fine art (2010 to the present) and documentary (1968-2008) photographer, as well as an internationally recognized poet, short-fictionist, and historian. His images have appeared in numerous books, anthologies, journals, and magazines since 1984, while some ten thousand documentary images are now held in private collections and the reference archives at several aviation and transportation museums. Len has also donated works sold in the Rochester, New York, Community Art Center’s “ROCO6x6” fundraiser for the last seven years.
Marco McKinnis, a Hampton, Virginia-born R&B artist, has slowly risen in the musical sphere with his silky and soulful vocal range. He has featured in Rex Orange County’s renowned album Apricot Princess on “Nothing” and has collaborated with DJDS—duo DJs who have helped work on Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo—on the tracks “Trees on Fire” and “Falling” seen in Big Wave More Fire. These features exhibit his flexibility in different genres outside his affinity for R&B considering that Rex Orange County and DJDS are alternative and electronic musicians, respectively.
McKinnis’ six-track EP, Underground, is saturated with layered instrumentals ranging from synthesized keyboards to acoustic guitar solos. Hit songs “Silence” and “CPR” gained recognition for its down-to-earth lyricism and overall old school vibes. Although many of McKinnis’ songs are reminiscent of the works produced by Babyface, Jon B., D’Angelo, and Maxwell, they still have their own fresh approach to R&B, and are similar to contemporary artists Brent Faiyaz and Daniel Caesar.
For the first installment of Not Your Binary: A QTPOC Reading Column, a reading column centralizing on the contemporary voices of queer and/or trans people of color in the literary world, I will be discussing Christopher Soto’s “Los Padrinos Juvenile Detention Center, Unit Y2.” Because this is the first installment of my reading column, I want to emphasize the importance on centralizing marginalized voices, stepping aside from the dominant, mainstream culture, to exercise the very existence of surviving and living as a QTPOC, in and out of the literary world. This column is an exploration of political identities and of systemic realities; specifically, in the ways literature can either work to deliver, express, or alleviate the stress that comes with embodying the very existence of being a QTPOC in the time and setting each writer transports us to.
Christopher Soto’s “Los Padrinos Juvenile Detention Center, Unit Y2” takes the reader to a juvenile center, where the speaker volunteers and helps young men sublimate their emotions from acting negligent to poetry: “to be here / where the concrete ends / & page begins.”
Moreover, Soto takes on poetic devices, as well as theoretical devices, alluding to dates and research, revealing both intended and unintended consequences of the prison industrial complex that the speaker suits the reader in. The intentions behind keeping prisons open and alive are many, but what is often ignored is the unintended consequences of the prison industrial complex, which are violent: “each body is disciplined for its difference,” “[physical assault],” and “[one] can’t even scream in pain / [without being pathologized].” The attraction to keeping the prison industrial complex alive is the idea that the system eradicates crime and alleviates society of its “social issues,” yet the false comfort that comes with this “solution” is knowing that keeping this system alive only feeds to another individual’s nightmare: “Dee Dee / A trans woman / sentenced sixty years of life / [in a men’s prison].”
Welcome, dear blog readers, to another weekly Pick-a-Poem post. Each Wednesday, we feature a new poem for you to read and discover. Hopefully you’ll find a new poet, or at least one new poem, that might be your favorite. All of these poems come from Poetry Daily, which is a great site that features a new poem every day. Today we’re featuring Daily Breadby Jane Clarke.
According to her bio page, Jane Clarke has had her poetry published in The Irish Times and The Irish Independent, as well as various journals, magazines, anthologies, and websites. She holds a BA in English and Philosophy from Trinity College, Dublin and an MPhil in Writing from the University of South Wales.