As for my piece, "Failed Sonnet After the Verdict," I appreciate the piece being highlighted in the issue's introduction, but I have some concern about how it was characterized.
Have you ever read Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia? As an African-American graduate of Mr. Jefferson's university--U.Va.--the text has always been of particular interest to me. It holds some "interesting" insights into Jefferson's mind, though nothing shocking when situated in historical context:
A black, after hard labour through the day, will be induced by the slightest amusements to sit up till midnight, or later, though knowing he must be out with the first dawn of the morning. They are at least as brave, and more adventuresome. But this may perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, which prevents their seeing a danger till it be present. When present, they do not go through it with more coolness or steadiness than the whites. They are more ardent after their female: but love seems with them to be more an eager desire, than a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation. Their griefs are transient. Those numberless afflictions, which render it doubtful whether heaven has given life to us in mercy or in wrath, are less felt, and sooner forgotten with them. In general, their existence appears to participate more of sensation than reflection. To this must be ascribed their disposition to sleep when abstracted from their diversions, and unemployed in labour. An animal whose body is at rest, and who does not reflect, must be disposed to sleep of course.
Why am I bringing this up now? Well Michael Gushue, who I respect and am sure meant no harm by it, suggests in his introduction that my poem represents "anger." And I just want to remind people that you have to be mindful about situating the emotional responses of "black" people on a binary spectrum of either rage or ecstasy. There is a lamentable history in America of denying "black" people their emotional complexity. There is, I'll say as the author, no anger in the poem. Sadness, maybe, but not an acute sadness about Trayvon Martin; more so a sadness about the fact that there are people who need dead "black" bodies to feel safe in America--sadness for what the insides of their minds and hearts must look like.
This isn't beef at all, nor an attempt to single out Michael, just a note--an amicable one--about being mindful about how to characterize our (negroes) emotional reactions to what we have been facing in recent times.