Poetry. African & African American Studies. "If 'I can't breathe' seems to have become the awful refrain of the age, a repeated corroboration of expendability and helplessness, Mackey reminds us that black culture has long been imbued with a profound sense of the fragility of life. The 'radical pneumaticism' of black music—in which saxophonists such as Ben Webster and Sonny Rollins extravagantly foreground the mechanics of their breathing as they play, as though to 'insist upon and belabor' the indispensability of respiration—is not only an aesthetics but also a political commentary on social precarity. Compact and muted as it may be, how can Mackey's lecture be described as anything other than breathtaking, when it forces us to 'hover,' to pause, to wonder at the 'transient boon' of the next breath we're about to take?"—Brent Hayes Edwards
Nathaniel Mackey is the author of numerous books and chapbooks of poetry, most recently Double Trio (New Directions, 2021); an ongoing prose work, From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate, whose fifth and most recent volume is Late Arcade (New Directions, 2017); and two books of criticism, the most recent of which is Paracritical Hinge: Essays, Talks, Notes, Interviews (University of Wisconsin Press, 2005). He is the editor of the literary magazine Hambone; coeditor, with Art Lange, of the anthology Moment's Notice: Jazz in Poetry and Prose (Coffee House Press, 1993); and coeditor, with Michael Bough, Kent Johnson and others, of the anthology Resist Much / Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance (Dispatches Editions/Spuyten Duyvil, 2017). He lives in Durham, North Carolina, and teaches at Duke University.
Author City: DURHAM, NC USA