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Poetry. African & African American Studies. LGBTQIA Studies. Women's Studies. Art. Edited by Erica Hunt and Dawn Lundy Martin. A collection of poems, essays, elder conversations, and visual works, LETTERS TO THE FUTURE: BLACK WOMEN / RADICAL WRITING, celebrates temporal, spatial, formal, and linguistically innovative literature. The anthology collects late-modern and contemporary work by Black women from the United States, England, Canada, and the Caribbean—work that challenges readers to participate in meaning making. Because one contextual framework for the collection is "art as a form of epistemology," the writing in the anthology is the kind of work driven by the writer's desire to radically present, uncovering what she knows and does not know, as well as critically addressing the future.
Erica Hunt, in her introduction to the collection, says, "The future is a slippery project. What can it hold? We asked writers to write about it, imagining the future as the present conjugated—conjoining the past, the present with some other time...One dimension that drew our curiosity was to know how this particular group of Black women writers would respond to the question of tomorrow. The Black women in this edition were writers we'd known or been introduced to who had been insistent makers of poems and prose that set up radical encounters between language, person, community and the political. We discussed these letters as we received them, marveling at the range of strategies to refract, forecast or expand the penumbra of the present into the shifting and dim lit future."
In Dawn Lundy Martin's introduction, she says, "It has always been difficult for me to conceptualize what we call blackness in relation to human bodies, particularly myself as an indicator of the thing I don't quite understand. It's a strange predicament, and a worrying one...On the one hand, the claim of blackness need not be a claim. A black person in the world experiences themselves as black given the perception by others as to what black is. It is a (mis)recognition, always legible, often very slight in the adjustment of the face, a minor tick, a momentary widening of the eyes, almost imperceptible in its speechless announcement, 'a black is in the room.'"
List of contributors includes Betsy Fagin, Ruth Ellen Kocher, Robin Coste Lewis, Lillian Yvonne Bertram, LaTasha N. Nevada Diggs, r. erica doyle, Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves, Duriel E. Harris, Harryette Mullen, giovanni singleton, Evie Shockley, Khadijah Queen, Wendy S. Walters, Adrian Piper, Yona Harvey, Harmony Holiday, Tracie Morris, Claudia Rankine, Deborah Richards, Metta Sáma, Kara Walker, Renee Gladman, Tonya Foster, Julie Patton, Akilah Oliver, Simone White, M. NourbeSe Philip, Lucille Clifton and Sonia Sanchez in conversation, Wanda Coleman interview, Jayne Cortez and Sekou Siundiata with Tracie Morris, Erica Hunt, Dawn Lundy Martin, and Tisa Bryant.
Publishers Weekly, starred review