Saturday, February 28, 2009

Aimless Reading: The B's, Part 48 (Tisa Bryant)

Bryant, Tisa
Unexplained Presence


Sent to me by the author, in exchange for my own book, after we had "met" on Facebook, where we played many a diverting game of the much-lamented Scrabulous, at which she more often than not kicked my ass! I liked the book a lot and invited her up to read in Just Buffalo's small press poetry series in April. It's not an easy work to define, falling as it does somewhere among film criticism, academic prose, cultural studies and poetry. All of the pieces are prose meditations that begin at the point of the "unexplained" presence of a black character in various novels and films. I think I like most that the work is so unclassifiable -- there's really nothing like it in any of the aforementioned genres of writing, and I am looking forward to her reading.

From "The Head Of The Moor," which looks at Woolf's Orlando:

Man-Orlando is cloaked in darkness; Orlando-woman will see the light, without a backwards glance to what that womanhood (Moor, nigger, Empire) is built on. What multitudes it contains. Thousands. In time and space.

What do you see in this?

Orlando loves and his love transgresses, transforms itself and him, before the eyes of grace, the servile Blackamoor, under the kissing lips of a Turkish gypsy, Orlando's inner blackface points to its kin, and his, and in the flame of a native uprising, he strikes a pose, and falls beautifully to sleep. Other! As he...becomes she.

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