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by Douglas Kearney
Noemi Press (Oct 15, 2015)
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Poetry. African & African American Studies. Douglas Kearney writes, "If my writing makes a mess of things, it’s not to flee understanding, but to map (mis-)understanding as a verb." The map’s guide is MESS AND MESS AND, in which Kearney defines the terms that member his poetics, taking even prefixes as a call for semantic inquiry. Within are essays that explore "the Negrotesque," gloss specific poems and poetry collections, the inspirations (from life, literature, and otherwise) he drew upon when putting his pen to the page--as well as studies and drafts from his journals. Simultaneously playful and cutting, Kearney’s collection interrogates that which inspires, troubles, and recurs in his work, the mess(es) there.

"The joy in reading MESS AND MESS AND comes from the way Douglas Kearney’s writing performs and transforms the sensations of the historic, imagined and real black body into a kind of jive signification system of pun, gesture and resistance through time, space, etymology, gloss. Jive meaning: some mess, some movements, some secrets glyphed behind the hand, continually decoding and decoying the code. "Here, the body shifts to its proxy, language," as Kearney creates his own methods for naming and theorizing not just creative process but the experience of art and utterance as a relationship with the various phenomena of living, dying and getting free. Evoking the heady erotics of Nathaniel Mackey and the critical interventions of Adrian Piper, Douglas Kearney’s meticulous and playful ars poetica illustrates the unseen dimensions of what makes his work necessarily graphic, totally vulnerable and admirably outrageous."--Tisa Bryant

"Now and then, in Altadena, Arkansas and elsewhere, mess is a unit of measure, enough of something to feed anyone that needs to be fed. It’s in this regard that measure is poetry--ho