The Black Interior
I was very happy to come across Elizabeth Alexander's new book of essays this weekend, The Black Interior (Graywolf Press). Graywolf Press has also republished Alexander's amazing first collection, The Venus Hottentot (1990). Along with essays on Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Michael Harper, Alexander writes about a poet who is essential to my life as a reader and writer, Jean-Michel Basquiat:
"The illusion that Basquiat was a wild child, living always and only in the moment of utterance, prevents a more complex understanding of his work and particularly its sense in black contexts. Certainly, stories are legion and legend of a drugged-up Basquiat barricaded in a studio in a narcotic haze, churning out picture after picture that were snatched away and sold. But Basquiat was, in fact, also a doomed black aristocrat, a master of outré Afro-aesthetics who styled and profiled outside of many boundaries."