Writ Large Press 2016
New Books in African American StudiesNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in CommunicationsNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in PoetryNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network November 9, 2016 Jen Fitzgerald
Now in its fifth printing of a very short life, Ashaki Jackson’s Surveillance examines the relationship between acts of violence, the witnessing of violence, the witnessing of the witnessing of violence, and the internalization of all three.
Media offers no escape from trauma, instead it creates a cyclical nature where the traumatized are re-traumatized and forced to live out fear after dread after terror.
Written over the course of 3 months, Surveillance stretches the far-reaching arms of community to tap into a universal empathy. The collection nearly demands that this empathy exists, almost calls it into being through faith and continued presence.
After reading this collection, I thought of the Nikki Giovanni poem Allowables which ends with:
I don’t think
To kill something
Because I am
Our own fear can pull us away from this universal empathy and understanding. The hyper-anxiety mode we are placed in by media rendering of violence, social media proliferation of those renderings, and the vitriol that ensues over our subjective views only positions us in an oppositional stance. Paranoia is heightened and exacerbated until we wonder who among us is human at all? Jackson touches on this very experience:
You ask the screen where is the Black body’s god
as if it is missing God is there demanding
that the Black body get up Like you
it is disappointed
that the black body too is human