Kevin Quashie

Jun 30, 2021

Black Aliveness, Or a Poetics of Being

Duke University Press 2021

In Black Aliveness, or A Poetics of Being (Duke University Press, 2012), Kevin Quashie imagines a Black world in which one encounters Black being as it is rather than only as it exists in the shadow of anti-Black violence. As such, he makes a case for Black aliveness even in the face of the persistence of death in Black life and Black study. Centrally, Quashie theorizes aliveness through the aesthetics of poetry, reading poetic inhabitance in Black feminist literary texts by Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde, June Jordan, Toni Morrison, and Evie Shockley, among others, showing how their philosophical and creative thinking constitutes worldmaking. This worldmaking conceptualizes Blackness as capacious, relational beyond the normative terms of recognition—Blackness as a condition of oneness. Reading for poetic aliveness, then, becomes a means of exploring Black being rather than nonbeing and animates the ethical question “how to be.” In this way, Quashie offers a Black feminist philosophy of being, which is nothing less than a philosophy of the becoming of the Black world.

Dr. Kevin Quashie (he/his) is a professor in the department of English at Brown University. He is the author or editor of four books, including Black Aliveness and The Sovereignty of Quiet: Beyond Resistance in Black Culture (2012). His studying now is organized by the phrase "a book of black ideas."

Dr. Lee Pierce (they & she) is Assistant Professor of Rhetorical Communication at State University of New York at Geneseo and host of the podcast RhetoricLee Speaking. Connect with Lee on Twitter, Instagram, and Gmail @rhetoriclee

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Lee Pierce

Lee M. Pierce (she/they) is an Assistant Professor at SUNY Geneseo specializing in rhetoric, race, and U.S. political culture. They also host the Media & Communications and Language channels for New Books Network and their own podcast titled RhetoricLee Speaking.
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