|A snapshot from my Kindle reader of
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
So I been knowing that this book was brilliant, I just finally got the chance to read the whole thing (rather than the samples online and reviews). #sabbatical #sabbaticalreading is an ABSOLUTE delight. Side note: in my general life, I only get to read pleasure books in the summer and rarely during the academic year. From August to May, it’s all articles for teaching, curriculum materials, new texts to possibly include, re-reading texts that I’ve taught and continue to teach (because, yep, I re-read so my understandings are fresh and on point). I’m also quick with reading the news and Facebook posts and Twitter feeds, because my networks are brilliant and always deepen my knowledge. They also share work that I can digest in less than 30 minutes, which is about how much time I can spare during the weeks when I’m teaching.
This book has been on my list for a minute. Highlights for me is an excerpt in which Xiomara talks about what one can learn from Medusa in how to outmaneuver the men who keep coming, how to stop them in their tracks. Medusa has always been a particularly interesting figure in Greek mythology to me: a power and independent woman, a priestess devoted to the gods, who is punished for her rape within a temple (and not her attacker/rapist or given an additional power to protect herself at the cost of her beauty, if you choose to look at it that way) and ultimately is beheaded by a hero making a name for himself, who ultimately uses her head to claim another woman betrayed by the men in her life. In this context, Xiomara talks about the betrayal of the men around her, who are constantly body watching her, lusting after her, putting her into boxes of control and pursuit (the constant sexual harassment and patriarchal policing of her body). It’s a dynamic passage in the book and part of the revelations about her as a character and as a woman in her own body determination and growing independence and strength.
That’s not the quote I want to talk about, though. It’s this:
If I were nothing but dust would anyone chase the wind trying to piece me back together?
In the book, there are all these instances of belief and betrayal. The question is an especially powerful one to me that pushed me to consider the times in my life when I felt alone and the times, if I had asked myself this question, the list of names would have poured out of me and created a flurry of swirling around me, a moving cocoon in naming, connected by light all around me. If I were dust, I would be gathered and held by an orb of beings around me. That’s how I feel in my life now, but I know very well what it is to feel alone, to literally look at every place for exits and areas of refuge should shit go down, to be prepared fight or flight and still always feel like I should be more prepared, even in academic spaces. And I carry a lot of privilege. I start to think how am I not just the dust being searched for. How do I become the person who searches for others, those beloved in kinship and those beloved in being, just being in the world? And how can I do better?
#afrolatina, #blackfeminism, #blackjoy, #onequoteresponse, #sabbatical, #thisisthebeginningofanessay, #thepoetx