Jericho Brown: against Universality

After an interesting class discussion on universality and writers of color (led by Tayari Jones), I’ve been thinking about it on and off for a week now. As a gay black southern writer, identity politics and the expectation for my writing to have a universal appeal (or not) is relevant, perplexing, and irritating. To be honest, I’m often so busy just trying to write the best poems I can — I don’t have time to be worrying about politics. That comes later, as far as I’m concerned. I’m not trying to make a statement so much as I’m trying to be sincere.

Either way, Jericho Brown (author of Please) drops some serious knowledge on the subject:

I negotiate the personal and the universal by understanding that the universal, as it has been presented to us over and over again, is a lie. I know it’s a lie because, though I’ve witnessed audience members at readings ask gay poets what a straight person can appreciate about their poems, I have never seen a straight poet asked what gay people can appreciate about his or her poems.

Go to Critical Mass to read the rest of Jericho’s discussion with Rigoberto Gonzalez.


One response to “Jericho Brown: against Universality

  1. Nice interview – thanks for the link.

    Also, like the new template/color scheme.

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