In the Language of My Captor

In the Language of My Captor

Book - 2017
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"Acclaimed poet Shane McCrae's latest collection is a book about freedom told through stories of captivity. Historical persona poems and a prose memoir at the center of the book address the illusory freedom of both black and white Americans. In the book's three sequences, McCrae explores the role mass entertainment plays in oppression, confronts the myth that freedom can be based upon the power to dominate others, and, in poems about the mixed-race child adopted by Jefferson Davis in the last year of the Civil War, interrogates the infrequently examined connections between racism and love."--Jacket.
Publisher: Middletown, Connecticut : Wesleyan University Press, [2017]
ISBN: 9780819577115 (hardcover)
0819577111 (hardcover)
Branch Call Number: 811.6 MCC
Characteristics: 86 pages ; 24 cm


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Apr 08, 2019

I am reading through this contemporary poet backwards. I wr0te a review of his newest, this year's book. This is his book previous to that. Actually, I found this collection even more direct. He jars the syntax of English given him by his captor, and it matches his jarring important messages:
some days// I tuck notes explanations
Into soft monkey shits
and call white children to the bars
I warn the parents / But still they let their children come

And that’s my explanation / I am
their honest mirror
I say Whether you’re here
to see me or to see the monkeys

You’re here to see yourselves

Not every poem is about race in America, but there is often a shot to the brain and body:
…intact still, burning, and the whole world of
wrecked, and burned, and abandoned things, each trapped in the mo-
ment of its destruction, each thing preserved, bot dead and outside
of death, not in Hell, but in the one fire everywhere, after which there
is no suffering, and so from which there is no relief.

At times the message is brief, but pointed: "Where privacy has to be defended
There is no privacy".
If you want to stay comfortable, then these poems are probably not for you. But if you want to read writing with straight forward impact and truth, you will find that over and over in this collection.


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