POETRY: Osbey on The Poem as History | Warscapes

Brenda Marie Osbey interviewed in 2013 on her long poem and slavery:

“Well, the intent of the work itself isn’t to resist symbol or metaphor, but to reject outright the kind of figurative language that underplays the role of the extreme violence of slavery in the New World project. This specific passage addresses the obscene violence of customary metaphorical use of the word slavery.
“The passage in which the speaker demands the “the tongue of any who use the word slave as metaphor” is concerned with the specific, quotidian use of metaphor and other figures of speech to erase and to disappear the lived experience of a people. The speaker in the title poem is a member of that people, perhaps even a collective voice, and therefore a corrective to what’s often called “received” history – received, in this instance, clearly functioning as conceit or euphemism for official and presumably correct, factual, true. Or some such thing. This narrator simply speaks against that voice, which really is only a voice itself, one fitted out in fact and thereby supposedly unassailable. The narrator refutes the concreteness of that received history, divests the language that cloaks it, and thus removes that masque of unassailability. In negating any figuration that would serve to erase and disappear this people, our speaker works to construct better, more apt language and figures of speech, reaching into the very experience of displacement, horror and demonization to make newer, more representative language and metaphor.“

Interview and excerpt from the poem here: The Poem as History | Warscapes

(reposted from Diaspora Hypertext, originally shared at NeoGriot)

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