Solid Quarter

Blood Jet Poetry Series in New Orleans, weekly poetry and music as well as open mic performances

Visit Trembling Pillow Press for poetry books, broadsides, chapbooks, and Solid Quarter Magazine.

Visit New Orleans Poetry Fest for the annual 3 day poetry festival directed by Bill Lavender and Megan Burns.

Megan Burns' Poeticsofbone&city project on Tumblr

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Power, Minstrel Shows & Nicki Minaj Masks

The Nicki Minaj Project is not an attempt to discover a truth, but an attempt to gain entry into a mirage. 
As it shifts, we lose focus and yet a horizon is a plane of stability. What is this new trend of white privileged poets using the mask of inner-city gangsta rap to infuse their poetry with a sense of street and music? What is the mask and how tightly does it constrict? When one voice rises to the top, how many others fall silent? I am not interested in answers but in constrictions. I am not interesting in layers, but in a sheen of glossy images. I am not attempting to convey but attempting to collage to the point of distortion so the underneath can become a point of excavation. I am not interested in forgetting the discomfort of America as images of residents from New Orleans were led by gun point from the Superdome in August of 2005 in an attempt to rescue/ resist/ contain/ cage/ control/ suppress/ save/ or where does the line of discontent draw itself in the sand. 

“Fantasies are my reality”- N.M.

“Man, in effect, knows how to play with the mask as that beyond which there is the gaze.”
                  –Jacques Lacan, The Four Fundamental Concepts of Pyscho-Analysis

“Assuming power is no simple process […] for power is not mechanically reproduced when it is assumed. Instead, on being assumed, power runs the risk of assuming another form and direction.”
                                             –Judith Butler, The Psychic Life of Power

“black minstrels could initially not but reaffirm the ‘distorted black spectre already dominating the stage'  and offer white audiences a kind of ‘comfort and resistance’ in their beliefs about blacks’ natural inferiority”
                                                 –Mel Watkins, On the Real Side: Laughing, Lying, and Signifying—The Underground Tradition of African American Humour that Transformed American Culture, from Slavery to Richard Pryor

Huggins notes that black performers “tried to use the stereotype as an instrumental satire” by distancing themselves from damaging representations through exaggeration. (Huggins, Nathan Irvin. Harlem Renaissance)     -" Of Blackface and Paranoid Knowledge: Richard Wright, Jacques Lacan, and the Ambivalence of Black Minstrelsy" by Mikko Tuhkanen

“I say girls are beautiful and girls are sexy and they need to be told that, and if they don’t have anyone to tell them that and mean it, I’m gonna tell them that.”   -N.M. 

What is the line between beauty and absurdity, the mask of the ideal and the undercover where the mask slips and the last line of defense becomes an attack. When the character of the character and then the character: Note my expression. Note my facial expression. Note my expression in contrast to what I deliver. Note my expression in contrast to the body. Note my expression. 

"swollen clitties wander cities/ shadow and conventions from/ the whole of photography" 
                                                       -Rachel Blau Duplessis, Draft 48, Being Astonished

object: central complex for the collision
to interpret alone or in a group
at the rate at which outside of the mind
& begins to order the external 
cut down and formed by the first impression
whittled away by every subsequent thought

body-in-pieces vs. body without pieces

tangled in the trespass place

              lips against

a line not unknotted

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