Being black is an impossible location for selfhood. In social space, the black body has to negotiate what's being “imposed” and “recognized” in the encounter with an other, which makes for an inevitable slippage between perception and projection. It itches in this gap. But this gap is also productive of black social life, constructed in part because of the tension inside of this slippage and certainly in relation to it. “A Black Poetics: Against Mastery” proposes that creation and innovation emerge from the impossibility of knowing one's black self and that a black poetics is compelled by discomfort, by pain, and by radical self-creation. “A Black Poetics” also proposes that that fragile space on the other side of mastery—the space where we are least comfortable, least familiar—is what racializes the creative process.

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