Xanadu Poetry

Student Poetry

Featured Poem 

Poet of the Month

Fred Moten

Fred Moten was born in Las Vegas in 1962. He would go on to get his bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and his Ph.D. in English from the University of California, Berkeley. His research interests revolved around performance studies, black studies, poetics, literary theory, critical theory, and the relationship between social movements and art. He explored these fields of interest both by poetry and criticism. Moten would then go on to become a  Professor of English at the University of California, Riverside, a Professor of Modern Poetry at Duke University, and currently, a Professor in the Department of Performance Studies at NYU Tisch School of the Arts. As a poet, Moten would go on to publish a multitude of books, including The Undercommons, In the Break, and Black and Blue. In his book In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition, Moten focuses on the notion of improvisation which enables him to investigate the potential connection between music (namely jazz music), sexual identity, and radical black politics. Moten is often recognized as one of the most important contemporary American poets and he wrote the following poetry collections: The Little Edges (Wesleyan University Press, 2014), The Service Porch (2016), The Feel Trio (2014), B Jenkins (2010), and Hughson’s Tavern (2008). In 2016, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Stephen E. Henderson Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry by the African American Literature and Culture Society. In the same year, he was also the Sherry Memorial Visiting Poet at the University of Chicago. Fred Moten was on the editorial boards of Callaloo, Discourse, American Quarterly, and Social Text. He has also served as a member of the Critical Theory Institute at the University of California, Irvine, and was on the advisory board of Issues in Critical Investigation, Vanderbilt University. He currently resides in New York City as a professor at the Tisch School of the Arts. Below is one of his works. 

 

there is religious tattooing

 

for a long time, the lotion stigma swirled

on the man who clothes me with a broken

 

world. I came when they called me. that

cotton rubbed me the wrong way all the

 

 

way inside over the course of time. way before

cotton sewn into the coat of the one

who clothes me. before I started clothing

 

them with paper. before cotton sewn into

 

 

their coats they curled up on flat boats

all the way back up the country. the beaded

strips of leather and cotton made me come

to myself when he called me and wrote me

 

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delicate daisies and little white lilies 

devious denials and little white lies

Her perfect garden.

 

She didn’t notice

the brush of the leaves of three on her ankle.

She didn’t feel

the slick oil transfer onto her skin.

She didn’t catch 

the resin that stuck to her dirty fingernails as she scratched.

“stuck up” was what he called her to their friends.

 

She didn’t register 

the oil spreading behind her ear as she tucked her hair back.

She didn’t understand

why he whispered quiet threats.

 

She plucked a strand of ivy, 

placed it with the daisies and lilies,

and brought it into her home. 

She brought two poisons into her home. 

 

covered in rashes, blisters, and bruises,

She finally understood:

She wasn’t just itchy, 

She was infected. 

 

Pretty Poisons

Chloe Murphy