In The Field: Revisiting a Conversation With Gabrielle Civil

by Jun 2, 2020

From Gabrielle Civil:

“My Black Boy Dead” (Vol. 22) emerged from a kind of haunting. Although the poem resonates with recent anti-black violence, it came from a state of emergency in my youth. I grew up in Detroit during “the crisis of the black boy” and as people talked about their brothers, their cousins, their boyfriends, as teachers, preachers, and politicians wrung their hands and shook their heads, it was clear how much black boys were highly prized, precious, and deeply endangered. The poem emerges as a dream response to this state of impending loss. The black boy is loved, mourned, and never really known. A black boy becomes a stereotype, a target, a fortune, a consumer, a salvation. The poem exposes a desire to heal (man I cure ) and a deep craving for actual embodied connection (“someone to hold my hands”).  

Photo Credit: Aly Almore

Gabrielle Civil is the author of two black feminist memoirs in performance art: Swallow the Fish, an Entropy Best Non-Fiction Book of 2017, and the recently released Experiments in Joy. Her writing has appeared in Poem-a-Day, Dancing While Black, Small Axe, Art21, MAI Journal, Kitchen Table Translation, and Obsidian. She has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to Mexico and a 2019 Rema Hort Mann LA Emerging Artist Award. She teaches creative writing and critical studies at the California Institute of the Arts. You can read more about her work on her website

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