about the author

Staff Book Reviewer Spencer Dew is the author of critical study The Aliites: Race and Law in the Religions of Noble Drew Ali (University of Chicago Press, 2019), novel Here Is How It Happens (Ampersand Books, 2013), critical study Learning for Revolution: The Work of Kathy Acker (San Diego State University Press, 2011), chapbook Mont-Saint-Michel and Chartres (Another New Calligraphy, 2010), and short story collection Songs of Insurgency (Vagabond Press, 2008).

To send your new book to decomP for possible review, see our guidelines. To find out what’s currently under consideration, visit our review queue.

Bookmark and Share


font size

& more black
A Review of & more black
by t’ai freedom ford

Spencer Dew

“i make gibberish of English / nasty as black licorice     we don’t tapdance / no more all we do is this: (middle finger / emoji).”

These are poems less as “missives” than as “sledgehammer[s]”—or poems that, in their lament over not being enough of a sledgehammer, offer up a gasping, quick-contraction, declaration of “i be i be i be.”

This is a book—or two books, back-to-back, printed flip, a double album—about blackness, blackness “blood-borne & cosmic” and under constant threat, blackness as that otherwise these United States set themselves up to contain and control and confine and commodify, to make use of when and how it pleases white folks, those colonizing ofays for whom “blackness becomes black / caricature like a too tight glove” “like too loud song becoming / a blues note—a footnote for the news—then static.”

t’ai freedom ford conjures artistic exemplars—from Basquiat to Pam Grier to Alexandria Smith to Zora Neale Hurston—to throw their own distinctive blackness against this pale and caricaturizing and incarcerating background, to weaponize blackness, such that the “white boy jogging / shirtless down Marcus Garvey” might find himself color struck in the same way a cop car might get struck with a well-flung brick.

Sure, the “real munitions” have already been removed “from the big house,” but the voices—or the voices spoken to, rallied—in these pieces will work with what they’ve got, equipped with hard-earned ancestry and buoyed up by womanist outrage, mourning, and determination, facing a world run by politicians and preachers and pornography, a world populated by the most recent manner of plantation executive and by the most recent person murdered, “forced to the ground / for being brown,” and the one killed after that, a tickertape of dead killed by facets of the state, forms of the same old black-killing machinery—fear, lust, economics, police, needles—killed for selling loose cigarettes or selling CDs, for whistling at a girl or for being a woman, for walking down the street or refusing to extinguish a cigarette or for listening to music or for breathing, just for breathing.

Those that don’t kill appropriate, stealing signifiers and syntax, “cornbraids & cornbread,” tweaking fly beats into “a happy meal trap anthem / for the whiteboy singalong.”

Against this fate, we have the morphing organic forms of Wangechi Mutu, the scissorworked windows into the abyss snip-snipped by Kara Walker, the contention that—“Aretha’s gospel ain’t nothing but black / magic in the way that flour & water / & fatback make gravy,” which is to say, indigenous or organic to a certain history and experience—a product of ineluctable blackness, that essence celebrated here in terms of “how you conjugate & signify / simultaneous     with your machete / & alla your heart.”

Official t’ai freedom ford Web Site
Official Augury Books Web Site

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...