Halifax’s former Poet Laureate Afua Cooper and photographer Wilfried Raussert collaborate in this book of poems and photographs focused on everyday Black experiences. The result is a jambalaya — a dialogue between image and text. Cooper translates Raussert’s photos into poetry, painting a profound image of what disembodied historical facts might look like when they are embodied in contemporary characters. This visual and textual conversation honours the multiple layers of Blackness in the African diaspora around North America and Europe. The result is a work that amplifies black beauty and offers audible resistance.
Afua Cooper, Halifax’s seventh Poet Laureate, is the author of five books of poetry, including the critically acclaimed Copper Woman and Other Poems and two novels, The Hanging of Angelique: The Untold Story of Slavery in Canada and the Burning of Old Montreal, and My Name is Phillis Wheatley. She has also recorded two poetry CDs, including the forthcoming Love and Revolution. A founder of the Canadian Dub poetry movement, Afua Cooper was instrumental in organizing between 2004 and 2009, three international dub poetry festivals.
Dr. Wilfried Raussert is a multidisciplinary artist and scholar. He works across the boundaries of music, literature, photography, art, and literary criticism. He is Chair of North American and Inter-American Studies at Bielefeld University, Germany. He is director of the International Association of InterAmerican Studies, author and editor of 20 scholarly books, including Art Begins in Streets Art Lives in Streets, Cultural Memory and Multiple Identities, and Traveling Sounds: Music, Migration and Identity in the U.S. and Beyond.
Portia White Prize 2020, Winner
Pat Lowther Memorial Award 2021, Long-listed
“If Black lives matter, what sort of matter is Blackness? To address this question, Afua Cooper and Wilfried Raussert bring vision and text together. In this beautifully sculpted book they stretch the skein of Blackness around grief, love, strength, persistence and revelation. ”
— Robbie Shilliam, author of Decolonizing Politics and The Black Pacific
“This artful text is the emphatic means by which Afua Cooper and Wilfried Raussert arrive at this historical moment. Crafted on an anvil of brilliant collaboration in the wild and overlapping histories of the modern world, the marks of Black life are revealed everywhere. This far-seeing work is a beautiful visual object that imagines us beyond the narrow spaces of coloniality. Black Matters intervenes at every turn. ”
— Canisia Lubrin, author of The Dyzgraphxst and Voodoo Hypothesis
“How fortunate we are to have the record of this collaborative generosity and what a potent and timely conversation to be having. This is the agility of art: extending back into history with the vitality of a future fortified by dignity while remaining firmly rooted in the present. What combusts is inspiration?—?the sustainability of art in practice and how it makes sense of this time we’ve been brought together in. I’m so grateful for the contribution this book will make, the poignant energy it is composing for the living archive we’re making as we go. ”
— Sue Goyette, Halifax Poet Laureate and author of Ocean
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