Poetry in Motion: Adebe DeRango-Adem + Vox Humana

In her new collection Vox Humana (Book*hug Press), poet Adebe DeRango-Adem interrogates the politics of voice, namely, who gets to have one, in a milieu of racist and institutional violence. The poems seek to reclaim voice in a series of literary experiments of word and sound – hear her read part II of poem “Vox Refugium” and learn more about the collection below.


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Vox Humana (Latin for “human voice”) is driven by a sense of political urgency to probe the ethics of agency in a world that actively resists the participation of some voices over others.In and through literary experiments with word and sound, utterance and song, Vox Humana considers the different ways a body can assert, recount, proclaim, thus underscoring the urgency of doing so against the de-voicing effects of racism and institutional violence.As the title also represents an organ reed that sounds like the human voice, so DeRango-Adem shares her reclaiming of the instrument traditionally accessed by the white establishment.These poems are born from the polyphonic phenomenon of the author’s multilingual upbringing. They are autobiographical and alchemical, singular and plural, but, above all, a celebration of the (breath) work required for transformation of society and self.Author of Zong! and Bla_K M. NourbeSe Philip says of the collection: “Vox Humana compels the reader to engage with the fragment and with the sounded breath of words seeping through cracks in the text; in so doing it requires that the reader trust the movement of breath, word, and fragment and demands a new way of reading. Vox Humana does what poetry intends—it creates new ways of seeing all that has always been (not) there.”

Adebe DeRango-Adem reads part II of “Vox Refugium” from Vox Humana

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Adebe DeRango-Adem is a writer and former attendee of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics (Naropa University), where she mentored with poets Anne Waldman and Amiri Baraka. She is the author of three previous full-length poetry books to date: Ex Nihilo, a finalist for the Dylan Thomas Prize; Terra Incognita, nominated for the Pat Lowther Memorial Award; and The Unmooring. A poem from The Unmooring was featured in the 2019 Poem-In-Your-Pocket anthology, co-created by the League of Canadian Poets and the Academy of American Poets. Adebe served as the 2019-20 Barbara Smith Writer-in-Residence with Twelve Literary Arts (Cleveland, Ohio) and was selected by Sonia Sanchez as the winner of the 2021 Boston Review Annual Poetry Contest. She lives in Toronto.


Thanks to Adebe DeRango-Adem for sharing this reading from her latest collection, Vox Humana.For more Poetry in Motion, click here.