Maternal Tongues: An Insurgent Ecstatics of the Sacred (On the Zong! Song)
Wednesday, February 22, 2017 - 6:00pm
Blackness bespeaks a politics that's out of this world, one that outsings the violent, political "Trump/ets" of this one. The question, however, is, How do we attend to its music? How do we hear the joyous noise of that other world, those bass notes of insubordination that point to alternative terms of social organization? Thinking with M. NourbeSe Philip's poetry collection Zong!, this talk engages these questions by working through the sociopoetics internal to the frenzied speech or the maternal tongues of the poems. Beyond ownership, before and after propertied self-possession, speaking in oceanic and atmospheric tongues that register in the fractured caress and the wounded care of the poems's discomposed and decomposing words, the ungendered "marental" voice of the poems announces another world, one that holds us. "Held but not had." It announces black feminist ecologies of social life, a refugitive commune-ism, shall we say. What emerges from Zong! then, and what this talk thinks about, is Zong!'s urgent antepolitics and sociopoetics of joy, its insurgent ecstatics of the sacred.