Toward an Anti-Racist Poetics seeks to dislodge the often unspoken white universalism that underpins literary production and reception today. In this personal and thoughtful book, award-winning author Wayde Compton explores how we might collectively develop a poetic approach that makes space for diversity by doing away with universalism in both lyric and avant-garde verse. Poignant and contemporary examples reveal how white authors often forget that their whiteness is a racial position. In the propulsive push to experiment with form, they essentially fail to see themselves as “white artists.” Noting that he has never felt that his subjectivity was universal, Compton advocates for the importance of understanding your own history and positionality, and for letting go of the idea of a common aesthetic. Toward an Anti-Racist Poetics offers validation for poets of colour who do not work in dominant western forms, and is for all writers seeking to engage in anti-racist work.
About the author
Wayde Compton is the author of two books of poetry, 49th Parallel Psalm (Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize finalist) and Performance Bond. He also edited the anthology Bluesprint: Black British Columbian Literature and Orature. His non-fiction book After Canaan: Essays on Race, Writing, and Region was shortlisted for the City of Vancouver Book Award. His first work of fiction, The Outer Harbour, will be published in fall 2014. Wayde is the director of the Writer's Studio and the Southbank Writer's Program at Simon Fraser University Continuing Studies. He lives in Vancouver.
Excerpt: Toward an Anti-Racist Poetics (by (author) Wayde Compton)
“I have never felt that my subjectivity is universal or outside a cultural or racial position. The sensation—or perhaps the lack of sensation—that one must feel when they are lined up squarely to the norm is something I can only imagine. This is true for so many of us, in different ways…” Wayde Compton