Grief is a complicated emotion but also an inadequate word in many ways. Maybe it isn’t so much that the term fails to encompass a range of emotional states, but I think also death itself, as an event, as a limit, as a field of investigation, is too many things at once.It’s solid and it’s slippery. For me what I’m doing in A Toast is using language to walk through that field to find out about love, the collapsible body, what it means to be human, all of that. Also, I think that I am trying to transcribe rapture. I mean that in the ecstatic sense of the word. The opening poem, “In Aporia, ” is taken from Jacques Derrida’s exploration of the limits of a border, language’s inability to capture the tension of this impasse, death. The poems in the first section of the book are written directly from that impossible field where nothing seems grounded. I am in a state of seeking. Grief is a part of that seeking, but so is redemption and anger, the forgivable and the unforgivable, this ecstasy of being in a kind of light, the simple astonishment of the impermanence of absence.
- From an interview with BOMBLOG
Tell me about the lightness my mother told me to pick out the best
how it signals everything I ever wish to believe true just holy on my ship.
I jump all over his house. this is it [what i thought is thought only,
nothing more deceptive than]
I his body keeps thinking someone will come along, touch me,
As like human. Or lima bean.
I’m cradling you to my breast, you are looking out. A little wooden lion
you & Peter carve on Bluff Street is quieting across your cheekbone. Not
at all like the kind of terror found in sleep, on trembling grounds.
It is yesterday now. I have not had a chance to dance in this century.
Tonight I shall kill someone,
a condition to remember Sunday mornings.
- Excerpt from “In Aporia,” included in A Toast In The House Of Friends
Information on listening to audio recordings of Akilah Oliver’s poetry readings can be found at Coffee House Press.
Racialicious.com offers its’ condolences to her family, friends and fans.