A Ligature For Black Bodies
Author: Denise Miller
Editor: Cornelius Eady
Publisher: Eyewear Publishing (2021)
A Ligature For Black Bodies attempts to re-humanize black bodies into black people by holding the power structures and people accountable who have reified a dominant and destructive discourse. The collection explores the meanings of seeing police officers killing black and brown people through their dash cams and body cams as they shoot them and everyday citizens standing witness and documentarian through their cellphones. A Ligature For Black Bodies highlights how these videos mirror pictures that lynching attendees took and/or sent as postcards across the country in the early to mid twentieth century. Our view of dying and dead bodies today, of African Americans made lifeless while surrounded by spectators, drives the manuscript. The found poems and persona poems read as police, prosecutor, and journalist's "confessions" to the deaths of the Black people recorded on today's visual media. A Ligature For Black Bodies roots these confessions in the truths of contemporary news articles, autopsy reports, court testimonies, verdicts, and sentences to illustrate how a white power structure seeks to make bodies out of black people. This conversation reveals a racially rooted power structure that creates and perpetuates racism and how black people have, much too often, had to reclaim these bodies systematically stripped of breath. The poems are evidence of Black people's continued American striving to convince that same power structure that black lives matter. The final poem, written in the voice of Sandra Bland and written to LaQuan McDonald and Tamir Rice, seeks to do just that. The poems refuse the narrative of black people as bodies only. Instead, their discourse creates a space where the poems re-member black people's dismemberment at the hands of white people through a journey of truth-telling.