Beating the Graves

Beating the Graves

3.12 (8 ratings by Goodreads)
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The poems in Tsitsi Ella Jaji's Beating the Graves meditate on the meaning of living in diaspora, an experience increasingly common among contemporary Zimbabweans. Vivid evocations of the landscape of Zimbabwe filter critiques of contemporary political conditions and ecological challenges, veiled in the multiple meanings of poetic metaphor. Many poems explore the genre of praise poetry, which in Shona culture is a form of social currency for greeting elders and peers with a recitation of the characteristics of one's clan. Others reflect on how diasporic life shapes family relations.

The praise songs in this volume pay particular homage to the powerful women and gender-queer ancestors of the poet's lineage and thought. Honoring influences ranging from Caribbean literature to classical music and engaging metaphors from rural Zimbabwe to the post-steel economy of Youngstown, Ohio, Jaji articulates her own ars poetica. These words revel in the utter ordinariness of living globally, of writing in the presence of all the languages of the world, at home everywhere, and never at rest.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 114 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 6.86mm | 176.9g
  • Lincoln, United States
  • English
  • 0803299605
  • 9780803299603
  • 1,586,054

Table of contents

The Book of VaNyemba
Praise Song for Patricia Jabbeh Wesley
Song of Yobe
To Praise the Hornbill
Deep English
The Go-Betweens
Family Trees.
Holy Departure (A Berceuse)
Dust to Dust
Document for U.S. Citizens Who Have Never Applied for a Visa and Have Had It Up to Here with Those Loud Aliens Who Go On and On about Some Letter
Blunt Balm
Matobo Hills
Philosophical Investigations
Limpopo Blues
Wait until the Leader Clears the Lunar
A Prelude to a Kiss
My Funny Valentine
Small Consolation
Our Embrace
Carnaval: A Suite
To Bless the Memory of Tamir Rice
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Review quote

"An outstanding offering. Forceful. Fresh. And not afraid. This offering shows Tsitsi Jaji to be an explorer of the textures of lived experience with admirable clarity of vision and expression, in short, a poet deep to the marrow of her sensibility."-Keorapetse Kgositsile, South Africa's poet laureate
-- Keorapetse Kgositsile "The gravel and gravitas of Beating the Graves lies in its ferociously polyglot density. Peep that diction, peeps! As this moving book reminds us in its deep listening to our noisy dead (diaspora), any border can be crossed by sound."-Christian Campbell, author of Running the Dusk
-- Christian Campbell "Packed with a stunning, virtuosic range of occasion and disposition (praise, imprecation, prayer, play, to name only a few), Beating the Graves is an auspicious debut volume by a formidable poet-musician-scholar."-Nathaniel Mackey, author of Blue Fasa ? -- Nathaniel Mackey
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About Tsitsi Ella Jaji

Tsitsi Ella Jaji is an associate professor of African and African American studies at Duke University. She is the author of Africa in Stereo: Modernism, Music, and Pan-African Solidarity.
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Rating details

8 ratings
3.12 out of 5 stars
5 25% (2)
4 25% (2)
3 0% (0)
2 38% (3)
1 12% (1)
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