Fred Moten, “Njeeri Wa Thiong’o”


in the world to scream against

the invading encloser, always crossing
past return, an advent, we were here

before the sad absences. we are philosophical

contraband. our braid flew off the

circle from inside like a pathogenic

bass line. the point of the contraband
was the other ones, like the Prophetess

Amanda Irving praying for the

lost ones, in protest, committing
thy body to the bass line, in

turning reading everything.

it gives me pleasure to ask that you
pray for me before we raise the broken city

to make another world.

B Jenkins, Fred Moten’s fourth collection of poems, is named after his mother, who is the subject of two poems. He read several poems from the collection at a PennSound reading n 2008.

Moten’s poems explore some of the same themes as the cultural criticism of In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition; in an interview in the back of B Jenkins, he explains: “I want my criticism to sound like somethng, to be musical and actually to figure in some iconic way the art and life that it’s talking about. At the same time, I also wan tmy poetry to engage in inquiry and to intervene, especially, in a set of philosophical and aesthetic questions that are, I think, of profound political importance.”

(Njeeri Wa Thiong’o, also often recognized as Njeeri Wa Ngugi, is the wife of Kenyan novelist Ngugi Wa Thiong’o; the couple were the victims of a brutal assault in August 2003, shortly after they returned to Kenya after decades of political exile.)

14 February 2010 | poetry |