Reviews & Features:
I dabbled in poetry, sweat in essays and flourish in talks, dialogues, lectures and other oratory endeavors. The written word is permanent. Its truths cannot be unwritten—neither can its falsehoods—and that is quite attractive to me. All too often we are given romantic accounts of what has happened and of those times and people that have before us, because they are written as such. While that imprisons us in an eternal striving to be something that has never, and should never, occur the the written word also has the potential to use the power of permanence to release us. When I write about trauma—mine and that of those around me—it can no longer be denied. I can contextualize it as much as I want, but interpretations change with time, locale and receiver. This allows people to take what lessons they can from an event, a life, a struggle and go forth. The written word can be repurposed all while its raw, uncouth accounting cannot be denied or reversed. This is equally true of poetry. You can tell the truth while lying. It allows the writer/performer to engage the reader/audience on many levels, while remaining shielded in a veneer of artistic covering or privilege. This also allows the audience or reader to engage the poem in a deeply personal way—reckoning with and re-membering themselves—while using the poet as a sort of unbiased vessel. I most enjoy the oratory realm, I am able to connect and to be connected to, with deeper context. My energy is present and articulable, as are my facial and emotional reactions. I can feel people and deal in humanity. It is community building. The message can be better comprehended with the bending of a word or a more nuanced cultural reference. I can literally meet people where they are, and they can meet, undo, refill, check, love and uncover me as well. The spoken word allows for a symbiotic relationship, a reality check and the opportunity to marinate in the complexity of the living.
Mauricio Torres, PhD Candidate (Syracuse)
"Healing, Haunting, and Survival: A Review of Tabias Wilson’s Godless Circumcisions"
"..Godless Circumcisions is a work that sees Wilson profoundly haunted by foreclosed futures (both individual and collective) and the pains of imagining, articulating, and ushering forth new ones. We see this in one of the affirmations, where Wilson writes, “[we] must erupt, destroy and rebuild. Only then can we bury our dead. Only then can we give honor and tribute for their battles to the end” (99). We see this again at the close of “Cheers To The Children: Memories of Poverty, Mother/Brother/Otherhood and Blackness”. Here Wilson writes: “[we] cannot forget the taste of hunger on our tongues, no matter how far we’ve gone from entrees of Miracle Whip and white bread. Cheers to the children who can never forget the art and times of survival jujitsu (105; emphasis mine). To say that Wilson writes form a place of haunting is not to say this is a morose work, on the contrary the book was written with fervent love and a deep concern for healing and wholeness, multiply envisioned. Instead, in the vein of Avery Gordon and Grace Mitchell Cho, Wilson takes seriously the fact that the repressed, the unspoken, the unnamed, the inarticulable, and the dead are immanent forces that impinge upon us in palpable ways. Wilson recognizes that reckoning with violences, traumas, and dismemberments is the only means for “creating realities that we all desire but have yet to co-produce” and the surest means for pathing towards those cosmic wonders cut away from us with that scalpel (172).
Ultimately, this is an enormous first offering from Wilson, it is one that beckons rereading, and indeed I have returned to routinely in the short time it has been out. I eagerly anticipate what Wilson produces next..."
Johnathan Jacob More, Huffington Post Contributor
Tabias Olajuawon Wilson Writes, Re-embers BlaQueer Survival
"...In their alchemy, stewed in the freedom and funk of blackness, Wilson pleases the pallet with recipes borrowed from Maya, Essex and Baldwin. In this collection you will find pieces that tell stories of trauma, namely racial-sexual terrors and violences (see: “The Raping(s), The Reaping, The Humanistic Renewal”), with humor, vulnerability and a love of self clearly inspired by Maya Angelou’s “I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings.” In “Fucking Blackness: Explosions, Invasions & Predatory Niggas” and “A Quick Blunt,” the reader is greeted with poems that are unflinching their analysis and recollection of black and queer sex, pleasure and global positioning. You will also find harrowing essays—such as “To The Children That Come Next: Eli, Emani & Daiveyon”—that deal with situational privilege and center politics, power and pain as simultaneously structural, familial and personal, harkening back to Baldwin’s “A Letter To My Nephew.”
This collection births something for everyone and—with quotations of sources as diverse as Kimberle Crenshaw, Patricia Hill-Collins and bell hooks to Janet Jackson, Erykah Badu and Mary J. Blige—it is clear that the author meant to do so. This is a book for everyone: the academic dealing in high and flesh theories, the gay/bi/trans*/non-binary/queer kid searching for proof of their humanity, the black and/or brown person preparing confronting a world of racial-sexual violences and all those with beating, sensitive hearts interested in humanism, a critical love ethic and practice, and the ideals of making a less violent world. In pulling from the wide range of human experiences and sources of knowledge and truth, Wilson skillful induces the reader to participate in their practice of recollecting, re-membering and liberating the full breadth of their blackness, their queerness and their humanity bringing life, conviction and proof to their introductory assertion that:
We were born whole, announcing our presence as we emerged from the flesh of our mothers with grand aplomb, we were whole. There was nothing missing..."