Tracing Black Literary History of Environmental and Social Disaster

Event Recap of Cultivation & Catastrophe, 10/10/17

On October 10, Brent Edwards (Columbia University), Tao Leigh Goffe (NYU), Evie Shockley (Rutgers University), and Sonya Posmentier (NYU), came together to discuss Posmentier’s new book Cultivation and Catastrophe: The Lyric Ecology of Modern Black Literature.

Posmentier began by reading excerpts of her book, bringing the words to life. Her book goes against the grain of scholarship that has situated modern black diasporic agency largely in metropolitan sites; the book traces a black literary history of environmental and social disaster while exploring the possibilities and limits of poetry as an archive for black modern culture in its many forms.

Panelist Brent Edwards said, “The book is provocative because it takes the metaphorology and history and applies it on the poetic form,” pondering how ecological and social disasters influenced and permeated black writer’s work, not just in content but in form as well.

During the event’s reception, Posmentier organized donations toward hurricane relief, which raised $200 for the Hurricane Maria Relief & Recovery Fund, hosted by the Center for Popular Democracy.

Hear the full event below: