We’ve all dreamed of other worlds than these. In Deneka Thomas’ “The Name of the Poem is “Discovery””, witness how black queer longing vaults itself beyond the firmament of Earth. Witness how the voice yearning for more finds a foothold in the deepest reaches of (un)known space.
Listen, darlings. Space? It’s not just for white people. This poem knows it. This poem wants to “find the biggest dipper for the collection of any spillage. / Hurtle and orbit as close as it can to the sun”. What I like best about Thomas’ ambitions for the piece is that she isn’t afraid to cast the interstellar die far, watch it scatter into the slipstream of multiple possibilities, myriad ways of imagining (wo)man’s configuration with the fantastic, the speculative, the weird.
Topographically, the poem takes us from sky to sea, and the effects are vertiginous. If you were to map the physical progression of these verses, your drawing would take you to locations both celestial and maritime. It’s not haphazard: the clarity of desire here is its own astrological method. If the speaker of the poem, the one issuing it commands through an unnamed proxy, gives any indication of their own desires, then the evidence points to them being achingly similar: the speaker hungers, as the poem is instructed to do. The speaker, like the poem, perhaps needs the call of instruction, to touch herself.
“Tell the poem to spill its seabed loose. / Remind it of its defence.” In language as honed as a martial blade, suited to dethicketing purpose, Thomas clears a path to the stars, or the seas, or the land on which “a pack of wild African dogs” roams. If this poem is called discovery, what does it say about the expeditioner, galaxy-hearted, who has summoned it? Look heavenward, discoverer.
Read “The Name of the Poem is “Discovery”” here.
Deneka Thomas is the winner of the 2018 First Citizens National Poetry Slam – Trinidad & Tobago.
This is the twenty-first installment of Here for the Unicorn Blood, a Queer POC Poetry Reader which runs from June 1 – June 30. Historically, June commemorates the 1969 Stonewall Riots, heralded as the birth of the modern LGBTQ+ rights movement in the United States. #PrideMonth’s global significance, its unabashed celebration of queerness, its marshalling of non-heteronormative joy, resistance and tenacity, motivates this close reading series, which specifically engages the work of POC Queer Poets, in international space. People of colour have been vital to queerness before queerness had a name: this is one way to witness that, to embed my reading practice in it, and to raise my brown, queer fist in yes.