Poets of Color and the Avant-Garde


In a provocative piece for the latest issue of Lana Turner, Cathy Park Hong takes the self-appointed avant-garde movement to task for its all-too-traditional track record on race and identity politics. Park Hong writes:

The avant-garde’s “delusion of whiteness” is the luxurious opinion that anyone can be “post-identity” and can casually slip in and out of identities like a video game avatar.

The essay is an important read: it demands recognition for poets of color whose contributions to the avant-garde have been written off as derivative or otherwise “lesser.” It also serves as a rallying cry for a new conception of the cutting edge that channels the revolutionary spirit of the movement, honoring the subjectivity and voices of historically disenfranchised writers and bringing something truly new—and probably unsettling—to the world of contemporary poetry.

Dinah Fay is a poet, copywriter, and social media maven living in Brooklyn. She is the co-host of the Brick City Speaks reading series in Newark, where she is pursuing an MFA in writing from Rutgers University. More from this author →