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Poet, published author and professor Joshua Bennett pairs lit + prints

The newest installment of our Literary Gallery series is not to be missed. It was assembled by published author, accomplished poet, and Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth College, Dr. Joshua Bennett, and it’s a requisite reading list, if not a work of poetic plangency itself. In describing his approach to the task of pairing 20x200 prints with a few of his most treasured texts, Bennett somehow manages to articulate the crux of the exercise while awakening in us a renewed sense of the value of such an undertaking. And that’s all before his actual matchmaking, which speaks for itself.

Bennett’s easy eloquence astounds—just take a sec to appreciate his turn of phrase and his poignantly-paced, luminous read-aloud style in this video produced by his alma mater, UPenn. While an undergraduate there in 2009, he was invited to perform for President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at The Evening of Poetry, Music, and the Spoken Word at the White House. That honor was just a hint of what this writer had up his sleeve. He’d go on to receive his Ph.D. in English from Princeton in 2016, become a member of the Society of Fellows at Harvard, and publish his debut poetry collection,
The Sobbing School, via Penguin Random House in 2016. Centering the complex interiority of the Black experience, the collection was a National Poetry Series winner and a finalist for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work.

There’s surely so much more in store for this talented young writer and academic (Bennett’s not even thirty yet), and we’re on tenterhooks waiting for what’s next. His first book of essays,
Being Property Once Myself: Blackness & the End of Man, is forthcoming from Harvard University Press, and his second collection of poems, Owed, will be published by Penguin Random House in 2020. In the meantime, tuck into his thought-provoking intro and take a turn through his art and lit pairings ...

"Here, I did my best to pair some of my favorite literary works with visual art that not only resonates thematically, but also reflects a specific set of textures, hues, and sensations as it pertains to the writing in question. In so much of my teaching and critical prose, my aim is to think aloud about just this sort of resonance, that which is always already at play when we approach the work of art—that is, the ineluctable, incalculable distance between sound and symbol, our pursuit of a better, more beautiful language for that which is altogether unsayable. The joy here was in finding harmony where I had expected great dissonance, or else nothing worth mentioning at all, and in the process seeing these ten collections of poetry and prose, this choir of soft, unwieldy machines, that I have loved for years as if, somehow, for the very first time." – Joshua Bennett, professor, poet, and published author

Washed Up (Rockaway) & Fences

Phonographies: Grooves in Sonic Afro-Modernity & Old Recorder

Residential Web & Song of Solomon

Missing You, Metropolis & Arcade

Feral Church #2 & Good News About The Earth

XX: Poems for the Twentieth Century & GPN-2002-000059

General Store Interior, Moundville, Alabama & Their Eyes Were Watching God

What Are We Not For & Animal Locomotion: Plate 692 (Elk; trotting)

Jitterbugging in Negro juke joint, Saturday evening, outside Clarksdale, Mississippi - and - A Negro going in the Entrance for Negroes at a movie theater, Belzoni, Mississippi (pair) & In Search of the Black Fantastic

Outlaws of the Atlantic & The Constellation of Hope

The 411 on Joshua Bennett
Dr. Joshua Bennett is an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Dartmouth. He is the author of The Sobbing School (Penguin, 2016)—which was a National Poetry Series selection and a finalist for an NAACP Image Award—as well as Being Property Once Myself: Blackness and the End of Man, which is forthcoming from Harvard University Press. Penguin Books will publish his second collection of poems, Owed, in 2020.