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Words to Our Now

Imagination and Dissent

2007
Author:

Thomas Glave

Words to Our Now

An intensely personal and political confrontation with prejudice, hatred, and violence

In these lyrical and powerful essays, Thomas Glave draws on his experiences as a politically committed, gay Jamaican American to deliver a condemnation of the prejudices and inhumanities that persist in the United States and elsewhere. From the death of poet Essex Hemphill to the revelations of abuse at Abu Ghraib, Glave puts forth a deeply ethical understanding of human rights.

Deepening the tradition of intellectual, imaginative dissent of writers like Édouard Glissant, Kamau Brathwaite, Frantz Fanon, and James Baldwin, Words to Our Now is an eloquent blend of personal and political imagery, of compassion and fury. Thomas Glave addresses issues crucial to citizens of this world: the endless warfare against which we live our lives, whether at home or abroad; the warfare we wage against one another. Che Guevara said that the true revolutionary is motivated by love. Words to Our Now is the work of a revolutionary mind.

Michelle Cliff, author of Free Enterprise

In these lyrical and powerful essays, Thomas Glave draws on his experiences as a politically committed, gay Jamaican American to deliver a condemnation of the prejudices, hatreds, and inhumanities that persist in the United States and elsewhere. Exposing the hypocrisies of liberal multiculturalism, Glave offers instead a politics of heterogeneity in which difference informs the theory and practice of democracy. At the same time, he experiments with language to provide a model of creative writing as a tool for social change. From the death of black gay poet Essex Hemphill to the revelations of abuse at Abu Ghraib, Glave puts forth an ethical understanding of human rights to make vital connections across nations, races, genders, and sexualities.

Awards

Winner of the Lambda Literary Award for Nonfiction

Words to Our Now

Thomas Glave is assistant professor of English at SUNY Binghamton. He is author of Whose Song? and Other Stories.

Words to Our Now

Deepening the tradition of intellectual, imaginative dissent of writers like Édouard Glissant, Kamau Brathwaite, Frantz Fanon, and James Baldwin, Words to Our Now is an eloquent blend of personal and political imagery, of compassion and fury. Thomas Glave addresses issues crucial to citizens of this world: the endless warfare against which we live our lives, whether at home or abroad; the warfare we wage against one another. Che Guevara said that the true revolutionary is motivated by love. Words to Our Now is the work of a revolutionary mind.

Michelle Cliff, author of Free Enterprise

Coming to us by way of Baychester in the Bronx, U.S.A., and Jamaica in the Caribbean, Thomas Glave, the self-described in-between man, offers all of us his fresh, personal perspective on racism, homophobia, imperialism, and literature. His essays are lyrical, heartfelt, and smart.

Jonathan Ned Katz, author of The Invention of Heterosexuality

'Words make love' wrote celebrated French poet Andre Breton. Each of Thomas Glave's sentences conveys a consummate pleasure.

Maryse Condé, author of Who Slashed Celanire's Throat?

Words to Our Now contains some of the most politically committed, ethically grounded, and beautifully crafted prose I have ever read.

Roderick A. Ferguson, author of Aberrations in Black: Toward a Queer of Color Critique

Glave's writing is masterful, making the difficult knowledge that he distills in each essay a pleasure to read and yet a force to be reckoned with.

Rinaldo Walcott, author of Black Like Who? Writing Black Canada

Words to Our Now bends the essay beyond the superficial limits of genre with refractive theorizing and powerful reflection

Sable Magazine

A compelling, well written opus.

African American Literature Book Club

On every page and in every piece, the reader cannot help but hear a larger-than-life voice that, for urgent and compelling reasons, speaks a deep, vital truth to the power(s) that oppress us all in our common here, and in our common now.

Lambda Book Report

Yields a gay-positive, uplifting message. And that’s something we can always use in these homophobic times.

Gay City News

Throughout Words to Our Now, Glave hammers at the insanity of homophobia in Jamaica and elsewhere.

Gay & Lesbian Review

Stylistically and thematically daring essays.

Jamaican Gleaner

A refreshing voice. Words to Our Now tackles everything from homophobia in Jamaica to the war in Iraq.

Hour Magazine

A brilliant writer who does invoke the James Baldwin he’s often compared to, Glave has written perhaps his own Notes of a Native Son and Fire Next Time rolled into one: a deeply felt collection of essays where the personal is the political, the political the sexual, and the sexual the struggle to be as alike and as different from ‘normal’ people as he chooses. Words to Our Now is fearless to be sure, but also affecting, confused, melancholy, wistful, rancorous, and even silly.

Caribbean Review of Books

Words to Our Now is a stunning achievement of the essay personal and political. Glave poetically addresses the effects of racism, sexism and homophobia, while seamlessly connecting these issues to human rights struggles here and abroad. The essays quietly instruct those who seek to transform and empower their lives by showing that a commitment to truth speaking is a way is necessary for clarity and growth.

Steven G. Fullwood, Vibe.com

He crafts colorful idealistic dreams of love and acceptance next to dark realities of hate crimes.

Minnesota Daily

Thomas Glave is a passionate writer and political activist.

Art Voice

In these lyrical and powerful essays, Thomas Glave draws on his experiences as a politically committed, gay Jamaican-American writer, academic and activist to put forward a searing condemnation of the prejudices, hatreds, and inhumanities that persist in the United States, Jamaica and elsewhere.

Canada Extra

Spirited essays. Glave has an outsider-insider perspective of the black American experience. He is most compelling when he writes about it.

Philadelphia Gay News

Words To Our Now is a clarion call to accept the connectness amongst human beings.

Weekly Star

[Thomas Glave] has a message that he wants to relate to unite everyone. Charismatic and simultaneously commanding.

Daily Orange

The essays in this politically and poetically powerful collection, though they cover a lot of ground, have in common an abhorrence of racism and homophobia, a celebration of black gay sexuality and creativity, and a never-gratuitous, well-directed rage.

GMax

Glave glues the fragments of his subject matter together with an engaging tone of voice, reminiscent of Geoff Dyer; but unlike Dyer, Glave does not aim for humour and does not separate politics and his personal life.

Times Literary Supplement

In Words to Our Now, he writes about all of that—blackness, gayness, Jamaican-ness, New Yorkness, on being a Jamaican-New Yorker, on being a New York-Jamaican, on having non-gay friends; and he writes, too, about the act of writing itself.

Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

Written in an eclectic style, the book displays a willingness to play with form and craft that can appeal to a broad range of readers.

Syracuse New Times

There is something truly touching and deeply saddening about a book which has to make a case for the embracing of black homosexuals by their own community, when acceptance has been the prevailing theme around which the rest of African-Americana has rallied for generations. A compelling, well-written opus.

Metropolitan Tribune

Insightful, lyrical, and moving, Glave’s blistering and beautiful work will linger in the reader long after the book reposes to the shelf. This is political dissent from the hands of a poet.

Bloomsbury Review

At a time when many educators are struggling to maintain a space for important discussions about race, class, gender, and sexuality within increasingly conservative sets of standardized expectations, Thomas Glave reminds us that imagination, dissent, and the courage to combine the two can give us cause for real hope. Words to Our Now should make us all rethink the terms upon which we select readings and teach essay writing.

Radical Teacher

Glave creatively illuminates the contradictions between liberal rhetoric and social realities of inauthentic multiculturalism. His is a politics of heterogeneity in which difference informs the theory and practice of democracy. Dissent is not an end or goal in itself, he argues. It is the grounding upon which respectful possibilities emerge and grow.

Myers Book Commentary

Glave’s voice is eloquent, thoughtful, and considered.

Society of Caribbean Studies

Words to Our Now

Contents

Baychester: A Memory
Toward a Nobility of the Imagination: Jamaica's Shame (An Open Letter to the People of Jamaica)
(Re-)Recalling Essex Hemphill: Words to Our Now
Fire and Ink: Toward a Quest for Language, History, and a Moral Imagination
Whose Caribbean? An Allegory, in Part
These Blocks, Not Square (Five Movements)
The Death and Light of Brian Williamson
Regarding Carolivia Herron's Thereafter Johnnie, So Long Swept Aside: Why?
Between Jamaica(n) and (North) America(n): Convergent (Divergent) Territories
On the Difficulty of Confiding, with Complete Love and Trust, in Some Heterosexual "Friends"
Panic, Despair: When the Words Do Not Come (But Then an Unexpected Journey)
Regarding a Black Male Monica Lewinsky, Anal Penetration, and Bill Clinton's Sacred White Anus
On the Importance of Returning from Abroad to the United States in a Time of Imperialism and War (A Meditation on Dissent)
Autumn's Relentlessness: Crimes against Hu
Re-membering Steen Fenrich: Not a Candidate for Matthew Sh
Abu Ghraib: Fragments against Forgetting
Again, the Sea

Acknowledgments
Notes
Publication History