Winner of the 2016 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize
Cortney Lamar Charleston’s debut collection looks unflinchingly at the state of race in twenty-first-century America. Today, as much as ever before, the black body is the battleground on which war is being waged in our inner cities, and Charleston bares witness with fear, anger, and glimpses of hope. He watches the injustice on TV, experiences it firsthand at simple traffic stops, and even gives voice to those like Eric Garner and Sandra Bland who no longer can. Telepathologies is a shout in the darkness, a plea for sanity in an age of insanity, and an urgent call to action.
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Advance Praise for Telepathologies
Cortney Lamar Charleston's poems testify in the eternal court of history; he speaks, as Aime Cesaire once did, "for miseries that have no mouth" and to liberate "those who languish in the dungeon of despair." Sandra Bland, Freddie Gray, Eric Garner and nine slain members of Mother Emanuel AME Church—voices silenced through institutionalized racism and the unchecked power of hate—form the nucleus of this powerful indictment of an America still suffering the legacy of its slave-trading past. Timely, immediate, imperative; this is poetry from inside the center of the storm; an urgent and articulate call for change.
D.A. Powell, author of Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys
Cortney Lamar Charleston fills Telepathologies with his big-hearted, yet biting and clear-eyed analysis. These powerfully worded poems do not let us look away, neither from the ills and woes infecting contemporary black life nor from the role of media (news, social) in circulating them among us. We move from concrete poems to ghazals to familiar and unfamiliar forms of free verse. Charleston keeps us on our toes as we follow him into spaces of blackness—those that he inhabits and those that inhabit him. In these poems, even in the face of fatal violence, the black body lives and breathes, mourns and survives. I welcome this poet’s debut.
Evie Shockley, author of the new black
Reviews and Commentary
You can read more reflections on Telepathologies and its content from the following writers: Megan Fernandes at Boston Review, Roberto Carlos Garcia at Mosaic, Michael Levan at American Micro Reviews, Dustin Pearson at Hayden's Ferry Review, Roberto Carlos Garcia at Mosaic, Xandria Phillips at wildness, Len Lawson at Up the Staircase Quarterly and Stephanie Burt at The Yale Review.
I also offer up a reflection on one of my favorite poems from the collection, "The Hood," at Poetry Society of America.
Motionpoem: "How Do You Raise a Black Child?"
Click below to watch a film adaptation of Cortney's poem "How Do You Raise a Black Child?" which is collected in Telepathologies. The film, in which Charleston provides reading of the text, was directed by filmmaker Seyi Peter-Thomas, and was a collaboration between Motionpoems and Cave Canem.