February 10, 2016  By Fred Moten

Fred Moten’s visionary blackness has always been about returning the future to its rightful place of the present. In them, I hear the contiguity of a life as activist, theorist, teacher, art critic and poet. Last fall, in a two part interview, Moten was able to elucidate as only he can the vibratory genius he hears and instills inside certain words: sociality, entanglement, the haptic. These concepts resonate in these poems no less than elsewhere across his work, so that with Moten one must always be thinking within ever-widening contexts of his own writing as well as others, from Adorno to Donny Hathaway (what other living poet yokes such disparate inspirations together?). I marvel at these poems and their ambition to reinvent how we read poetry and the world, coming as they do from a mind that is among our most indispensable, most vernacularly-attuned, most original of poets.

—Adam Fitzgerald, Poetry Editor


stone gas

The gravity and lightness of her step as she walked up the hill with that
fish. after the smile we shared, the checker,
the boxer, the wiping away of moisture,
the further application of scent, we were sent, he wasn’t there, if you can
Blue scat, blue scatter, some old Lusakan blue in a cave at
twin rivers.
Blue’s short wave, soul’s train
on western, right below adams,
a line cut by haint gesture in chicago, the way we rock
to the way we breathe
and hand.



wanna be startin’ somethin’

Honored by our disintegrative presence, things came to a different head.
Cure brings incurable shade, disorganized by curates, and even the curiæ
embrace these little grenades of eccentric preservation. Even Adorno

fell in love with Donny Hathaway. His ardor was evangelical in small
circles and the nature of his circles turned. Constantly caught smiling in
loose barbecue chablis, his kimono flared and prayed, and he told more

stories, till on his deathbed, soft and beautiful, because he’d become
beautiful and smoky and hard as diamond, and his voice was strained
with plump generosity, I hit him upside his head with a baseball bat.

Look here—I respect that late swarm he came to feel and, just like you,
I celebrate his disappearance with absolute second-lined joy. The world
gotta answer for the world, though. Citizens of the world, say it out loud.


Fred Moten
Fred Moten
Fred Moten is from Las Vegas, Arkansas. He is author of In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition, Hughson’s Tavern, B. Jenkins, The Undercommons: Fugitive Planning and Black Study (with Stefano Harney), The Feel Trio and The Little Edges. A new poetry collection, The Service Porch (Letter Machine Editions) and a new collection of essays, consent not to be a single being (Duke University Press) will appear in 2016. Moten teaches at the University of California, Riverside and lives in Los Angeles with his partner, Laura Harris, and their kids, Julian and Lorenzo.

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