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Poems that imagine a world beyond the prevailing public speculation on Black death.
Shayla Lawz's debut collection, speculation, n., brings together poetry, sound, and performance to challenge our spectatorship and the reproduction of the Black body. It revolves around a central question: what does it mean--in the digital age, amidst an inundation of media--to be a witness? Calling attention to the images we see in the news and beyond, these poems explore what it means to be alive and Black when the world regularly speculates on your death.
The speaker, a queer Black woman, considers how often her body is coupled with images of death and violence, resulting in difficultly moving toward life. Lawz becomes the speculator by imagining what might exist beyond these harmful structures, seeking ways to reclaim the Black psyche through music, typography, and other pronunciations of the body, where expressions of sexuality and the freedom to actively reimagine is made possible. speculation, n. contends with the real--a refracted past and present--through grief, love, and loss, and it speculates on what could be real if we open ourselves to expanded possibilities.
speculation, n. won the 2020 Autumn House Poetry Prize, selected by Ilya Kaminsky.