Black Lives Matter Book Display Featured Text(s)

Celebrate National Poetry Month

The UCI Libraries’ Black Lives Matter book display features a variety of works of poetry. We already featured a review of Kevin Young’s The Grey Album . And we even reviewed Claudia Rankine’s Citizen.

For this post, we celebrate April as the National Poetry Month by calling attention to a few other works of poetry that you can find on display in Langson Library.

Wild Hundreds by Nate Marshall

Wild Hundreds

Wild Hundreds is a long love song to Chicago. The book celebrates the people, culture, and places often left out of the civic discourse and the travel guides. Wild Hundreds is a book that displays the beauty of black survival and mourns the tragedy of black death.


Follow Nate Marshall @illuminatemics

Teaching my Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire

Teaching my Mother How to Give Birth

As Rumi said, “Love will find its way through all languages on its own”; in ‘teaching my mother how to give birth’, Warsan’s début pamphlet, we witness the unearthing of a poet who finds her way through all preconceptions to strike the heart directly.

Follow Warsan Shire @warsan_shire

Black Movie by Danez Smith

Black Movie

Poetry. African American Studies. These harrowing poems make montage, make mirrors, make elegiac biopic, make “a dope ass trailer with a hundred black children/ smiling into the camera & the last shot is the wide mouth of a pistol.” That’s no spoiler alert, but rather, Smith’s way saying & laying it beautifully bare. A way of desensitizing the reader from his own defenses each time this long, black movie repeats.

Follow Danez Smith @Danez_Smif

The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010
by Lucille Clifton

Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton

The Collected Poems of Lucille Clifton 1965-2010 combines all eleven of Lucille Clifton’s published collections with more than fifty previously unpublished poems. The unpublished poems feature early poems from 1965-1969, a collection-in-progress titled the book of days (2008), and a poignant selection of final poems. An insightful foreword by Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison and comprehensive afterword by noted poet Kevin Young frames Clifton’s lifetime body of work, providing the definitive statement about this major America poet’s career.



Black Lives Matter Book Display Featured Resource

Due to some unforeseen matters, we were not able to develop content for the blog last week. Our apologies.

We want to remind readers that on this day in April of 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. To underscore this event, as well as the resources that UCI Libraries provides researchers and students, this week’s “Featured Resource” is the Black Studies Center. We also recommend that readers visit the King Center’s website to learn more about Dr. King and his legacy.

Black Studies Center

Black Studies Center is a fully cross-searchable gateway to Black Studies including scholarly essays, recent periodicals, historical newspaper articles, reference books, and much more.

It combines essential resources for research and teaching in Black Studies, including The Schomburg Studies on the Black ExperienceIndex to Black Periodicals Full Text, Black Literature Index, and the Chicago Defender historical newspaper from 1912-1975.

Add-on modules include The HistoryMakers® oral history video resource with extensive interviews with 100 contemporary African Americans, eight additional historical black newspapers, Black Abolitionist Papers, and Black Studies Dissertations.


Black Lives Matter Book Display Featured Text

Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis

Angela Davis

This week’s featured text is Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis.  The text’s introduction specifies its stakes, and puts forth rather compelling questions:

The question of whether the prison has become an obsolete institution has become especially urgent in light of the fact that more than two million people (out of a world total of nine million) now inhabit U.S. prisons, jails, youth facilities, and immigrant detention centers. Are we willing to relegate ever larger numbers of people from racially oppressed communities to an isolated existence marked by authoritarian regimes, violence, disease, and technologies of seclusion that produce severe mental instability? (10).

In part, we feature this book as it is connected to a number of important texts that comprise the “WR 39C: Argument and Research” curriculum, including CAUGHT: The Prison State and the Lockdown of American Politics by Marie Gottschalk and The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. And for several years, the UCI Libraries‘ research librarians have provided information literacy instruction to students enrolled in WR 39C.

Furthermore, Angela Davis visited UCI in 1969 to lecture and meet with students. In 2003, she delivered the Wellek Library Lecture, an annual lecture series, named in honor of René Wellek (Yale University), whose library of works in critical theory is housed in Langson Library at the University of California, Irvine.

Angela Davis

Yet, we also feature this book because the issues stated in the above quotation from the text are incredibly relevant. For instance, recent political discourse in the United States suggests that many are willing to relegate  people from racially oppressed communities to an isolated existence marked by authoritarian regimes, violence, disease, and technologies of seclusion. Therefore, Davis’ text, while making a case for the abolition of prisons, also calls readers to examine the conditions that make the will to confine necessary for a society’s existence. What kind of society is it, in other words, that would seem to predicate its existence on the confinement of others?

In short, Are Prisons Obsolete? does not simply demand that prisons be abolished. Rather, it calls for more rigorous work to confront:

the ideological work that the prison performs–it relieves us of the responsibility of seriously engaging with the problems of our society, especially those produced by racism and, increasingly, global capitalism (16).

Works Cited

Davis, Angela Y. Are Prisons Obsolete? Seven Stories Press, 2003.