things we like ft. Nkosi Nkululeko
“Fuck the safe words, the language with / a mask that eats the face that it covers. / Unveil the ugly.” These lines are from Nkosi Nkululeko’s poem “Sharp-Edged Vernacular,” a rumination on the strange practice of governing language and those who govern it. Nkululeko's work explores the body and how bodies grow into citizens of unjust worlds. The recipient of fellowships from Poets House, the Watering Hole, and Callaloo, Nkululeko shares with us some of his current favorites, including music from R+R=NOW, Rosalind E. Krauss’s Passages in Modern Sculpture, and the works of Isamu Noguchi.
Rosalind E. Krauss’ Passages in Modern Sculpture has been such an intriguing read. It provides even more dimensions to a three-dimensional object. Her essays are as insightful as they are delightful. While I sometimes cannot see behind, under, or over the heads of certain sculptures in the book, her text methodically explains ways I can fully analyze, comprehend, and interact with the art I love.
John Berryman has been dancing between my shelves and backpacks for a long while now. I have a list of writers who I feel offer master classes from their books alone. Berryman is among them. His intentionality with a line—no, with a word—always provokes me to raise my eyes.
Robert Glasper’s recent group R+R=NOW put out some beautiful work. Their album Collagically Speaking masterfully balances chill vibes with well-founded musical technique. I’ve been pairing their music with Miles Davis’s album Miles in Berlin, and it has me wondering about the length of time it takes for certain people to be in the same room and make something extraordinary.
Isamu Noguchi has occupied my head for some time. I can’t look at any one object without considering its philosophical influence. If Berryman offers me new ways to see the world through a poem that’s often heard out loud, then Noguchi provides, for me, visual essays on musical composition.
You can find more of Nkosi's work here.
Thumbnail photography by David Hong.