Kyle Carrero Lopez
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The thing that first brought me to Kyle Carrero Lopez’s poetry, and which held me there, which stirred me to stay, is his honesty, an exuberant/charming/fierce/poignant realness that sounds inimitable because it is. Throughout this profuse debut, Kyle encounters and confronts the fetishization, commodification, and resignification of the black experience, navigating the fraught latinx and black [poc] imaginary as it is produced and reproduced by white people while rubbing up against the paradox and privilege of every “Black capitalist wet dream” which, with undeniable Cubanía, here includes a boundless joy, bodied through an inventory of a “quick Thai lunch” and glitters of picadillo and beef empanadas after the confetti of last night’s revelry converges with a march for Black Lives Matter to remind us that all of these, all of this, is a celebration of life. “Symbolism and/Personhood aren’t friends,” Kyle cautions in “Beauty Examined”; MUSCLE MEMORY is a tribute to the African diasporic experience across the Americas and beyond, a confounding that resists simple geographies, neat histories, threadbare politics, inclusion-exclusion dialectics of belonging, and the aesthetic markings of a liberal and cosmopolitan literary art market that consumes black bodies whole and in pieces, in life and in death.
—Chris CampanioniView playlist
Mi Gente EstadounidenseI like to write in Palatino porque as pa’ Latinos. ‘Latino’ is a vintage, oversized sweater—not for everyone. Gringos love saying only gringos say Latinx. That X is a well-meant murmur: text-to-speech software can’t read it. Basically all of this is fucked up, and none of it comes close to the border. I’m not Mexican, but whatever, aren’t we all, here? A 1958 CIA note describes Che Guevara as “… fairly intellectual for a Latino. He is quite well-read in “Latino” literature and has an appreciation of the classics from other literatures.” A 2008 school librarian catches me cutting line and warns Sonia Sotomayor’s new Supreme Court gig is no excuse to act out. “What’s right is right” rings like “what’s white is right,” like white rules of race are right, like I’m Puerto Rican to her, like we’re not both black. I ain’t mad at her or at any other black folks. It’s not our fault this lacks a stitch of sense. Each week I wake I wait to be quizzed on the why of my face. Each year or so, some talking head calls Naomi Campbell African-American. We’re all wearing one giant, secondhand sweater that says RACE on it in Palatino and some are tucked in the left sleeve and a bunch are in the right and there’s the mock neck and seams at the bottom and loose threads in the middle and the whole thing’s itchy.