Imani Elizabeth Jackson

USA

In all of my writing I am deeply concerned with ecology, quiet, and Black presence in landscapes. This interest in our presence is often historical, and sometimes speculative. I am particularly attuned to water—rivers, shorelines and banks, and ocean beds—water being our primary link across geographies and time, though lately dirt and grasses have been calling me. Poetry, for me, is a space in which we can take up the ways we are contiguous with the world around us, and let our care for language compel us and others towards care for the world.

Work

test—flux

Artist Notes

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test—flux text by Imani Elizabeth Jackson

Compressed skin on skin, all that skin feeling, which then reduced itself to contact: it could not be anything else— it could have been—a finger could have been a mouth

I did not want fusion I wanted touch, then break down, and then to pull apart

I wanted to be, with something, to live in that, but something always happened—I was cut from a womb perhaps, and then born; my limb forgot my limb and I was split—I worked with a blade and then twitched

When wounds open up, a part and portion pursue something, like in-feeling, and brown red purple violet blue brim over, hold pressure at the sides of and beneath a surface. Pressure speaks of inward touch. What means dead if I

Run the portion under a stream—disrupt its flow

Imani Elizabeth Jackson

Imani Elizabeth Jackson

Biography

 

Imani Elizabeth Jackson is a poet from Chicago, and niece of the poet Angela Jackson. Her writings appear in Apogee, BOMB, TriQuarterly, Poetry, Triple Canopy, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of a 2023 National Endowment for the Arts Creative Writing Fellowship, Futurepoem’s 2020 Other Futures Award, the Arkansas International’s inaugural C.D. Wright Award (selected by Hanif Abdurraqib), and she has also received several awards from Brown University. Under the name mouthfeel, she co-authored the poetry-cookbook Consider the Tongue (2019) with S*an D. Henry-Smith; she also contributed to Francesca Capone’s Weaving Language: Lexicon (Essay Press, 2022). She is the author of the chapbooks saltsitting (reissued by g l o s s, 2020) and Context for arboreal exchanges (Belladonna*, 2023) and her first book, Flag, is forthcoming from Futurepoem in 2024.

I am deeply influenced by the work of Ed Roberson, who teaches me so much about the place of the scientific in poetry and our relationship to the earth. One thing I think of nearly daily is an assertion from Roberson in a workshop of his that I attended: every living thing makes a nest within the earth—our human nest may be collapsing but the earth will live on. One question and motivation that this statement begets for me is how we have/continue(d) to live on in the landscape. Another influential poet is the late Akilah Oliver, whose writings act as improvisational scores holding space for Black queer women and gender non-conforming people. When I wrote the poems within this video piece, I was also under the influence of M. NourbeSe Philip, whose Zong! has taught me so much about mourning, historical presence

Black Listening's website front page header art and Obsidian 49.2 cover art were  created by Nettrice Gaskins

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