TWO POEMS by Gregory Pardlo

/ / Issue 5, Poetry

25. Ellison, Tony Samuel, et al. Photograph Album. Twenty-two Albumen Prints: Life in the Louis Armstrong Houses with Views of Marcy Ave. Brooklyn, circa 1986.

A quaint example of urban pastoralism typical of an age when public policy and planning isolated urban poor like so many shepherds on a hill, these images capture a distant and harmless charm. A city block is cordoned for a riverless baptismal, for example; the skin of churchwomen in white linen buffs brown and brightens in sunlight beneath the spectrum shimmering from a fire hose, a curious counterpoint to hoses of Birmingham, these aimed skyward as if to cleanse the undercarriage of every chariot in heaven. In a style that marries Edward S. Curtis and Walker Evans, these images witness conflicting efforts to ennoble a stigmatized community. Of note is how the boom boxes of the youths, their fat shoelaces and hair-styling rituals obscure more complex, personal rites that would otherwise lift them one by one from the muck of type. Yet there is joy; the face of the bodega’s happiest man alive is carved from laughter and a lifetime of tobacco use. Carved deep like the rivers. Sentimental and simplifying, these images highlight the ease by which other can conceal a verb.

Oblong quarto, period-style full green morocco gilt; 22 vintage albumen prints, each measuring 8 by 10 inches; mounted on heavy card stock each measures 10 by 14 inches. $7500.

Original photograph album of Urban America circa 1986, with 22 splendid exhibition-size albumen prints




837. Wilson, Shurli-Anne Mfumi. Black Pampers: Raising Consciousness in the Post-Nationalist Home. Blacktalk Press, Lawnside, NJ, 1974. 642 pp., illustrator unknown. 10 ½ x 11 7/8”.

Want tips for nursery décor? Masks and hieroglyphics, akwaba dolls. Send Raggedy Ann to the trash heap. This tome is a how-to for upwardly mobile black parents beset with the guilt of assimilation. Revealed here are the safetypinnings of the nascent black middleclass, their leafy split-level cribs and infants with Sherman Hemsley hairlines. Of interest are bedtime polemics on the racist derivations of “The Wheels on the Bus.” Chapter headings address important questions of the day: How and how soon should you intervene if you suspect your child lacks rhythm? When do you prepare your little one for the historical memory of slavery? And the two cake solution: one party for classmates, and another one you can invite your sister’s kids to. Indispensible to collectors for whom Aesop’s African origin is no matter of debate, a more appropriate title for this book might nonetheless be, “What to Expect When You’re No Longer Expecting Revolution.”

Usual occasional scattered light foxing to interiors; contemporary tree calf
exceptional. About-fine condition. $75.00



Issue 5 Contents                                       NEXT: The Rabbit by Sarah Huener