Marjory Wentworth,Horace Mungin

Notes from 1619: A Poetic 400-Year Reflection

Horace Mungin’s brave attempt to fight against the multiple manifestations of injustice imposed by the conscious erasure of African American history is in keeping with the best of contemporary African American literature. Mungin deftly imagines the horrors of the Middle Passage, taking us back to the Cape Coast of Africa and telling the story of Khadija, “born to a time of trouble,” who was captured, imprisoned and carried on the slave ship, Clotilda “to look upon the world/That dark day of the/Darkest days in America.” And so it begins, the narrative journey that sweeps through these poems describing the African experience in America, “in this vacuum where there is no God.” In the pivotal poem “America,” Mungin lays it all out for us, from the “hocus pocus” of the ways in which the Constitution did not apply to black people, to the failures of Reconstruction and all that follows, these poems weave our history together until the present day and the election of Donald Trump to the presidency. This is a narrative we’ve never heard told in quite this way, and it provides a context and an understanding long missing from our national conversation.

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