Margaret Blaney, Kate Duffy, Sebastian Vander Ploeg Fallon, Max Felland, Carsten Finholt, Anna Klein, Chris Martin, [Redacted] Maxwell, Rachel Miller, Chisom Oguh, Rehana Naik Olson, Emma Paltrow, Grace Ronan, and Henry Sottrel write in response to Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves’s pamphlet, Of Forests and of Farms: On Faculty and Failure (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2020).
If by Chorus We Might Mean
Of Forests and of Farms: On Faculty and Failure made me feel entirely submerged by the first page, a feeling that persisted. In this necessary depth, Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves engages in an unrestrained (if highly strategic) flow of language: rejecting what’s expected to prolifically explore font, color, size, typesetting, and formatting of all kinds. It is a book that makes choices on every page, alerting the reader to the work’s ethical nature. Words are here, then over there; capitalization is given a whole new meaning; crossed-out words gain new intensities. I was especially drawn into the pages with large green text - an immediate rawness that I connect with.
As the words form murallic displays, they seem to reach up at you through the surface, beckoning. You find yourself having perspective-changing conversations, guided by the author’s poetic care, and these conversations renew themselves differently on every page, dialogues that move from nature’s natural connection to education, to that of gender, to that of race, to the various ways we fall short as a society that needs to embrace wildness, wilderness, and mutual aid. And as the conversations change, so does the form, seamlessly, or seams seamlessly exposed. It’s like the poems can be both pictures and prose while remaining what they essentially, necessarily are: poetry.
And for me it was personal. My mother also shipped me to the uptown Hell shaped just like a school, though I was, truth be told, one of its slender, white pupils. I have never felt more miserable than during the nine years I spent at this institution before fleeing for what turned out to be only a marginally less hellish institution for high school. I only disclose the link because of the book’s dedication, which is to a teacher I also had during my time at the uptown Hell, who made my experience there a little less anxious, a little less afraid, and certainly much warmer, during the years before she retired. Of Forests and of Farms: On Faculty and Failure is everything I loved, and miss, about Burnadette Morton-Johnson.
Adjua reminds us that care is not an afterthought, that wilderness is not a commodity. Through her writing, replete with a flowering chorus of voices, she moves (and moves us) with the command of cosmic truth, alerting us to what we already have: real and impossible abundance.
— Margaret Blaney, Kate Duffy, Sebastian Vander Ploeg Fallon, Max Felland, Carsten Finholt, Anna Klein, Chris Martin, [Redacted] Maxwell, Rachel Miller, Chisom Oguh, Rehana Naik Olson, Emma Paltrow, Grace Ronan, and Henry Sottrel