There may be no writer, no thinker, who has shaped my conversations on the show more than Christina Sharpe. Whether her work is explicitly part of a conversation (in episodes with Ross Gay, Solmaz Sharif, Natalie Diaz, and Dionne Brand, to name a few) or whether her thought and vision provide a foundation and subtext for one (conversations as wide-ranging as those with Viet Thanh Nguyen, Monica Youn, Claire Schwartz, Cristina Rivera Garza, and Charif Shanahan), Sharpe’s scholarship has been a crucial part of some of the most dynamic conversations on the show. Her work has always been more than academic work however. It has always been a hybrid, scholarly and literary, visual and textual, personal and structural. But her latest book, Ordinary Notes, is the most personal to date, and among the many things it could be considered (John Keene suggests it combines memoir, memorial, literary criticism, and political and cultural critique) is as a love letter to Sharpe’s mother and how she cultivated and nourished, in the face of all the brutalities of our world, an atmosphere of Black life, Black art, and Black thought within their home. Of how she pursued, in Christina’s words, “beauty as a method.” This is a rare book that will work on you if you work your way through it. Ordinary Notes is both generous and challenging, envisioning an elsewhere and otherwise of shared risk and care.
For the bonus audio archive Christina contributes readings from Dionne Brand’s The Blue Clerk, Victoria Adukwei Bulley’s Quiet, and Canisia Lubrin’s forthcoming Code Noir. These join bonus material from everyone from Nikky Finney to Layli Long Soldier. And the bonus material is only one of many potential benefits of joining the Between the Covers community as a listener-supporter. Find out more at the show’s Patreon page.
Today’s Bookshop is the largest and deepest yet, with Christina’s books, of course, but also with many of the Black writers and thinkers and artists that she has been shaped by or writes alongside.