By Lillian-Yvonne Bertram
Like a ghost in the machine, Travesty Generator remixes programming codes and turns them to ruminate on the intersections of race and gender. Rhythmic, hypnotic, and percussive, the poems are iterative and suggest the infinite recursions of nano data. The poems pay homage to lives taken too soon, those of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, pulls heroes like Harriet Tubman into the present, and offers the wisdoms spoken by Black mothers to their children. Travesty Generator reminds us that programming languages and computer codes are not neutral. But while oppressive algorithms abound, the poems hack their way into new connections and possibilities for Black life.
Lillian-Yvonne Bertram is an assistant professor in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she teaches in the Creative Writing Program. She is the author of the poetry collections Travesty Generator (Noemi Press, 2019), Personal Science (Tupelo Press, 2017); a slice from the cake made of air (Red Hen Press 2016); and But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise (Red Hen Press, 2012), chosen by Claudia Rankine as the winner of the 2010 Benjamin Saltman Award. Bertram's other publications include the chapbook cutthroat glamours (Phantom Books, 2012), winner of the Phantom Books chapbook award; the artist book Grand Dessein (commissioned by Container Press), a mixed media artifact that meditates on the work and writing of the artist Paul Klee and was recently acquired by the Special Collections library at St. Lawrence University; and Tierra Fisurada, a Spanish poetry chapbook published in Argentina (Editoriales del Duende, 2002).
December 15, 2019
80 pages, 5.9 x 8.8 inches