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Magical Negro

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A National Book Critics Circle Poetry Award Winner!

From the breakout author of There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé comes a profound and deceptively funny exploration of Black American womanhood.

"Morgan Parker's latest collection is a riveting testimony to everyday blackness . . . It is wry and atmospheric, an epic work of aural pleasures and personifications that demands to be read—both as an account of a private life and as searing political protest." —TIME Magazine

A Best Book of 2019 at TIME, Elle, BuzzFeed, the Star Tribune, AVClub, and more.

A Most Anticipated Book of 2019 at Vogue, O: the Oprah Magazine, NYLON, BuzzFeed, Publishers Weekly, and more.

Magical Negro is an archive of black everydayness, a catalog of contemporary folk heroes, an ethnography of ancestral grief, and an inventory of figureheads, idioms, and customs. These American poems are both elegy and jive, joke and declaration, songs of congregation and self-conception. They connect themes of loneliness, displacement, grief, ancestral trauma, and objectification, while exploring and troubling tropes and stereotypes of Black Americans. Focused primarily on depictions of black womanhood alongside personal narratives, the collection tackles interior and exterior politics—of both the body and society, of both the individual and the collective experience. In Magical Negro, Parker creates a space of witness, of airing grievances, of pointing out patterns. In these poems are living documents, pleas, latent traumas, inside jokes, and unspoken anxieties situated as firmly in the past as in the present—timeless black melancholies and triumphs.

ISBN-13: 9781947793187

Media Type: Paperback

Publisher: Tin House Books

Publication Date: 02-05-2019

Pages: 112

Product Dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

Morgan Parker is a poet, essayist, and novelist. She is the author of the young adult novel Who Put This Song On?; and the poetry collections Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night, and Magical Negro, which won the 2019 National Book Critics Circle Award. Parker’s debut book of nonfiction is forthcoming from One World. She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, winner of a Pushcart Prize, and has been hailed by The New York Times as “a dynamic craftsperson” of “considerable consequence to American poetry.”

Table of Contents

I Let Us Now Praise Famous Magical Negroes

I Feel Most Colored When I Am Thrown Against a Sharp White Background 3

Magical Negro #217: Diana Ross Finishing a Rib in Alabama, 1990s 5

Everything Will Be Taken Away 6

Magical Negro #3: The Strong Black Woman 8

The High Priestess of Soul's Sunday Morning Visit to the Wall of Respect 10

And Cold Sunset 11

Nancy Meyers and My Dream of Whiteness 12

Whites Only 15

Magical Negro #607: Gladys Knight on the 200th Episode of The Jeffersons 17

Magical Negro #84: The Black Body 20

Sammy Davis Jr. 21

Let's Get Some Better Angels at This Party 22

The History of Black People 24

II Field Negro Field Notes

Two White Girls in the African Braid Shop on Marcy and Fulton 31

"Now More Than Ever" 32

Black Women for Beginners Pt. 1 35

When a Man I Love Jerks Off in My Bed next to Me and Falls Asleep 36

Who Were Frederick Douglass's Cousins, and Other Quotidian Black History Facts That I Wish I Learned in School 38

A Brief History of the Present 40

Ode to Fried Chicken's Guest Appearance on Scandal 43

Magical Negro #1: Jesus Christ 45

Mart 46

"Lilac Wine" by Eartha Kitt vs. "Lilac Wine" Jeff Buckley 49

What I Am 50

If you are over staying woke 52

Who Speaks for the Earth? 55

Black Ego (Original Soundtrack) 57

I Told my Therapist I Tried to Meditate and She Laughed 60

"Parkers Mood" Charlie Parker 61

III Popular Negro Punchlines

Great America 65

Magical Negro #89: Michael Jackson in Blackface on a Date with Tatum O'Neal, 1970s 68

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner 70

My Sister Says White Supremacy Is Turning Her Crazy 71

We Are the House That Holds the Table at Which Yes We Will Happily Take a Goddamn Seat 72

Why the Jive Bird Sings 74

Magical Negro #80: Brooklyn 76

The Black Saint & the Sinner Lady & the Dead & the Truth 78

Preface to a Twenty Volume Joke Book 80

Toward a New Theory of Negro Propaganda 85

It was Summer Now and the Colored People Came Out into the Sunshine 90