In-Depth Look: Dave Harris – “To the Extent…”

In-Depth Look: Dave Harris – “To the Extent…”

Appreciating poetry is often about patience: sitting with a poem, meditating on it, and re-reading it multiple times. With spoken word, we don’t always get a chance to do that. This series is about taking that chance, and diving a little deeper into some of the new poems going up on Button.

“I say my anger is my greatest joy, and I become a heaven on fire.”
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Write-up by Kyle “Guante” Tran Myhre

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One of poetry’s most important functions is to communicate ideas in ways that honor their complexity. Speeches, academic papers, or thinkpieces don’t generally capture what this poem captures in terms of the relationships between hope and fear, resistance and rage, empathy (in a critical sense) and spite. These juxtapositions play out not just in the poem’s substance, but in Harris’ delivery as well– it’s subtle, but note how the poem “moves.” From the first line to the last line, while the overall volume/tone doesn’t shift much, the emotional charge builds and builds, finally setting up the devastating repetition of “I hope” lines that close the piece.

For further exploration, check out Marc Lamont Hill discussing Keith Scott on Democracy Now: “The Weapon Will Always Be Black Bodies.” Scholar of The Great Migration Wallace Best takes that idea beyond interpersonal interactions with “The Fear of Black Bodies in Motion.”

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While you’re here on our site, make sure to check out our books and merchandise in the Button Store, including Guante’s own book, as well as titles by Aziza Barnes, Danez Smith, Neil Hilborn, Donte Collins, and our newest release from Sabrina Benaim.

Surprise! We got a free e-book for you check it out