Expanding theoretical practice to return radicality to its original meaning from the Latin—forming a root

Table of contents

Table of Contents
Preface: Radical Poetics
Chapter 1: A Radical Poetics of Love: Looking for Love in Invisible Man
Chapter 2: Not-So-Invisible Crossroads: Race, Gender, and Disability in 19th-Century American Literature
Chapter 3: A Poetics of Resistance: On Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and Women of Action in Early Colonial Mexico
Chapter 4: Painting and Palimpsest: Ekphrasis, History, and Empathy in the Poetics of Natasha Trethewey
Chapter 5: Poetics of Intuition, Love, and Integrity: Black Time and Geographic Space in The Blue Clerk
Chapter 6: Poetics of Intuition and Feeling
Chapter 7: Muriel Rukeyser: A Study in Imaginative Poetics as Praxis
Chapter 8: Poetics of Disability: The Mess of Insistence
Chapter 9: A Sea of Troubles: Questions, Choices, and Actions Toward Redefining Literary Culture
Appendix A


Literature has the power to help build a shelter in language for a way of being that holds integrity and love as its root. In the tradition of Audre Lorde, Angela Davis, and many other Black writers and theorists, poet and professor Khadijah Queen observes questions of life and literature, human feeling and behavior, and explores language-based solutions to common cultural conflicts that are often rooted in harmful assumptions. 

Instead of operating from a base of unquestioned thought and systemic tradition, Radical Poetics presents more inclusive and accurate ways of contemplating literary work. Building on ideas and theoretical practices in Édouard Glissant, Toni Morrison, bell hooks, Saidiya Hartman, and Kimberlé Crenshaw, Queen reads for where love is present as well as for where it is absent—tracing systems of thought and aesthetic choices to track how characters are portrayed in terms of race, gender, class, and disability. She analyzes short stories, novels, nonfiction narratives, poetry, and a play from authors such as Herman Melville, Kate Chopin, Dionne Brand, Frances Ellen Watkins Harper, Ma-ka-tai-me-she-kia-kiak, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, Natasha Trethewey, and Muriel Rukeyser. Queen’s essays offer shifts in thinking about language—beyond calling out the ways language punishes vulnerability, entrenches harm, and suppresses true intercultural communication. Her intuitive approach aims to correct inaccuracies that have served as a foundation for the discriminatory thinking that undergirds American institutions and culture, particularly the continued glorification of violence. Radical Poetics makes a case for the imperative and practical value of understanding poetics beyond artistic and academic spaces and into everyday life.

Khadijah Queen, PhD, is the author of six books of innovative poetry and hybrid prose, most recently Anodyne (Tin House, 2020), winner of the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. With K. Ibura, she co-edited Infinite Constellations (FC2, 2023), a multi-genre anthology of speculative writing by authors from the global majority. Individual works appear in Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, Harper’s Magazine, The Poetry Review (UK), and widely elsewhere. In 2022, she was awarded a Disability Futures fellowship from United States Artists.