Winner of the 2023 CLMP Firecracker Award in Creative Nonfiction
Winner of the 2023 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism
Optic Subwoof is a collection of talks that poet and National Book Award finalist Douglas Kearney presented for the Bagley Wright Lecture Series in 2020 and 2021. As kinetic on the page as they are in person, these lectures offer an urgent critique of the intersections between violence and entertainment, interrogating the ways in which poetry, humor, visual art, music, pop culture, and performance alternately uphold and subvert this violence. With genius precision and an avant-garde sensibility, Kearney examines the nuances around Black visibility and its aestheticization. In myriad ways, Optic Subwoof is a book that establishes Kearney as one of the most dynamic writers and thinkers of the twenty-first century.
One hesitates to call any aspect of contemporary poetic practice under-theorized, but by looking hard at the institution of the poetry reading, Kearney has gone where others should follow. What he says about “banter” —the sometimes brief, sometimes expansive remarks the poet makes before reading the poem—is worth a symposium all by itself. And what he says about race, violence, and poetry reminds us that the Bagley Wright Lecture Series is one to keep an eye on.
Paul Scott Stanfield, Ploughshares blog
In Kearney’s nonfiction, as in his poetry, the violences of language are many and changing.
Cindy Juyoung Ok, Poetry Foundation
Douglas Kearney has published eight books ranging from poetry to essays to libretti. His most recent book is a collection of talks he presented for the Bagley Wright Lecture Series titled Optic Subwoof (Wave Books, 2022). His most recent poetry collection, Sho (Wave Books, 2021), is a Griffin Poetry Prize and Minnesota Book Award winner, and a National Book Award, Pen America, Hurston/Wright, Kingsley Tufts, and Big Other Book Award finalist. He is the 2021 recipient of OPERA America’s Campbell Opera Librettist Prize, created and generously funded by librettist/lyricist Mark Campbell. Kearney is a 2022 McKnight Writing Fellow. A Whiting Writer’s and Foundation for Contemporary Arts Cy Twombly awardee with residencies/fellowships from Cave Canem, The Rauschenberg Foundation, and others, he teaches Creative Writing at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities.
Publication month: November 2022
ISBN# 9781950268672 (6x8.25 176pp, paperback)