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The Second Stop Is Jupiter


Poetry, African American Studies

Published: September 2023
ISBN: 9780814350539
Pages: 144 Size: 6 x 9
Published: September 2023
ISBN: 9780814350546
Pages: 144 Size: EPUB

What if N. K. Jemisin or Ishmael Reed wrote Frankenstein, or if Kara Walker originally illustrated the works of the Brothers Grimm? What if, instead of modern superhero figures, the Black Panther characters as depicted by Ta-Nehisi Coates were figures of mythology, taught alongside the Greco-Roman pantheon? Divided into three sections—"I Don't Know Who Needs To Hear This But," "The Girl With The Frantz Fanon Tattoo," and "The Underground Rubaiyat"—this collection of mythological, Afrofuturist, and surrealist poems addresses a literary void resulting from the structural violence of slavery and segregation. This collection invites readers to interrogate the motifs of canonical poetics alongside historical and contemporary interactions real and imagined.
Drawing inspiration from African and Diasporic narratives, these poems evoke the surrealism of African author Amos Tutuola as much as they do English author Lewis Carroll. The Second Stop is Jupiter is a deep engagement with the cultural narrative, populated with Black hero figures who will fuel the imagination. upfromsumdirt invites us to ask, what if, with characters and poetic motifs rooted in existing narratives of Black life and fable. Titles like "The Death of Olympia" and "The Three Sulas" set the tone for this collection to manifest a Pan-Africanist poetics entwined with themes of Classical Romanticism.

upfromsumdirt, Ron Davis, is an autodidactic poet and award-winning visual artist based in Lexington, Kentucky. He is the author of two previous poetry collections, Deifying a Total Darkness and To Emit Teal, and is currently storyboarding a graphic novel based on his poetry. He has also published works in anthologies and periodicals including The Future of Black: Afrofuturism, Black Comics, and Superhero Poetry; Anthology of Appalachian Writers; Hayden's Ferry Review; and more. He received the Kentucky Al Smith Award in Art in 2010 and the Southeastern Libraries Association Award for Excellence in Original Artwork in 2022. His artwork is featured in the NAACP Image Award-winning poetry collection, Perfect Black by Crystal Wilkinson and A is for Affrilachia by Frank X Walker. He was inducted as a member into the Affrilachian Poets in 2022.

The Second Stop is Jupiter is an Afrofuturistic poetry collection that redefines what it means to explore the Black experience. Poet upfromsumdirt is different—a "supplicant surgeon & there’s / no mendicancy to this mysticism"—and his imagination is a reminder of what poetry can be, that freedom is a place where caesuras and jazz riffs roam free. Destination ain’t nothing but a language trap, and—if we think deeply—maybe the end of the horizon is only a beginning?

– Randall Horton, author of {#289–128}: Poems, American Book Award winner

The Second Stop is Jupiter is speculative poetry that blends myth, folktales, and science fiction in the vein of Octavia Butler and Gayl Jones. No, it’s Black critical thought that takes up Frantz Fanon and Aimé Césaire; it’s Afrofuturist funk grooving on Sun Ra and George Clinton; it’s Black Arts Movement in and for the twenty-first century; it’s a poetry of hope and denunciation, of resistance and liberation; it’s a baroque, magic realist love song. It’s all these things and more. Told in three parts and a coda, it’s a space opera, a fairy tale, and an epic chronicle of liberation based on the life of Harriet Tubman, followed by a final suite of love poems. It’s what happens when the nine hundred ignored faces of the hero begin to tell their stories through the cracks in the facade of popular culture and rethink its single, tidy narrative arc. The music, the puns, the varied literary and cultural allusions that pull from high and low, from print, television, and internet, from astrophysics and from across the continent of Africa, along with the self-deprecating and meta-poetic, pugilistic humor that characterize upfromsumdirt’s verse grab you, pull you in, and wrestle you until they bless you.

– Jeremy Paden, author of world as sacred burning heart