Django Decapitated: On Shane McCrae’s BLOOD

Micah Bateman

Shane McCrae’s second full-length collection of poems, Blood (Noemi Press, 2013), adapts the sliding and stuttering syntax of his first collection, Mule, to narrate and lyricize gruesome slave narratives from America’s past. Actually McCrae gives voices to the wounds themselves from such narratives, assembling an otherworldly chorus of haunting grotesqueries. Whereas nineteenth-century abolitionist novels waged their battles largely on the grounds of sentiment, McCrae’s collection switches the arena to horror staged with graphic realism. Rather than demythologize the America we all know was founded on its original sin, McCrae repaints America’s creation myth. Like Athena springing from Zeus’s cleaved head, what if America was born from a bath of blood? This collection depicts its new genesis.


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