Travesty Generator

Longlist, National Book Awards 2020 for Poetry

ISBN 9781934819845
Noemi Press
Lillian-Yvonne Bertram

Lillian-Yvonne Bertram’s most recent book of poetry is Travesty Generator, which Cathy Park Hong called, “trailblazing.” Their other poetry collections include Personal Science; a slice from the cake made of air; and But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise, chosen by Claudia Rankine as the winner of the 2010 Benjamin Saltman Poetry Award. More about this author >

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Like a ghost in the machine, Travesty Generator remixes programming codes and turns them to ruminate on the intersections of race and gender. Rhythmic, hypnotic, and percussive, the poems are iterative and suggest the infinite recursions of nano data. The poems pay homage to lives taken too soon, those of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, pulls heroes like Harriet Tubman into the present, and offers the wisdoms spoken by Black mothers to their children. Travesty Generator reminds us that programming languages and computer codes are not neutral. But while oppressive algorithms abound, the poems hack their way into new connections and possibilities for Black life.