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False Dawn

The constant surprise of COVID-19

In “False Dawn,” published in the August issue of Harper’s Magazine, the poet Khadijah Queen narrates her experience of the pandemic through a zuihitsu, an ancient Japanese form that interweaves poetic fragments with personal reflections. She shares intimate anecdotes from her quarantine while grappling with the broader political issues thrown into relief by the coronavirus. In this episode of the podcast, Queen joins Harper’s web editor Violet Lucca to dig deeper into some of the larger questions her piece raises, underscoring the impossibility of returning to “normal” after the pandemic subsides. They discuss the work of Toni Morrison and Saidiya Hartman on the commodification of Black suffering; the value of slowing down as a method of resistance; and the capacity of poetry to catalyze political change.

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August 2020

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