Thursday, April 21, 2022

The comedy of repetition in tragic contexts in Natalie Diaz's "American Arithmetic" and Ilya Kaminsky's "Gunshot"

Natalie Diaz's poem "American Arithmetic", from her 2020 collection "Postcolonial Love Poem", repeats the word "race" at the end of one sentence and the beginning of the next: "Police kill Native Americans more / than any other race. Race is a funny word." Such repetition of a word has a "funny", comic side, even in this tragic context. This comedy of repetition also appears in the tragic context of Ilya Kaminsky's "Gunshot", from his 2019 collection "Deaf Republic". Shortly before a deaf boy who can't hear his commands is shot, a Sergeant harangues a crowd at a puppet show: "Disperse immediately! / Disperse immediately! the puppet mimics in a wooden falsetto." (Andrew Shields, #111words, 21 April 2022)

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