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BOOTless → by Trace DePass
  • BOOTless → by Trace DePass


    • Bibliographic Information

      ISBN: 978-1-939728-62-3

      Publication Date: June 5, 2024

      Author: Trace DePass

      Location: Doha, Qatar and Richmond, Virginia

      Distribution: Distributed by Diode Editions


    • About the Collection

      BOOTless → is inspired by Dr. King's 1967 interview for NBC, where he mentions


      "America was giving away millions of acres of land in the west and the midwest, which meant that there was a willingness to give the white peasants from Europe an economic base, and yet it refused to give its black peasants from Africa, who came here involuntarily in chains and had worked free for 244 years, any kind of economic base. And so emancipation for the Negro was really freedom to hunger. It was freedom to the winds and rains of heaven. It was freedom without food to eat or land to cultivate, and therefore it was freedom and famine at the same time. And when white Americans tell the Negro to lift himself by his own bootstraps, they don't look over the legacy of slavery and segregation. I believe we ought to do all we can and seek to lift ourselves by our own bootstraps, but it's a cruel jest to say to a bootless man that he ought to lift himself by his own bootstraps, and many Negroes by the thousands and millions have been left bootless as a result of all of these years of oppression and as a result of a society that deliberately made his color a stigma and something worthless and degrading."


      BOOTless → an archaic word also meaning ineffectual, is a black poet’s psychedelic meditation on gentrification, climate change, & post-pandemic grief, pointing its arrow back at its country that has stacked colonization on genocide & monopolized colonization & genocide. The book laughs at an oppressor’s self-elected right to canonize its theft & winning rhetoric under the guise of calling it history. This book may indict Whiteness, if not English itself, as using language built on oppression (a Deleuzian desire-machine sewn together by other languages) in order to create indefinite law on stolen land with indefinite marginalization for the people on it since the US nation's legal creation. 


      Via the contrapuntal(s), sonnet(s), & its own ‘elevator’ polyphonic form(s) as altar poem vessel(s): BOOTless → is offering that, despite what black & indigenous people lose everyday, the spirit is an omnitemporal language. 


      The Omnitemporal is Spirit. BOOTless → attempts to hold human fracture while each poem answers the last with reckoning & rapture, from contemporary libations to allusions of the biblical prophet Habakkuk's lamentations. DePass is asking the reader how sentient a poem can be? as a sentient poem states its case for autonomy & yall begin to play with the written voice(s).


      BOOTless → is this conceit of black intergenerational grief, hood ethnography, voltas (alongside other poetic tools from the sonnet to the contrapuntal), & an internalized implied nothingness thereafter because black folk can feel helpless & without language or resources in our own rapturing, reckoning, &, regardless, love. BOOTless → still attempts to answer that, given a poem can have wants (to communicate, to connect, & contextualize), how can the black body of a poem have more agency and encourage the autonomy of its reader? Down to the parenthesis around the individual letter(s) in lines of these altar poems. There’s a playful character development of the Dr. King quote, concept, poem, & ultimately this chapbook in hopes for the reader too.


      BOOTless → is reckoning with this idea that at some point, for the sake of truth, curiosity, & justice, we will be reminded that not all of us are saved because there is nothing (built literally on top of  indigenous land) to save; neither white nor American Jesus will save us at all, & we may have to un-save ourselves eventually in order to survive. Bootless self-doubt could shiver down a black spine when thinking of (t)his potential black ineffectual affect & the negro will still steal back ALIVE in their own way in order to create the new forms we’ll all need to keep surviving: armorial in its new meaning.


    • Praise

      “Dense. Synaptic. All energy and brilliance. The sonic life of a word lengthened into a new structure for thinking: ‘Armorial Time’s climb paradiddles, / drumming child out childhood, nephew].’ Channeling so many frequencies of language and insight, fast through him like light in the alive-alive circuitry that is BOOT-less. Trace DePass makes me think of an exquisite Gwendolynian sound meeting some of the deep, imagistic transmissions of Joel Dias-Porter or Bob Kaufman. Emanation, kiss, plea. See: ‘is this flatline moving me, failed, forward, / feathered closer to grace each time; going / mother after mother i wake up as / a dove picking lilies from her black i…’”


      —Aracelis Girmay, author of the black maria (BOA Editions, 2016)


      “Formidably inventive and wild. DePass’s poems grieve, provoke, memorialize, and inquire after in a language and rhythm thrillingly unlike anything else”


      —Jenny Xie, author of The Rupture Tense (Graywolf, 2022)


      "In BOOTless→ Trace DePass has given us the cable and the hookup. The cable that routes and roots through all that’s true. Especially that most important truth, the one between the poet and page.


      i break. the parts of me i asked for & everything from this world i needed are entirely different histories of music. but, this
      call & response here keeps the lights → ours.


      DePass deftly navigates his many histories while curating and creating an urban ecopoetics unlike anything you’ve encountered: the streets, the ponds, and interiors of Jamaica Queens are alive with this poet’s idiosyncratic music. This is where the sonnets might be troubled but they’re also always soothing and honest."


      Marwa Helal author of Ante body


    • About the Author

      Trace Howard DePass is the author of self-portrait as the space between us (PANK 2018) & BOOTless → (Diode Editions 2024). His work has been featured with Poetry Foundation, Ours Poetica, NPR’s The Takeaway, SAND, Entropy, Split This Rock, Poetry Project, Bettering American Poetry, and the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day series. DePass is a fellow with Poets House, Obsidian, and Teachers & Writers.


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