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Virginia Tech

All-American interrogates J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur’s definition of “American" in the 1782 text, Letters from an American Farmer, which inspired the Eurocentric, sexist and heterosexist ideals girding the notion of what is now called the “American Dream." Mainstream media project narratives that suggest that the ideals in Crevecoeur’s epistles have been fully extended beyond his narrow scope in the Obama era. All-American, however, offers poetry that illuminates modern and contemporary instances in urban and rural settings of racism, colorism, gender bias, ability discrimination and homophobia thwarting this idealistic worldview. Its formal and free verse explores the journey of four generations of one family as members grapple with discrimination, disability and disease and interrogates the heteronormativity and racism that girds the faith to which they cling. Whereas many contemporary poets eschew the confessional in storytelling, All-American employs it unabashedly. Moreover, All-American is interested in language poetry, not only that which plays with various Englishes but also with the languages that color them, that percolate under the surface. It aims to make music of these dialogical languages, these inexorable narratives. It lets the dead and dying tell their stories, which are no less American, though they are unpopular in an America racing to rid itself of past shame. All-American faces the shameful things Americans can do to one another and celebrates humans’ innate will to thrive, love and die with dignity—with hopes of inspiring dialogue and healing that will make American ideals more accessible to those on the periphery.

Abraham Lincoln, Tallahassee, Cleveland, Marianna, Erb's palsy, family, Poetry, All-American