• an exploration of the historical becoming personal •
Here is a poet who tracks a formidable lodestar in his chosen namesake, Frederick Douglass, and wrestles with his legacy through illuminative ekphrasis, dedicated truth-telling, and the indomitable will to claim one’s identity from a world that seeks to negate it. Writing with self-discovery through a multitude of form and historical insight, Brown charts a Tubmantrod course across millennia, culture, and language. Through his multihued blood-line that flows with memory to sing the kill away, we find ourselves delivered into a daring rendition of humanity at its best despite the worst of circumstances.
F. Douglas Brown’s ICON calls into its pages so many voices, living and dead, historical figures, ancestors, and coevals. The poet reminds us of the choral, even collaborative, nature of our poetic traditions. He composes image and language artifact of the Black diaspora, the American literary canon, and Philippine and Filipino-American history. This collection complicates any easy portrait of Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, and their legacies, directly challenging our Western obsession with individual genius. All in all, ICON isn’t just a book of poems. It is a compendium of story, song, catalog, and remix. It is a much-needed reappraisal of our most convenient narratives around race. It is Black elegy. It is an intimate critique of American masculinity. It is astute commentary of visual culture. ICON is lyric autobiography, anti-hagiography, and new school testament. This is a book so rich that it is likely to move you and change you again and again.
One writes out of one thing only – one’s own experience. Everything depends on how relentlessly one forces from this experience the last drop, sweet or bitter, it can possibly give. This is the only real concern of the artist, to recreate out of the disorder of life that order which is art.