Magical Negro

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Jan 2019

Member Reviews

Bravo Morgan Parker.  The poems were thought provoking, heart breaking, satirical, funny, and deeply enjoyable.  Parker is a gem.  This book was great and I wouldn't be surprised if it won or was shortlisted for every major literary prize.
Was this review helpful?
I enjoyed reading this collection, but I'm struggling to come up with words to explain why. In many ways, it was an eye-opener for me; as a middle-aged white woman, I have not had the same life experiences Morgan Parker has had, and that was interesting and informative in a way that more people need to hear. 

#MagicalNegro #NetGalley
Was this review helpful?
Unflinching and open, these poems, I think, hit at the chasm between races. I especially found the poems which contrasted the film narratives involving actors of colour and white actors especially striking. Though their performances are powerful and inspiring, Parker's poems highlighted the limited roles available for Denzel Washington or Angela Davis.

The anger woven into these poems will have impact. It will resonate, and feel like the voice of some, and it will strike chords of empathy and understanding in others. Small minded jackasses will answer the anger with anger of their own, which justifies the anger in these pieces.
Was this review helpful?
This work is a comprehensive meditation on the intersections of Blackness, womanhood, consciousness, and Millennialist identity in the Trump-era America. There is acute sensitivity and cultural analysis transcribed in these poems, as well as subsequent soul weariness, birthed from the inherited Afro-American collective and enacted through day to day interactions with whites, with men, and with oneself. 
The consistent theme here is race, but then, as Parker expounds, when one is Black, one cannot escape confronting race, whether one wants to or not. It's the ever dominant reality. Her lyrics here is the stream of consciousness in all our minds everyday.
Was this review helpful?
When I think of some of the books that I couldn’t wait to read in 2019, Magical Negro was at the top of that list. I’m pleased to say that it did not disappoint. Fierce and extremely inventive each poem in this collection spoke to me and often acted as that little voice in the back of my mind.

I was introduced to Morgan Parker when I read “There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé” that took a brash exploration of what it means to be a black woman in contemporary American culture. Needless to say, I expected nothing less in her latest work, Magical Negro.

The collection takes a look at the everydayness of contemporary America, exploring the conversations that are taking place right now around the country. Focused primarily on depictions of black womanhood alongside personal narratives, the collection tackles interior and exterior politics—of both the body and society.

The beauty of this collection lies within the way that Parker writes about the black experience as its own beautiful culture and community. She explores black womanhood with grief looking through the lens of a history that is full of hope, fear, and despair.

The way in which Parker talks about deep-rooted black traumas and the lines she draws within her own reality is soul-shaking and might I even say magical.

There were many poems I truly loved, some of my favs were:

Magical Negro #84: The Black Body

A Brief History of the Present

I Told My Therapist I Tried to Meditate and She Laughed

Who Were Frederick Douglass’s Cousins, and Other Quotidian Black History Facts That I Wish I Learned in School

Magical Negro #80: Brooklyn

This collection solidified, for me, that Parker is a definite strong talent with an important voice. Overall I think that Parker delivers an important and strong depiction of Black America and I hope that her words are enough to make many people feel uncomfortable.
Was this review helpful?
The poetry in this book is stunning. It's lyrical but also punchy and also so very cutting. If you are white, like me, you need to read this. You need to know all the ways in which Black folks are dehumanized. You need to learn how nano-atomic it is. How string-molecular. How, not daily, but minuteLY. You need to know that every time you say "all of us" you are cutting out millions. You need to learn a new way of thinking. You need to turn yourself around. This will help. I promise it will help. But you have to put yourself through it. Do it now.
Was this review helpful?
I read and loved Morgan Parker's previous collection, There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, and was so excited to hear that she had another one coming out. Her writing calls you for you sit and savor her words and form.

This one was a bit harder for me to enjoy. I appreciated the emotion behind her words, the sharpness of the lines that she aims toward the media, politicians, the police and any other source of anti-blackness in America.  And there definitely are individual lines that I love. (I've been quoting "My body is an argument I didn't start" since I read it.) But I don't know if I truly understand the collection as a cohesive whole. It feels like there is something big I'm missing and it took a bit away from my enjoyment of her work.

I'd still recommend her work, especially for non-black readers. Morgan Parker expresses the anger and frustration of being black so viscerally, it would serve you well to experience it.
Was this review helpful?
I read these poems twice, before and after a historical novel about racism in Oregon, and it strikes a chord with me that this collection is published by Tin House. One of the poems even talks about how it's too late for her to try to live in Portland or Brooklyn (the two homes of her publishing house.) And so the poetry settles into the reality of our existence, and the need to confront discomfort if we are really going to talk about race.

Since I had a review copy I can't quote any poems directly, but I want to, so much. Morgan Parker is in conversation with many of these poems, with current events, with other poets and poems, with the white gaze, the male gaze. Several poems are titled Magical Negro #x and imagine the perspective of several key figures in history; some are broader like the one about "the black body" (it repeats "the body is a person" to great effect.)

I can't decide which collection I like more - this, which seems more of a direct response to recent events, or There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé, which gave me my first introduction to the strength and unpandering resistance of her words.

Favorites from this collection:

Everything Will Be Taken Away
"...You are a woman now
but you have always had skin...."

Whites Only

Magical Negro #84: The Black Body

Ode to Fried Chicken's Guest Appearance on Scandal

If you are over staying woke (and here in audio)

I Told My Therapist I Tried to Meditate and She Laughed

We Are the House That Holds the Table at Which Yes We Will Happily Take a Goddamn Seat
"...The difference between worth
and worthless without them

is science: how it feels to not be
able to see a person, and the number

of instances when we believed
we should die. ..."

Magical Negro #80: Brooklyn
"...Lead us not into white neighborhoods.
Deliver us from microaggressions...."
Was this review helpful?
This ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

While there are some strong poems here and there in the book's center section, on the whole I never did catch the wave or rhythm of this book. 

While there are some moments that pack a punch, I wanted to love this from beginning to end. Just glance at the table of contents and you'll see Parker's way with titles. Utterly brilliant ones: "If you are over staying woke" and "We Are the House That Holds the Table at Which Yes We Will Happily Take a Goddamn Seat" and "My Sister Says White Supremacy Is Turning Her Crazy." And how can you resist of title of her debut collection, *There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé*? You can't.

But for all the shots of fire and defiance throughout this book (and there is plenty to provoke and celebrate), too often I was left a little cold once I made it to the end of a poem. 

My favourite poems were probably "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" and "Who Were Frederick Douglass's Cousins, and Other Quotidian Black History Facts That I Wish I Learned in School." "Matt" is also a stand-out. I guess I preferred, in this book at least, the more narrative poems to the abstract ones.

Parker is definitely a talent, and these images are going to sing to readers. I just wish I was one of them. I would not be against reading more of her work.
Was this review helpful?
It is an interesting read for a white woman who rarely ventures into poetry. It is tough to hear the realities for so many, and while I sometimes struggle with figurative language and poetry, it is beautiful and heartwrenching and so important
Was this review helpful?
Release date February 5th!

 "No one can serve two masters like we can, be future and what they threatened to forget."

My first time reading Morgan Parker's work was when I received an ARC for [book:The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic|34381052].  To say that I LOVED this anthology would be an understatement.  See review here: Black Girl Magic  So when I came across this title on NetGalley I was super excited.  

Magical Negro is radical, elegiac, witty and intimate.  Using cultural and historical references, Morgan Parker unabashedly confronts the traumas of our past and our present.   Her prose speaks to both the collective experience and to crimes committed against oneself.  Magical Negro has transformative power, one that you can return to time and again and be moved.

As with any anthology there were some poems I liked better then others.  
My favorites were: 
Nancy Meyers and My Dream of Whiteness
Magical Negro #84: The Black Body
A Brief History of the Present
What I Am 
       after Terrance Hayes
If you are over staying woke
We Are the House That Holds the Table at Which Yes We Will Happily Take a Goddamn Seat
       after Solange
Magical Negro #80: Brooklyn

I am looking forward to Morgan Parker's upcoming YA novel Who Put This Song On? that is due out later this year.  

 Special thanks to NetGalley, Tin House books and Morgan Parker for advanced access to this book.
Was this review helpful?
Magical Negro is a perfect follow-up to There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce. Morgan Parker is quickly establishing herself as one of the most talented and poignant voices in contemporary American poetry. This collection deftly addresses issues at the forefront of sociopolitical conversation today. A truly valuable addition to conversations about the body politic, I recommend Magical Negro for both poetry lovers and educators alike. Parker's poetic prowess is a brilliant addition to high school classrooms and college reading lists; her poems are sure to engage today's students through their attention to culturally relevant topics and their use of accessible language.
Was this review helpful?
I really like this collection.

There are some of the poems that didn't resonate with me completely, but I'm also a white guy and I understand some of these weren't written for me to resonate with. But on the whole, this collection is beautiful. I appreciate Parker's open honesty about what it is to be black in America, to be at war with your own identity. her body being "an argument I didn't start," as she puts it. 

This collection is vulnerable and open and reflective and articulate. I'm looking forward to see what Parker puts out next.
Was this review helpful?
In Magical Negro, Morgan Parker writes with a prickly directness that I couldn’t look away from. Her language is accessible, but matured in each poem; a sharpness earned through her careful analysis of herself, cultural influence, class and privilege. In the series of poems that take the title of the book, Parker is inspired by different black celebrities: disassembling privilege, the costs and benefits of representation, and her own love for each imagery. That love doesn’t come without a critical eye, as she holds up popular culture fantasies up to the light, revealing her own seduction to this fantasies as well. Each of these poems reference her inspiration, but turn to use her self analysis as the starting point of looking at things for what they are and how they’ve made us. This approach makes Parker’s work so important, and I want to put this book in students’ hands.
Was this review helpful?
I am such a fan of Morgan Parker's poetry and this collection doesn't disappoint. I'm glad to find some of her poems that didn't make it in her other two collections. Magical Negro is a book that shows that Parker is at her prime and will shine bright for years to come. Read this! 

P.S. I totally recommend going to a reading of hers or listening to her poems via audio. Her deliverance is phenomenal and can quiet non-believers of the power of poetry every day.
Was this review helpful?
Another amazing book from Morgan Parker, who is so skilled at shifting through humor, anger, and heartbreak at high speed within the same poem. I admire the bravado of this voice as well as its tender underbelly. A poignant, darkly funny and fierce collection.
Was this review helpful?
A pretty good selection of poetry and I’m not a fan of poetry, but I enjoyed some of the history.  There was a few funny ones and some solid history of the state of blacks in America.
Was this review helpful?
My God, I haven't been this moved by  poetry since I read "Strange Fruit", my heart was ripped apart several times reading this.  There are times when you're reading about your own experience and you have to stop and recover from that moment.  I am so glad that I took the time to read this, I can't stress how important this, especially now.  I hadn't heard of Morgan Parker before now, but I feel like this book is a blessing and we don't deserve her.
Was this review helpful?
Through the lenses of pop culture, hip hop, and black history, Morgan Parker delivers a devastating series of poems about the current state of affairs for Black Americans. While there is humor in it, the humor is black and always sets the reader on edge. A powerful, disturbing, and important collection.
Was this review helpful?
Parker has a very unique writing style. One that it may take some time to get used to. With this collection there were quite a few poems that I really enjoyed and others that I thought were just okay. It was hard to get into the rhythms she was creating with her words. While the language she used was extremely powerful throughout, the imagery with some of the poems was really lacking. With these writings I found myself entranced in what she was saying. Race was a constant theme throughout and I loved that she used it in such a pronounced, and direct way. She made it obvious with the title that Blackness was going to be laced throughout and it is. In some poems its subtle. In others its yielded like a weapon, forcing you to confront the truth about the Black experience in ways that you hadn’t considered. These were the ones that resonated the most. These were the ones I lingered on and contemplated and compared to my own experiences as a Black woman. Overall, I liked this collection of poems. It is something that I can see myself revisiting.
Was this review helpful?