Quiet: A Syllabus

From The Paris Review:

For most of my life, I took quiet to mean a kind of shortcoming. I had heard it used too many times as a description of how others saw me. But then I realized that in the work of writers I love deeply are many kinds of quiets—those of catharsis, of subversiveness, of gaping loss or simple, sensual joy. I came to think of quiet not as an adjective or verb or noun, but as a kind of technique.

The books I chose for the syllabus below expand how we think about black expression, intimacy, interiority, and agency; about black quietude. I began with the work of Kevin Quashie, whose voice, like a tuning fork, set a tone for my reading of other books. For the nonfiction books on this list, I looked for thinkers who are deeply attentive to the everyday. For fiction and poetry, I selected writers who allow us to glimpse more clearly our own selfhoods via the unknowability of others. In all cases, these are books that are richer for asking us to listen more deeply. We might return from each one dazzled, dazed even, but always with renewed, sharpened perception.

Kevin Quashie, The Sovereignty of Quiet: Beyond Resistance in Black Culture

Elizabeth Alexander, The Black Interior

Toni Morrison, Sula

Link to the rest at The Paris Review