tilling, limning notes

Fred Moten (2018 Roy Lichtenstein Awardee)

Published in the Foundation for Contemporary Arts 2020 Grants Booklet 

                      fleck, or tile, as if
daub or stroke, but a cut 
of blue, flesh cut by a glance
of blue for trane,
in the general murder,
all but mute for
amadou diallo.

you have to get
so close to see the glance and shine
that you get too close
to see the glint in flames, feel
the grain of braille
through the sea of inflection, éclat et clinger,

and cling to the solemnity
of our wave function, a clarity
of sweep in blackness as dawn
dawns on us with
such gravity, a gathering
of matter/a matter
of gathering jack whitten’s
rose corona, working violently
with outpouring, work
made of unmaking
a monastic love
of sequence, in sequins,
spacetime sewn with the
decorative weight of edward witten and
bill frank whitten.

this cut and roll of outbroken canvas
looks like looking with a movie. injured
surface abjures flatness like
character acting, mapping distressed by aerial
grounding, scuffed ornament, microtonal
abrasion all over again. the textural slur

of tilling and limning, emma and emily
whispering, the precise irregularity
of anamosaic gesture, is a habitat
of schools in a bessemer tree, a reef chorale
and blue hint shadow, graphic
soft enough to furl, reflet
and scroll. a totem is a
haunted keyboard, and this ingenious

mechanical device is so we
can differ in elegiac practice - 
for criticism is grounded
differing and deciphering is
separation’s scale.

Fred Moten is a poet and critic. He is a Professor in the Department of Performance Studies at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Moten received the Roy Lichtenstein Award in 2018.