THE BLACK CONDITION FT. NARCISSUS is preemptive memoir, documenting the beginning of the author’s gender transition and paralleling the inauguration of our latest Administration. These poems speak to and from fears holed up inside while contextualizing the cosmic impacts of our political landscape. Ranging from autobiographic melancholy to rigorously meditative, here is a necessary voice to process the world, predicated on unknowable desire and blossoming tragedy.
The Black Condition ft. Narcissus by jayy dodd (@deyblxk) is a collection that is equally ferocious and gentle. With themes of (self) knowledge and ego, exposure and visibility, embodiment and physicality, these poems examine Blackness and sexuality with both candor and vulnerability. I appreciate how dodd plays with space on the page, leaving gaps where words could be but shouldn’t be. The last piece in the book, “i am interested in the black condition.,” is especially unnerving and poignant.
Mordant and melancholy, wistful and startlingly fierce, this collection by a blxk trans femme uses the myth of Narcissus as a means of both celebrating themselves and lamenting the unwitting world: “seeing oneself / can be a dream realized — though/i have always had more faith / in fantastic things unseen.”
A voice I come to trust meets rhythmic and sonic radiance; syntactic and formal muscularity vibrates. These are lushly lyrical poems that, even so, live in the world. If duende can come from acknowledgment of the possibility of death, and the fullness of life that comes alongside that realization, then the beloved goblin of goosebumps surely rises up here.
Exploring themes of desire and self-love with hip-hop infused poetics, jayy dodd’s newest collection feels like a fairytale: the titular Narcissus taking a hard look at theirselves in a golden mirror, a study of beauty and sexuality and awareness. This collection will make you think about finding and caring for your own beauty, both physical and deeper, and how we can approach life with more tenderness. Trust me, dodd’s poems will seduce you, and you won’t be mad about it.
jayy dodd tells me so many things I need to hear, one of which is LISTEN. Listen so hard you miss meals and phone calls. Listen so hard those voices demanding your and others’ extinction break apart and dissolve back to nothing. Listen so hard that when you turn the volume down, you don’t recognize the world anymore.
jayy dodd’s second poetry collection, The Black Condition Ft. Narcissus, is a lyrical masterwork full of sensuous feeling, playfulness, and poetic depth.
Both a memoir and a collection of poetry, The Black Condition ft. Narcissus is a meditation on the self at the end of the world. At least, that’s what it feels like: documenting the author’s transition alongside the early days of Donald Trump’s presidency, this book is a tender and brave look at what it means to find yourself in an America that doesn’t want you to be found.
S. Yarberry: Your collection is titled The Black Condition Ft. Narcissus—what interested you in the myth, and/or the figure, of Narcissus? Narcissus becomes this character that comes in at different times—
jayy dodd: The frame of the title, The Black Condition Ft. Narcissus, is an homage to a band from the ‘70s called Rufus ft. Chaka Khan… The way that Chaka Khan has made a name for herself in a more recognizable way also allowed me to imagine that even though there is definitely a front of this larger band’s work, The Black Condition, there is also Narcissus who is this singular voice—this voice that can run on its own both since and before the book. The title, like I said, is this homage to this band in its framing structure and it also locates this idea of a soloist in a collective—the collective being the vehicle so that Narcissus has these spotlight moments, featured moments, throughout the book.