Poetry Sunday: “Blackbody curve,” by Samiya Bashir

[From the WVFC Poetry Archives, first published September 22, 2019]


Blackbody curve

Stairs: a rushed flight down thirty-eight; French doors unlocked always.

Always: a lie; an argument.

Argument: two buck hunters circle a meadow’s edge.

Edge: one of us outside bleeding.

Bleeding: shards of glass; doors locked.

Locked: carpet awash with blood.

Blood: lift and drop; a sudden breeze.

Breeze: its whistle though bone.

Bone: the other was looking at —

Bone: cradled to catch drips.

Drips: quiet as a meadow fawn.

Fawn: faces down each hunter each gun.

Gun: again.

Again: somebody call someone.

Someone: almost always prefers forgetting.

Forgetting: an argument; a lie.

Lie: a meadow; a casement; a stair.


“Blackbody curve” © 2017 by Samiya Bashir, published in Field Theories (Nightboat Books 2017). Reprinted with permission of Nightboat Books. Field Theories is available for order here.



Samiya Bashir’s books of poetry are Field Theories, Gospel, and Where the Apple Falls. A professor at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, Bashir holds a BA from the University of California, Berkeley, where she served as Poet Laureate, and an MFA from the University of Michigan, where she received two Hopwood Poetry Awards. In October 2017 she was awarded the Regional Arts & Culture Council’s Individual Artist Fellowship in Literature in recognition of individual artistic achievement and excellence. She has received numerous other awards, grants, fellowships, and residencies and is a founding organizer of Fire & Ink, an advocacy organization and writer’s festival for LGBT writers of African descent. Bashir’s most recent book of poetry, Field Theories, wends its way through quantum mechanics, chicken wings and Newports, love and a shoulder’s chill, melding blackbody theory (idealized perfect absorption, as opposed to the whitebody’s idealized reflection) with real live Black bodies in poems that span lyric, narrative, dramatic, and multimedia experience, engaging their containers while pushing against their constraints. Sometimes Bashir makes poems of dirt. Sometimes zeros and ones. Sometimes variously rendered text. Sometimes light. Her work has been widely published, performed, installed, printed, screened, experienced, and Oxford comma’d. [Source here]


Poems from Field Theories are remixed and reimagined in a series of films made in collaboration with video artist Roland Dahwen Wu and dancer Keyon Gaskin, and can be viewed here.

An interview with Bashir about the relationship between science and poetry in Field Theories appears here.

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