Finding Restoration in Reading
I hope you are all doing well as you can be in these incredibly trying times, able to take back a piece of yourself that has been snatched away by a world that seems to be growing crueler by the second.
One of the ways in which I restore myself when I’m feeling depleted is through the act of reading. Reading is not merely a practice in which I can temporarily escape the world’s harm; it is also a space where my creativity is inspired, my strategies for resistance are shaped, and my compassion is magnified.
In this moment, I am thinking a great deal about James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time and Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, gleaning as much wisdom from them as I can to steel me for whatever might be coming next—not just in the United States, but in the world itself. As I ready myself for those external forces, I am also doing the work of self-inspection and self-reflection, attempting to examine and elevate the internal forces. Two recent literary works have also helped guide me in that direction.
The first is the novel Neruda on the Park by Cleyvis Natera. It is described by the publisher as “An exhilarating debut novel following members of a Dominican family in New York City who take radically different paths when faced with encroaching gentrification.” When I blurbed it, I said: “Neruda on the Park is a book so honest, so implicating, so liberating that it is at once beautiful and terrifying. . . . A loud triumph that caresses like a whisper.”
The other book that felt like both testimony and implication is Frederick Joseph’s Patriarchy Blues: Reflections on Manhood. The publisher had this to say about it: “In this thought-provoking collection of essays, poems, and short reflections, Frederick Joseph contemplates these questions and more as he explores issues of masculinity and patriarchy from both a personal and cultural standpoint. From fatherhood, and ‘manning up’ to abuse and therapy, he fearlessly and thoughtfully tackles the complex realities of men’s lives today and their significance for society, lending his insights as a Black man.” I also blurbed this book, saying “Joseph has learned a great deal from bell hooks here, and I think she would be proud because Patriarchy Blues is such a moving, inspiring, rigorous vision for living.”
I will have the great pleasure of interviewing Frederick about his work this coming Friday, May 20, at the legendary 92nd Street Y Center for Culture & Arts—where icons like Toni Morrison and Farah Jasmine Griffin have had illuminating conversations. This will be my first time speaking on such a hallowed stage and I believe it may be Frederick’s first time as well. We are hoping to provide a thoughtful conversation, something of value for the audience to receive and participate in.
If you wish to join us, please find the details below.
Patriarchy Blues: Reflections on Manhood
Frederick Joseph in Conversation with Robert Jones Jr.
Join New York Times-bestselling authors Frederick Joseph and Robert Jones Jr. as they discuss Joseph’s new book Patriarchy Blues: Reflections on Manhood.
A frank, wise, and personal meditation on the ways in which the manifestations of the Patriarchy hurt us all, this book is also a rallying cry for people everywhere to embrace intersectional feminism. Hear Joseph discuss what prompted him to write it, how to move past myths of masculinity to be an ally, the importance of lifting up women of color, and much more.
Friday, May 20, 2022
7 p.m. EDT
In-person tickets ($25): https://bit.ly/3KLSOmo
Thank you for considering taking part in this discussion. May you be surrounded by joy, safety, and love.