A Sense of Regard
Essays on Poetry and Race

Edited by Laura McCullough

Searing, evocative reflections on how literature addresses a perennially vexed issue


“Race is an old topic in poetry, but it still urges for in-depth exploration of visible or invisible labels of politics and racialization in America. This book, which gathers a collection of essays from poets and critics of different races, presents multiangle views about race and its relationship with poetry; the combined perspectives in A Sense of Regard has the potential to make a more significant contribution to the topic of poetry and race than any single author could accomplish.”
—Jianqing Zheng, editor of The Other World of Richard Wright: Perspectives on His Haiku

“An important book. I am hard pressed to think of many anthologies that take on a cultural scope this wide and varied. Such a book needs to exist in the world, especially since our literary landscape largely lacks this kind of critical engagement with poetry, specifically written by poets rather than ‘traditional scholars.’”
—Matthew Shenoda, author of Tahrir Suite


A Sense of Regard, says Laura McCullough, “is an effort to collect the voices of living poets and scholars in thoughtful and considered exfoliation of the current confluence of poetry and race, the difficulties, the nuances, the unexamined, the feared, the questions, and the quarrels across aesthetic camps and biases.”

The contributors discuss issues as various as their own diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds. Their essays, which range in style from the personal and lyrical to the critical, are organized into four broad groupings: Americanism, the experience of unsilencing and crossing borders, interrogating whiteness, and language itself. To read them is to listen in as the contributors speak what they know, discover what they do not, and in the process often find something new in themselves and their topic. As a reader you are invited, says McCullough, “to be moved from one sense of regard to another: to be provoked and to linger in that state. . . . To query, quarrel, and consider.”

A Sense of Regard grew out of a recent gathering of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP), where a poet’s comments on the work of another sparked impassioned and contentious conversations in person, in print, and online. Though race is often thought of as an age-old topic in poetry, McCullough saw clearly that there is still much to discuss, study, and tease apart. Moving the conversation beyond the specificity of those initial AWP encounters, with their mostly black/white focus on race, these essays provide a context and a safe starting place for some urgently needed discussions we too rarely have.


Page count: 288
Trim size: 6 x 9


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Laura McCullough is an associate professor of English at Brookdale Community College. Her essays, criticism, poems, creative nonfiction, and short fiction have appeared in a wide range of literary magazines and journals, and her books include the poetry collections Rigger Death & Hoist Another, Panic, Speech Acts, and What Men Want. Her hybrid works include Ripple & Snap and Shuttle*Voices*Wind. She is the editor of the anthology The Room and the World: Essays on the Poet Stephen Dunn. McCullough is also the founding editor of Mead: The Magazine of Literature and Libations, for which she currently acts as an editor-at-large.