Ex Nihilo

Adebe D.A.

Ex Nihilo

The possibility that the present is a continued struggle against nihilism, marked by the will to create, offers important questions about identity and heritage: what does it mean to exist in the present? Out of what matter do we form our identities? How are we different now than in the past? And, finally, what "pasts" unite us, and which legacies might we still identify with, even if we never experienced them? Charged with the political, Ex Nihilo is a poetic text that considers how art can respond to the annihilation of particular identities struggling to exist in an impossibly post-racial world, framed against the possibility that art and identity are creations ex nihilo (Latin for "out of nothing") whose immateriality allow us to engage in endless discursive creativity, as we travel and endlessly (re)create ourselves.

Ex Nihilo was longlisted for the University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize for Young Writers. The £30,000 University of Wales Dylan Thomas Prize, is one of the largest prizes for young writers and is awarded to the best published or produced literary work in the English language, written by an author under 30. This year's long list consists of 16 literary works - poetry, novels and a play - by writers from Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, the United States, South Africa and Somalia. (From the publisher.)


Excerpt:

Why,

Because chiaroscuro

is where I belong.

That and I was once Pushkin's wife.

O, my darling octoroon

your Russia is doing alive and well,

but your Ethiopia is still squinting into the sun, blind and full of light

trying to find empire in uptown Harlem

but all we get is

gentrification petrification talk

about holy war, race war, war on war

while the Church of Nazareth on 144th stands a burned-out shell, waiting.


From "English Literature" by Adebe D.A., Ex Nihilo ©2010. Published by Frontenac House.