The sprawling genius of thylias moss

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This essay presents an overview of Moss's essayistic, speculative, metamorphic poetry, concentrating in particular on her last three books, Rainbow Remnants in Rock Bottom Ghetto Sky, Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler, and Tokyo Butter. Rainbow Remnants is shown to mark a turn in her work from a poetry of rage and satire to a poetry of refigurative translation: a turn exemplified above all in the poems that rearticulate in secular terms the African-American religion of exodus. These are poems of crossing over and coming through. Last Chance, it is argued, further unfolds this art of roving reinterpretation, recasting various Christian stories in expansive humanist ways, while at the same time illuminating the way our promises and metaphors, our vows and prayers, compose the horizons of value we live by. Tokyo Butter, finally, is said to be Moss's most formally challenging book. At the center of the book is a long elegy that adopts the multi-directional form of a search engine, taking Moss's gift for centrifugal play in the direction of cyberspace. At the heart of all her work, this essay argues, is a great spirit of longing, a speculative cast of mind, and a faith in metamorphosis as the life of poetry.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-118
Number of pages20
JournalReligion and Literature
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


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