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Asim’s Meditation on the Divinity of Funk Included in Best American Poetry 2021

Jabari Asim headshot

Writing, Literature and Publishing Professor Jabari Asim’s poem, “Some Call it God” is included in The Best American Poetry 2021, publishing Tuesday, September 28.

Each year since 1988, Simon & Schuster has published an anthology of the year’s best verse, edited by a different poet. The 2021 edition was edited by former United States Poet Laureate Tracy K. Smith, and features work by Henri Cole, Billy Collins, Louise Erdrich, Nobel laureate Louise Glück, Terrance Hayes, and Kevin Young, in addition to Asim.

Related: Asim’s ‘Getting It Twisted’ Included in The Best American Essays Anthology

Speaking about the poem on, Asim said, “In working toward a constructive disruption of my idea of the Divine, I’m embracing the notion of God as Funk: an irresistible impulse to drop everything and move. I can think of few experiences holier than responding to rhythm, whether it’s coming from the beat of a drum or a church matron humming her favorite hymn.”

I whirl to the beat of the omnipotent Hum;
diastole, systole, automatic,
borderless. Bigger and bigger still:
Bigger than love,
Bigger than desire or adoration.
Bigger than begging and contemplation.
Bigger than wailing and chanting and the slit throats of roosters.
For which praise is useless.
For which gratitude might as well be whispered.
For which motion is meaning enough.

 Excerpt from "Some Call It God" 

In 2019, Asim’s essay, “Getting It Twisted” was included in Simon & Schuster’s The Best American Essays anthology. In an October 2019 story, Asim said the essay “explores the relationship between the state – the U.S. government – and the often-malicious narratives about Black people in the U.S. that are inaccurate.”  

Asim – a prolific author of fiction, nonfiction, children’s books, and theatre – also told Emerson Today that “poetry is my first love, for sure.”

“I say I didn’t choose writing, writing chose me. It is not easy work, but it’s joyful work and I’m very happy I’m doing it. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else,” Asim said.

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