Banana [ ______ ] / we pilot the blood


A tête-bêche by Paul Hlava Ceballos & Quenton Baker
with critical /creative commentary on empire and the poetics of reckoning by Christina Sharpe in dialogue with the poems and artist Torkwase Dyson’s “hypershapes”

ISBN: 978-1-7344071-8-1
Trade Paper
90 pages
8″ x 8″

In stock

SKU: 2021BOOK-PHCQB Categories: , , Tags: ,


About the Book

This book is a thing of beauty and grief. Two accounts of empire by two different poets, between them a critical/contemplative interval conducted by writer and scholar Christina Sharpe in conversation with artist Torkwase Dyson’s “hypershapes.”

Assembled from the Senate document detailing the 1841 revolt of enslaved people transported aboard the brig Creole, Quenton Baker’s “we pilot the blood” considers the position of Blackness and the ongoing afterlife of slavery.

Paul Hlava Ceballos’s “Banana [         ]” collages declassified CIA documents, corporate reports, horticultural papers and personal accounts into a bloody portrait of multinational exploitation.

Praise for Banana [          ] / we pilot the blood

Official histories erase, deceive. In this collaborative work, Paul Hlava Ceballos and Quenton Baker refuse and remix the narratives in official documents to make visible oppression, rebellion. These new narratives reshape the past, charge the future. Here is poetry not rooted in the mythologies of nation-states, here is poetry that casts new light. Eduardo C. Corral

What can language do, in the festering fuckery of empire? This chapbook, which features both Quenton Baker’s we pilot the blood and Paul Hlava Ceballos’s Banana [         ], demands that we look directly into the violent and voracious maw of empire. From tracing the history of bananas in the Americas (Banana [      ]) to the erasure of the senate document of the revolt aboard the slave ship Creole (we pilot the blood), Hlava Ceballos and Baker speak to silenced histories with resounding resistance across source texts, redactions, erasures, and lifted language. In this excavation, this reckoning, what has been kept hidden from us? – Jane Wong, author of How to Not Be Afraid of Everything

Banana [         ] / we pilot the blood is an urgent collection that exhumes bodies buried in the archive. While naming historical violence, the book also offers new shapes, forms, and utterances. What a brilliant and necessary intervention. – Cathy Linh Che, author of Split


Reviews, Recorded Readings & Conversations with the Authors

About the Authors

Paul Hlava Ceballos is the recipient of the 2021 AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry as well as fellowships from CantoMundo, Artist Trust, and the Poets House. His full-length monograph, Banana [          ], is forthcoming from University of Pittsburgh Press in 2022, and his work has been published in the Best New Poets Anthology and translated into the Ukrainian. It can be found in Narrative Magazine, BOMB, the PEN Poetry Series, Acentos Review, The LA Times, among other journals and newspapers, and has been nominated for the Pushcart. Born and raised in Southern California, he has an MFA from NYU, and currently lives in Seattle, where he practices echocardiography.

Quenton Baker is a poet, educator, and Cave Canem fellow. Their current focus is black interiority and the afterlife of slavery. Their work has appeared in The Offing, Jubilat, Vinyl, The Rumpus  and elsewhere. They are a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, and the recipient of the 2018 Arts Innovator Award from Artist Trust. They were a 2019 Robert Rauschenberg Artist in Residence and a 2021 NEA Fellow. They are the author of This Glittering Republic (Willow Books, 2016) and ballast (Haymarket Books, 2023).

Christina Sharpe is a writer, Professor, and Canada Research Chair in Black Studies in the Humanities at York University. She is the author of: In the Wake: On Blackness and Being and Monstrous Intimacies: Making Post-Slavery Subjects. Her third book, Ordinary Notes, will be published in 2023 (Knopf/FSG/Daunt). She is working on a monograph called Black. Still. Life. She has recently published essays in Alison Saar Of Aether and Earthe, Grief and Grievance: Art and Mourning in America, Reconstructions: Architecture and Blackness in America, and Jennifer Packer: The Eye Is Not Satisfied With Seeing.

Torkwase Dyson is a painter whose compositions address the continuity of space, movement, ecology and architecture. Examining black geographies, Dyson’s objects consider black liberation and industrial precariousness. The work invites questions of distance, embodiment and perception. Torkwase Dyson was born in Chicago and spent her developmental years between North Carolina and Mississippi. Traversing these geographies helped develop formal and conceptual concerns of black spatial liberation strategies. In addition to participating in group exhibitions at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, D.C.; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; and California African American Museum, Los Angeles, Dyson has had solo exhibitions and installations at Colby College Museum of Art, Waterville, Maine; Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, Chicago; Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education, Philadelphia; and Suzanne Lemberg Usdan Gallery, Bennington College, Vermont.  In 2020, Dyson’s solo exhibitions included Black Compositional Thought | 15 Paintings for the Plantationocene presented by the New Orleans Museum of Art and I Can Drink the Distance, Plantationocene in Two Acts on view at Pace Gallery New York. Torkwase Dyson lives in New York and is represented by Pace.

About Our Land Acknowledgment

In support of truth-telling and reconciliation, and with the belief that a book can be a liberated and liberatory space that travels through time and across borders, the authors of the 3rd Thing books share their pages with an Indigenous writer. In 2021, that writer is poet Summer J. Hart. Her words conjure the quiet rapture and violence of our connections to place and to one another across and between the borders of time, death, waking, and creature-ness.

About Our Books as Objects

All 3rd Thing books are thoughtfully designed for people who love books…to read them, to smell them, to write in their wide margins, to tuck things in their pages. They feature recycled cover stock and French folds for holding your place. All the 2021 books are the same, perfect squares  – 8″ x 8″…not too tall and not too small – so they fit neatly together on your shelf or in a stack on your coffee table…because they are so beautiful, you will want to look at them all the time.

Additional information

Weight 12 oz
Dimensions 8 × 5.5 × .6 in