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Special Issue Articles

Vol. 4 No. 1 (2022): American Studies as Vulnerability Studies

From Crisis to Cata/Strophe: Prepositional Poetics as Decolonizing Praxis

July 7, 2023


This article shows how Aracelis Girmay's The Black Maria (2016) and Raquel Salas Rivera's while they sleep (under the bed is another country) (2019) turn the ongoing catastrophe of coloniality into a visual grammar of/for loss. Aracelis Girmay's The Black Maria offers a prepositional poetics to visualize the catastrophe of Mediterranean migrant crossings within the spacetime of an oceanic coloniality that joins Mediterranean to Atlantic and Caribbean. Raquel Salas Rivera's poetic response to Hurricane María invokes prepositional relationships to reveal and contest the United States' existing hierarchies of colonial-imperial power. Through form, their poetry visualizes how witness, survival, and mourning become decolonizing tactics of resistance. In the two texts, I identify a prepositional poetics that, by signaling movements through space and time, locates the specific catastrophes of displacement and climate change disaster in the Caribbean and the Mediterranean as part of a continuum of coloniality that stretches from the sixteenth century to the present.


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