I love Monk's song, 'Just a Gigolo.' It's probably a minor song for him, but whenever I hear a recording of him playing it, I'm mesmerized because Monk clearly loved pop music. He took it very seriously and made an amazing thing out of it.
Literature has been a treacherous site for black Americans because literary production has been so tied with the project of proving our humanity through the act of writing.
Artists such as Lorna Simpson, Zoe Leonard, Byron Kim and Stephen Andrews and I are around the same age, and I know them personally. The discussions I have had with them over the years have influenced the work that I have made throughout my career.
One of the interesting things about quoting in an artwork is that there is a repeated confusion about who is speaking - one essentially becomes the author of a quote one uses.
Throughout African-American literature, the writer has, in a sense, been burdened by the necessity of pleading the case for the whole race. For example, writers of slave narratives tend to lose their individual voices, as they were expected to stand in for all other voices, which were absent.
I'm interested in when language fails, when it is opaque.