David Jackson Ambrose's STATE OF THE NATION w/ Levi Bentley
Join us for an evening of readings with
David Jackson Ambrose, author of State of the Nation, and Levi Bentley!
STATE OF THE NATION follows the day to day experiences of three boys of color as they navigate through a society that does not see them, at best, or at worst, sees them as degenerate bodies deserving extermination. The Atlanta Child Murders of the late ‘70s, early ‘80s, serves as the undefined monster that acts as micro, macro and psychic aggressor, functioning in a way that inhibits and prescribes behavior. The murders loom in the background of the story, serving as an albatross that hovers over the lives of three friends coming of age during a moment in American history that in many ways mirrors the present, as police violence perpetuated against Black youth continues to generate press.
STATE OF THE NATION highlights the fact that missing black bodies were not an anomaly, it was the media attention of those particular bodies that was the anomaly, as black bodies were being defaced, defiled, and extinguished all over the country during that time. The Atlanta Murders were a continuation of neo lynching, a replication of an age-old American tradition reminding black youth that they are expendable.
STATE OF THE NATION links elements of the Tuskegee Experiment of the 1940’s to the ever-present vulnerability of the black body, making use of the era in which the story is told, the cusp of the 1980’s, to hint at the beginning of the AIDS crisis, which began on the tail end of the Atlanta Child Murders.
STATE OF THE NATION shows the influence of pop culture prior to the advent of social media. Pop culture serves not as a world that shuts these characters out because they are different, but sort of glamourizes difference, so in a way, it is something that is attainable to them because it gives them an example of what they can try to emulate in order to obscure the things that make them different. The imagery of classic movies and fashion magazines act as tertiary parents, soothing when they are upset, telling them stories when they are bored, entertaining them when they are lonely, teaching them how to speak properly, demonstrating how to give the witty one-liner.
David Jackson Ambrose received his B.A. in Africana Studies from the University of Pennsylvania. He has an M.A. in Writing Studies from St. Joseph’s University and received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Temple University. David has presented at the National Conference for Teachers of English on “Engaging the Marginalized Student” and has received an honorable mention for his exploration of race and social work for AWP’s 2016 Intro Journals Project entitled, “There’s a Nigger in the House.” His short story, “Juxtapose,” was published in the 2014 edition of Nota Bene, the national magazine of Phi Theta Kappa honor society. For more information, visit the author online at https://www.davidjacksonambrose.com, on Twitter (@DJacksonambrose) at https://twitter.com/DJacksonambrose, or Instagram (@davidjrhd) at https://www.instagram.com/davidjrhd/.
Levi Bentley organizes the reading series Housework, edits the journal BONELESS SKINLESS, and is a member of the artist collective Vox Populi.
“Bucolic Eclogue” was released from Lamehouse Press in July 2016.
Chapbooks: “Obstacle, Particle, Spectacle”, “&parts”, and “Stub Wilderness” were released from 89plus/LUMA Foundation, Damask Press, and Well Greased Press, respectively. Vitrine released their tape “Red Green Blue”. Poems have appeared through 491, Apiary, Bedfellows, BlazeVox, Boog City, Elective Affinities, Fact-Simile, Gigantic Sequins, No Infinite, Madhouse, Maestra Vida, Magic Pictures, Painted Bride Quarterly, Small Po[r]tions, Stillwater Review, The Wanderer, Tinge, and Truck.