Friday, December 26, 2008

Poetry in A Practical Guide to Racism

I finished reading A Practical Guide to Racism by C.H. Dalton the other day. According to the Web site, the book "tackles America’s tragic flaw from a new, illuminating perspective" and "is divided into nine chapters, one for each of the nine races: Whites, Blacks, Jews, Asians, Indians (and Injuns), Arabs, Gypsies, Hispanics, and Merpeople. In each chapter, Dalton provides a comprehensive and unapologetic handbook to the race in question, as well as a history of their oppression, and a guide to the stereotypes about them and their basis in fact."

Lo and behold, even in this satirical treatise, poetry rears its head:
"Burma is famous for the smooth comfort of its affordable native shaving creams, and Burmese poets have long celebrated them in verse. Here is a typical example by an anonymous author:
A shave
that's real
no cuts to heal
a soothing
velvet after-feel
Burma Shave

(p. 102)

"How do I know so much about Merpeople, you ask? Field research. The same way that great ethnographer, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, found the ancient Asian city of Xanadu, I was able to 'chase the dragon' all the way to the bottom of the ocean. Of course, opium is not yet widely accepted as a historiographic method, but it provides an unbeatable firsthand experience."
(p. 109)

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