Perspective | Amy King
When I see the two cops laughing
after one of them gets shot
because this is TV and one says
while putting pressure on the wound,
Haha, you’re going to be fine,
and the other says, I know, haha!,
as the ambulance arrives—
I know the men are white.
I think of a clip from the hours
of amateur footage I’ve seen
when another man at an intersection
gets shot, falls, and bleeds from a hole
the viewer knows exists only by the way
the dark red pools by the standing cop’s feet,
gun now holstered, who
yells the audience back to the sidewalk.
I know which one is dying
while black and which one stands by white.
I think this morning about the student
in my class who wrote a free write line
on the video I played
that showed a man pouring water
on his own chest, “…the homoerotic
scene against a white sky” with no other men
present. Who gets to see and who follows
what script? I ask my students.
Whose lines are these and by what hand
are they written?
Amy King was raised in Baltimore and Georgia, Amy King earned a BS in English and women’s studies from Towson University, an MFA in poetry from Brooklyn College, and an MA in poetics from SUNY Buffalo. Her writing, which shows elements of Language poetry, has been influenced by her work with Charles Bernstein and Susan Howe in Buffalo, although she is also drawn to confessional and New York School poets. She has cited César Vallejo, Gertrude Stein, Laura (Riding) Jackson, and John Ashbery as her current influences. While applying pressure to the boundaries of “queer” poetry, King also finds inspiration in pop culture, science, social taxonomies, and other questions of gender, ontology, and culture.
King’s most recent collection, The Missing Museum, is a winner of the 2015 Tarpaulin Sky Book Prize. John Ashbery described her poems in I Want to Make You Safe (Litmus Press, 2011) as bringing “abstractions to brilliant, jagged life, emerging into rather than out of the busyness of living.” The book was named one of the Boston Globe’s Best Poetry Books of 2011. King is also the author of the poetry collections Slaves to do These Things (Blazevox, 2009), I’m the Man Who Loves You (Blazevox, 2007), and Antidotes for an Alibi (Blazevox, 2005). Her chapbooks include Kiss Me with the Mouth of Your Country (Dusie Press, 2007), The Good Campaign (2006), The Citizen’s Dilemma (2003), and The People Instruments (Pavement Saw Press, 2002). Her poems have been nominated for several Pushcart Prizes, and her essays have appeared in Boston Review, Poetry, and The Rumpus.
In 2015, King received the WNBA Award from the Women’s National Book Association, joining the ranks of Ann Patchett, Eleanor Roosevelt, Rachel Carson, and Pearl S. Buck. She was also honored by the Feminist Press as one of the “40 Under 40: The Future of Feminism” awardees, and she received the 2012 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Scholarship and Creative Activities.
King serves on the executive board of VIDA: Woman in Literary Arts and is. She also moderates the Women’s Poetry Listserv (WOMPO) and for many years she moderated the Poetics List, sponsored by the Electronic Poetry Center. She also founded and curated the Brooklyn-based reading series, The Stain of Poetry, from 2006 to 2010.
King coedited Poets for Living Waters and Big Energy Poets: Ecopoetry Thinks Climate Change.