The Memphite Lord of / All Creation

I’ve been reading Robert Gordon’s It Came from Memphis. It is manifestly a book of polis, woven primarily out of stories of music-making in the river city in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, but aided and enriched by parti-colored threads of cultural collision: desegregation and integration (first and foremost), but also regional migration (to and from places near–West Memphis, the Mississippi Delta, Muscle Shoals–and far–New York City and Hoboken, NJ), genre splicing (big band jazz, bebop jazz, rhythm and blues, country blues, rock and roll), interdisciplinary art (painting, photography, puppetry, poetry). But race is front and center–and amidst the cultural exchange Gordon finds both vital exploration and vile exploitation. Gordon conjures a shifting, highly subjective, sometimes poetic, frequently vernacular, heavily researched, deftly organized text. It is not documentary poetry but likely a second cousin.

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