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Alexis Pauline Gumbs Redefines Ancestry in “Dub”

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Courtesy of Alexis Pauline Gumbs

A multi-year, daily writing practice taught Alexis Pauline Gumbs a lot about what it means to listen. Deeply influenced by the black feminist author and scholar Sylvia Wynter, Gumbs’ daily exercise changed the way she thinks about the stories that define humanity and how she percieves her own ancestry.

The result is “Dub: Finding Ceremony,” (Duke University Press/2020) the third and final volume in a poetic trilogy. The collection of prose poems reveals Gumbs’ deep relationship and receptivity to all of her ancestors, in particular an Ashanti woman named Boda who survived the middle passage. In listening for Boda, Gumbs came to understand a broader definition of the term “ancestor” to include oceanic life, from marine mammals to coral.

Host Frank Stasio talks with Gumbs about her book, her process and the black feminist theory and Dub poetry that influenced this work. Alexis Pauline Gumbs has a reading and book signing on Feb. 19 at the Golden Fig bookstore in Durham.

Longtime NPR correspondent Frank Stasio was named permanent host of The State of Things in June 2006. A native of Buffalo, Frank has been in radio since the age of 19. He began his public radio career at WOI in Ames, Iowa, where he was a magazine show anchor and the station's News Director.