I Am the Most Dangerous Thing
Over the course of these poems, the Black, queer protagonist begins to erase violent structures and fill the white spaces with her hard-won wisdom and love. I Am the Most Dangerous Thing doesn't just use poetry to comment on life and history. The book is a comment on writing itself. What have words done? When does writing become a form of disengagement, or worse, violence? The book is an exercise in paring the state down to its true logic of violence and imagining what can happen next. There are many contradictions—Although the protagonist teaches the same science that was used to justify enslavement and a racial caste system, she knows she will die at the hands of science and denies the state the last word by penning her own death certificate. As an educator and knowledge worker, she is an overseer of the same racist, misogynistic, and homophobic systems that terrorize her. Yet, she musters the courage to kill Kurtz, a primordial vision of white terror. She is Black and queer and fat and angry and chill and witty and joyful and depressed and lovely and flawed and an (im)perfect dagger to the heart of white supremacist capitalism.
“I Am the Most Dangerous Thing is a marvel of a collection. These poems walk a unique and exhilarating line between patient and urgent, quotidian and weighted, immediate and archival; drawing forward history’s ghosts even while rewriting and reframing them. Candace Williams is wildly intelligent and effortlessly multifaceted, approaching each line with delicacy, absolutely no nonsense, and a deep understanding of how each moment teems with historical poignancy; the choice to nurture or dismiss each other.” —Morgan Parker
”Candace Williams’ I Am the Most Dangerous Thing is a song of deeply felt living cut through with history. By history. ‘I must suppress / the savage custom / of eloquence,’ they write, though their formal dexterity and sonic virtuosity are everywhere apparent. These poems engage with hundred-year-old newspaper articles, quantum physics, legal documents, epigenetics. Like all great teachers, Williams illuminates, complicates, and provokes. It’s impossible for a book this expansive to feel so considered, so whole. And yet here it is, in our hands—Williams made it for us. What a gift, what an occasion for gratitude!” —Kaveh Akbar