Color photograph of the head and shoulders of Robin Coste Lewis wearing a full, colorful scarf

Robin Coste Lewis

Joseph Brodsky Rome Prize, a gift of the Drue Heinz Trust
September 6, 2021–July 22, 2022
Writer in Residence, Department of English, University of Southern California
Project title
To the Realization of Perfect Helplessness
Project description

To the Realization of Perfect Helplessness is a poetry collection/artist’s book that contrasts a lyrical history of prehistoric/ancient exploration and colonial expansionism with a private archive of African American vernacular photographs, wherein the black figures within the image regularly perform and question similar themes of exploration, migration, pleasure, terror, the desire for safety. Like other hybrid texts—such as Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida, Langston Hughes and Roy DeCarava’s Sweet Flypaper of Life, or Theresa Hak Kyung Cha’s DictéeTo the Realization of Perfect Helplessness is a collection situated between lyric and speculative documentary.