A global anthology of fiction and poetry in vernacular English.
This collection of vernacular poetry, short stories, novels, and essays poignantly addresses complex issues of language and power. Most of the selections were created in the late 20th or early 21st century, but Ahmad includes pieces that clearly demonstrate the sociopolitical contexts that give birth to, and resulting thematic cohesiveness of, vernacular writing, which has sprouted all over the world. As she describes in her concise introduction, the key characteristic of vernacular writing is its anti-institutional stance. By confronting complex linguistic histories arising from colonialism and peeling through layers specific to mainstream culture (slavery, nationalism, immigration), the authors represented here are able to at once name their own oppressors and reclaim personal authenticity and power. Chicana writer Gloria Anzaldúa illustrates this beautifully when she says that "I will no longer be made to feel ashamed of existing. I will have my voice: Indian, Spanish, white. I will have my serpent's tongue-my woman's voice, my sexual voice, my poet's voice. I will overcome the tradition of silence." Perhaps the most powerful point that this collection effectively emphasizes is the fluidity of vernacular writing and its inherent ability to empower both author and readers. By validating "alternative" voices, languages, and experiences, the authors create a space for new perspectives, fresh dialogue, and countless new communities. This, coupled with the approachability of the works presented here, makes the book a natural fit for teens.