"What activism can learn from poetry": Lyric Opacity and Drone Warfare in Solmaz Sharif’s LOOK


The essay explores whether concealing humanness or emphasizing humanness is a more effective strategy for anti-drone activism that seeks to disrupt the conventional epistemologies of militarized surveillance. Building on Édouard Glissant’s decolonizing philosophy of relation and more recent theories of gender and surveillance such as Rachel Hall’s notion of “animal opacity,” the essay argues that poetry is one place we might find an answer to what seems like a binary problem of seeing versus unseeing humanity in technologically mediated aerial warfare. I illustrate that the 2016 poetry collection LOOK by Solmaz Sharif intervenes to suggest activism that steers readers away from the logics of recognition and toward the ethical potential of concealment. LOOK garners formal elements from lyric and experimental poetry traditions to employ a strategy of resistance-looking based in multiple valences of opacity.multiple valences of opacity.


Solmaz Sharif; Drones; Surveillance; Recognition; Opacity; Lyric

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Published : 2022-06-15

FinbergK. (2022). "What activism can learn from poetry": Lyric Opacity and Drone Warfare in Solmaz Sharif’s LOOK. Review of International American Studies, 15(1), 69-87. https://doi.org/10.31261/rias.12446

Keegan Cook Finberg  kfinberg@umbc.edu
University of Maryland, Baltimore County, USA  United States

Keegan Cook Finberg is an assistant professor of modern and contemporary American Literature in the English Department at University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where she is also affiliate faculty in the departments of Gender, Women’s, + Sexuality Studies, and Language Literacy and Culture. She studies poetry, experimental literature, intermedial arts, feminism, and critical theory. She is currently writing a book about how post-1960s poetry responds to the US government’s facilitation of capitalism. Her scholarly essays can be found in Contemporary Women’s Writing, Textual Practice, and Canada and Beyond. She has published public criticism in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Jacket 2, The Rumpus, and elsewhere.

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