Against the Aphanisis of the Subject: Rewriting the Myth of Black Woman in Grace Nichols's The Fat Black Woman's Poems

Gunday M., BİRLİK N.

FORUM FOR WORLD LITERATURE STUDIES, vol.12, no.4, pp.553-567, 2020 (ESCI) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 12 Issue: 4
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Journal Indexes: Emerging Sources Citation Index (ESCI), Scopus, MLA - Modern Language Association Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.553-567
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


The present study explores Afro-Caribbean poet Grace Nichols's "The Black Women Goes Shopping," "Beauty," "Looking at Miss World," and "Invitation" from her poetry collection The Fat Black Woman's Poems (1984) in relation to the concept of aphanisis. Based on a post-Lacanian analysis, the essay argues that against the dominant discourse of the civilizational ideal, Humanism, that silences black women by categorizing them as sexualized and racialized others, Nichols's poetic personae rewrite themselves by evacuating the standardized negative implications associated with black women, confined to the lower leg of the binary trap in Western metaphysics. Rather than presenting themselves as marginalized figures spoken by myths and produced through abjection, these women resist their fading by the semantic overkill of the Other and shatter the self-pitying image assigned to them through their subversion of the Symbolic from within. Leaking out from the cracks of grand narratives, they reposition themselves outside the dialectics of recognition and voice themselves beyond the grasp of symbolic significations. By their transgressive repositioning, they open up a new space of signification and object to their fixation by the deadly gaze of the dominant discourse.