Self Portrait as Periplaneta Americana by Joshua Bennett

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Contributor Notes

This poem was my first attempt at crafting a persona poem from the perspective of a nonhuman animal. The choice of the cockroach as an entree into this particular mode of writing is undoubtedly influenced by my recent writing on pest animals in the African American literary tradition, most of which constitutes the first section of my dissertation. The most difficult part of engaging in this labor through a divergent genre was being forced to wrestle with the stakes of the cockroach's perspective, as well as with what such observations meant as far as my own memory of childhood experiences around issues of race, class and gender in the domestic sphere. What does the cockroach's perspective make possible by way of critique? What is attractive about embodying a form of life that is largely invulnerable, unkillable?  


Joshua Bennett hails from Yonkers, NY. He is a third-year doctoral candidate in the English Department at Princeton University, Callaloo Fellow, and member of the NYC-based performance collective, The Strivers Row. His poetry has either been published or is forthcoming in Anti-, Callaloo, The Collagist, Drunken Boat and elsewhere. Joshua is also the founding editor of Kinfolks Quarterly.