ABSTRACT

This discussion considers a literary genealogy that examines Zora Neale Hurston as a predecessor to Joseph Beam and Essex Hemphill, prefiguring their need for a process through which multiply-marginalized communities might create images that more accurately reflect their existence, and considers contemporary poets Danez Smith and Timothy DuWhite as inhabitants of the legacy that they left behind. Focusing primarily on how these artists invoke—and often revise and subvert—the biblical creation narrative within their own narratives of self-creation and image- making, this discussion is also concerned with these writers' articulation of love that is deemed unnatural due to its defiance of heteropatriarchal and cultural norms. These works, when read alongside and in dialogue with one another, collectively assert that love, defined as natural and divinely approved, functions as a challenge to restrictive ideologies and a tool of affirmation for themselves and their communities.

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