Educator C. Derick Varn may not be the only openly aphasic, dyslexic, and Marxist poet, podcaster, and synesthete out there in Left intellectual and media circles, but he’s probably the only one from Macon, Georgia. A writer, accomplished theorist, public school teacher, and organic working-class intellectual, Varn has a new poetry collection out this year from a small press, titled liberation and all the other bright etcetera.
Like Little Richard (Macon’s most famous native son), Varn rocks more confidently and innovatively than many other analyzing, theorizing, poetry-scribing English language streamers. If we swap out a single word in the original lyrics of “Tutti Frutti,” and substitute “theory” for “booty,” it’d capture his personality to a tee: “…wop bop a loo mop a good goddam, Tutti Frutti, good theory, if it don’t fit, don’t force it, you can grease it, make it easy.” It wouldn’t be bad intro music for Varn’s ongoing YouTube talk show, the Varn Vlog, where (with something like the song’s exuberant irrepressibility) he frequently engages his interlocutors in multi-hour interdisciplinary discussions about history, social science, political theory, philosophy, literature, and radical politics. By inviting learned specialists from an international network of academics, autodidacts, activists, and artists, Varn makes thinking through difficult, complicated problems—e.g how and when food scarcity will likely become a global phenomenon—not exactly easy, but easier. Strategizing solutions becomes a collective endeavor, and an occasion for sharing politics, morality, and humanity.1
After all, what’s the point of knowing a whole bunch of stuff if not to stave off a mass starvation event in northern Africa two years hence? (Even if, given the Left’s limited influence at present, this is only by helping us to understand the causes that led to it?)2 As a matter of course, Varn comes prepared with data on commodity rates of profit, trends in energy, labor, supply chain blockages, and the availability of nitrogen fertilizer.
Read the interview on Strange Matters