If you haven't noticed, I'm kinda obsessed with polymaths. I interviewed musician/fiction writer Van Hunt, musician/chef Kelis, and now poet/gardener, Ross Gay, whose third collection of poems, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, is a celebration of the intense joy, love, pain, and "full-on-ness" of life. It's also a nominee for this year's National Book Award in poetry! #TeamCaveCanem. Read it on the Poetry Foundation.
Were you at Afropunk this weekend? It was great. Before the festival, I talked to its organizers, Matthew Morgan and Jocelyn Cooper, about how the festival has evolved, including its switch from free to paid. Then I turned up, then stayed up to write this review! That's a great photo of Grace Jones, yes? But they cropped out her nipples. Ah, well.
I talked to the multi-talented Kelis about her life as a musician & chef ahead of her performance at Afropunk on August 22. There's even a Leonardo da Vinci reference in there! Shout out to all my Renaissance women and polymaths.
In case you missed it: Here's my tribute to the great Luther Vandross and his masterpiece signature song, "A House Is Not a Home" on the Gawker Review of Books. I spoke to 3 Luther-lovers of 3 generations to get their takes on what made Luther's rendition of this song––which had already been recorded over a dozen times––so powerful; and what made him one of the greatest singers of our lifetimes.
Long Live Loofah!
Guess what's not dead? Print. Check out these anthologies and journals that have recently featured my work.
- "Germ" and "Asides" in Cave Canem Anthology XIII: Poems 2010-2011 (Willow Books, 2015)
- "Song of My City" in Shadow of the Geode: The Alternative New Year's Day Spoken Word / Performance Extravaganza - 2015 Anthology. I kicked off 2015 by reading at and hosting a stretch of this poetry marathon, held at the Nuyorican. Here's the compilation of everyone who read that day.
- "Fathers Who Aren't in Heaven" - Punning in the voice of Eve in the Fjords Review Black American Edition, best known as BAE.
- "We'll Always Have Negritude" - Originally in Blackbird, an encore presentation of my poem about Black people at the apocalypse appears in SPOOK #4: Afro-Future.
Not a poem, not in a book, but also check out my essay "The Other World Where Everyone Lives" – in which I'm wrestling with how to be compassionate in the face, and to the faces of, racial injustice. It's in the wonderfully precocious Blueshift Journal.
Singer, musician & extraordinary songwriter, Van Hunt, had the distinct pleasure of speaking with his biggest fan (your girl!) for the Gawker Review of Books. He's passionate about mathematics, boxing, George Clinton, and good music criticism. Which is to say: the influences for his songs, (like on his new album The Fun Rises, The Fun Sets) come from just about everywhere. You can even read an excerpt of one of his short stories AND learn about his anonymous trolling of UFOlogists. Yes.
Patrik-Ian Polk is the director of the new film Blackbird starring Mo'Nique and Isaiah Washington. We talked about the initial difficulty he faced in finding a black actor to play a gay character, and how Empire has initiated a new conversation in black America about homosexuality.
“There’ll be an article about a [black celebrity] coming out, and people go, Why do we need to know this? It’s the same kind of thing, that same old, outdated attitude of ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell’, keep it in the closet. And that’s the attitude that, quite literally, sometimes kills people. That’s why I think it’s important that we have a film like this and people see it because people think it’s out there, you think it’s everywhere, but people still respond that same way.”
What do the greatest female vocalists of all time––OFALL TIME (excluding Whitney)––have in common? They're all Aries! Born the first week of Spring. In The Guardian, I offer some clues about the qualities that make them great––and the ones us non-divas (speak for yourself!) might borrow. Click or be forever mortal.