Jamaal May Sings Detroit

 Detroit, Michigan has a poet named Jaamal May who sings his city alive.

(Read the Huffington Post article in full.)

Jamaal calls himself a ‘working artist,’ which spans a broad spectrum. One of America’s most talented and recognized slam poets, he has expanded his talents as a writer and performer to the page. His poems can be found in the most prestigious journals. Dozens appear in his book, Hum, published by Alice James Books last year. He teaches, edits, and currently serves as a Kenyon Review Fellow.

Click the image to hear Jaamal read “Hum for the Bolt”—prized as a poem of the day by The Poetry Foundation.
Click the image to hear Jamaal read “Hum for the Bolt”—prized as a poem of the day by The Poetry Foundation.

As one might expect from a poet who lives in and loves Detroit, there are many cars in Hum. One Chrysler “idles so hard the tickle scurries from thigh to earlobe.” And hard fixing them has become because “Detroit builds ’em like robots, now.” Jamaal has a Venture minivan named “Vendetta,” and his father had a Camaro on blocks he “fiddled with daily… refusing to believe its silence.”

 There is metal in these poems, and machinists and machines, and “mechanophobia” — the fear of machines. There is one very important gun. Like Detroit, these poems have frogs and flowers–snapdragons. They have stones and the wind blows in them. In one poem ants pour in and out of the gash created in “a melon that has fallen from a bag” and Jamaal wonders if “it takes being broken open and emptied to be filled with something new.”

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