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Detroit Poet Explores “Uneasy Spaces” in Campus Reading

The Kalamazoo College English Department and Shared Passage Program along with the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership (ACSJL) sponsored a poetry reading by Jamaal May on Oct. 20th, 2014 in the Olmsted Room.

Jamaal May was born and raised in Detroit and quit his job 10 years ago to become a full time poet. In 2013, his first book of poetry Hum won a Beatrice Hawley Award, an American Library Association Notable Book Award as well has many other honors. May is currently the 2014–2016 Kenyon Review Fellow at Kenyon College.

“He [May] uses language to break down machines into basic parts,” said Dr. Ryan Fong, Assistant Professor of English, as he was introducing May.

May read poems from Hum like “Athazagoraphobia Fear of Being Ignored”, “How to Disappear Completely” and “Masticated Light.” He also read poems like “As the Saying Goes” and  “Your Life Prepared You for a Career in Film” form his unpublished manuscript Big Book of Exit Strategies. Most of his work deals with the interior lives of people living in Detroit as well as the uneasy spaces between human connection.

May gave advice for aspiring writers and poets saying, “good artist borrow but a great artist steals.”

“There’s always layering. There’s no such thing as man-made, but man rearranged,” said May when describing his writing process.

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Detroit Poet Explores “Uneasy Spaces” in Campus Reading