Makalani Bandele’s *Hellfightin*

Detroit, MI: Willow Books, 2012. 65 pages. $14.95. There’s a lot of music in Makalani Bandele’s debut Hellfightin (Willow Books, 2012). The title’s a subtle bow to the Harlem Hellfighters (or the 369th Infantry Regiment) that fought in both world wars I and II. As the first African-American regiment to serve with the American Expeditionary […]

Get Ready For Split This Rock!

I don’t know about the other attendees, but I’m still swooning from Jan Beatty’s reading at Split This Rock 2010. That year marked the second time for the biennial literary festival that Sarah Browning started as a way of providing a “permanent home for progressive poets.” Since it started in 2008, Split This Rock has […]

Urban Renewal: Major Jackson and Audre Lorde

The speakers in both Major Jackson’s 11-part poem “Urban Renewal” (from Leaving Saturn) and Audre Lorde’s Coal are both city dwellers coming to terms with the changing landscape. They fear possibly being displaced and mourn the once familiar structures city officials left “crumbling to gutted relics.”[1] The speakers aren’t alone in their suffering. “A chorus […]

Bettina Judd’s Poetic Justice

She didn’t go looking for poetry. In fact, it was the other way around, Bettina Judd told a packed house Friday evening at the 14th and V streets Busboys and Poets. She was the Sept. 9 feature at the Nine on the Ninth monthly poetry event, the longest running series hosted exclusively by Hughes poet-in-residence […]

Kevin Simmonds’s *Mad for Meat*

A guy walks into a bar. Or is it a Middle Eastern novelty store? A coffee shop? Well, he’s somewhere in northern Japan, nursing a drink and tapping his fingers as “Lady/ Day simmers overhead”. The guy’s an expatriate, disillusioned by his country’s prejudice against people of color and the queer community—both of which marked him […]

Courttia Newland’s “A Book of Blues”

Fresh off a flight from London, Palermo hits the beach in Lamu. He sets out to enjoy an island he read about in an in-flight magazine while traveling to do a poetry show in Italy. Meeting and falling for the gorgeous Salini, who’s on break from her studies and her overbearing mother, might not have […]