February 26, 2016

Since joining the Oxford American in 2014, I’ve taken the occasion of our annual music issue to offer our readers a variety of special poetry features. I feel that our Georgia issue, aligned with the spirit of that state, acts as a little archive of a certain time and place, a bound capsule of song and sensibility.

February 24, 2016

A poem from our Georgia Music Issue.

Come June this brook runs soft, 
takes its lumps, before the family 
gets AC, your cheap bike busted, 
walking tar-heeled, skin-to-skin

February 24, 2016

A poem from the Georgia Music issue. 

That ribbed black box that could be coaxed to croon
by surer hands than ours—where did it come from?
From whose family history? Was it in tune?

February 24, 2016

A poem from our Georgia Music Issue.

In his call to the marketplace

the griot urges the skin     clasps

the first beat

February 24, 2016

A poem from the Georgia Music issue. 

The summer that I turned nineteen
And felt grown-up in love,
I took a job as an archivist
Sifting through a trove

February 24, 2016

A poem from the Georgia Music Issue.

So shout hallelujah! as they douse the boy in river water.
So bring him up to find his eyes laced in silt—

January 08, 2016

When I was named poet laureate of the State of Mississippi, it was a big deal to me because it was “the state that made a crime // of me.” To go from that world to ostensibly being the most publicly present advocate for the arts and letters in the state almost defies belief. It meant for me a kind of recognition as a native—which is, of course, what Native Guard is trying to do: to claim my native-ness, my American-ness, my right to full citizenship of this place.

March 23, 2015

A poem from “Breaking Bread, a special section in the Spring 2015 issue on the dynamics of hospitality, exclusion, and food justice.

Look like last night
the light hardly wanted

to leave—it hung
round in the pines

September 23, 2015

When I first opened Stanford’s slim book of posthumously published selected work, The Light the Dead See, every word rang true and glowed like burning coal. I was enraptured by his recklessness, his rebelliousness, his loneliness; I drank up his language like whiskey and was pulled into his dangerous, nocturnal world full of energy and eroticism and death.

October 27, 2015

. . . . Whenever they look at me they see Civil War. Rape. The
great historical dismissive black boy walk away. When they shoot
me and leave me in the street for four hours facedown on the hot
summer pavement while my mother screams on the porch they
see sugar plantations melting in the distance.