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.
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.
. . . . 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.
A poem from our spring 2015 issue, read by the author.
Days of kalmia, azalea, Blue Ridge. Nights
of steak on the grill, canvas chairs with cupholders,
cans of Stag and Blatz, Schlitz we lift from ice.
The fork in the firepit, stainless steel gone ember orange.
As we send our thoughts to the community of Charleston, South Carolina, we remember Marcus Wicker’s tribute to Trayvon Martin—this poem from our Spring 2015 issue.
A poem from our spring 2015 issue.It’s Derby Day. And it’s been 30 years since 1984 when I stood in the grandstand at Churchill Downs after betting my last $20 on Swale that horse I groomed and watched as he pulled away from Wayne Lukas’s great filly Althea to win the 110th running of the race. Thirty years and a lot of souls have risen to the upper register of life and my own life has been made more reachable by what their love did to me.