Over the past ten years, Jamaal May has grown from an antsy, hungry young MC and producer, to a slam poetry champion, to a widely published and celebrated poet in literary circles. May is a genuine polymath: perhaps for that reason, he is also one of the most driven people I've met.
He puts that drive to excellent use in his range of work. May understands how to write received forms better than most, using them to channel and contain emotion without allowing them to become static or overwrought. He's not a pure formalist either – May displays the same bright intelligence when inventing his own forms as well, a deep respect and care for all craft elements enhancing the power of his immense feeling. His work is very smart, and truly passionate. Look for his first book, Hum, to be published later this year, and his video previews of him reading poems from the work.
The poem below was previously published in Gulf Coast.
Jamaal May is a poet, editor, and educator from Detroit, MI where he taught poetry in public schools and worked as a freelance audio engineer and touring performer. His first collection of poems, Hum (Alice James Books, 2013), won the Beatrice Hawley Award. Winner of the 2013 Indiana Review Poetry Prize, his work also appears in journals such as Poetry, Ploughshares, the Believer, New England Review, and Kenyon Review. Jamaal has earned an MFA from Warren Wilson College as well as fellowships from Cave Canem and the Stadler Center for Poetry. He is founding editor, graphic designer, and filmmaker for the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook and Video Series (www.organicweaponarts.com) and teaches in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program.