I had the pleasure of attending a reading, workshop, and dinner with writer Melanie Rae Thon early last week. While I will go into the details of those events in a separate entry, I want to take this opportunity to introduce you to Melanie.
Who Is Melanie Rae Thon?
Despite the spelling (“Thon”), her last name is pronounced “Tone”—a homophone with appropriately lyric associations. In reading TheVoice of the River (Melanie’s most recent novel),it was difficult for me to categorize the work, especially when I described it to friends. Eventually I gave up and just said, “You know what? It’s a poem. It’s a novel-length poem.”
This is a comment on the style, density, and beauty of the work—meant as neither compliment nor insult but as a way to say, “This ain’t your typical prose.”
Jamaal is a poet of both the stage and page. His background (which starts with “Detroiter” but extends to the point of breaking borders, breaking until borders extend) has given him a compelling voice loaded with a power that bridges the gap between raw and refined.