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Jamaal May: Full Interview

This page contains a full transcript of my interview with Jamaal May. We did the interview over instant messaging, so what you’re seeing is 99% exact on what was said. (The exceptions are minor typo corrections and a couple places where I re-grouped comments for the sake of clarity.)

If you don’t have time to read the full interview right now, I encourage you to check out my interview highlights.

If you don’t already know who Jamaal May is, check out my spotlight page on him. If you do already know him, be sure you subscribe to Jamaal’s YouTube page, sign up for his mailing list, browse his website, and buy his books.

Now, on to the main event!


Interview with Jamaal May

Rob D Young

Rob D Young: This is Rob D Young doing a chat interview today with award-winning (and truly bad-ass) performance poet Jamaal May. Let’s start with some of your basic FAQs.

First of all, I’d love your “summed up” version of yourself. Care to give an introduction?

Jamaal May (academic)Jamaal May: That’s kind of thing is always tricky since the overall goal of the art I make is to resist summary. The easier something is to summarize, the more limited it feels. So maybe that’s a way to sum me up: I try to move towards expansiveness. But I suppose my answer is supposed to be something less existential and along the lines of I’m a poet and performer and educator and editor from Detroit who dabbles in graphic design, music, and now photography and film.

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Spotlight: Jamaal May [Poet]

Jamaal May performing poetry

Who Is Jamaal May?

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.

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Punishment by Seamus Heaney – Full Text & Analysis

Since I’ve had trouble finding the full text of Seamus Heaney’s “Punishment” elsewhere on the web, I decided to transcribe it here. I’m pulling this directly from his poetry collection titled North, which you can buy here.

Bog Body - "The Adulteress"

Punishment

I can feel the tug
of the halter at the nape
of her neck, the wind
on her naked front.

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A Writer’s Review: Lessons from The Hobbit

I remember the curious faux-gold cover of my family’s 50th anniversary edition of The Hobbit, the curious incomprehensibility of the runes across the surface. I was familiar with the story of The Hobbit from before I could read at all (thanks to the animated movie), and reading the book itself was inevitable.

In celebration of the 75th anniversary of The Hobbit‘s release, I’ve re-visited the story. Now as then, it was a pleasant, easygoing read that launched me into a world that mixed equal parts fantasy and danger.

General Thoughts

4/5 stars

The Hobbit is a highly accessible adventure that mixes a powerfully constructed macro level (the plot is great, the world is enthralling) with a gritty sense of micro level (the everyday struggles faced by the cast). The balance between these two poles makes the book simultaneously relate-able and fantastic.

The narration is charming, the dialogue memorable, and the work itself founded a genre. If you haven’t read The Hobbit, you kind of have to. If you read it when you were young, it’s well worth re-visiting.

Lessons from Tolkien’s Strengths

Image via the Examiner

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