Thursday, September 10, 2015

Jason McCall, Award-Winning Poet, at WordStock 2015

WordStock kicks off NOTSTOCK with award-winning poet, Jason McCall. He will visit MSU classrooms Sept. 23. On Sept. 24-25, McCall will conduct workshops in the Student Center Conference Center and host a Poetry Slam in the Beaver Dam on Sept. 25 at 1:00 p.m. McCall will perform his work Sept. 23 at 7:00 p.m. in Aleshire Theatre with a reception to follow.

McCall is from the great state of Alabama, where he currently teaches English and Literature at the University of Alabama. He holds an MFA from the University of Miami, and his poetry has been featured in Cimarron Review, The Los Angeles Review, Mythic Delirium, New Letters, Poems & Plays, and other journals. He is the author of Silver (Main Street Rag), I Can Explain (Finishing Line Press), Dear Hero (Winner of the 2012 Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize), Mother, Less Child (Winner of the 2013 Paper Nautilus Vella Chapbook Prize), and he is the co-editor of the forthcoming anthology It Was Written: Poetry Inspired by Hip-Hop.

Four Poems by Jason McCall


Friends pass you a link,
tell you there’s something

you need to hear, a video
you have to see. A few seconds

in and you recognize
the beat, recognize the hook

comes from a song your mom used
to hum in the kitchen while she waited

for the apple pie to cool.
And you turn it off, disappointed again,

tired of hearing the same song.
You know every myth

is a retelling, a sample
of the music that moved

your parents hips, no matter
how hard it is to imagine

your folks grooving at prom,
slow dancing with the lump

that will be your sister between them.
You know this song;

you don’t need to finish the first verse
to guess it begins with a black boy leaving

home too soon and ends with a father sad
for all the times to told the boy to stand up

and act like a man, a mother
begging to put her baby back in her body

instead of handing him over
to the earth.

Sidekick Funeral: John the Baptist

Every MC needs a hype man,
Chuck D had Flav.
Biggie had Diddy.
And Jesus had you
to get the crowds ready,
to make sure the world knew
new shit was on the way.
You never loved yourself
too much or fell in love
with the idea that you could go
solo. You knew it wasn’t about you;
it wasn’t even about Jesus

and the whole “son of God”
tagline. It was about the message,
about the music of a million knees
dropping to the earth and dropping
their burdens at your boy’s feet.
And that’s why the message had to live
even if the body was on the cross,
in a Galilee grave, on his father’s throne.
And you made sure the message pumped
through every speaker in heaven, hell, and earth.

Sidekick Funeral: Ricky Baker

We were all running with you
in that alley, little
brother, every one of us

who chased a job that was gone the second
the secretary barked “can I help you?”
and demanded to see ID, every one of us

who couldn’t pay for condoms and now
can’t afford a car seat because we blew our wad
on Ruby Tuesday and haircuts for prom, every one of us

who had to pretend it was fun
sleeping on the floor
for three years, every one of us

who begged our friends not to read
the tags on our jeans or the tongue
of our shoes, every one of us

who thought we could outrun this world
until the sun marked us black
and cut through our dreams like a shotgun.


Only history I remember is John
Brown’s raid, Jim Brown running, and Joe Louis
putting a white boy on his ass.
What makes you think I’m ready
to run tonight? Think I care about your badge?
Your polo shirt and whiskey threats?

I’d rather go toe-to-toe with all of y’all.
Running ain’t in my protocol.

Big brother says keep my head
down and work hard.
Father says sweat and the world will
notice. Mama wants
me to slow down
and pray, but how long
could you kneel
in another man’s shit?

I’d rather go toe-to-toe with all of y’all.
Running ain’t in my protocol.

Gunshot and cover
page in tomorrow’s paper.
They’ll talk about my neighborhood,
about the nights I spent in police cars, days
I skipped school. They won’t say I died
face up, daring God to look me in the eye.

I’d rather go toe-to-toe with all of y’all.
Running ain’t in my protocol.


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