Literati is pleased to welcome Tommye Blount as part of our ongoing Poetry at Literati series. The event is free and open to the public, a book signing will follow.
In his debut collection Fantasia for the Man in Blue, Tommye Blount orchestrates a chorus of distinct, unforgettable voices that speak to the experience of the black, queer body as a site of desire and violence. A black man’s late-night encounter with a police officer–the titular “man in blue”–becomes an extended meditation on a dangerous erotic fantasy. The late Luther Vandross, resurrected here in a suite of poems, addresses the contradiction between his public persona and a life spent largely in the closet: “It’s a calling, this hunger / to sing for a love I’m too ashamed to want for myself.” In “Aaron McKinney Cleans His Magnum,” the convicted killer imagines the barrel of the gun he used to bludgeon Matthew Shephard as an “infant’s small mouth” as well as the “sad calculator” that was “built to subtract from and divide a town.” In these and other poems, Blount viscerally captures the experience of the “other” and locates us squarely within these personae.
A Cave Canem alumnus, Tommye Blount is the author of What Are We Not For (Bull City Press, 2016). A graduate of Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers, he has been the recipient of scholarships and fellowships from Kresge Arts in Detroit and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Born and raised in Detroit, Blount now lives in the nearby suburb of Novi, Michigan.
We welcome filmmaker, writer and University of Michigan alumna Faith Pennick in support of her 33 1/3rd series entry, D’Angelo’s Voodoo. The event is free and open to the public, a book signing will follow.
About the book: Voodoo, D’Angelo’s much-anticipated 2000 release, set the standard for the musical cycle ordained as “neo-soul,” a label the singer and songwriter would reject more than a decade later. The album is a product of heightened emotions and fused sensibilities; an amalgam of soul, rock, jazz, gospel, hip-hop, and Afrobeats. D’Angelo put to music his own pleasures and insecurities as a man-child in the promised land. It was both a tribute to his musical heroes: Prince, Sly Stone, Marvin Gaye, J Dilla…and a deconstruction of rhythm and blues itself.
Despite nearly universal acclaim, the sonic expansiveness of Voodoo proved too nebulous for airplay on many radio stations, seeping outside the accepted lines of commercial R&B music. Voodoo was Black, it was definitely magic, and it was nearly overshadowed by a four-minute music video featuring D’Angelo’s sweat-glistened six-pack abs. “The Video” created an accentuated moment when the shaman lost control of the spell he cast.
Faith Pennick is a Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based filmmaker and writer. Her most recent film is Weightless, a documentary short about plus-sized female scuba divers. Her other films include the documentary Silent Choices and narrative short film Running on Eggshells. Pennick is also a contributing writer to pop culture website The Learned Fangirl.