Poets & Writers

Transformation

Nate Marshall isn’t interested in being “once in a generation,” but he is a poet fiercely curious about both generation and generations. He is a poet I turn to when I’m looking for a long love song, propulsive and methodical. Like Chicago, the city we both love and will always call home, everything in Nate Marshall’s poems comes from love but isn’t interested in being romantic. We have things to reckon with, and a world to build with language that was generated in Black mouths drumming up from the American South, where our mutual mystery begins, to the cities that promised a place we could build, stay, love, mess up, fall, laugh, hurt and get hurt, transform, make and make again. “Nothing about our people is romantic / & it shouldn’t be,” Marshall writes in “the valley of its making,” a poem in his new collection, Finna, published in August by One World. I feel it in my very marrow, this collective power in a language we make and unmake with a love that, as he writes in “imagine,” is “a great idea / we keep having every day.”

Marshall’s first poetry collection, Wild Hundreds, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2015. He cocurates the BreakBeat Poets series for Haymarket Books and served as coeditor of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop (2015). With Eve L. Ewing, Marshall cowrote the play No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks, which was produced by Manual Cinema and commissioned by the Poetry Foundation. He also wrote the audio drama Bruh Rabbit & the Fantastic Telling of Remington Ellis, Esq., which was produced by Make-Believe Association. His last rap album, Grown, with his group Daily Lyrical Product, was released in 2015. He is an assistant professor of English at Colorado College in Colorado Springs.

is a collection of poems, and is a word that means , and I feel at home in these poems, by which I mean in each poem I am in a room where I can hold myself accountable to both what I am complicit in and what I want to build. I

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