Janice Harrington is a professor in Creative Writing and English, and the 2016 IPRH-Ragdale Fellow.
Big Smoke by Adrian Matejka. Matejka captures heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson’s persona and brings the champion to life. Matejka’s poetry pulls no punches. Readers not only come to know the brutal and haunted Johnson, but also see the equally brutal racial times that he lived in. Figuratively standing in the ring with Johnson for fifteen rounds during the poem “The Battle of Century,” readers will feel the tension and violence escalate. The poems feel like punches.
Hum by Jamaal May. Thematically rich, moving, and written with exquisite precision, May’s poetry asks readers to contemplate the meaning of manhood, the racial moment, and the future for our most vulnerable children. Although May addresses socio-political topics, but he never abandons the poetic lyricism.