Poet Jamaal May captures 'Hum' of Detroit

Apr 1, 2015

Poet Jamaal May is working with students this week at Interlochen Arts Academy and has a free reading Thursday night.
Credit Jamaal May

Jamaal May's first collection of poetry, Hum, won him a Notable Book Award and a Beatrice Hawley Award, among other accolades. The Director of Creative Writing at Interlochen Center for the Arts calls the Detroit-raised poet a "rising star."

May is working with writing students this week at Interlochen Arts Academy. He also agreed to a free public reading Thursday night at The Writing House.

Here's what the Los Angeles Review of Books had to say about Hum:

In Jamaal May’s Hum, its onomatopoetic title refers to the humming of motors (usually in cars) and to the humming of humans. These parallel frequencies (or movements) of sound intersect in a young man growing up in Detroit. As he perceives the particulars of urban life and landscape, he begins to see himself manifested in the city’s physicality. 

The reviewer continues:

...where there’s deterioration, there’s also perseverance, or even persistence: a humming is continually heard on the pages of this book. Interspersed throughout are hums, or songs, to a series of concrete objects (hammer, stone, bolt) that create a solid exterior for a second, more abstract, and softer hum — a series of poems about phobias, such as the fear of snow, the fear of the sea, and the fear of waiting. Sound (like heartbeat, like breath), or even noise, is the immediate proof of the body yet functioning, still alive...