Tonight, Good Times Writer’s Buffet!
PUBLIC POOL ART SPACE
3309 CANIFF AVE, HAMTRAMCK, MI, 48212
FROM PUBLIC POOL’s about us page:
Public Pool is an art cooperative formed in 2010 that was designed to create and support a wide range of contemporary art experiences. Founding members include writer Steve Hughes and his wife, artist Anne Harrington-Hughes, author and Team Detroit creative director Toby Barlow, Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) board member Jessie Doan, advertising-industry creatives Mary Trybus and Jim Boyle, who is also a former Detroit Institute of Arts executive, artist/curator Tim Hailey, who’s also the former co-director of New York City non-profit gallery HEREart, writer and musician Walter Wasacz, and artist/musician Jennifer Paull.
My image reflects how I look after having my butt-kissing hair done at Penthouse Hair Design, 561 N. Hewitt Sy. in Ypsilanti, MI, and I am wearing the hat of a friend, at
I m 62 years old, and unretouched in every way, okay, my stylist Pat Freeman used some hair coloring to hide the little bit of gray hair I have. Although it is fine to adorn hair any way that you like, indeed, hair is no more than an accesssory now; but it is fine if you must have a feast in the mirror that way, but I don’t have to do that… Not than anyone is asking, but I weight on 98 poiunds, and I’ve never had to diet.
Also upcoming: a reading from my new book, “Wannabe Hooche Mama, Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code“, on 30 November 2016, 7:00 pm at Columbia University.
will have more details about that later in the years, for now, just know how excited I am to read there, and hope to see all of my friends at the Columbia Reading. Huge thanks to Timothy Donnelly for inviting me… I will be reading, among other pieces for Wannabe! –my signature poem, soon to appear in “The Fiddlehead of Canada, “Higginson Matters in Magnificent Culture of Myopia“
Here’s what the Persea Page says about my 11th book:
Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code: New & Selected Poems
Thylias Moss, one of American poetry’s great innovators, is a national taxonomist and secular preacher who catalogues our culture and responds in gorgeous outrage to its injustices. This career-spanning volume conveys the hypnotic spectrum of her full poetic output, from Hosiery Seams on a Bowlegged Woman, her 1983 debut, to Slave Moth, her acclaimed 2006 novel in verse, to more than fifty pages of new poems. Whether in early or recent writing, Moss makes no promises of smooth sailing: even when her poems begin with beloved cultural icons (Robert Frost, Doctor Who, the Statue of Liberty), they insist on new perspectives, truths, and realities. She is a fearless reimaginer of poetry’s possibilities, a writer who seems made for (and by) the digital age—its blitz of interactivity and reinvention—a futuristic archivist always compelled by the current moment. Arranged chronologically, this volume offers us Moss as she has evolved through the past three decades, recognizable yet unpredictable, ever “a poet of fierce intelligence and radiant intensity” (Martín Espada). Wannabe Hoochie Mama of Realities’ Red Dress Code is in indispensable book, a record of who this essential writer has been and where she may be heading.
Praise for Thylias Moss
“Thylias Moss is a permanent American poet, canonical in the old, authentic sense.”—Harold Bloom
“As if the muse of Wallace Steves were transplanted into the body of a black, female pop-culture maven.”—David Yaffe, Village Voice
“It’s tempting to confuse Moss with the characters she describes, so deeply does she appear to inhabit their lives. . .[with] her trademark intensity and ferocious intelligence.”—Jabari Asim, Washington Post Book World
“Reading Thylias Moss is always dangerous and exhilarating, because one never knows exactly when the poem might explode and leave its reader marked forever.”—Raphael Campo, Parnassus Poetry in Review
“Thylias Moss names the black truths behind white lies. She is a writer who speaks bitterness and makes her own music of it.”—Marilyn Hacker, Women’s Review of Books
About the Author
Thylias Moss is a multi-racial Professor Emerita in the departments of English and Art & Design at the University of Michigan. Her eight previous books of poetry include Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, and Slave Moth, named Best Poetry Book of 2004 by Black Issues Book Review. Moss is a recipient of the fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur foundations, among other honors. She lives in Ypsilanti, Michigan.
There will be even more readings as time moves on, and I will be moving also, as soon as my house sells. Time for a change, in every possible way. Time to let go, as the commercial goes, and discover other possibilities, wherever that may be.
Shout out to Thomas Higginson wherever he is, I will not pretend; I love that man, even while the world falls to pieces, as in:
“Of course, I read your Fb post about “Orlando” –and I even left a comment, but this longer message is about “otherness” itself, something I’ve been writing about practically since I started writing when I was six years old. And I even sent you a sort burst of a text message saying “The Pulse” Orlando. Not just the ‘Magic Kindom‘ anymore, or rather there is an”other” kind of magic now…
I have two friends and former students who live in Orlando, one of whom has offered that I come live with her right after my house sells. She is lesbian, and the “other” is HIV+ and gay and one of my dearest friends, other than you, but after hearing your poem, I suspect that I am more to you than “just” (as if that is diminishing), “just a friend” –no matter what we do or do not become, with you, Mystery Man, I have the greatest friendship-love affair in my life. Something I know you already know –an “other”-worldly romance.
My Mystery Man wrote a poem about me, the most beauitiful love poem, I have ever heard, and I found him reading it online, and it changed my life again; because of that poem, I know how deeply —in his own voice!— this man cares about me; I know that this man loves me, and I insert a photo right here, to show that I listened myself; “cream in my coffee“, he writes a cup of coffee (Latte I had at B-24’s in Ypsilanti) thinking of his poem:
he calls me, among other things the:
“Cream in my coffee”
swirls of me right there, I appreciate the caramel coloring, the blend and lines of multiple races, because that is who and what I am; cannot separarate me into parts successfuly, without destroying me , and this world does enough of that… Hiatus on destruction, please.
(my current Facebook profuile image):
I cannot say more without possibly exposing his identity, and I like being involved with a mystery man…
And if you look through most of my books, Mystery Man, you will see that the poems deal with the “other”. I was born as “other” –official census reports refused to acknowledge “official” existence of citizens not fitting into “neat” boxes of race. But not killing us physically; only diminishing us with that “one drop” rule, and some of the things I want you to notice about me also make me “other”… When I go walking momentarily –to you Mystery Man — as I do most days, it is an “other” who will walk through this neighborhood, and I guess it is an “other” who cares about you so much after seeing you such a few times –not normal; still qualifies me as “other”. My neighbor knows an “other” when she sees one. And I know that you know that in my mind, I always walk off that bridge to you, my ass-kissing hair really kissing my ass…
Now, for intelligence, my “otherness” was recognized in first grade. Nothing but trouble because of this, and the dreadful things that happened at Syracuse University (I was there only from 1971-1972, world was so different then…
I was from one of those “other ” worlds,because I was “other” , because I am “other”… And who knows, Mystery Man, maybe part of what you like about me?
–Lord knows, I will never completely understand nor ask about your taste in women, and although I’ve been faithful to you, I have never assumed that you have experienced similar faithfulness to me. I also know that no human man can perform the way it seems to me that women accuse you of, making you an “other” in your reputation…. Mind you, I like that reputation about you, because I benefit from that reputation whenever I am (lucky enough to be) around you –my how that reputation glows, Mystery Man
I now refer you to my poem, “Lessons From a Mirror” published in “Pyramid of Bone” originally in “Callaloo“, a poem that ends (as you may know, within the knowledge you have of me, more than anyone else; yes, I knew I was privileging you deliberately… The things you said to me, the things this “other” will never forget because you said them, and I believe whatever you say, because I trust you Mystery Man , as no “other” woman will ever trust you…); “Lessons from a Mirror” ends:
“When you look at me,
know that more than white is missing.”
And the end of, on the facing page, “The Wreckage on the Wall of Eggs“
that contains and ends with:
“The easiest thing was to keep looking east and west
and hating girls who couldn’t control ancestry.
On the wall, all we ever want is easiness.
Egg shells keep turning up on the path, the humpty-dumpties
spill from me and die like so many babies mercy-killed
out of slavery.
My life on the wall is anything but easy.
I want to but can’t hate Heidi well.
I can’t maintain tragic responses to breaking eggs.
When I look down at the wreckage on the wall of eggs that
cane out of me, I see that what’s inside is as white and
gold as Heidi.”
Same book: end of “A Reconsideration of the Blackbird“:
(Also see this YouTube video in which my first name is mispronounced [should be THIGH-lee-us or THY-lee-us]; but that is highly unimportant –he found usefulnes for the words; that is what matters, usefulness for the words, beyond the usefulness I felt in writing, arranging them –in the arrangements, even in DNA –those arranegements say everything):
“Problem: No one’s in love with the blackbirds.
Solution: Paint them white, call them visions, everyone will want one”
Oh, and my poem, same book,”There will be Animals” to teach us
What we can’t teach ourselves….
Then once and for all we will know it is no illusion:
the lion lying with the lamb, the grandmother and Little Red Riding Hood
walking out of a wolf named Dachau.”
Same book, Pyramid of Bone, poem “To Eliminate Vagueness” –all these examples from my second book, 1989, “instructions: substitute irreversible damage for black wherever it appears”
In the red-legged locust’s black raids upon midwest soybeans,
in their illicit transmission of tapeworms and parasites
to quail, and Guinea fowl,
in all the black calendar days that are supposed
to indicate the ordinary.
In operating rooms body parts black with gangrene
are excused and trash can seen to fill with dead crows.
There’s a black crust two miles thick in Soweto, some on bread,
some around eyes, most on streets where blood dried
into its own monument.
Then my mother’s black face nothing can soften, the sweating,
the forgetting to sleep, the solidarity with anytime troubling,
the compassion only I knew she felt hugging a radio, singing
spirituals, sequestering herself in her widow’s bedroom
praying for women unable to pray.
And what of Asians and Latins who are irreversibly
damaged, whose gangrened minds should be excised but who are
One day I noticed my mother’s face had poured onto mine
and had given me spirituals and lullabies.
I sang them when baskets of black clouds dumped
their transparent flowers over the convent
and the nuns’ basic black didn’t get wet
and they carted the flowers home in wheelbarrows
and arranged them like lullabies
and wept silently
as we were weeping, mother and daughter together
in my father’s old rocker, the damage already done.
for Gary and the English 401 staff, (the University of New Hampshire)
–where I was most definitely other, told by some that I was the first black person they had ever seen.. The only brown female grad student, the only!
The Durham police officer was convinced that I had to come from Harlem, NY, though at the time, I hadn’t been there… And one student who was genuinely curious, and asked me all kinds of things, and told me of his rituals at Wendy’s every Friday night, and his adventures at the mud-pit with his truck; he lived in an isolated section of rural New Hampshire and quite possibly had never seen a brown person in real life… I told him that he was lucky he was asking such questions of me, a non-threatening multi-racial woman [more than 2 races, so not ‘bi’], and some persons of brown heritages would not be as accepting of his questions, but I was, and enjoyed talking with him, and responding to his genuine curisity as best as I could; wish I remembered his name…
And the dorm where I was asked if I were Egyptian? Yes, I said. Sri Lankan? Yes, I said. From Peru? “Sí” I said. Colombia? ” Sí“again.
Of course, I also heard a student, I did not know, remark that blacks were the only people to have pubic hair on their heads; only you know what I have on my head and elsewhere, Mystery Man; only you, you Lucky Devil .
The Durham police officer wanted me to validate for him that the stereotyical big city police life was the way it was portrayed on “Hill Street Blues” and I assured him that show was much more a documentary than fiction.
Here’s a little clip of the TV series:
This was also the place that my biracial student J whose father was a professor of African American history at Harvard Uiversity, as I recall, but had married a white woman, learned that her father did not think her beautiful because she had none of the assumed, and stereotyical markers of biracial heritage, not the complexion, not the nose or mouth, and most importantly, she lacked the hair, that evidently, her father preferred. Oh the scathing essay she wrote as she became aware of this knowledge.
She was totally rejected.
No one would date her; most of the black males were recruited for athletics, and just like stereotypes had their pick of white women, leaving J and other black women without dates.
I was the only brown female graduate student , and I was married, so I was asked to lead a series of meetings between the very popular black male athletes and the dateless black women, including J (who with her mother, M wrote a book about biraciality –it’s on Amazon).
In these meetings, I shared sections of Toni Morrison’s “Song of Solomon“where Hagar nearly dies for want of Milkman who prefers hair color of a penny, who does not like, she says, hair like mine. In a frenzy and desperation, Hagar rushes out and buys the clothes that she feels might make Milkman notice her and possibly want her. The black men laughed, and the females were devastated; these two groups could not communicate. Not human rejecting human, nothing like that, with “otherness” well-established.
(what a Google search of “other” reveals):
adjective & pronoun
adjective: other; pronoun: other; pronoun: others
used to refer to a person or thing that is different or distinct from one already mentioned or known about.“stick the camera on a tripod or some other means of support”
- the alternative of two.“the other side of the page”
- those remaining in a group; those not already mentioned.“they took the other three away in an ambulance”
further; additional.“one other word of advice”
that which is distinct from, different from, or opposite to something or oneself.
**verb: other; 3rd person present: others; gerund or present participle: othering; past tense: othered; past participle: othered
view or treat (a person or group of people) as intrinsically different from and alien to oneself.**
As Anne Frank writes (in “The Diary of a Young Girl“):
“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”
I care about this Mystery Man very much, but he belongs to himself, and if there’s ever anything else, he will have to decide.
There is no mystery there.
All his descision.