Ellis, Thomas Sayers 2006

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


Why the young Brothers so big, what they eatin’,
why they blow up like that, gotta wear big white tees, gotta wear white-
skin sheets, like maggots, like lard, the domestic oil of death and klan
sweat, who blew them up doctored, who pickin’ them off like dark
cotton, make them themselves a fashion of profitable, soft
muscular bales, somebody got to clean this shit up.

– Thomas Sayers Ellis, Vernacular Owl

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Watch Thomas Sayers Ellis read some of his work:

You’ll need a talk, an oral walk,
Something natural and recognizable by your folk,
Something of music something of meaning,
A style capable of running-off at-the-mouth,
When Massa AmEuroBrit Lit irks you most,
A little something-something of ancestry
And the courage not to accept any award

– Thomas Sayers Ellis, “Ways to be Black in a Poem”

Broadside of Thomas Sayer Ellis' poem, "Ways to be Black in a Poem."

Broadside of Thomas Sayers Ellis’ poem, “Ways to be Black in a Poem.”

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Read this interview with Thomas Sayers Ellis:

Identity Repair Poet: PW Talks with Thomas Sayers Ellis

In his second collection, Skin Inc: Identity Repair Poems , Ellis takes a complex, searing look at the state of black identity in America. Can you talk a bit about your notion of an “identity repair poem”? The “publishable” American poem seems to have skipped over a certain amount of honesty, boldness, and activism in the name of “craft.”

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