How writer Sean Avery Medlin created his own style of poetry
“I almost always count syllables,” writer Sean Avery Medlin said the other day. “Even when I don’t write poems.”
Medlin’s counter is everywhere 808s and other worlds: memories, remixes and mythologies, a new collection of his work released last week. In “What It’s Like to Be a Suburban Black Demiboy”, he assesses race and gender (“I often feel not black enough / not mascot enough / or feminine enough”); in “Money is Temporary”, he adopts the character of a rapper who moans about his payment in streaming. It also contains extracts from skinnyblk, the album and the play he wrote five years ago.
“There aren’t a lot of traditionally shaped poems in there,” Medlin said of the book. “Not that I’m not into these things. I was just more interested in establishing this new style for myself.
Going to school to write taught him not to rhyme, he says. He looked incredulous. “It’s really what you are taught in school now if you are a poet.” Rhyme is discouraged in the college classroom. I do not know why. The academic world is moving in this direction. I had to get rid of it because rhyme is natural to me.
Medlin said he used the pronouns “he” and “they” interchangeably and claimed to have no day job. “I’m a full-time artist teaching at the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing and teaching at the Durango Detention Center. I do monthly writing workshops at un-n-ten.
He understood early on that he was a writer. Surrounded by poets, rappers, musicians, break dancers and visual artists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Medlin thought to himself, “Oh, okay, writing is a hobby and an expression, but it could be. a career. It could be who I am.
His essays and poems often include images of superheroes. “I’m a superhero fan for sure,” said Medlin, who is 28 and raised in Litchfield Park. “I love the idea of the superhero as an American origin story, the connection between their powers and something in their personality or their past – I’m interested in all of that. So when I was writing this book it was important to include superheroes, some of them literal like Silver Surfer and Hulk, and also like Kanye West, a hero for me growing up.
It’s important, Medlin said, to question and criticize heroes, who tend to become symbols of something other than what they make us feel. In “Free Pt. 1 ”, he expresses his disappointment at West’s support for former President Donald Trump.
“I wrote this one around the time Kanye started a storm on Twitter about Trump and there were pictures of him with Trump all over the place. Someone like Kanye, who was once a race relations champion, to make such a drastic change to him made me question the difference between the [political] left and right, and what extreme wealth can do to your politics.
He admitted to putting a lot of emotional vulnerability into his writing, but wanted people to know that his new book didn’t say it all.
“Yeah yeah yeah,” he said. “I wrote a lot of things to get to the pieces that were in the book. I called it my autobiography at the time, but I wasn’t planning on publishing it. I knew I had to write it. to come up with what else I was going to say. It allowed me to say what to put on the page and then decide what I wanted readers to see on the page. I am convinced that everything is in there.
The game is definitely in there. “I’m a great player,” Medlin said. “The poem ‘Battlefront’ was born out of many hours spent playing this game with friends. There is a part in there that is true where I talk about how Wookiees are like black people, and my friends laugh at me. It was a real playtime moment, and I had to put it in there.
Medlin took a long pause to think about that playing moment from a long time ago. “I try to treat everything in my life as potential material for other writing,” he finally said.