Beale Street Talks, Vol 2

06/24/2015 10:39 am ET | Updated Jun 23, 2016

Beale Street Talks, Vol. 2

"I usually don't f**k with the internet, but Nate, Zoe, Danez, and Gabe are on to something. Reading Beale Street Talks is my favorite way to spend an afternoon." - James Baldwin, 1968

Nate Marshall is from the South Side of Chicago. He is the editor of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop (Haymarket Books, 2015). His book, Wild Hundreds, won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize and is forthcoming from the University of Pittsburgh Press. His rap album Grown is due out Summer 2015 with his group Daily Lyrical Product. He is a Cave Canem Fellow and member of the Dark Noise Collective.

Zoe Rana Mungin is from the part of Brooklyn where white people still won't wander. She's a graduate of Wellesley College and the University of Massachusetts-Amherst MFA Program for Poets and Writers. She watches a lot of hockey. She's working on a project that explores the intersection of colored girls and Sailor Moon.

Danez Smith is writer from St. Paul, MN. He is the author of [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the 2015 Lambda Award for Gay Poetry & finalist for the Norma Farber First Book Award. In 2017, his 2nd collection will be published by Graywolf Books. He is a 2014 Ruth Lilly/Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellow, A Cave Canem Fellow and a member of the Dark Noise Collective.

Sunday 5/17 - "On Venessa Place"

DS: So basically, she did what a lot of white conceptual artist did: had a bad idea that went unchecked, had no good homies to talk some sense, then went ahead and did it.

The appropriative nature of conceptual poetry is enough to make me cray, and that nature makes sense that a lot of it plays out to be oppressive/racist/classist in practice/product.

But I'm glad folks recognize that a mind like that shouldn't be in any kind of decision making power over a lit. event like AWP.

Saturday 6/13 - "On LeBron's D**k"

DS: It was so ashy.

I'm sure Jordan put cocoa butter on his.

GB: That's why he's the GOAT.

NM: Bulls 4 life

Monday 6/22 - "On 'Think Pieces' Regarding Racism in America"

NM: They kinda re-traumatize ya boy. And honestly they're not for us.

Not that they don't bring up good points but usually they are built to distill s**t for white folks or other folks that is evident to black people because we live it.

So I'm off of think pieces. At least about black death and pain.

Monday 6/22 (cont.) - "On The Confederate Flag"

NM: I'm more afraid of confederate minds than confederate flags.

I went to school in TN. Honestly the times I saw the flag were useful because they saved me the time discernment takes.

Then I just knew to not stop at that highway exit or not talk to the kid in that dorm.

Monday 6/22 (cont.) - "On The Perfect Bar"

ZM: Me, a white girl, and a Jew touring a whiskey distillery in bumf**k Tennessee. They were like, we should get drinks. And I was like, we shouldn't've even come.

DS: Can I get a slaverebelliontini instead?

NM: We need to do that. Make a decolonized drink menu.

DS: Nat Turn-Up.

NM: Martin Luther King's Cup.

DS: In the back, big mama is sellin pot roast with mash potatoes and Marcus gravy.

But I only wanna own a bar with a old woman selling s**t in the back.

ZM: Only if she does hair as well.

DS: Of course.

GB: I'm trying to think of Sojourner Truth puns but would definitely order a cocktail just called The Sojourner Truth.

ZM: Can The Sojourner Truth be straight Hennessy though?

GB: Of course.

Monday 6/22 (cont.) - "On Time and Space"

GB: Did anyone else notice that it took less than hour for us to go from Confederate Flag to straight Hennessy?

NM: Because black survival.

ZM: Because Hennessy.

GB: Six Degrees of Hennessy.

Monday 6/22 (cont.) - "On Zoe"

ZM: It's like the last three years didn't happen but suddenly there are all these white people in Brooklyn and that's how I know time has passed.

I'm currently playing that game where I try to figure out if I'm hearing gun shots or fireworks to decide if it's safe to walk the dog.

Monday 6/22 (cont.) - "On Gentrification"

ZM: They're inching in!

It's because they built a Nordstrom Rack and s**t.

And a f*****g Pier I.

Monday 6/22 (cont.) - "On Pier 1"

GB: I have never been inside a Pier 1.

ZM: I mean, I've looked through the door, then walked my broke a** to TJ Maxx.

NM: What is Pier 1?

Is there water by it?

ZM: It's like pillows and s**t?


NM: So they sell pillows?

I'm getting an apartment soon. Maybe I'll get some gentri-fly pillows.

ZM: Yeah, like $50 pillows that your grandma could make if she cared about making things that looked nice.

And not just things that did what they were supposed to do.

Monday 6/22 (cont.) - "On Nate Moving to Indiana"

NM: Now I'm just trying to make sure I don't go crazy or get lynched.

I just want to be down there and write, keep a journal, teach my students, and workout.

And get my cooking game tight.

ZM: Learning to cook saved my life while I finished my b******t a** MFA.

Power to you.

NM: Yeah. Also I think it would be tight to get serious about working out and eating down there. Come back to Chicago semi-swole for no apparent reason.

GB: Are you going to pull a Dr. Dre? Say you're working on a second book but then come back looking like Ray Lewis?

NM: I figure I'm at like 215-220 right now. If I get to a lean 185 I'm trying out for some NFL team with no cornerbacks.

Do some Crossfit and get my speed and s**t up.

This is a viable plan right?

ZM: More viable than selling books.

DS: I'm not ready for swole Nate.

DS: Poetry ain't ready.

NM: I'm not ready for swole Nate either. That's why I be eating these donuts.

Monday 6/22 (cont.) - "On Danez Going Off to School"

DS: I feel like I'm black, alive, not all the way insane, I haven't choke a white person unprovoked in 2 years and I'm nice with the lyric, they should just give me the degree.