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2014 Conference on Poetry Fellow: Jamaal May

Jaamal May

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Jamaal May is a poet, editor, and educator from Detroit, MI where he taught poetry in public schools and worked as a freelance audio engineer and touring performer. His first collection of poems, Hum (Alice James Books, 2013), won the Beatrice Hawley Award. Individual poems won 2013 Indiana Review Prize and appear in journals such as The New Republic, Ploughshares, the Believer, Poetry, and Kenyon Review. Jamaal has earned an MFA from Warren Wilson College as well as fellowships from Cave Canem and the Stadler Center for Poetry. He is founding editor of the Organic Weapon Arts Press and a visiting faculty member in the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA program.

Teaching Statement: Dean Young said, “The highest accomplishment of the human consciousness is the imagination, and the highest accomplishment of the imagination is empathy.” I believe the very existence of literature depends upon the notion that we can empathize with, learn from, grow from, be moved by, and challenged by the artfully rendered ideas of others. Poetry should be a window—not a mirror—a surface in which enough of you reflects back to offer a connective context to what is viewed on the other side. My teaching methods aim to both cure and polish this glass.

Date: December 23, 2013