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2019 Gregory Pardlo Fellow Justin Danzy

Justin Danzy is a Chancellor’s Graduate Fellow at Washington University in St. Louis, where he is completing his MFA. His poems have appeared in West Branch and Guesthouse among other places. He is a member of Westside Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. Justin is from Southfield, Michigan.

 

 

On Being Named the 2019 Gregory Pardlo Fellow

“I’m honored and elated to be named the 2019 Gregory Pardlo Fellow at the Frost Place, to have my name added to the list of poets who have been awarded this esteemed fellowship, and to share in the lineage of poets like Gregory Pardlo who have documented the peculiarities and generalities of being both black and American, in all its iterations, with fidelity, precision, and love. I look forward to meeting and working with my fellow workshop members and the Frost Place faculty who, from afar, I’ve admired for some time and have heard wonderful things about. I feel extremely blessed by this opportunity and will do my best to make the most of my time at the Frost Place, to extend both gratitude and grace for the duration of my stay.”

 

A Poem By Justin Danzy

The pool cue cracked as it connected with the wooden beam 

 

which stood vertical in the basement. The cue’s top half

scratched the wall length mirror behind where the bar

used to be. A workout machine is there now. It is broken,

the cable snapped when I put too much weight

on the bench press, me and Caliph competing to see

who could lift the most. I was young then, bird-chested

but growing, growth spurt which brought my feet

back into proportion. My neck still skinny, wrist bone protruding

like my father when he walked around the house in his boxers.

He loved me then, my father, beamed when strangers told him

I played well, slung an arm around my shoulder

and said to get two girlfriends, if need be, to avoid more trouble

after all us ninth grade boys were reprimanded

for sexual harassment. I missed a day of school because of it,

and the breast cancer awareness game with the pink jerseys.

I missed the next home game, and the rest of my college career

once I stopped showing up to practice, class, the dining hall

and wasn’t sure why. I don’t know why I swung the pool cue,

broke it against that wooden beam, then flung a piece of it like a javelin

through the drywall. I put my face in my hands and cried

after I saw the damage.

Date: July 22, 2019