Sounding Like Himself: A Q&A With Mitchell S. Jackson

Rochelle Spencer

Readers were excited about Mitchell S. Jackson’s new memoir, Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family, long before its publication this month by Scribner. Jackson’s first novel, The Residue Years (Bloomsbury, 2013), was a wonder of a book, as genuine, intelligent, and allusion-rich as a Kendrick Lamar song, an autobiographical novel that explored new territory (Who knew there were Black people in Portland?) and gave readers a voice they’d been waiting for. Jackson’s language sweats; it climbs across cultures, regions, and philosophies, and Survival Math furthers his investigation of his native Portland’s history—both real and imagined—along with the complexities of family, fatherhood, and America.

“If you’ve read Mitchell S. Jackson, you already know he writes with a poet’s ear,” says National Book Award–winning poet Terrance Hayes in a pre-publication blurb for Survival Math. “His sentences radiate empathy. He perceives the lives of hustlers, prisoners, and ghosts. He speaks to and with and for his people—which is to say, your people and my people.” Novelist Angela Flournoy, meanwhile, calls the book “a compassionate meditation on the human costs of this country’s ongoing war on Black lives,” and writer D Watkins describes it as “a timely narrative that gives us a glimpse into the Black America we rarely encounter in mainstream.” These testimonials—along with other raves by Salman Rushdie, Jesmyn Ward, Jason Reynolds, and Tyehimba Jess, among many more—remind us of the need for such a book: a complex rendering of Black life in a literary landscape and a country where such narratives, like the voices of Black men themselves, are so often muffled, broadcast in only one dimension.

Jackson, who once sold drugs and spent time in prison, where he now leads workshops and talks for incarcerated youth and adults, describes Survival Math as a way of thinking about power and identity. The memoir is at once a meditation on Jackson’s own life and the men who shaped it, who all had to hustle to get by. Jackson describes these men and their hustles with empathy: More than acts of survival, he writes, hustling has its own set of ethics and challenges a system that often bases financial opportunities on one’s family name. Survival Math is marked by trauma but lacks self-pity: Jackson is hard on himself while his humor and compassion for others—his uncles, his friends, his ex-girlfriends, his mother and his daughter—expands the memoir, allowing the book to function as a communal story, larger and more radiant than any single voice or subject.

Jackson is a recipient of a Whiting Award and the Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence. He was also a finalist for the Center for Fiction’s Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, the PEN/Hemingway Award for First Fiction, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and has received fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Ford Foundation, TED, and New York Foundation for the Arts. Jackson received a master of arts in writing from Portland State University and an MFA from New York University, where he now teaches writing. He lives in New York City.

What do you hope people most get out of Survival Math?
What I’m most hoping for is to present an artful and rigorous and imaginative and candid account of what it has been like for my people. My people meaning my family, Black folks from my home city and state. And if I do that, I’d argue I’m also speaking to what’s happened to Black folks far and wide. But I also want the reader to feel my presence, to never forget that I’m the one who has told them these things, that the prose is being filtered by my consciousness, which is to say my literary voice. I’m of the mind that how someone says something is almost if not equal to what they say. In a perfect world, the reader would have a sense of encountering a work that’s singular, or in the least, something rare.

People go nuts over your language, its specificity and mastery, the way you intersperse histories (speeches from Frederick Douglass, a discussion of boxer Jack Johnson and the White Slave Act) and philosophies—from your Uncle Henry’s “fast ten, slow twenty” capitalist theory to French Philosopher Ernest Renan’s ideas about nationhood to your own description of the seemingly unattainable aspects of the American Dream—with language you hear on the corner. What effect do you want your language to achieve?
I’m always thinking how can I impress upon the reader that this is a particular experience. Some people feel beholden to standard English, to the rules of grammar and syntax, to a certain frequency of allusion, to tradition, etc. But I’m trying to shape the language to represent my experience, one that’s grounded in the oral tradition as much as the literary. There’s the part of me that knows the language in which I work was never meant for me, or was meant for me and mine as a means of oppression. Knowing that implores me to break the rules, to push against them, to invent new rules. For this reason, I love neologism and portmanteaus. I love hyperbole and onomatopoeia. I love anaphora and alliteration. I’m hyper aware of the sounds my sentences make. The language, though, must be in service of revealing my identity, how I see the world. For me, it’s not just language I hear on the corner; it’s the language I hear in my head and heart. It’s as close I’ll get to a native tongue.

I don’t want to ask this question but another Black woman reading this book may be wondering the same thing. You write with a lot of sensitivity about the women in your life—nearly breaking your neck to attend a father-daughter dance, your mom’s experiences with gendered racism—and you include e-mails from your exes, the women you cheated on. I thought that was courageous because some of the women were in a lot of pain, and they’re not easy on you. But part of me wondered—are you bragging about your penis, your ability to hurt women?
That’s a valid question. It’s something that I struggled with. It felt for a time that I was leaning in that direction, that I was somehow transmuting what I’d done into a kind of currency. Perceiving that happening gave me a great anxiety because that wasn’t the intent at all. Like, not at all. I’m sure there were a number of factors at play, but one of them was that I’d been used to framing what I’d done for other men who had similar values—my cohort or in some cases co-conspirators. But those former pathologies can’t hold up to scrutiny. I also determined that the most fitting thing to do was to add the perspectives of past partners. Their voices were not only important reminders of the harm that I’d caused, but also countered my perspective becoming a hegemony. I hope that what I wrote isn’t interpreted as bragging. The braggarts I know only mention the good parts. I hope there’s too much reflection on the consequences of my deeds [in the book] for someone to judge me as making light of them—or worse, valorizing them.

But you also talk about the importance of Black men showing respect to other Black men—these are conversations people could have more often. And your book isn’t all misery, all tragedy. There’s humor—you’re making jokes in crisis situations—and empathy too.
Yes, I do talk about Black men showing respect to other Black men. I think that might be our greatest currency, the sense of being respected. Dudes will go to great lengths to garner and protect their respect, to not be disrespected. There are plenty dudes doing significant time on account of protecting their respect. Some dudes I know would rather die than get “punked,” which translates to a blatant disrespect. I’m glad you also point out the levity in my work. My childhood was abundant with joy, love, happiness, play. Toni Morrison once said she writes characters that are “unavailable to pity.” She was talking about fiction but I take that as a mandate for all genres, as a personal challenge for my work. I don’t ever want to paint my family as downtrodden or me as mostly miserable. That wasn’t the case. In fact, happiness might’ve been the dominant emotion of my childhood, at least until my mother’s addiction became more apparent. Having done so many things that have demanded forgiveness, understanding, and empathy, I’ve felt compelled to reciprocate it. Humor, or an outlook that allowed me to laugh in spite of trials, has ushered me to the other side of more than my fair share of crucibles. It makes sense to imbue the work with it, to strive to be on the page, the most of who I am in the world.

How does your interest in social justice influence the book?
In truth, I didn’t have a sense of pursuing social justice while I was writing the book. Social justice is abstract to me. At least for the most part, which is why I’m always trying to ground my ideas in the personal. That said, I do find some terminology in social and criminal justice helpful in thinking about what I’m trying to do on the page. One such term is credible messenger, which is someone whose ethos is valued by incarcerated persons because they have like experience and trust their expertise. I want to instill in my readers the belief that I’m a credible messenger. I even explicitly ask for in some cases: Believemewhenitellyou. Trustandbelieve. What might’ve been most interesting to me while I was writing the book was history—and in particular, history as seen through the lens of post-colonialism. There are very few social problems for American Black folks that can’t be traced to the legacy of chattel slavery. The damage it has done might be everlasting.

So your language is trying to undo damage. What should readers understand about it?
I don’t know if I’m trying to undo the damage as much as reflect how my experiences have shaped me. Some of those experiences are damage for sure, but some of them are also love and care and creativity and other nourishments. I want my writing to be a form of jazz, meaning something grounded in rhythm and cadence but also art that creates the sense of freedom and also art that gives sense of something improvised. I think improvisation has great potential to excite a reader because they don’t know where it will go next. Speaking of jazz, it was Miles Davis who said, “You got to play a long time to play like yourself.” What I want my readers to say is, “Wow, this guy sounds like himself”—or in other words, like no one else. Maybe I haven’t been making my music long enough for that to be pure truth; however, sounding like myself is a prime ambition—the aim always.


Rochelle Spencer is the author of AfroSurrealism: The African Diaspora’s Surrealist Fiction (Routledge, 2019) and Guardian Angels (Nomadic Press, 2019) and the coeditor, with Jina Ortiz, of All About Skin: Short Fiction by Women of Color (University of Wisconsin Press, 2014).

My Past and Future Assassin: A Profile of Terrance Hayes


Hanif Abdurraqib


One can make a home wherever the body finds itself at rest. I imagine this to be true always, but especially now, while taking in the large plastic novelty fish hanging high on the wall above the head of Terrance Hayes. Even while slouching in his chair, Hayes towers above the table in front of him, so that the fish, a marlin, appears as a crown under the glow of red light humming overhead, darkening half of the marlin and half of the face of the poet. We are at Great Jones Cafe in lower Manhattan, a place Hayes told me is his “go-to spot” when we spoke earlier, trying to nail down where to meet. When I arrive, I find him alone in a corner, drink already on the table. Hayes is a Southerner at heart, having spent his childhood and early adulthood in South Carolina, so it comes as no surprise to find out why he has led me here, to this place he tells me he comes to every weekend, often alone. “I didn’t know how quiet it would or wouldn’t be in here,” he tells me as I sit down, in reference to my request that we find a low-key location for our interview. “But it’s the only place in this city where I can get good grits, so it’s one of the few places in this city I love.” I imagine this to be his way of welcoming me into a small corner of his home.

We are talking about primary colors, Hayes and I. He is describing for me his most recent project. His poems were commissioned by composer Tyshawn Sorey for Cycles of My Being, a song cycle that “explores the realities of life as a black man in America” (or so it is described in the publicity material), performed by renowned tenor Lawrence Brownlee at Carnegie Hall, Opera Philadelphia, and Lyric Opera of Chicago. So Hayes sent Sorey some work to be played in front of a mass audience. He tells me he agonized over which poems to send—“you know how I am with this shit; nobody knows what poems are except for poets,” he says—and eventually bent to the will of the composer, who had asked Hayes if he had any poems about hope, or about hate. Hayes balked at the idea. 

“They wanted [it] to be hopeful, but a hopeful poem isn’t my tendency,” he says. “And a hateful poem isn’t my tendency either.” He eventually wrote a poem specifically for the show but then set it aside. 

This story is less about the song cycle for me and more about what is happening with the interior of Terrance Hayes. “I’m not interested in primary colors,” he tells me when I ask him why he has no interest in hope or hate. “It’s not nuanced enough. I’m interested in the spaces where colors overlap. It’s like when people call someone a racist and think that’s the end of it. That ain’t the end. Racism is a symptom of fear, or greed, or some other bullshit. So even if I wrote a poem about hate, it ain’t gonna be about hate when I’m done with it. My personality likes a challenge, so I can write a poem that many would consider hopeful.”

“But aren’t you a hopeful person?” I ask. 

“Am I?” he shoots back playfully, smiling before sighing and stirring a small tornado into his drink with the tip of his straw. “I mean, the endgame is always going to be death, so how hopeful can anyone really be?”

We are talking about death, Hayes and I. Or, it seems, death is the river’s mouth our conversation is flowing into. This makes sense, in some ways. We are here to talk about his new book of poems, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, published by Penguin in June, which is overwhelming in every sense. Overwhelming in its brilliance, yes, but also overwhelming in its pacing, its style. Each poem is the exact same length—a sonnet’s requisite fourteen lines—and carries the exact same title: “American Sonnet for My Past and Future Assassin.” The book, despite its breadth and clever turns, is a confrontation. Not an unwelcome one but a confrontation nonetheless. Hayes is too crafty to force his way, unwanted, into a room, so his poems are like the slow and steady picking of a lock, until the door handle clicks. Instead of entering, the poet stands outside, satisfied with his work.

Hayes began the process of writing the sonnets with inspiration from Wanda Coleman’s American Sonnets series. Coleman’s sonnets, much like Hayes’s own, are winding, endlessly questioning, and rich with syntax and alliteration. A stunning formalist, yet inventive and often two steps ahead of her peers, Coleman, who died in 2013 at the age of sixty-seven, spent much of her life as a poet struggling to make a living from her craft. Born and raised in L.A.’s Watts neighborhood, Coleman worked several odd jobs until her poems began to take off, and even then it was hard for her to make ends meet. Her hustle manifested itself in her poems; chasing new ways of crafting a poem became a form of survival. She was a mentor to some and an inspiration to many more, but Coleman wasn’t always granted the acclaim she deserved. Her work—unlike the work of Hayes—wasn’t fully celebrated until after her death.

Hayes is gathering his roses while he is still alive to grasp them—thorns and all. One such thorn: Hayes, who now lives in New York City after several years in Pittsburgh, where he taught at the University of Pittsburgh and was codirector of the Center for African American Poetry and Poetics there, appreciated the love he was shown in the smaller city but notes that it became overwhelming. “They had my face up in the airport,” he says. “I couldn’t handle it.”

This is not to say that Hayes is entirely humble, however—nor should he be. But he is grounded, possessing a healthy blend of logic and confidence. You know the long list. The author of six poetry collections—Muscular Music (Tia Chucha Press, 1999), Hip Logic (Penguin, 2002), Wind in a Box (Penguin, 2006), Lighthead (Penguin, 2010), How to Be Drawn (Penguin, 2015), and now the new book—he has won much of what a poet can win, including the National Book Award for Lighthead; the Kate Tufts Discovery Award for Muscular Music; a Whiting Award; an NAACP Image Award; and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. He is also a chancellor at the Academy of American Poets. All that and he’s still relatively young, just forty-six years old. Young enough to have decades of future success but old enough to have watched skilled but less decorated writers die, without much control over their legacies. 

As for his own legacy, Hayes tells me that he is most concerned with how he’s viewed as a teacher. He is at NYU now and finds himself at home in the classroom. He tells stories about his talented students and how there is a mutual pushing and pulling forward. None of it is about money, he tells me. 

“This is why I just want to leave my kids my poems,” he says, referring to his two children. “I want to leave them art.” He pauses and references something he recently mentioned to his ex-wife, the poet Yona Harvey. “Money is nothing to be governed by, because once you get it, it’s never enough. When I die, I want my kids to have my art. Surely that will be worth something one day.”

Confidence and logic.

We are talking about Wanda Coleman again, as the darkness falling on Great Jones Street becomes richer, nighttime beginning to flood in through the windows. “I wrote an American Sonnet to Wanda Coleman,” he tells me, picking apart the catfish on his plate. “And I sent it to her. We exchanged letters, and then suddenly she was ill. She died in 2013, and I registered that, and then,” he pauses, “and then around the election I decided to do something else.”

Hayes says he had a “reaction” to the election, and I understand instantly what he means, as I felt it too. For all of the “now more than ever” tropes about writers and poets being needed at this particular moment—particularly writers and poets of color—the election did create a sense of urgency for many, not necessarily to share all of their work at once, but to establish a legacy of work, something that might be left behind, if there would be nothing else left of us. If things got “real bad,” whatever that meant. For Hayes, though, the week of the election also had another emotional touch point: Wanda Coleman’s seventieth birthday would have been on November 13, 2016. 

“I had this obsession with writing these shorter poems, because I had been writing long poems,” he says, referring to the work in his last book, How to Be Drawn, which included a number of multiple-page poems such as “Who Are the Tribes” and “How to Draw a Perfect Circle.” He continues: “And I thought I could do this for her. I thought to myself, ‘Can I access the thing I most love about what she did, in these times?’” It became something he chased after relentlessly. “Also,” he smirks, after I ask him what other motivations existed for his use of the form, “I like a volta.”

It seems, at least to me, that a volta is defined best by the hand that crafts it, and so therefore a volta can be anything. Formalists will define it as the turn, or the rhetorical division, the shift, between the sonnet’s first eight lines and the final six. For Hayes the volta is in the project itself, tethered to his always shifting definition of the assassin in the work. “I’m trying to go in one way and come out another way. So, yeah, I’m trying to see how many turns I can fit into a poem, but also I like the sonnet as a way of addressing an idea: How can I write a traditional love poem to someone or something I don’t deem worthy of my love?” After a long pull of his drink, he adds, “I just don’t know what other form would be able to hold this particular moment.”

A love poem for an enemy or a foe is largely about restraint, I suppose. Which makes the project of the book and the restraints on the poems themselves even more fascinating. The central conceit is this: How can I reach out and gently touch that which might not be so gentle toward me? And how can I be sure that in honoring these foes with love, in my turning to face them, they won’t change?

Sometimes the foes are invented, and sometimes the foes are direct and predictable—country, or president, or racism. But the book is most interesting when the foe is Hayes himself. “I’m in a different phase of my life now,” he tells me after we talk briefly about what it is to want to love yourself when you are your own enemy. “Having been married and not being married [now] also bears on the sonnets,” he says, staring into his drink. Hayes is recently divorced from Harvey, though they remain on good terms, he insists, raising their children, a son and a daughter, shuttling between Pittsburgh and New York. “I haven’t talked…. People been asking this shit, but I don’t wanna talk too much about it. But what I will say to you is that sometimes the assassin is you, or sometimes the assassin is a beloved, and that role feels transferrable. It’s like the stuff in the book about Orpheus and Eurydice.” He pauses here, which is rare for Hayes when he gets into a stream of conversation. He is talking about a series of poems in the book that detail the ancient legend of Orpheus and Eurydice. The poems are decidedly distinct from the others, in both tone and what they are attempting to unravel. They are the poems in the book in which Hayes is hiding the least, taking himself to task, or taking the idea of love to task, or taking the idea of forever to task. 

In one of the sonnets he writes:

I tried to tell the woman

Who sent me songs, it’s departure that makes company 
Hard to master. I tried to tell her I’m a muser, a miser
With time. I love poems more than money & pussy. 
From now on I will eat brunch alone. I believe 
Eurydice is actually the poet, not Orpheus. Her muse
Has his back to her with his ear bent to his own heart.
As if what you learn making love to yourself matters 
More than what you learn when loving someone else.


“Most of that is me tying back to a different kind of relationship,” he says. “Who is the assassin between Eurydice and Orpheus? Who is the poet between those two? I’m thinking about…what does it mean to be married to a poet? What does it mean to be married to a motherfucker who’s gonna be playing his music no matter what? He’s a poet. It’s what he’s gonna do. But there are consequences to that. And so you might say, well, maybe she’s the poet then. I’m just…I’m wondering about the beloved as an assassin.”

This sits between us heavy on the table, the most open Hayes has been to this point in our talk. We leave it there, untouched.

I write the poems so I don’t have to talk about this shit,” Hayes tells me when I ask him which part of the response to his work he values more: his playfulness and precision with language or his sentimentality. He is not saying this to dismiss me, and we both understand this. It’s a moment in the conversation when he is talking to me as a writer, someone who he knows has likely had similar responses to questions like this. “Anything I say in a poem, I mean it,” he says. “Feeling and intuition is the only important thing to me. You can persuade someone through logic that perhaps what they’re thinking is wrong. But you can’t persuade someone that their feelings are wrong. You can’t tell a motherfucker that they ain’t hungry if they’re hungry. No words in the world can do that. So I trust feeling as a bedrock thing. Can you want to kill a motherfucker and simultaneously love them?”

To trust one’s feelings can be all-consuming, especially if those feelings are brought into a harsher light by a mess of a political moment. Hayes is invested in his obsessions, even if his obsessions are about the nation unraveling. 

There are poets who are slow and deliberate speakers, working to make sure every sentence holds weight. But Hayes is a rapid-fire conversationalist, spreading his long arms wide, or gesturing with one massive hand. Like his work, he is challenging you to keep up with him and to pick out what’s worth expanding on. And if you don’t catch it, he’ll expand on it for you anyway. And in this moment the topic worth expanding on is Donald Trump. 

“Everything I do has to be in service of poetry,” he says, with a little more excitement in his voice. “I can’t be waking up and thinking about Trump all day. And if I do, I have to do it in service of a poem, or else he’ll be a block.”

He is talking about boxes and how every box, like every poem, has multiple sides through which it can be entered. He decided to put Trump in a box and kept turning the box until his truth looked different from every angle. He found this to be more interesting than it would have been with, say, Barack Obama. 

“Obama is super interesting to me, but I already know some of the sides to that cube. He’s a six-sided truth, but I know about half of those sides. As a brother, as a dude who loves basketball, as a dude who got old. To look at something and see yourself in it is easy. I’m not moved by that. With Trump it’s about power and the way his power has a bearing on everyone else. I can meditate on that for at least six months.”

The restraints of the sonnets have been liberating, he tells me. This is only interesting because of how the book wrestles readers inside of it and gives them little room to move within it. If anything, a reader then becomes a part of the interior of the box, which Hayes is turning around in his hand. I don’t mean this to sound negative: One of the book’s strongest points is how readers have to fight their way into and then out of it. Like all of the work Hayes has offered in his career so far, it is both inviting and asking a reader to earn enjoyment of it, in this case through a means of discomfort with the repetitive nature of the poems and their aim.

Hayes tells me he has become so obsessed with the project that he can’t unravel himself from it, which makes sense. He is conflicted, because he knows he can’t do another book like this, but he also knows that he isn’t done with the fascination. “I mean, I got seventy good ones, and I don’t want to overdo it,” he says, blending his usual cool and confidence with the anxieties he holds. “It’s like [ John] Berryman, right? He put out 77 Dream Songs, and then later he put out all of them. And like, there were some all-right ones in there, but shit. I was good with seventy-seven.”

It is political, in some ways: Hayes is surviving the world by writing against it. When I ask him if the work has made him feel any better, he matter-of-factly states, “Well, the shit is still going on, you know?”

There are other ways out, Hayes says. He draws, going to a class once a week and trying to improve his hand as a visual artist. Hayes has experience in the craft, receiving a BA from Coker College in Hartsville, South Carolina, where he studied both English and painting. His drawings and paintings provide the artwork for the covers of his books. It’s easy to get lost in the visual form, but he keeps returning to the sonnets. Twisting a forkful of mashed potatoes around, and up toward his mouth, he pauses.

“There’s no law that says an obsession can’t continue beyond the production of the obsession, you know?”

It’s getting late, and the fish over the head of Terrance Hayes has begun to droop its long face lower. This is a trick of the eye, I’m sure. Perhaps Hayes is growing taller, more excitable with conversation, and the fish is shrinking in the face of that. Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic” is playing through the café’s speakers, and small crowds of revelers have started to filter in, the way one might expect as a night stretches its palms wider. It is perhaps late only for me. Hayes insists he doesn’t sleep much. “I go to bed around two or three in the morning and wake up around seven. I’m good with four hours a night,” he tells me, as my body involuntarily trembles at the prospect of such little time in bed. He does his best work in the hours after these, when even the revelers beside us begin to lose steam (“I like a nap, though,” he insists). This disclosure makes for an interesting moment between us: me winding down, and him warming up.

Hayes and I find ourselves in the golden hour of our conversation, too. The talk about poems and craft has perhaps drawn all it can draw from the two of us, and now we’re just talking about basketball. Hayes was an Academic All-American basketball player during his time at Coker and has remained attached to the sport. Throughout the conversation Hayes insists that he is always thinking about poems, no matter what else we’re speaking on, but he seems at ease here talking NBA. The plates are cleared off the table, and he has leaned over his drink, swinging his massive palms in one direction or another as he makes a point. An athlete and sports fan and writer, Hayes has an intimate relationship with the game. Like me, he is in it for the narratives, which I do suppose means that even in our talk about basketball, we are talking about poems. 

“LeBron James shoots free throws every day,” Hayes tells me. “And you gotta think, ‘Why is this dude shooting free throws every day if he gets paid to shoot free throws?’ He’s doing that shit with no one watching, because he’s after something different.”

I nod, and Hayes continues.

“I think about that versus someone like [Philadelphia 76ers rookie] Ben Simmons, right? Ben Simmons should be a huge star right now, and he’s perplexed by that….”

I take the opportunity to interject that Simmons isn’t a huge star yet because he can’t really shoot, but Hayes is off, sprinting a mile a minute to reach the end of his thought. 

“Yeah, but Kobe Bryant struggled with that same shit too, right? Kobe had to fight through the same thing of doing the things that should make you famous and expecting fame. But it ain’t about the fame, though.”

In many ways, I know what’s coming next—Hayes the speaker is rarely separate from Hayes the poet—but I let him draw back the curtain with his own language. “It’s about the glory. There’s a difference in fame and glory. Fame is when everyone else is peeping what you’re doing, but glory is when your peers recognize the work you’re putting in. Glory has to be number one. Glory has to be number one, because no one else has to be there.”

I ask the obvious question, the one about whether or not an artist or an athlete or a parent or a construction worker can have glory without fame. Because this is the thing with Hayes, who is undoubtedly famous and has basked in his share of glory. It has created a mythology around him that he seems equal parts thrilled to revel in and sometimes uncomfortable with. Minutes before the conversation took this turn, we were speaking about pressure, and in the middle of a response, Hayes shook his head and said, “God forbid I ever start writing bad poems,” and one ear might hear I know all of my poems are good, but to another, the poet is saying I don’t know what I would be without my insistence on living up to my own standards. So I wonder out loud how you survive at the intersection of fame and glory, or if you can cut one off in service of the other. Hayes takes a moment.

“Yeah, I think so. On the days I’m writing and I’m in a good groove, I hit moments where I think, ‘Where the fuck did that come from?’ It’s the closest I can get from this,” he says, gesturing toward his head, “to getting it together on that page. And that’s glory. I’m doing that for me, with no one watching, knowing that the people I’m writing for—poets—are doing the same thing. And it only happens a few times, but when it happens it feels good. I did a 360 dunk once, and I was alone in a gym. No one saw it but the other guys on my basketball team, and those are the only people I cared to see it. A 360 dunk is fucking hard. I want the people who know how difficult the work is to bear witness to the work.”

The red light above our heads has only become more aggressive in its lapping up of the darkness, and by now we are both radiating in its shine. Hayes casually regales me with a tale of watching basketball with former NBA player and coach Phil Jackson last April, a story that few poets would have in their back pocket. “We talked about Buddhism and shit. You know, it was a good afternoon,” he says in an “Isn’t New York wild?” kind of way, to which I nod, thinking about the times I’ve been to this city and felt tiny. The gist of the story is that during their first basketball-watching excursion, Jackson insisted that Hayes not mention LeBron James, whom Jackson had found himself feuding with over a Twitter debate. When the 2017 NBA Finals came around, Jackson invited Hayes to his Manhattan apartment to watch them with him, and Hayes balked. “He invited me back to watch the NBA Finals and told me I couldn’t talk about LeBron James!” Hayes says, half-yelling and half-laughing, as energetic as he has been all night. “I can’t talk about LeBron James during the NBA Finals? I like LeBron James! So I was like, ‘Nah, I’ll pass.’ I watched the Finals alone.”

It’s the kind of casual story told by Hayes during which one realizes that he moves through multiple worlds in a singular way, something that can’t be said for many of his peers, though he is still very much among them and often in service to them. He blurbs books vigorously, he reads poems endlessly, and until recently he served as the poetry editor of the New York Times Magazine. (Rita Dove took the reins in June.) He derives great pleasure from teaching—during our conversation he is most excited when talking about the ways his students show him to and through poems. But he is also someone who pens work for operas and has his face in an airport and casually watches basketball with one of the greatest basketball coaches of all time. And it all seems simple to him, something he has been working toward since he began working. Both fame and glory.

We are talking about death and isolation again, Hayes and I. It’s a fitting end to our time together. Hayes says his true inclination is to stay inside; he likes New York because he feels like he can do that here, and not many other places. He tells me he both loves and hates the way the city folds around him—loves it for its many options and hates it for its many options, all at once. 

When we get to the topic of rap, Hayes is succinct, melancholic. “I think when it comes to rappers, Biggie Smalls is closest to my sensibilities,” he insists, spinning the last bit of ice around in his drink. “He scares me, and the consequences of his art, too…. The consequences of his art informed his life. I think of this like Sylvia Plath. The fact that Sylvia Plath would write ‘Ariel’ and then put her head in an oven, or the fact that Biggie Smalls would say he’s ready to die and then die. There’s something closer to the truth for me. Closer to my understanding of the consequences of what we do. The body’s relationship to the art’s consequences.”

I nod, and look at the time. When I look back up, Hayes is looking outside, while the street, drenched in sirens, howls. 


Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet and critic from Columbus, Ohio.

(Photos: Tony Gale)

Episode 20: Terrance Hayes, Lauren Groff, A. M. Homes & More

In the twentieth episode of Ampersand, editor in chief Kevin Larimer and senior editor Melissa Faliveno preview the July/August 2018 issue, featuring a look at how authors, agents, editors, booksellers and publicists work together to reach readers; the secrets to maintaining a long-term author-agent relationship; the summer’s best debut fiction; a profile of poet Terrance Hayes; author Lauren Groff on her new story collection, Florida; self-publishing advice, writing prompts; and more.

00:01 Terrance Hayes reads an excerpt of a poem from his new collection, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin.

01:12 The cohosts discuss Lauren Groff’s complicated relationship with her state of residence, Florida, which serves as both backdrop and inspiration for her new collection of stories of the same name, out this month from Riverhead Books. Contributor Bethanne Patrick, otherwise known as @TheBookMaven, profiles Groff for the new issue of the magazine. Kevin and Melissa talk about some of the stranger aspects of Florida (hat tip to the website Florida Man) and share some of their own stories about the Sunshine State, which involve hair removal, Tinkerbell, sunburn, and unsupervised teenagers on the loose. 

07:22 Lauren Groff reads an excerpt from one of the stories in Florida, “Dogs Go Wolf.”


12:55 Terrance Hayes reads a poem from his new collection, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, out this month from Penguin. Hayes is the cover profile of the new issue, and poet, essayist, and critic Hanif Abdurraqib, author of the essay collection They Cant Kill Us Until They Kill Us (Two Dollar Radio, 2017), interviewed Hayes at the Great Jones Cafe in Manhattan for the piece. 

14:56 Hanif Abdurraqib reads the opening section of his profile on Hayes from the new issue, “My Past and Future Assassin.”


18:52 Terrance Hayes reads two more poems from his new collection, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin.

22:18 A. M. Homes, the celebrated author of more than ten books—including novels, story collections, and a memoir—reads an excerpt from the title story in her new collection, Days of Awe, out this month from Viking.

28:31 In honor of the twentieth episode of Ampersand, Kevin and Melissa compose a celebratory haiku. (With sincere apologies to the masters of the form.) If you can do better—and we’re pretty sure you can—send us your Ampersand haiku at


Ampersand: The Poets & Writers Podcast is a production of Poets & Writers, Inc., and is edited and mixed by Melissa Faliveno. Music for this episode is provided by Podington Bear, Blue Ducks, Audiobinger, and YACHT. Comments or suggestions? E-mail

All About Skin Resists Singular Story


Syreeta McFadden


As a child I didn’t have a vocabulary for what I felt was an erasure of the American life I knew beyond my schoolbooks. I could only say that I was hungry for more than what I was reading, so from time to time I found myself in my grandmother’s bedroom, sitting in her reclining chair reading and rereading Black Voices, edited by Abraham Chapman and published by New American Library in 1968, the only anthology featuring African American writers that I knew existed. The writers in that collection became a kind of compass—or perhaps a trail of bread crumbs leading toward an inclusive body of powerful voices in American letters that were not all white and male. Anthologies can be excellent introductions to new voices in literature: The Best American Series, the O. Henry Prize Stories, and others regularly assemble robust collections of contemporary American fiction. Yet a reader can often count on one hand the writers of color—and specifically women writers of color—included within those pages.

In response to this deficit comes All About Skin: Short Fiction by Women of Color, a new anthology edited by Rochelle Spencer and Jina Ortiz and published this month by University of Wisconsin Press. Spencer and Ortiz, both writers themselves, hope to address not just the lack of writing by women of color in the contemporary canon, but also the problem of representation—that is, the tendency to publish or teach a single story by an established writer of color in an attempt to represent an entire population. The idea for the anthology first emerged when Spencer, a writing instructor at Spelman College in Atlanta, heard a student complain that “all black women writers write the same story.” In the anthology’s forward, Spencer writes, “My student’s attitude wasn’t unique; many of her classmates felt the same way: They truly believed that there really was one black experience or one woman experience worth writing about, for in their high schools, that was all they had been taught. Despite being female and of color themselves, they had rarely been exposed to multicultural writing by women authors.”

Thus the twenty-seven stories gathered in All About Skin resist a singular narrative, offering a broad range of voices—featuring work by writers of African, Asian, Native American, Latina, Caribbean, and mixed-race backgrounds—and stories that explore themes both universal and specific to identity and experience. Joshunda Sanders’s “Sirens” tells the story of a young girl reckoning with everyday violence and a disintegrating relationship with her mother while yearning to escape her tiny Bronx apartment; Ivelisse Rodriguez’s “A Different Story” follows a group of young Puerto Rican girls as they struggle to understand the complexities of love; and the anthology’s title story, by Xu Xi, examines attitudes surrounding beauty and immigration.

Some stories in the collection take direct aim at the educational system and its relationship with diversity. “Lady Chatterley’s Mansion” by Unoma Azuah, for example, follows a character who is accepted to an “elite MFA program,” but lack of student housing leads to a gothic Afro-futurist unfolding. Metta Sama’s “Lillian Is an Ordinary Child,” meanwhile, offers an innovative critique of policy decisions in public education, told through the wildly unique voice of an eleven-year-old girl.

Spencer and Ortiz hope that their collection will not only offer exposure to women writers of color, but also inspire and sustain a greater discourse among readers, educators, and publishers about the role of those writers in contemporary literature. “Chinelo Okparanta, Patricia Engel, ZZ Packer, Xu Xi, and many of the other women featured in the anthology are masters of the short form,” says Spencer. “I think the anthology will show that the work of these women writers of color is diverse and challenging and grows out of a particular, often neglected, perspective—even when it isn’t necessarily focusing on ethnicity or gender.”

Syreeta McFadden is a writer and photographer in Brooklyn, New York. She is the managing editor of Union Station and a cocurator of Poets in Unexpected Places.

Where the Writing Will Take Her: A Profile of Jesmyn Ward


Kevin Nance


The last thing Jesmyn Ward wanted to do was write a memoir. When her agent, Jennifer Lyons, first suggested the idea eight years ago, Ward entertained the notion, but only technically. The book proposal she wrote, reluctantly, was a masterpiece of self-sabotage that produced the desired result: rejection.

Her skittishness had several strata. On the surface, Ward, then a graduate student at the University of Michigan, wanted to establish herself first as a fiction writer—which she would accomplish with two novels, Where the Line Bleeds (Bolden Books, 2008) and the National Book Award–winning Salvage the Bones (Bloomsbury, 2011)—before tackling creative nonfiction. On another level, though, the prospect of writing a memoir was deeply unsettling. It wasn’t a matter of not knowing what to write, or even how to write it, but of where the writing would take her: back to her youth amid the poverty and racism of the rural Deep South, back to the Gulf Coast, back to DeLisle, Mississippi, where several young African American men she knew—including her beloved brother, Joshua—had died in recent years, all violently, in a culture that devalued their lives. She’d written an essay, “To the Heart Unhurt,” about those young men, and showed it to Lyons, who immediately saw it as the seed of a full-length memoir. Ward did too, and instinctively buried it.

“It was too soon,” she recalls one sweltering afternoon in DeLisle, where she now lives in a neat brick house not far from the Chaneaux, the poor black neighborhood where she grew up. “I wasn’t ready at the time, because I was too close to what had happened. I needed distance from all of that, but I was too busy struggling with my grief. Just trying to make it, you know, make it through the days.”

But the seed of the memoir, buried in the back of her mind, had germinated there, increasingly threatening to flower. After completing Salvage the Bones, Ward finally felt that enough time had passed to allow her the necessary perspective on the sad, sometimes tragic events she would have to recount in the memoir. But still she hesitated. She would tell the stories of the dead, of course, but also of the living—her hardworking mother and faithless father, and her sisters, Nerissa and Charine, all of whose personal details, including their failures and foibles, would be exposed. There were matters of privacy to be considered and balanced against the imperative to deal honestly, even bluntly, with the plain, often ugly facts of life and death in DeLisle, a place where racism, poverty, and economic inequality often left young African Americans turning to the solace of recreational drug use, which sometimes led to addiction, drug dealing, and their attendant risks.

“I think she was hugely worried about writing nonfiction about people in her community and family,” says Sarah Frisch, a friend of Ward’s from their time together as Stegner fellows at Stanford University. “The question was how she could get through a first draft while protecting people who needed to be protected. That was a big hurdle for her to get over.”

But Ward knew from the experience of writing her novels that she must lean toward candor; Where the Line Bleeds, set in a thinly disguised version of DeLisle and featuring twin brothers, one of whose names is Joshua, had suffered from its author’s unwillingness to delve deeply enough into the harshest aspects of her setting. “I associated the twins with my brother, I realized later, and I didn’t want anything bad to happen to them,” Ward says over a lunch of oysters two ways—grilled on the half shell, fried on a salad—at a local restaurant within sight of the Gulf. “I was protecting them, but I was also strangling the narrative, and the story couldn’t live. And so in Salvage the Bones, I realized I had to be honest. If I’m going to write the truth about this place, I’m going to have to be honest about the realities of it. I can’t act like some benevolent god when, you know, no one is spared.”

Least of all herself. Men We Reaped, published this month by Bloomsbury, was a source of nearly constant pain for Ward, who wept at the keyboard almost every day of the writing. (The title is drawn from a quote by Harriet Tubman: “We saw the lightning and that was the guns; and then we heard the thunder and that was the big guns; and then we heard the rain falling and that was the blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead men that we reaped.”) In the memoir, Ward tells her own story of poverty and oppression—including self-hatred, bullying, and racial taunting at various schools, including the private, mostly white, Episcopal high school she was able to attend with the help of her mother’s employer—interspersed with even grimmer chapters focusing on the lives (and deaths, between 2000 and 2004) of five young men she had grown up with. They included Roger (Rog) Eric Daniels III, a former boyfriend of Nerissa’s who died of a heart attack after an evening of snorting cocaine; Demond Dedeaux, who was found shot to death in his yard in a possibly drug-related incident; Charles Joseph (C. J.) Martin, a cousin who was a passenger in a car that collided one night with a train and burst into flames at a railroad crossing whose warning lights were not working; and Ronald Wayne Lizana, a cocaine addict who committed suicide. Most painful of all is the story of her nineteen-year-old brother, Josh, who had once sold crack but had secured steady employment as a valet at a Gulf Coast casino, during which time he was hit from behind at eighty miles per hour by a drunk driver, pushing him off the highway and into the fire hydrant “which came up through the floor, peeled back the metal like the lid of a sardine tin, and smashed into his chest.” The driver, a white man in his forties with a history of driving drunk, who had staggered home after crashing into Josh, was not charged with vehicular manslaughter but merely with leaving the scene of an accident. He was sentenced to five years in prison, serving only two years before being released. He was also ordered to pay Ward’s mother restitution of just over fourteen thousand dollars; he never paid her anything.

In Ward’s thinking, all five deaths were at least indirectly the result of a society that regards African Americans, in particular young African American men, as disposable—a condition that leads to neglect that manifests itself in various ways (such as the failure to maintain railroad-crossing lights in poor black neighborhoods), which the young men then internalize, leading to listlessness, lack of ambition, despair, and self-destructive behavior. In that sense, Men We Reaped is more of an indictment than a memoir, a bill of charges against a system that claimed a generation before its author’s eyes. “These weren’t just random deaths,” Ward says quietly, more in sadness than in anger. “They happened in my community, as opposed to a community that’s white and wealthy and has access to the kind of resources that we don’t have access to, and that hasn’t been historically oppressed in the way we have been oppressed. It seems to me that each of these men lived a life that was circumscribed in very real ways. Poverty, racism, inequality—all of those things bore down on them, and their life choices narrowed to a pretty limited set, where the best scenario was getting a minimum-wage job. In all kinds of ways, the society is telling us that we’re worth less—that we’re worth nothing, in fact—and that informs our choices. So yes, I have a responsibility to tell this story. And yes, I can’t apologize for indicting this system. Because if I don’t do it, who will?”

She sighs, frowns, nibbles at an oyster. “People ask, ‘Was it therapeutic, writing the memoir?’ It was, in a way, because it makes you work through these things, connect the dots and come to these very painful realizations. But it doesn’t change the fact that they happened. So when people ask that question, they want to think that it heals in some way, that it makes everything better. But it doesn’t. It was worthwhile for me to write this book, but it doesn’t heal anything.”


The responsibility that Ward feels toward her community in DeLisle has found expression in various ways—in the memoir, of course, but also in the fact that she continues to live there, with her longtime boyfriend and their one-year-old daughter, despite the fact that she now teaches creative writing at the University of South Alabama in Mobile, about a two-hour drive each way. (She has also taught at the University of New Orleans and at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.) She remains extremely close to her mother and sisters, who still live in the area, and deeply attached to the place, despite—or perhaps because of—the limitations and flaws she lists so thoroughly in Men We Reaped. (She’s less close, but still in touch, with her father, who left the family after a series of infidelities when she was young and now lives in nearby Gulfport.) Part of the reason for her connection to DeLisle—whose second syllable rhymes with ill—is that it seems that every time she leaves it, to go to Michigan or Stanford (where she was an undergraduate and later a Stegner fellow), bad things happen. People die.

“Even before I had a kid, it was important for me to live close to my family,” she says. “For me, losing my brother made me very aware of the fact that when I was in California or Michigan or New York City, or wherever I was outside of here, I felt very alone, very lonely. I realized that there’s a certain value to being close to family and living in a place where you have a support network of family members. That’s sort of out of fashion, I know, and people don’t advocate for that much anymore, but I need that support system in my everyday life, not just on holidays.”

At the same time, Ward is aware of being out of step with the tradition of many Southern writers, from Truman Capote and William Styron to Willie Morris and Alice Walker, who grew up in the South but left it, rarely to return except in memory and, of course, on the page. “This is the place I write about, so far and for the foreseeable future, and it feeds me to be here,” she says. “I don’t have to be—I’ve worked on all of the books in other places—but being in this place helps me to write about it in an authentic way. It keeps me hungry.” Hungry for what? “Hungry for the truth,” she says. “I’m still in contact with people who are still struggling, still dealing with all of the things I write about in my books, and I don’t want to forget that these are the same things that motivated me to write in the first place. If I lose that motivation, if I’m not conscious of what pushed me to get here, to this point, I feel like my work would suffer.”

Kathy Belden, her editor at Bloomsbury, agrees. “She talks about how it’s the place that always pushes her away and pulls her back,” Belden says. “Maybe because of all the losses she’s suffered there, maybe she doesn’t feel like she can risk being away from her family—an emotional risk, because those tight relationships are so very important to her.”

Of course, Ward is no longer the poor black girl who once lived crammed into her grandmother’s house in the Chaneaux along with twelve other members of her extended family, who drank beer and got high, passing blunts “like napkins” with her friends in a derelict county park on Saturday nights, who was a charity case at wealthy Episcopal schools where she was taunted by white classmates such as the girl who asked her, facetiously, to put “nigger braids” in her hair. Nowadays, Ward is self-possessed and solidly middle-class, a prizewinning author routinely interviewed by national magazines and television networks. But every day, she still sees people from her youth who continue to struggle with unpaid bills, chronic unemployment, depression, alcoholism, and drug abuse, the latter made worse by the advent of crystal meth, which has largely supplanted crack cocaine as the drug of choice in much of rural America, including DeLisle.

“I have a certain amount of survivor’s guilt,” Ward says carefully. “But that also gives me even more of a sense of responsibility to one day get in a position where I can help in some way. I’d like to be able to do it in concrete ways, although I can’t articulate what those more concrete ways would be, but in the meantime, I think I’m doing that with what I write. There’s power in telling a story. I love this place. I also hate this place; there’s plenty to hate here. But I hope that the work that I’m doing in my books is trying to make a place like this better in some way, trying to change perception of people here, and making people here more aware of the choices they make, the way they live their lives. By living here, in a way, I’m showing there’s another possibility, that being ‘successful’ doesn’t necessarily mean that you flee from places like this. And when you can, you try to make it into the kind of place that you don’t flee from when you have some success.”

Jesmyn Ward in 2013. (Credit: Matt Gates)

There’s another way, too, in which Ward owes her very identity as a writer to her family’s tragic history. Growing up, she dreamed of being an author and wrote poetry and, later, short stories in middle and high school, but was never satisfied with them. “I didn’t think I had the chops,” she says now, “and didn’t think I’d ever be able to develop the skills to be a writer, so I didn’t even try.” As an undergraduate at Stanford, she took some creative writing classes, but was stymied by a crippling sense of inadequacy in comparison with most of her classmates, who were far better read. “I don’t know why I’m here,” she told herself frequently. “I’m probably here just because I fulfilled a demographic.”

It was only after her brother’s death, on October 2, 2000, that she fully committed to writing as a career. “That sense of insecurity just fell away after my brother died,” she recalls. “It’s trite, I know, but I thought, ‘Who knows? I could die next week. I could die in a month. Maybe I’m not going to see thirty, just like my brother. So what can I do that would make me feel like my life is worth living? What can I do that would give my life meaning, in the limited time I have left?’ And the answer was writing. And I thought, ‘I might fail, but at least I will have tried.’”

At that point, Ward set about reading “seriously,” as she puts it, with an eye toward learning the craft of fiction. She read William Faulkner—The Sound and the Fury, which she found great but so difficult as to lack utility for her purposes, and As I Lay Dying, perhaps equally great but far more easily digestible—as well as books by Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf, and other modernists. She also found inspiration in books by black writers such as James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and Walker, whose The Color Purple was important to Ward “because it showed me that you could take the black female experience and make literature out of that.”

Lyons, who met Ward soon after her brother’s death, found her poised for literary greatness. “Her intelligence, her commitment to her writing, her level of seriousness struck me right away,” Lyons says. “Equally clear was her commitment to where she came from and the people she grew up with, along with the critical eye necessary to tell the story of her upbringing in that place and among those people. That’s why I felt from the beginning that she could and should write a memoir.”

By 2010, when Ward decided to write Men We Reaped, she was in full command of her powers as a prose stylist but still found herself delaying, in part because she felt she needed a kind of permission from her family. She had shared some early chapters with former Stegner fellows, who were encouraging, but she needed to hear from her mother and sisters. “It’s a story people need to hear,” her sisters told her, although her mother, a private, reserved woman, expressed some misgivings about divulging certain aspects of the family history. “I was so nervous that I avoided telling my mother that I was writing a memoir until I had a full draft of it,” Ward admits. “And my mom said something like, ‘Just tell the truth.’ Not that she thought I was going to lie, but she wanted me to get the truth out there, especially about the circumstances of my brother’s death. At the same time, she wouldn’t want the world to know some of the things I’ve written about my brother, such as the fact that he sold crack at one time or another, as a stopgap. And I think she’s afraid that I won’t communicate that she worked really hard to raise us on her own, which wasn’t an easy thing. When I was a kid, you know, I was resentful and angry about the way things were at home, and she probably felt like I was judgmental of her when I was a teenager. I think she’s afraid that it’s that teenage me that’s the one who wrote the book. That’s not the case, of course.” Even so: “I haven’t given the galley to her yet.”

She has given copies to her sisters, who have reacted supportively, despite signs of distress. Nerissa, for example, revealed that she cried while reading about how, on Jesmyn’s eighth birthday, their parents couldn’t afford to buy her a gift, so they made a swing in the yard for her with a piece of rope. Nerissa, who had a child of her own at the age of thirteen, said the passage made her appreciate how hard it was not to be able to provide for your family.

When Charine read the chapter about C. J., to whom she was very close, she called the next day. “That was really hard for me,” she told her sister. “I almost couldn’t finish it.”

On a broiling summer afternoon, Ward drives us, at my request, to the railroad crossing where C. J. was killed. A makeshift cross marks the spot, adorned with plastic flowers. A slight Gulf breeze jostles the nearby pine trees. Standing next to the memorial, Ward does not look at it for long, gazing instead at the horizon, the shivering pines.

“I told her I was sorry,” she says, speaking of Charine. “I told her, ‘A part of me didn’t want you to read it, to have to read it.’ I didn’t want her to have to think about those things, like whether C. J. was still alive when the car caught on fire, although of course I know she does.”

She breathes in the hot air as the sun beats down. “I hope when they get to the end of the book,” she says, “they’ll feel it was worth it.”

And then we get back into the car, which air-conditioning has made blessedly cool, and drive off toward home.


Kevin Nance is a contributing editor of Poets & Writers Magazine. Follow him on Twitter, @KevinNance1.

Jesmyn Ward at a memorial for her cousin, one of the men whose deaths she confronts in her memoir, Men We Reaped. (Credit: Kevin Nance)

Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family by Mitchell S. Jackson is out March 5 from Scribner.  

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  • March 4, 2019