PoetrySnaps! Sean Avery Medlin: Festival of Me
This week’s featured poet is Sean Avery Medlin, a writer and educator based in southern Arizona. Since their teen years, Medlin has used writing as a form of self-expression and a way to make sense of the world around them. Medlin’s work is a fluid mixture of poetry, raps and musicality, and they are always blurring the lines and mixing things up.
Today, Sean Avery Medlin shares with us their poem Festival of Me.
Sean Avery Medlin:
For me as a young person writing in my journal, I was writing…you could call them raps, you could call them rhyming poems. Early in my life, probably age 14, when I’m really finding and discovering a joy in writing, I don’t think I really had a concept of the difference between the two, like what was a rap and what was a poem.
I think growing up and spending time in different places, coming into the slam (poetry) community as a teenager, I remember hearing so many poems that did not rhyme. And that felt like a really big deal to me as a 15-year-old poet who had been spending all this time by myself writing these rhymed poems, right?
So, there were all these different ways that I honestly think that a lot of things were imposed on my expression that told me, ‘Oh no. That’s more of a rap’, and ‘Oh no. That’s more of a poem’. And so, I’ve learned those rules, and I feel like I’ve learned maybe why the world at large might classify some things as a rap and some things as a poem. But within my own work, especially in my last collection and the work I’m doing moving forward, I really want to have less of those lines for myself when I’m creating. I want to get back to sort of a childlike instinct that’s not necessarily informed by all the things I’ve been taught as a writer. I’m trying to mix it all up.
Festival of Me
fumes bloomed from a trash can
finna make my last dance this trek
up the stairs to my apartment door
some Star Wars anime pastiche
on pause i was coughing out a sky
when i heard these bars
my voice or Spirit’s voice does it matter
at all ? i had a duel with my shadow & lost
i’m grateful my sister calls
i’m grateful smoke don’t stick to a word
or a wall i’m grateful tears at my child
selves choral applause
oh festival of me born again by dawn
sacrificing dry scalp to an oily palm
god of i & i alone ancient as a song
pilot pen driven by ancestral sense
we’re rescuing pleasure from prison
the sun mimics my skin
About the poet:
Sean Avery Medlin is a writer, musician and educator based in Avondale. Their art questions the limitations of Black masculinity, media representation, and personal narrative. Medlin’s work has been featured at the Tucson Poetry Festival and in the Phoenix New Times, Chicago Tribune, and Teen Vogue.
About the host:
Steven Law is the co-producer of KNAU’s series PoetrySnaps! He is a poet, essayist, storyteller, and the author of Polished, a collection of poems about exploring the Colorado Plateau by foot and by raft.
About the music:
Original music by Flagstaff-based band Pilcrowe.
PoetrySnaps! runs the first and third Friday of each month.