In his fourth collection, a breakthrough volume, Major Jackson appropriates the vernacular notion of “rolling deep” to capture the spirit of aesthetic travel that defines these forceful new poems and brazenly announces his steady accretion of literary and artistic influences, both formal and experimental—his “crew.” The confident and radiant poems in Roll Deep address a range of topics, most prominently human intimacy and war. And like his best work to date, these poems create new experiences with language owed to Jackson’s willingness to once again seek a rhythmic sound that expresses the unique realities of the twenty-first century with humor and understanding. Whether set in Nairobi, Madrid, or Greece, the poems are sensuously evocative and unapologetically with-it, in their effort to build community across borders of language and style.
From Urban Renewal, “The Dadaab Suite”:
I have come to Dadaab like an actor
on a press release, unprepared for the drained faces
of famine-fleeing refugees, my craft’s glamour
dimmed by hundreds of infant graves, children
whose lolling heads’ final drop landed on their mothers’
backs like soft stones. What beauty can I spell in
this swelter of dust?