#31 – Summer 2009




Tribute to African American Poets

Conversations with
Toi Derricotte & Terrence Hayes


#31 - $7Releasing in June, 2009, issue #31 celebrates the work of 30 African American poets. The very act of compiling an issue like this raises a number of difficult questions: What does it mean to be an African American poet? Do African American poets have to write about their racial experiences? Is there any justification for grouping poets together by race in the 21st century? Should white editors and scholars be free to participate in black literature? Does an issue like this do more harm than good?

In Rattle #31 we can’t answer any of these questions, but we can enter into a dialogue on the intersection between race and poetry. The course is introspective, and our guides are provocative essays by Meta DuEwa Jones and Susan B.A. Somers-Willett, intimate conversations with Toi Derricotte and Terrance Hayes, expressive photography by Rachel Eliza Griffiths, and a wealth of poetry in a wide range of styles and subjects. The result, for us, has been a transformative experience, and we’re grateful for the opportunity to share it with a wider audience.

As always, the Tribute is the focus of the issue, but not the totality of it. Rattle #31’s open section features the work of 55 poets, whose proclivities are as varied as their backgrounds. And in the back pages, our first-person contributor notes are almost as fun to read as the poems themselves.


African American Poets

Meta DuEwa Jones Descent and Transcendence…
Susan B.A. Somers-Willett Through the Invisible Cloak…
Alvin Aubert Hopefully Soon
DéLana R.A. Dameron Cartographer
Toi Derricotte from The Telly Cycle
Camille T. Dungy They Win the Upper Hand
Thomas Sayers Ellis A Few Excuses
Vievee Francis Say It, Say It Any Way You Can
Idris Goodwin Why Do They Call Bill Clinton…
Myronn Hardy Mucambo
Janice N. Harrington Ode to the Bedpan
Yona Harvey Sound—Part 1 (Girl with Red Scarf)
Terrance Hayes Model Prison Model
Alan King Chagrin
Willie James King Speculative
Danusha Laméris The Lord God Bird
Jacqueline Jones LaMon Who Are You and Whom Do You Love?
Jennifer Donice Lewis Medusa’s Defense
Herbert Woodward Martin On the Flyleaf of C.K.W.’s Selected…
Melissa McEwen The Girls on Josephine Street
Grace Ocasio Ars Poetica
Katy Richey A Guide for Black and White Crossing
Gary Earl Ross For the Man Whose Son My Son Killed
Mary Mclaughlin Slechta The Hour of Our Belief
Patricia Smith Ain’t Gonna Play Sun City
Lolita Stewart-White Civil Rights Cold Case #62…
Lynne Thompson Overheard at Starbucks: A Black Hat…
M. M. Vertreace-Doody Driving Under the Full Wolf Moon
Marcus Wicker Self Dialogue Reading Etheridge Knight
Ian Williams Hero
L. Lamar Wilson Dreamboys
Scott Woods To the High School Thug That Broke…


Albert Abonado Apartment 2B
Arlene Ang Tonsillitis
Josiah Bancroft To Stop a Dinner Guest
Heather Bell Love
Randy Blythe For Aunt Louise, Who Never Liked Me
Bruce Bond Far
C. Butterworth-McDermott Load
Michael Campagnoli from Beirut (1982–84): A Cycle…
Patrick Carrington Today She Bought the Hideous Tie…
Tom Chandler Ghosting
Mario Chard On the Question of What Drives…
Larry Crist Last Day on Earth
James Doyle Godly
Sally Doyle Skinning a Child Alive
Alan Fox All Seasons
Robert Funge A Starbucks Romance
Maria Mazziotti Gillan The Cedar Keepsake Box
Tony Gloeggler A Good Bad Day
Kimi Cunningham Grant Interference
David James The Famous Outlaw
Laurie Junkins Midwestern Gothic
Christopher Kempf Porn
Katie Kingston History of My Body
Andrew Kozma Elevator
Eric Lee Off Duty at Bare Exposures…
Lyn Lifshin Lips
Laurie B. Ludmer An Ordinary Orderly
Prairie L. Markussen Homeschool Fieldtrip, 2nd Grade
Joe Mills Conversation
E.K. Mortenson Dreaming of Emily Dickinson
Travis Mossotti Crossing the Gap
Dave Newman Miserable
David O’Connell Thaw
Matthew Olzmann Mountain Dew Commercial Disguised…
Brett Ortler What the Dead Tell Us About Charon…
Charlotte Pence (a+b+c)
Kate Peper Don’t You Miss the Phone Booth—
Jennifer Perrine Home Visit: Jenny
Sam Pierstorff It Takes Balls to Have a Vasectomy
Christine Poreba Unplotted
Charles Rafferty Ohio
Tera Vale Ragan Sunday Picnic on the Vltava
Mark Rich Into the Fog
Michael Salcman The Night Before
Hayden Saunier Poem in Search of a Horse
Alan Soldofsky Early Night
Lee Stern Determining Who the Marchers Were
Kate Sweeney Death of the Hired Hand, Hiawatha…
Phyllis M. Teplitz The Redwood Plague
Jeff Vande Zande Microcosm
Wendy Videlock The Void
Dear Universe,
David Wagoner In Memory of His Memory
Tana Jean Welch Claes Attempts to Understand Women
Kenny Williams Daphne
Michael T. Young The Risk of Listening to Brahms


Toi Derricotte
Terrance Hayes