Major Jackson is the author of five books of poetry, most recently The Absurd Man (Norton, 2021). As Mandana Chaffa affirms in a review in The Rumpus, Major’s poetry is “both microscope and telescope”: “he employs the small details of an individual’s experiences,” Chaffa writes, to “extrapolate outward to express a generation, a civilization, an era.” His poetic language is rich and complex, yet often startlingly direct and intimate. He captures the kinetics of a basketball game, the alternating bustle and stillness of a Black Philadelphia neighborhood, or the quiet reflection of a moment between lovers, in memorable lines of elastic verve.
This summer marks Major’s sixth appearance at the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, where his workshops have been much sought after and his craft talks and readings have consistently enlivened and challenged the summer conversations. This year, the Poets on Poetry series of the University of Michigan Press will publish his collection A Beat Beyond: The Selected Prose of Major Jackson.
Read a poem by Major Jackson: “The Body’s Uncontested Need to Devour: An Explanation” was selected by Naomi Shihab Nye for The New York Times Magazine.
Essential Viewing: Enjoy this short video of Major speaking about writing a nature poem and reading “The Body’s Uncontested Need to Devour: An Explanation” for the University of Vermont. You can also search online for longer videos of Major’s readings and discussions.