• The 2018 Student Application is now live. Click here to begin!

  • 2018 Dates: Session 1, June 24 - July 6; Session 2, July 8-27

Introducing Derrick Weston Brown, Poetry Faculty

Tell us the name of a book or text you’ve marked up and what a reader in 2089 would learn about you from reading your marginalia in that book/text. Kudos to this reader for browsing physical books in 2089!

I have a recurring date with Toni Morrison’s masterpiece Beloved. For the last fourteen years since I first read the novel in one of my graduate African-American fiction classes, I’ve revisited it almost every year to either read it in its entirety or to comb through it for deeper interpretation. The reason I return to Beloved is not only because it is a superb, layered and emotionally difficult piece of writing but also because I have been writing a series of persona poems based on some of its characters. I still own the same copy that I purchased for that class so many years ago and it is also the copy that holds all of my notes, which I wrote on the margins of the now-yellowing pages.

If someone scooped up that copy of Beloved and started reading my notes in the margins they would learn that I have a loads of pop culture references lodged in my brain and that I can somehow make pretty profound connections between the texts I read and the minutiae of rap lyrics, movie dialogue and album liner notes floating around in my head. They’d learn that I argue with the text and write my own responses to it. They would learn that I crave dialogue and that I adamantly believe that that there’s an internal dialogue going on within almost every work of literature. Every book also has a dialogue (intentional or not) with the history that shapes it and the writers that influence it. This 2089 reader would learn that I’m listening to all of it. Always.

Derrick Weston Brown holds an MFA in Creative Writing from American University. He is the founding Poet-In-Residence of Busboys and Poets. He is a graduate of the Cave Canem and VONA summer workshops. His work has been published and featured in such print journals and online publications as The This Mag, JoINT, Colorlines and The Tidal Basin Review. His debut collection of poetry, “Wisdom Teeth” was released in 2011 through PM Press. He resides in Mount Rainier, MD. You can follow him on social media on Facebook and Instagram @theoriginalDerrickWestonBrown or through DerrickWestonBrown.com