Became a skinhead a year after he moved from Bumblefucktucky. Hit me with his cast. Hurt people hurt people often with their hurt parts. Who broke his arm? His step-dad step on him? They was poor, but they was white. A black eye was the only color he brought to art class. Who put him at my table? Who sicced him on me? Did you say black guy? Nah, said nigger, nigger. You know how kids kid. Basketball in the gym. They sicced him on me. Cut my lip with that bum wing, and smirked, but I kept going. Still going. Cuz who ain’t got a Daddy? Corey got brolic, then fat, puffy, sad, beery. Probably couldn’t spell graduation, dropped off the earth’s face, like how daylight does in winter, so early and leaving night so black. For no reason, for sport, for season. Lived in rumors of racist assault that tickled the rich kids: A sasquatch, a legend, a spook.
MIK AWAKE’s work has appeared in The Awl, McSweeney’sInternet Tendency, Callaloo, Witness, The Brooklyn Rail, and elsewhere. He teaches writing in the City University of New York system and lives in Brooklyn.
From April 2017 to July 2017, poet, writer, collagist, and teacher Sebastian Matthews and I carried on a long-running conversation, which you will find excerpted below. It is high time to hear from this provocative and engaging poet who, after surviving a head-on collision with his wife and son in the car with him, went into relative literary and social seclusion for several years. While the newest book discloses the private life of trauma and the body, forthcoming projects concern Matthews’ public takes on race, culture, and identity. Always stretching to disclose what others would keep hidden is part of what makes his widening body of work both engaging and authentic.
I’m the kind of guy who when there’s a problem, I like to get on it. I don’t like the problem to get me, I like to get it. When there’s a problem, I face it—I don’t let it faze me. You could say I like to faze it. I like to face my problems and take care of them, I don’t let them take care of me.