Weekend Rumpus Roundup

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First, in the Saturday Essay, Tyrese L. Coleman unearths the history behind her surname and the results of a DNA test. The results say she is 69% African, 33% originating from Benin, 29% European, and less than 2% Asian. Coleman digs deeper and considers the likelihood of having descending from slaves and their slaveholders, imperialists and the subjected, both the winners and losers in our history books.

Then, in the first installment of an eight-part Conversation organized by Aziza Barnes and Nabila Lovelace, Cortney Lamar Charleston talks with Danez Smith about Southern culture, intersectionality, family, and more.

Meanwhile, Patrick James Dunagan reviews poet Larry Kearney’s memoir, Fish Gotta Swim, in which Kearney recounts the story of his fraught childhood in Brooklyn. As the product of a troubled relationship, the author nonetheless offers a “reflective” and “carefree” narrative. Dunagan writes that, “Kearney’s descriptions are ever adroit. We’re afloat in the daily haze of his precocious childhood as scenes come and go.”

And in the Sunday Essay, a college composition instructor remembers when she was the same age as her students, overwhelmed with the “unexpected” during a year of beginnings. Toni Nealie loses two jobs, her mother goes into a tailspin, her friend and roommate loses a parent to cancer, and a romantic relationship takes a turn for the worse. Nealie’s past challenges provide her with a new perspective on adolescence and her students’ work.

Finally, in the second installment of The Conversation, Desiree Bailey and Sean DesVignes discuss their relationships to form, lessons learned from those younger than themselves, what inspires them to create, and whether it’s possible to feel free.


Read more of Max Gray at Big City Sasquatch or follow him on Twitter @City_Sasquatch. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Encounters, Mount Hope, Conte, tNY.press, and English Kills Review. He co-hosts the etymology podcast Words For Dinner and is a graduate of the Rutgers-Newark MFA program. More from this author →