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Talking to Saeed Jones at the end of the world (Rebroadcast)

“The End of the World was a nightclub, Drag queens with machetes and rhinestoned machine guns guarded the red and impassable door on Friday nights. 

Just a look at the crowd, all dressed up and swaying outside, made people want to yell the truth about themselves to anyone who’d listen, but no one heard.” 

That’s the beginning of Saeed Jones’s poem, “Alive At The End of The World.” It’s one of four by that name dedicated to the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, in 2016.  

It’s also the name of Jones’s new collection. In these poems, Jones wrestles with the loss of his mother a decade after her death.  

He turns to artists like Whitney Houston, Aretha Franklin, Luther Vandross, and Little Richard for a complicated comfort. 

And he peels back his personal grief to make sense of a collective one.We speak to him about what being on the cusk of calamity can teach us about grace, humanity, and ourselves.

Copyright 2023 WAMU 88.5

Haili Blassingame