Toledo poet returns home for book releaseWritten by Jason Mack | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Toledo native Marcus Jackson is returning home for the release of his first book, “Neighborhood Register.” His poetry started in high school as a remedy for a broken heart.
“In 9th grade, a girl dumped me for another dude, and I was crushed,” Jackson said. “My sister suggested, since I wasn’t brave enough to demand another chance with her face-to-face, that I should write the girl a poem and put it in her locker. The poem was pure trash, and it didn’t help at all with my romantic situation, but I fell in love with trying to convey deep notions and feelings in a short amount of words.”
Jackson’s poetry eventually helped his love life.
“My wife and I met by living in the same building, in New York City,” he said. “We were graduate students in separate programs, and we had a mutual friend. I was head-over-heels instantly, but she took plenty of convincing. She made me read her a poem when we first met to make sure I wasn’t some chump. A lot of the beautiful and challenging and new moments we’ve shared are starting to become poems.”
Jackson is the first reader in the University of Toledo’s Alumni Reading Series. He is holding a book release at the Driscoll Alumni Center. It will include reading from his book and autographing copies. There will also be an appearance from his mentor Timothy Geiger, a creative writing professor at UT.
“Timothy Geiger has, in one way or another, inspired and/or taught me how to do everything I know how to do on the page,” Jackson said. “The poems he writes are astonishingly beautiful and intelligent. On top of that, he’s a marvelous professor who challenged, supported and redirected me more than any other teacher I’ve had.”
Geiger’s motivation helped Jackson graduate from UT with degrees in creative writing and communications, and in 2006 he earned a Master of Fine Arts in poetry from New York University. His work has appeared in publications such as The New Yorker, The Cincinnati Review and Harvard Review. He is working on his second book, a collection of love poems, while teaching creative writing at Middle Tennessee State University.
The name of Jackson’s book comes from his love of the title “Neon Vernacular” from poet Yusef Komunyakaa.
“With his title, Yusef is essentially giving a name to his own poetic voice, and he’s doing so with an amazing adjective-noun tandem,” Jackson said. “I wanted to do something similar. Since the word ‘neighborhood’ kept popping up in my collection, I figured I’d use that as the adjective. I then dove in the dictionary to find an ordinary word with a bunch of amazing meanings. Register resonated most, with its connection to music, traveling journals, registering as a citizen or resident, etc.”
The book release is Oct. 6 from 6-8 p.m. in room 1019 of the Driscoll Alumni Center, located at 2801 W. Bancroft St. The event is free and open to the public, and copies of “Neighborhood Register” will be on sale for $16.
Jackson is both elated and worried about the release of “Neighborhood Register.”
“The elation comes from having long dreamed of publishing a collection and knowing how bumpy the road can be,” he said. “The worry comes from that cynicism many artists have about their work not being good enough, and then knowing that it’s out there in the world for people to notice the wholes. At the end of the day, though, it’s awesome to look over at my book and know that something I busted hump for is materializing.”