I was flipping through a literary magazine and paused at the pages that introduce the reader to up-and-coming authors. I am interested in looking at these things because it would make my day to be among those writers.
Regardless, there was one author that caught my attention and captured me once I saw the title of his book. The author is Gary Jackson, and the book of poetry is titled “Missing You, Metropolis.”
If you love poetry and comic books, meet your new favorite person.
The book was published by Graywolf Press in 2010 and won the Cave Canem Poetry Prize in 2009. It is a collection of poems that are autobiographical and reminiscent. Jackson writes poems that discuss his childhood, his friends, his family, and being an African-American in Topeka, Kansas.
I’m usually wary about the racial themes because there is a fine line between illustrating how one experiences life and preaching about an issue that’s been around forever. However, Jackson does a commendable job in telling his stories so that any reader would learn something and not feel left out.
It’s even more commendable as he sets these very real stories of his childhood friends and his terminally ill sister next to the thoughts and stories of superheroes. Jackson takes on different voices of individuals living alongside heroes and the superheroes themselves.
A poem that deftly illustrates this union of his life and the world of the comic books is titled “Storm on Display.” The narrator presents Storm of the X-Men as a freak of nature because of her skin color and tells Storm’s story of growing up like a list of facts, which echoes the slave-auctions of old.
Other poems feature the thoughts of Lois Lane and how she feels about loving one man with two identities; the musings of a victim of a bank-robbery wishing it were the optimistic Superman, not the dark Batman, saving him; and the argument of Iron Man while he defends his drinking habits.
Though some of these poems carry a weight to them, there is also a nice mix of humor and playfulness. In one poem, we encounter Jackson and his friends discussing which female superhero they like best and why; in another, we experience the smooth-talking Nightcrawler trying to buy a woman a drink.
This book of poetry creatively combines imagination and reality that will keep you entertained and, indeed, missing Metropolis.