Tommye Blount, Sara London, Valerie Wallace - "Fantasia for the Man in Blue", "Upkeep", and "House of McQueen"

Sunday, April 11, 2021 - 1:00pm - 2:00pm
Event Presenter/Author: 
Tommye Blount, Sara London, Valerie Wallace


Tommye Blount, Sara London, and Valerie Wallace will discuss Fantasia for the Man in Blue, Upkeep, and House of McQueen.

Presented in partnership with Four Way Books

Virtual event


About Fantasia for the Man in Blue: In his debut collection, Fantasia for the Man in Blue, Tommye Blount orchestrates a chorus of distinct, unforgettable voices that speak to the experience of the black, queer body as a site of desire and violence. A black man’s late-night encounter with a police officer – the titular “man in blue” – becomes an extended meditation on a dangerous, erotic fantasy. The late Luther Vandross, resurrected here in a suite of poems, addresses the contradiction between his public persona and a life spent largely in the closet: “It’s a calling, this hunger / to sing for a love I’m too ashamed to want for myself.” In “Aaron McKinney Cleans His Magnum,” the convicted killer imagines the barrel of the gun he used to bludgeon Matthew Shepard as an “infant’s small mouth” as well as the “sad calculator” that was “built to subtract from and divide a town.” In these and other poems, Blount viscerally captures the experience of the “other” and locates us squarely within these personae.

About Tommye Blount: A Cave Canem alumnus, Tommye Blount is the author of Fantasia for the Man in Blue (Four Way Books, 2020), a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award, and What Are We Not For (Bull City Press, 2016). A graduate from Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers, he has been the recipient of scholarships and fellowships from Kresge Arts in Detroit and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Born and raised in Detroit, Blount now lives in the nearby suburb of Novi, Michigan.

About UpkeepThe poems in Sara London’s Upkeep offer a guidebook for both coping with and negotiating the difficult terrain of life after great personal loss. In the book’s opening section, the speaker explains to a Martian the ways we earthlings attempt to raise our dead—“you’ll find that with dreams // we exhume our dead without the mess /of upturned dirt”—and later finds comfort in objects that connect her to her late Mr. Fix-It father. These are elegies whose solemnity has been upended by humor and nuanced interrogations of the daily rituals that heal us. “How do you / do it, start the experiment— / gas up, each day, anew?” she asks. Oatmeal and duct tape help, London suggests, but ultimately the heart decides: The “old tubes, they play on.”

About Sarah London: Sara London is the author of Upkeep (Four Way Books, September 2019) and The Tyranny of Milk (Four Way Books, 2010). Her poems have appeared in many journals, including The Common, Quarterly West, Cortland Review, the Hudson Review, Poetry East, the Iowa Review, and the Poetry Daily anthology. She teaches at Smith College, and has also taught at Mount Holyoke and Amherst colleges. Sara grew up in California and Vermont, attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and lived for many years in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Also the author of two children’s books, she is the poetry editor at the Woven Tale Press magazine. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.

About House of McQueenSelected by Vievee Francis for the 2016 Four Way Books Intro Prize in Poetry, Valerie Wallace’s House of McQueen is a glittering debut by an assured new voice. Inhabiting the life and work of Alexander McQueen, Wallace builds a fantastical world using both original language and excerpts drawn from interviews, supermodels, Shakespeare, and more. At turns fierce and vulnerable, here is a collection that leaps from runway to fairytale to street with wild, brilliant grace.

About Valerie Wallace: Valerie Wallace is the author of House of McQueen (Four Way Books, 2018) and the chapbook The Dictators’ Guide to Good Housekeeping (dancing girl press, 2011). Her work was chosen by Margaret Atwood for the Atty Award, and she has received an Illinois Arts Council Literary Award and the San Miguel de Allende Writers Conference Award in Poetry. Her work has been supported by various grants and fellowships. She earned her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, teaches at Harold Washington College, and works in communications. For more information, go to

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