Ileke in Detroit: Kiese Laymon at the Charles H. Wright Museum
This past Sunday I attended a reading by Kiese Laymon at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History with my friends Jonathon and Joanna. I first read an excerpt of his powerful essay How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America for a class early last year. As soon as I got home from the reading I purchased the full collection of essays as well as his debut novel Long Division.
Laymon's work explores themes ranging from family, intergenerational trauma, race, violence, being a writer, masculinity, and growing up in Mississippi. During the discussion portion of the evening, an audience member described Laymon's writing as similar to James Baldwin. He went on to say how both have a similar rhythm to their writing. Laymon's work is relatable, and the subjects he explores, such as the current cultural climate of this country and working towards a deeper self understanding, are as relevant today as they were in Baldwin's day.
To say the evening was moving is putting it lightly. The audience was treated to an excerpt from Laymon's next project, which should be coming out sometime next year. His writing is poignant, though not to the point of sentimentality. His openness and ability to let us in to some truly painful and vulnerable moments was impactful.
After the discussion was over my friends and I went and introduced ourselves to him. He was incredibly gracious and appreciative that we came out. We even got a picture!
I definitely urge you to check out his work. What are you currently reading or what is something you've read recently that's made an impact on you? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!
Thank you so much for visiting!