This August Kenyon students Tariq Thompson ’21 and Edward Moreta Jr. ’22 celebrated their poetry publications in the Adroit Journal. Thompson and Moreta are best friends and writing partners. Thompson won the 2020 Adroit Prize for poetry, and Moreta was a finalist for the same award.
The Adroit Journal is a literary magazine known for supporting young and emerging artists. Thompson and Moreta will join well-known writers such as Terrance Hayes, Franny Choi and Ocean Vuong.
Thompson published two sonnets in the Journal: “ON THEIR BIRTHDAY, SUGE KNIGHT & MY DADDY DISCUSS FORGIVENESS” and “ON OUR BIRTHDAY, MALCOLM X & I DISCUSS THE MEANS?” Thompson said both sonnets took months to write, and were completed with the help of Moreta, along with Thompson’s partner, Gabrielle Bing ’19. The three are part of a group called BLKMAKE, where Thompson says they “talk to one another constantly about life and writing; we’re always, always bouncing ideas off of one another, always laughing with one another.”
Both of Thompson’s poems were inspired by his obsession with the number 19. “My parents and I were all born on the nineteenth of our respective months, and shared birthdays with some pretty wild people — Barry Jenkins for my mom, Suge Knight and Etheridge Knight for my dad, and Malcolm X and Lorraine Hansberry for myself,” Thompson said. Poet Morgan Parker’s view on incorporating the past into her poetry spoke to Thompson. In the VS podcast episode “Morgan Parker VS. Now,” Parker says, “[I’m] feeling like so much of myself is built because of these folks — just realizing that I have years and centuries to build from. I don’t need to define myself by what I can see. You know what I mean.”
In both sonnets, Thompson reveals something about himself and his parents by writing about those who came before them.
One of Thompson’s favorite lines in “ON OUR BIRTHDAY, MALCOLM X & I DISCUSS THE MEANS” is “Any so called Negro or Nigga or Black Hope, / To remain alive, must first figure his place / Amongst his people . . .” This line helped Thompson set the stage for his sonnet, which in part explores what it means to stay alive as a Black man. He finalized this sonnet with the help of BLKMAKE and several editors at Sunset Press, Kenyon’s undergraduate-run independent publishing press.
Moreta’s published poem is titled “EVERY NIGHT IS A TRIBUTE.” This poem, Moreta said, is inspired by the transition period after his first year of college, when coming back home felt disorienting and lonely. Throughout this poem, there are allusions to nighttime and the colors black and blue. Moreta said that the imagery stemmed from his view standing outside of his father’s house on a hill, watching the sky as it turned from dusk into night. After constantly evolving his work over the span of a year, Moreta finalized the poem this May.
Moreta’s favorite line in “EVERY NIGHT IS A TRIBUTE” is “niggas / is just niggas.” “So much of the time, we are just trying to be us and ourselves. We just are. No interpretations, no sociological articles, no academic studies, no graphics — we just are,” he explained. Moreta’s favorite line becomes a thread throughout the poem, which ends with, “when a rainbow unravels all of its colors / it ain’t even have me.”
Thompson and Moreta are already busy with new projects. Currently, Moreta is working on an experimental rap project and his poetry collection, while Thompson is working on his debut chapbook with Sunset Press, which is tentatively titled How Could I Be Lonely?
Thompson’s and Moreta’s published pieces can be found on theadroitjournal.com