Living Writers Series: Malachi Black

By Sadie Miller

On OctobeIMG_0379r 21, 2015 author and poet, Malachi Black (pictured left) came to the SDSU Library to read many of his poems to the audience. Each semester, the English department hosts Living Writers Series events which allows various writers to visit the campus and share their work with faculty and students who not only study their work, but are also fans outside of academia.

It was my first time attending a Living Writers event and I was not sure what to expect from the author or the audience. One thing that was very clear well before the event began: Black’s work is very popular among SDSU students. The entire room was nearly full most people probably from the English department in addition to other related fields. After an introduction, he came up and began reading his poetry with titles like, “Our Lady of Sorrows”, “To the Executioner”, and “That the Bones Which Thou Hast Broken May Rejoice”. I had never read any of his work before, but as he read one poem after another I found myself enjoying the sound of his voice. He had a calm yet emotionally strong voice and you could feel the intensity of each word as he tried to connect the poem’s meaning to his audience. Many of his poems had a very depressing, dark tone to them that encouraged one to reflect on his or her life and how it ought to be lived in light of how short our lives are.

At one point, he asked the crowd how they were doing and one person sitting in the row in front of me strangely replied, “delicious.” That was one example of the excitement people had as they reacted to the poetry Black shared. I glanced at the woman next to me who was smiling, eyes closed, as she rocked back and forth in her chair as if she was part of a spiritual awakening movement. And yet at another moment a short time later, Black asked the audience if they wanted him to read a longer set of poems called “The Possibilities of God” and one woman responded with a very demanding, almost desperate tone saying, “Read every single one of them!”

Even though these moments made me feel a bit uncomfortable and caused me to ask what I had gotten myself into, the event was still interesting and worthwhile. Certainly entertaining, if nothing else.

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