Marcus Wicker is part of the newest generation of African American poets; his debut collection, Maybe the Saddest Thing, was published as part of the prestigious National Poetry Series. The apt description of the collection by D.A. Powell, the selecting judge, echoes the poems themselves: "Action painting meets the pop of hip-hop. Here is a dashing figure of speech and preach, a lovepoet to the stars... lyric wizardry astound the ears."
Riff, pop, hip-hop, preach, lyric: Wicker's is a new poetry for the 21st century. A glance at the titles reveals some of the key figures who are part of his world and his poetry: Richard Pryor, Pam Grier, Bruce Leroy, Dave Chappelle, J-Live. RuPaul is "fierce / in the way only a 6'7" black drag queen could be." At times, he addresses these icons directly: "[You] were not Public Enemy's sidekick," he tells Flavor Flav. "You hosed down whole crowds / in loudmouth flame-retardant spit."
Wicker's poetry grabs onto the world around him and reels it in, from pop culture and music to harsher realities of drugs and violence. Maybe the Saddest Thing oozes with the poet's love of language and life, all kinds of life. Amidst the sadness are love poems ("Because your mouth/ is the nectar & squish of a peach. Because your lips are the color/ of a flowering quince") and even an aubade: "Could I call this poem an aubade if I wrapped it/ in fragrant tissue paper?" Wicker writes. "Yes. I meant to say/ Write it. And please, don't stop." --Tom Lavoie, former publisher