Michael Cirelli Recommends...

“I’m thoroughly inspired, moved, agitated, elevated by music (mostly hip-hop).

My first collection, Lobster With Ol’ Dirty Bastard, situates rap heroes, culture, and iconography inside the four walls of fourteen-line quasi sonnets. Writing based on music has almost become a compulsion of mine. When I listen to old Smiths’ albums with names like Hatful of Hollow or Meat Is Murder, I think “literature!” When Morrissey sings, “I decree today that life is simply taking and not giving / England is mine / And it owes me a living / Ask me why and I’ll spit in your eye,” I immediately think remix. Remix is a term most commonly used in hip-hop music or, more recognizably, from grad school imitation poem writing prompts ad nauseum. Imitate it, re(in)state it, reconfigure it, say it in Braille! My forthcoming collection, Vacations on the Black Star Line, remixes the whole Mos Def & Talib Kweli are Black Star album through the lens of race, privilege, whiteness, and exoticization. I could take a song like Lupe Fiasco's “Dumb It Down” and spend hours trying to dissect each line, each metaphor, each double and triple entendre. The stuff of good hip-hop puts language in a rocket ship!”
—Michael Cirelli, author of Lobster With Ol’ Dirty Bastard (Hanging Loose Press, 2008)

Photo credit: Kiara Townes