Olympic Butter Gold
Olympic Butter Gold
Jonathan Moody grew up during the Golden Ages of hip-hop and listened to rap that was as adventurous and diverse as his military upbringing. When rap’s Golden Ages expired, the music’s innovativeness and variety diminished. Moody’s second book, Olympic Butter Gold, winner of the 2014 Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize, responds to Chuck D’s claim that "if there was a HIP-HOP or Rap Olympics, I really don’t think the United States would get Gold, Silver or Brass." From the poem "Opening Ceremony," in the voice of a heroin addict struggling to use Lady Liberty’s torch to cook "The American Dream," to "Dear 2Pac," an autobiographical account of teaching Tupac Shakur’s poetry to engage high school students indifferent to literature, Moody shares a worldview that is simultaneously apocalyptic and promising.
“These pages open like twin turntables as Moody’s hands serve up a pop-cultural bonanza, mixed with a crown of sonnets, while sampling generous doses of MTV’s Rap City and Radio One number-one hits, Grammy-winning performances and performers on the page as far apart and together as James Brown and 2Pac. You will find yourself singing along and unable to resist these poems. Clearly one generation’s mixtape is another’s MP3 playlist, but both will be singing these pages.”—FRANK X. WALKER, author of Turn Me Loose: The Unghosting of Medgar Evers
“Reading Jonathan Moody’s hard-hitting second collection is like rediscovering your favorite mixtape only to find out the thing has been reworked by Madlib. These narratives ‘pivot off the left heels / of silver-sequined shoes, / spin 720º’ in ways that are needful, nostalgic, and always unexpected. Moody is an elegant storyteller, and the unpredictable cultural fragments and totems in these poems remind us that we never really leave anything behind. Instead, we are compelled to remix and repurpose things in order to define our present—whether it’s a visit to Mr. J’s Barbershop, the wonder of a Memorex cassette rewinding, or Jordan making a poster out of someone off a no-look pass.—ADRIAN MATEJKA, author of The Big Smoke