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808s & Otherworlds

a collection of essays and poetry by
Sean Avery Medlin


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808S & OTHERWORLDS a collection of essays and poetry by Sean Avery Medlin

"September’s Most Anticipated LGBTQIA+ Literature" —Lambda Literary
"Most-Anticipated New LGBTQIA+ Books of 2021" —Paperback Paris
"PageTurners" —The Root

"Don’t sleep on the unpredictable 808s & Otherworlds… an elegant mash of memoir, poetry, tales of appropriation, thoughts on Black masculinity, Hulk, Kanye."
—Christopher Borrelli, Chicago Tribune


Synopsis

808s & Otherworlds: Memories, Remixes, & Mythologies announces a bold and incendiary new voice in Sean Avery Medlin. Against the backdrop of the Phoenix suburbs where they were raised, Medlin interrogates the effects of media misrepresentation on the performance of Black masculinity. Through storytelling rhymes and vulnerable narratives in conversation with both contemporary Hip-Hop culture and systemic anti-Blackness, 808s & Otherworlds pieces together a speculative reality where Blackfolk are simultaneously superhuman and dehumanized.

From the gut-wrenchingly real stories of young lovers unmythed by segregation or former classmates appropriating Black culture, to the fantastic settings of Hip-Hop songs and comic characters, Medlin weaves a tapestry of worlds and otherworlds while composing a love letter to family and self, told to an undeniably energetic beat.


Interviews:
Michigan Quarterly Review interview with Sean Avery Medlin (9/13/2021) by Sam Small

Geeks OUT interview with Sean Avery Medlin by Michele Kirichanskaya (9/29/2021)

AVOCADO DIARIES' Sean Loughran in conversation with Sean Avery Medlin (9/22/2021)


Excerpts:
Read excerpts of 808s & Otherworlds by Sean Avery Medlin on ENTROPY.

808s & Otherworlds a collection of essays and poetry by Sean Avery Medlin

Reviews

Scroll to bottom for Goodreads Reviews.

"I’m a sucker for a book of essays on culture, but finding fresh takes is rough. So don’t sleep on the unpredictable 808s & Otherworlds… an elegant mash of memoir, poetry, tales of appropriation, thoughts on Black masculinity, Hulk, Kanye."
—Christopher Borrelli, Chicago Tribune, "The Great 2021 Fall Book Preview: Our 60 best reads for right now"

"Sean Avery Medlin deals with the edicts of the misrepresentation and performance of Black masculinity in media. Their stories are told through rhymes and narratives and explore vulnerable topics such as systemic anti-Blackness through the lens of contemporary Hip Hop culture."
—Bella Morais, The Root

"So, the book is also a vision, and maybe a prophecy for a community who has barely been encouraged to dream aloud, or so vividly. Its heart draws lifeblood from the past, but its wings fly towards a better Afrofuture. Poets will lead the way on this Odyssey of self-creation, as they always have. Above all, 808s and Otherwords is a hybrid: poetry and prose and hip-hop, myth and memoir, semi-autobiograpy... Let this book be found and read by a young Blackboy in the middle of a white nowhere trying to fashion a new identity for themselves. May a thousand flowers bloom. May they play it loud and dance."
—Rufus F., Ordinary Times (Read the full review of 808s & Otherworlds)

"Medlin is a master of world building... From the tiny details of their childhood in Arizona to the systemic troubles of being Black in America, Medlin bucks conventions in ways that allow the reader to think deeply... 808s & Otherworlds sees an artist taking their lived experiences and parsing it into delightfully delicate prose. This book is one of those rare works of art that bridges the deeply personal for anyone fortunate enough to gaze upon it."
—Oliver Crook, Atwood Magazine, (Read the full review of 808s & Otherworlds)

"[Comic] character pieces are a skipped stone on the greater pond which is 808s & Otherworlds. Race in America, hip-hop culture, and queer identity are what anchors the majority of Medlin’s work. Sean Avery Medlin opens our eyes to a world most of us do not see or walk blindly through. Medlin widens our perspective to the bigger picture of pop culture switching its tune and embracing the politics of the military-industrial complex."
—Dominic Loise, F(r)iction (Read the full review of 808s & Otherworlds)

808s & Otherworlds included in "September’s Most Anticipated LGBTQIA+ Literature."
—Sydney Heidenberg, Lambda Literary (View the full list on Lambda Literary)

808s & Otherworlds named a "Most-Anticipated New LGBTQIA+ Books of 2021."
—Paris Close, Paperback Paris (View the full list on Paperback Paris)

"808s & Otherworlds is a beautiful, shapeshifting collection. Medlin considers hip-hop, the suburbs, Blackness, masculinity, celebrity, superheroes, and America as both trap and origin story, exploring and exploding the categories that seek to define and limit us. Equal parts argument, meditation, and declaration, this book is a triumph and introduces a singular new voice."
Danielle Evans, author of The Office of Historical Corrections, and Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self

"I loved everything about this collection of poems, remixes and meditations. It was raw, honest and contemplative. There were parts that kicked me in the chest and made me pay attention. There were so many times I stopped to reread certain parts because the thoughts were so deep. The format of the book gave it a nice flow."
—Sharon Velez Diodonet, @bookdragon217

"It’s subtitled Memories, Remixes and Mythologies, which is a great way to describe the combination of personal vignettes, lyrics, cultural critiques and manifesto that make up each of its parts... I loved to see poems in conversation with other faves like Morgan Parker and Jasmine Mans—Medlin situating themself in a choir of poets whose work is as brilliant aloud as it is on the page. Poets, hip hop fans, don’t pass this one up."
—Jamie M, @mixedreader

"Sean Avery Medlin's Poetry Makes Room for Gaming and Superheroes" (9/21/2021)
The Phoenix New Times's Robrt L. Pela spoke with Medlin about the writing of their debut collection of poetry and essays, 808s & Otherworlds, heroes, academia, and more.

"In this small book, Medlin’s words pack a punch. If you’re already familiar with him, you will enjoy catching up to his latest thoughts. If you (like me) are new to his world (Hip Hop) but want to hear what he has to say about issues surrounding BLM and Black culture, just dive into his prose—short bits and poetry meant to evoke an understanding by immersing us in his memories, experiences and observations. I think you’ll get a new view of the world from these pages."
—Linda Bond, Auntie’s Bookstore (Spokane, WA)

"The 808, as a sound-making machine, creates what some might say is the part of the beat that you can most feel in your chest, in your limbs, the part that leaves you trembling well after the sound departs. It makes sense, then, that what we have here, is a book that does the same. A book that rattles in the mind long after the final word. A book that has a generous dexterity and playfulness in form, but sacrifices nothing in language, in image, in metaphor. Play this one loud and let it shake whatever dormant corners you've got."
Hanif Abdurraqib, author of A Little Devil in America, Go Ahead in the Rain, and They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us

"Sean Avery Medlin’s 808s & Otherworlds is an exciting glimpse at the future of poetry. Medlin’s poems sing and remix layer after layer of cultural references. Their poems are stunning. As a fellow suburbanite, I loved glimpsing Medlin’s dystopic suburban Arizona."
José Olivarez, author of Citizen Illegal

“Like the light of an event horizon, this work races toward and struggles against the gravity of Blackness. Lovechild of Sun Ra and Sailor Moon, Sean Avery Medlin sings into the narrow space between hope and rage, bridging political and pop culture galaxies. If our suburbs have become burnt-out satellites circling a world long lost to racism, this book is our S.O.S., transmitting radio waves for searchers and survivors. What an expansive and timely poetic voice!”
Amaud Jamaul Johnson, author of Imperial Liquor, Red Summer, and Darktown Follies

"A debut of multiverse treasures, 808 & Otherworlds explores the seams between American violence, celebrity, music, desert suburbia, and selfhood—and does so with tender, piercing exuberance. Medlin’s hybrid poems dig up the body’s public incivilities and private joys. They envision the fertile ground that springs beyond empire.”
—Karen Rigby, author of Chinoiserie

"808s and Otherworlds, Sean Avery Medlin's debut publication, is an unconventional suburban coming-of-age tale told through an enchanting mixture of written styles. Medlin allows his imagination to run wild in the work and takes the reader along for the journey, honoring and presenting in words the dreams of his youth as a Blackboy growing up in suburban Arizona. Medlin is emblematic of the struggle faced by Black Americans, particularly Black men, to reconcile their interests and personal relationship to their identities with outward perceptions and stereotypes. A hip hop, comics, and anime fanatic, Medlin allows his passions to shine through in the work—multiple pieces signify on Silver Surfer, Hulk, Naruto, and Kanye West respectively. The poems are emotionally vulnerable and honest while maintaining a whimsical rhythm and rhyme pattern throughout... 808s and Otherworlds is a thoroughly original and evocative work from a fresh new literary voice."
—Meghana Kandlur, Seminary Co-op Bookstore (Chicago, IL)

Author

Sean Avery Medlin, author of 808s & Otherworlds

Sean Avery Medlin (he/they) is a gamer and Hip-Hop nerd, whose only wish in this world is to watch an unproblematic Black sci-fi T.V. show. Till then, Medlin teaches creative writing and guides cultural work for organizations across the U.S., while also creating rap, poetry, prose, and performance. Their music, literature, and theater all question the limits of Black masculinity, media (mis)representation, and personal narrative.

Medlin has shared stages with Saul Williams, J. Ivy, and Lemon Andersen. Their work’s been featured in Afropunk, Blavity, the 2018–2019 Chicago Hip-Hop Theater Festival, and the 2020 Tucson Poetry Festival. Their Hip-Hop play and album, skinnyblk, along with all their previous work, is available online at superseanavery.com. 808s & Otherworlds: Memories, Remixes, & Mythologies is Medlin’s debut collection.

Visit the Sean Avery Medlin author page for additional details, videos, and interviews.

Guide

Click here to view and/or download the 808s & Otherworlds reader guide as a PDF.

BOOK CLUB & READER GUIDE: Questions and Topics for Discussion

1. The author chose to subtitle this collection: “Memories, Remixes, & Mythologies”? What do you think is fitting about those three specific descriptors?

2. This collection moves freely from poetry to prose essays and back again: what effect did this have on you as a reader? Why do you think the author chose this format for their work?

3. “Paradox,” on page 54, opens with a reference to the James Baldwin quote, “To be a Negro in this country and to be relatively conscious is to be in a state of rage almost, almost all of the time…” How does this collection reckon with America’s brutal enslavement, ongoing suppression, exploitation, and theft from/of its Black citizens?

4. How does the author balance those same feelings of rage that Baldwin described, with feelings of joy and hope?

5. Mis-representation of Black diversity, Black culture, and Black masculinity, in all media formats, are evaluated throughout the poems and essays. What are some examples of this?

6. Arizona is a recurring backdrop throughout the collection. What are some of the author’s views of the state? How does the author weave in historical facts about the area’s Indigenous peoples as well as its history with Black residents of the state?

7. Avondale, the Phoenix suburb where the author was raised, is also a frequent subject and setting in the collection. What effect did it have on the author being a young Black person living in an overwhelmingly nonBlack area? How did the author feel about themself? How do they remember being treated by their school peers?

8. In several places, the author talks about their complicated attraction to and relationship with white beauty standards. What do you think were the driving forces behind this attraction? How does the author grapple with this relationship/attraction throughout the collection, and how does the author’s opinion of beauty change over time?

9. How influential were certain Hip-Hop artists and their music during the author’s coming-of-age years? Who were some of them? In what ways did specific lyrics and artists inform the author’s understanding of their own identity at a young age?

10. As the author grew older and became more aware of the complexities of gender and sexuality, how did their relationship with the Hip-Hop music they loved evolve?

11. Consider the pitfalls that the author discovers of holding up celebrities as idols. Think about your own experiences with this situation and discuss how your adoration of famous individuals has changed over time, or not, and why.

12. The author frequently writes about members of their family: Speak about the influence each has had in shaping the author’s life. As a group, discuss the power of family influence, compared to that of media influence; how do you think the two forces are balanced in children and young adults?

13. Superheroes, anime characters, and pop culture references such as Star Wars are used throughout the collection as a lens through which to investigate and interrogate major societal issues such as racism, gender, government policies: talk about what some of these instances are, and how considering them this way affected you.

14. The contrapuntal poems in the collection—each comprised of two distinct and different poems that are meant to be in conversation with each other—can be read in different ways. Consider revisiting pages 22 (“THUGLIFE Contrapuntal”) and 79 (“On Sight Contrapuntal”) to try reading their poems separately and then together as a unified text, left to right. What effects do the different ways of reading the contrapuntals have on you?

Audio

Find the 808s & Otherworlds audiobook edition, read by the author, wherever you source your audiobooks!

Click here to view or download the 808s & Otherworlds audiobook supplemental PDF.

AUDIOBOOK ISBN: 9781953387189
RELEASE DATE: Sept–Oct 2021

808s & Otherworlds audiobook edition by Sean Avery Medlin

Sneak Peek

Enjoy a sneak peek of select pages from 808s & Otherworlds!
View 808s & Otherworlds sneak peek on Issuu.com

Sean Avery Medlin’s 808s & Otherworlds book cover

info

FORMAT: Paperback (1st printing with gatefold)
LIST PRICE: $15.99
PAGES: 140
PRINT ISBN: 9781953387066
DIGITAL EBOOK ISBN: 9781953387073
AUDIOBOOK ISBN: 9781953387189
RELEASE DATE: 09/14/2021
SIZE: 5.5" x 7.5"

Printed in Canada by Marquis, with the following environmental statement:
*Printed on Rolland Enviro. This paper contains 100% post-consumer fiber, is manufactured using renewable energy - Biogas and processed chlorine free.
*FSC certified paper (inside and cover).

Paper Rolland Enviro icons