With its defiance for any one tradition or voice, Thomas Sayers Ellis's debut becomes a powerful argument against monotony
" A dream. A democracy. A savage liberty."
" And yet another anthem and yet another heaven"
"and yet another party wants you."
" Wants you wants you wants you."
In one poem, Thomas Sayers Ellis prognosticates, "Pretty soon, the Age of the Talk Show / Will slip on a peel left in the avant- gutter." The result is "The Maverick Room," the testing ground of determination and serendipity, where call-and-response becomes Steinian echo becomes Post-Soul percussive pleasure becomes a bootlegged recording hustled out of a D.C. go-go club.
“This linguistic tome maps the segments of the district, the nation’s capital. These quadrants condition the self, an inward geography: riffs, nicknames, the cunning fragments constructed from the language of pop art, hip-hop, the threshold of family, the death of the father, the sustenance and strength of the mother, the testimony of the son. Thomas Sayers Ellis is tour guide: his poetry is about the neighborhood, native speech, a probing intellect, innovative prosody, experimental wit, a parlance of the street, gardens and maps, the upper and lower frequencies as registry of song.”—Michael S. Harper