Kevin Coval is one of my favorite poets on the contemporary American poetry scene. He is the co-founder of Louder than a Bomb, a youth poetry festival in Chicago that works with high school students, and he is the author of three collections of poems, the latest L’Vis Lives, published in 2011 by Haymarket Books. What I like about Coval’s work is his reference to contemporary music, especially hip-hop, which shapes the form and content of some of his work. I also like the theme and thread of identity that weaves his three collections together. His first book, Slingshops:A Hip-Hop Poetica, certainly has the hip-hop references, but it also has several poems that address his own identity being Jewish and white. His second collection, Everyday People, is a praise song to the working-class that populate Chicago, and his latest collection addresses the white black boys, meaning white suburban kids into hip-hop.
As a regular book reviewer for PANK, I had the chance to review Coval’s latest book of poems, and I was struck by how honest, brave, and bold these poems are, how they address the fact white people made a lot of money co-opting black culture. And at the heart of the collection is again the issue of identity. You can read my review of L’Vis Lives online by clicking here, and check out Coval’s work because he doesn’t run from the truth.
Here is a video of Coval performing quite a few of his newer poems. Enjoy!