Book Review: come see about me, marvin by Brian G. Gilmore

We are pleased to have Brian G. Gilmore open our Spring Poetry Festival on Wednesday, April 1. His newest book, come see about me, marvin, was released from Wayne State University Press in 2019. To order the book, click here.

Brian G. Gilmore’s come see about me, marvin, is a masterful exploration of being a stranger in a strange land, while attempting to call on the familiar. Gilmore’s writing brings in themes of loneliness, politics, being black in the Midwest, and connecting with music to feel at home again. Throughout the collection, Gilmore references the music of Marvin Gaye, a Motown singer who had a similar experience moving to the Midwest to pursue his career.   

The book opens on “distant lover #1 (my michigan bed remix—for ellen g),” and begins a series of seven “distant lover” poems woven throughout the collection that focus on loneliness and how familiar activities, like listening to music, can make a person feel at home again. The first poem opens with “dear lover. where you/ once slept there are/ books now.” Gilmore’s writing takes the reader through a transformation, ending the book with “distant lover #7,” with the final lines: “lie here in/ bed w/ me in this cold, dark place, listening to some of your/ most beautiful songs, & feeling loved again, at last…” The power of Gaye’s music is tied into the heart of this book, and the reader is sure to notice its healing properties.  

Between the bookends of the “distant lover” poems, Gilmore writes openly about his experience in Michigan. Featuring poems about the location of the Detroit airport, coney dogs, snowstorms in Grand Rapids, the Flint water crisis, gun use in the Midwest, and racial stereotyping. 

come see about me, marvin allows the reader to be a passenger in Gilmore’s journey as he takes them to find some semblance of home, and what an honor it is, to be alongside him.  

Written by Estee Schlenner.

Published by cpoetrymsu

The Center for Poetry opened in the fall of 2007 to encourage the reading, writing, and discussion of poetry and to create an awareness of the place and power of poetry in our everyday lives. We think about this in a number of ways, including through readings, shows, community outreach, and workshops. We are at work building a poetry community at MSU and in the greater Lansing area. Contact: cpoetry@msu.edu (517) 884-1932 http://www.poetry.rcah.msu.edu

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