Marlin M. Jenkins with Danez Smith at Milkweed Books

Thursday, February 13, 2020 - 7:00pm
Milkweed Books
1011 Washington Avenue South
Open Book, 1st Floor
Minneapolis, MN 55415
United States

Free and open to the public.

Join Milkweed Books in celebrating the release of Marlin M. Jenkins's debut chapbook, Capable Monsters (Bull City Press). Jenkins's reading will be preceded by brief readings from poets Thea Rowe, Annie Liu, and torrin a. greathouse. The reading will followed by a conversation with poet Danez Smith (Homie, Graywolf Press, Don't Call Us Dead, Graywolf Press) and a book signing.


Capable Monsters moves through entries of the pokémon encyclopedia—the Pokédex—as a way to navigate concerns of identity: otherness, what it means to be considered a monster, how we fit into a larger societal ecosystem. To make space for the validity of oft-dismissed subject material, Marlin M. Jenkins asserts the symbolic, thematic, and narrative richness of worlds like the world of Pokémon: his poems use pokémon as a way to explore cataloguing, childhood, race, queerness, violence, and the messiness of being a human in a world of humans.

“As a lover of poetry who knows nothing about Pokémon, Capable Monsters both satisfies my poetry fix and, strangely enough, makes me feel like I ‘gotta catch ‘em all’! Marlin M. Jenkins has employed a new pantheon that’s been in plain view, though we’ve all been searching for it: avatars, in the form of the popular game and international craze. These poems are the ‘antidote from how the phrases turn’ around us daily, when we’re doubting ourselves and doubting the world in which we try to live with one another. We all need a ‘spiked monster there, protecting [a] friend.’ These poems are the capable monsters we need to advance to the next level of our lives on days when you’re the only person who looks like you, ‘in the room / like you are so often,’ and then ‘you feel… and [you] wish to sing.’”
—A. VAN JORDAN, author of The Cineaste

“Pokémon is a game of adventure and of taxonomy; it’s a story of conquering a world by collecting, understanding, and wielding the monsters that inhabit it. In Capable Monsters, Marlin M. Jenkins seeks to catalogue the strange creatures of this world: violence, memory, mental illness, the lonely spaces that racism and heteropatriarchy carve out. With musical precision and immense clarity of heart, Jenkins inhabits the taxonomizing power of the Pokédex in order to understand how those who have been called monstrous might not only live, but perhaps even—dare I say it— become the very best, like no one ever was.”
—FRANNY CHOI, author of Soft Science

“A quick thumb-through of Capable Monsters will reveal a playful and intuitive attention to form, shape, and an interest in Pokémon, a pop culture reference we might otherwise take for granted as harmless. A deeper read will show you a mind interested in considering that reference as a filter through which to question the borders of violence and empathy in childhood and beyond. ‘Have I / ever loved anything / I was not afraid of?’ Marlin M. Jenkins asks—the answer is this gift of a chapbook.”
—TARFIA FAIZULLAH, author of Register of Illuminated Villages


Marlin M. Jenkins was born and raised in Detroit and is the author of the chapbook Capable Monsters (Bull City Press). His poetry has been given homes by Indiana Review, The Rumpus, Iowa Review, Waxwing, TriQuarterly, New Poetry from the Midwest, and the forthcoming Arab Love Poems anthology. He has worked as a teaching artist with young writers at Inside Out Literary Arts in Detroit and the Neutral Zone in Ann Arbor. He earned his MFA in poetry at the University of Michigan, where he then taught writing and literature and was nominated for the Ben Prize for outstanding teaching of writing. He currently lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

Danez Smith is a Black, Queer, Poz writer & performer from St. Paul, MN. Danez is the author of ​Homie (Graywolf Press, 2020), Don’t Call Us Dead​ (Graywolf Press, 2017), finalist for the 2017 National Book Award, the Lambda Award for Gay Poetry, and two Publishing Triangle Awards. Their first collection, ​[insert] boy​ (YesYes Books, 2014), was the winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. Danez’s third collection, ​Homie​, will be published in Spring 2020.They are the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Montalvo Arts Center, Cave Canem, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Danez's work has been featured widely including on​ Buzzfeed​, ​The New York Times​, ​PBS NewsHour, Best American Poetry, Poetry Magazine,​ and on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Danez is a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host of VS with Franny Choi, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness. Danez is also the recipient of the inaugural Four Quartets Prize from the Poetry Society of America and the T.S. Eliot Foundation. Find more at ​​.

torrin a. greathouse (she/her or they/them) is a genderqueer trans womxn, cripple-punk, & MFA candidate at the University of Minnesota. She is the author of boy/girl/ghost (TAR Chapbook Series, 2018) & winner of the Peseroff Poetry Prize, Palette Poetry Prize, & the Naugatuck River Narrative Poetry Prize. Their work is published/forthcoming in POETRY, The New York Times, The Kenyon Review, Poem-a-Day, Muzzle, Redivider, & BOAAT. She is the assistant editor of The Shallow Ends. 

Thea Rowe is a poet from Ann Arbor, Michigan. She was a member of the Ann Arbor youth poetry slam team for two years. Now she attends the University of Minnesota. One of her loftiest ambitions, while in Minnesota, is to see a wild moose.

Anni Liu is a writer, translator, and editor with work published or forthcoming in Pleiades, Waxwing, Cream City Review, The Journal, The Margins, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from Undocupoets, Bread Loaf Environmental Writers' Conference, and the American Literary Translators Association. She holds an MFA from Indiana University and works at Graywolf Press.

Learn more.