Yalie Saweda Kamara, Olatunde Osinaike & Dan "Sully" Sullivan discussing and signing Besaydoo, Tender Headed, & O Body

Friday, March 8, 2024 - 7:00pm
2692 Madison Rd
Cincinnati, OH 45208

Yalie Saweda Kamara, Olatunde Osinaike & Dan "Sully" Sullivan discussing and signing Besaydoo, Tender Headed, & O Body

Friday, March 8 at 7pm ET 

Location: Joseph-Beth Cincinnati

Join us for Yalie Saweda Kamara, Olatunde Osinaike & Dan "Sully" Sullivan discussing and signing Besaydoo, Tender Headed, & O Body. Optional RSVP is below, but not required to attend the event.


Besaydoo by Yalie Saweda Kamara

Selected by Amaud Jamaul Johnson for the 2023 Jake Adam York Prize, Yalie Saweda Kamara's Besaydoo is an elegantly wrought love song to home—as place, as people, as body, and as language.

A griot is a historian, a living repository of communal legacies with "a story pulsing in every blood cell." In Besaydoo, Kamara serves as griot for the Freeborn in Oakland, the Sierra Leonean in California, the girl straddling womanhood, the woman re-discovering herself. "I am made from the obsession of detail," she writes, setting scenes from her own multifaceted legacy in sharp relief: the memory of her mother's singing, savory stacks of lumpia, a church where "everyone is broken, but trying." A multitudinous witness.

Kamara psalms from the nexus of many languages—Krio, English, French, poetry's many dialects—to highlight mechanisms not just for survival, but for abundance. "I make myth for peace," she writes, as well as for loss, for delight, for kinship, and most of all for a country where Black means "steadfast and opulent," and "dangerous and infinite." She writes for a new America, where praise is plentiful and Black lives flourish. But in Besaydoo, there is no partition between the living and the dead. There is no past nor present. There is, instead, a joyful simultaneity--a liberating togetherness sustained by song.


Yalie Saweda Kamara is a Sierra Leonean American writer, educator, and researcher from Oakland, California. Selected as the 2022-2023 Cincinnati and Mercantile Library Poet Laureate (2-year term) and a 2023 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow, she is the editor of the anthology What You Need to Know About Me: Young Writers on Their Experience of Immigration and the author of the chapbooks A Brief Biography of My Name and When the Living Sing. Kamara earned a PhD in Creative Writing and English Literature from the University of Cincinnati. She is an assistant professor of English at Xavier University and resides in Cincinnati.


Tender Headed by Olatunde Osinaike

Tender Headed, selected by Camille Rankine as a winner of the 2022 National Poetry Series, is a musical and formally playful meditation on Black identity and masculinity

"In this dynamic debut collection, Nigerian American poet Osinaike unpacks ideas of masculinity with playful musicality . . . Acutely attuned to poetic lineage, Osinaike cites established poets Yona Harvey, Ladan Osman, and Morgan Parker, setting a context for his own new and versatile voice." —Booklist

The irony of transformation often is that we mistake it to have occurred long before it does. Tender Headed takes its time in asserting the realization that growth remains ever ahead of you. Examining the themes of Black identity, accountability, and narration, we encounter a series of revealing snapshots into the role language plays in chiseling possibility and its rigid command of depiction. Olatunde Osinaike's startling debut sorts through the many-minded masks behind Black masculinity. At its center lies an inquiry about the puzzling nature of relationships, how ceaseless wonder can be in its challenge of a truth. In the name of music and self-identity, the speaker weaves their way through fault and how it amends Black life in America.

This is demonstrated best in how the demanding, yet vulnerable tone for the collection is set in "Men Like Me," its restless opening poem. Here, we find the speaker reciting a chronicle of generational neglect from men that became him also. Earnest and sharp, there is a beauty in seeing a poet not shy away from both the melancholy and resolve of rescripting their path while cherishing their steps and missteps along the way. This collection is a panel aching of fathers, sons, uncles, grandfathers, all of whom would do well to join in and confront shared privileges that are typically curtailed or altogether avoided in conversation. Tender Headed entrusts the heart to be a compass, insisting on a journey unto itself and a melodic detour toward tenderness precise with its own footing.


Originally from the West Side of Chicago, Olatunde Osinaike is a Nigerian American poet and software developer. He is the winner of the Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize, a Frontier Poetry Industry Prize, and honorable mention for the Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Award in Poetry. His work has appeared in Best New Poets, New Poetry from the Midwest, Kweli Journal, Wildness, Southeast Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Atlanta.


O Body by Dan “Sully” Sullivan

A collection of moving and tender poems that delves into questions of masculinity, fatherhood, home, and learning to live in and love one's own body.

In his second full-length poetry collection, Chicago-born poet Dan "Sully" Sullivan considers the male body—its momentum and privilege when moving through the world, but also its softness and vulnerability. As the poems unfold and questions unravel, the book challenges wider social systems that uphold patriarchal notions of masculinity, seeking to achieve a new register of compassion, of self-love.

O Body is also a migration narrative, navigating the physical distances between cities—the speaker's movement between Chicago and his new home in Bloomington—and beyond that, the expansive, immeasurable distances within the self. Cityscapes come alive on the page and relationships bloom and deepen as Sully explores love, fatherhood, and family; here, traditional assumptions regarding masculinity and beauty are called into question through the speaker's tenderhearted wondering.

As more and more people awaken to the realization that the patriarchy oppresses people of all genders, Sully's work in O Body offers a much-needed narrative of that shifting perspective. This deeply self-aware and big-hearted book holds space for reflecting on one's physical body and interiority: the complex relationship between the two as well as their intricate and often fraught connections to the wider community and the places we call home.


Dan "Sully" Sullivan holds an MFA & MA from Indiana University. He is co-editor of the anthology, Respect the Mic: Celebrating 20 Years of Poetry from a Chicagoland High School, Penguin Workshop, 2022. His first full-length book of poems, The Blue Line Home, is available from EM-Press.


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