Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Born Today in 1950, Award-Winning Poet Melvin Dixon

Melvin Dixon was born today, May 29, in 1950. He was an American Professor of Literature, and an author, poet and translator.

Dixon was born in Stamford, Connecticut. He earned a BA from Wesleyan University in 1971 and a PhD from Brown University in 1975

Dixon was a Professor of Literature at Queens College from 1980 to 1992. He was the author of several books. In 1989, Trouble the Water won the Charles H. and N. Mildred Nilon Excellence in Minority Fiction Award. Vanishing Rooms won a Ferro-Grumley Award for LGBT Literature in 1992.

Influenced by James Baldwin, Dixon wrote extensively about being gay, specifically about the complexities of being a gay black man. Speaking on this topic at a speech to the Third National Lesbian and Gay Writers Conference, Dixon said, “As white gays deny multiculturalism among gays, so too do black communities deny multisexualism among their members. Against this double cremation, we must leave the legacy of our writing and our perspectives on gay and straight experiences.”

Dixon died of complications from AIDS-related illnesses on October 26, 1992, one year after his partner Richard Horovitz died.

"Heartbeats" by Melvin Dixon

Work out. Ten laps.
Chin ups. Look good.

Steam room. Dress warm.
Call home. Fresh air.

Eat right. Rest well.
Sweetheart. Safe sex.

Sore throat. Long flu.
Hard nodes. Beware.

Test blood. Count cells.
Reds thin. Whites low.

Dress warm. Eat well.
Short breath. Fatigue.

Night sweats. Dry cough.
Loose stools. Weight loss.

Get mad. Fight back.
Call home. Rest well.

Don’t cry. Take charge.
No sex. Eat right.

Call home. Talk slow.
Chin up. No air.

Arms wide. Nodes hard.
Cough dry. Hold on.

Mouth wide. Drink this.
Breathe in. Breathe out.

No air. Breathe in.
Breathe in. No air.

Black out. White rooms.
Head hot. Feet cold.

No work. Eat right.
CAT scan. Chin up.

Breathe in. Breathe out.
No air. No air.

Thin blood. Sore lungs.
Mouth dry. Mind gone.

Six months? Three weeks?
Can’t eat. No air.

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