mxd kd mixtape

Malcolm Friend
ISBN: 978-0-9975805-6-3


In his debut chapbook mxd kd mix tape, Malcolm Friend offers us a speaker on the fringe of becoming. If he were a superhero this would be his origin story. The musicality & rhythm that is promised in the title more than delivers, but what Friend also delivers on are poems forged within the many rooms of his identity. & these rooms are decorated with poetic craft & a keen knowledge of the songs that have shaped him. This collection, & Friend are a valuable addition to America's poetic landscape. I look forward to many more work from this fresh new voice.

— Yesenia Montilla, author of The Pink Box

In mxd kd mixtape, Malcolm Friend gracefully blends personal and public history, crafting a dynamic archive in verse. As Friend sets voices of remembrance against the forces of oppression, violence, and neglect, we hear how the richest points of identification — in poetry, in music, in life — occur as intersections: musicality and masculinity, Puerto Rican and Jamaican heritage, safety and threat, question and answer. The result is a chapbook filled with necessary poems that "echo of insistent survival." I'm so grateful for this talented and convicted poet, who has risked reminding us, because we need reminding, especially when staring down the many faces of erasure, "this is why we turn to song."

— Geffrey Davis, author of Revising the Storm

mxd kd mixtape hits all the right young poet notes: identity, awareness, inquiry, a politically charged imagination with the right doses of social value. Friend alludes to our heroes, our irony, our singers, as he sifts through the nuances of diaspora, untold stories, and lyrical re-interpretations of Black Caribbean complexes. This debut asks us to confront our biases, our mask-wearing tendencies, our ability to stay silent; it resists the violence of definitions until we have no choice but to sing. Friends' poetry does what all good albums of their time seek to do: set the record straight.

— Willie Perdomo, The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon


Sample poem from mxd kd mixtape:

Ode To Divino, or I Re-listen To Por experiencias propias for the First Time in Six Years and Finally Stop Hating, or When "Pobre corazón" Comes on I Think of My Dad

I guess if I had that voice—scratch of sand being broken apart by surf— I would wanna stunt on the mic too; mold notes from the heavy moisture of this air. Forsake the dembow's boom for 11 tracks, prove I'm the main attraction on the song. Who needs the kick drum's snare when your hands can scoop into your lungs, come out with a spit-soaked voice that floats away as soon as you loosen your grip? And, still, it's not until I reach "Pobre corazón," hear the croon of the hook: ¿Cómo explicarle al corazón que hoy te vas? ¿Cómo decirle que sin ti puede seguir? ¿Cómo fingir para que no se dé ni cuenta…? Not until then that I remember the day I asked my dad if his favorite singer was Héctor or Maelo and he said neither, said it was Cheo, said that no one could carry a cry like La Voz Sensual. My dad—so macho he questioned my mom anytime she bought red and blue popsicles, said he didn't like the color they left stained on me and my brothers' lips— admitting he fell in love with another man's voice, that he would choose the heartbroken wail of a bolero over El Sonero Mayor or El Cantante de los Cantantes. As Divino cries through my headphones, his croon this drowning of salt and sand, I remember how a voice can bring a man as close to tears as he'll allow his son to see.
Cover by Raychelle Duazo

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author photo
© Urayoán Noel


Malcolm Friend is a poet originally from the Rainier Beach neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. He received his BA from Vanderbilt University, where he was the 2014 recipient of the Merrill Moore Prize for Poetry, and his MFA from the University of Pittsburgh. He has received numerous awards and fellowships from organizations including CantoMundo, VONA/Voices of Our Nation, Backbone Press, and the University of Memphis. His work has appeared in publications including La Respuesta magazine, the Fjords Review's Black American Edition, Vinyl, The Acentos Review, Connotation Press: An Online Artifact, and Pretty Owl Poetry.