Malcolm Friend

Poet, Performer, Educator

Our Bruises Kept Singing Purple (Inlandia Books, 2018)

Advanced praise for Our Bruises Kept Singing Purple

In Our Bruises Kept Singing Purple, Afro-Jamaican-Boricua poet, Malcolm Friend, has gifted us with a collection that is politically charged and culturally woke. Crafted in rhythmseasoned Latinx dialect, emerging from ancestral roots, replanted in the urban spectrum of hip-hop and rap, Friend’s voice is heart-inspired, soul-empowered, new-wave griot, a fearless weapon forged from South End Seattle, Puerto Rico, and Pittsburgh. Friend creates personal and family stories that connect communal tragedies and national consciousness in expressions of rage, affirmation and self-determination, confronting the brutal realities of being Black and young while caught in the colonial grip of America, enlisting the vibrations of sound masters like Ismael Rivera, Cheo Feliciano, Tato Laviera and Bob Marley. Friend chases ghosts that emerge from living scars and painful realizations experienced by people of color happening in the barbershop, the bar, the dining table, college, on the 7, in between a mofongo of jazz, blues, calypso, rumba, bomba, plena and dembow celebrations, where his heart is.

— Sandra María Esteves

In Our Bruises Kept Singing Purple, Malcolm Friend coasts the curvature of the blue note, revealing in his brooding, songful, and formally masterful verse heritages that pull from the ancestral into the vibrancy and violence of this moment. He guides us carefully through the intricacies of his landscape and identiy as Afro-Latino, all while felxing his linguistic and literary dexterity. The balance of beauty and punch is maintained in English and Spanish with meaning and metaphorical integrity upheld. From the haunting resonance of Orpheus’ lament to the allure of the sultry bolero, from the soul that soothes a man when his mother fears the robbing of his blood far from home to the tension of bomba and blues in the bones, here are the poems that bring us back to the purity of sound in their careful and studied composition. Friend shows us the terrible, delicate, beloved, ever-shifting truths; he guides us to hear beyond the stopping of our own ears.

— Raina J. León, PhD, author of sombra: (dis)locate and founding editor of The Acentos Review

mxd kd mixtape (Glass Poetry Press, 2017)

Advanced praise for mxd kd mixtape:

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

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Blues and Bomba bless the pages of this unique collection. They embody those nagging voices of doubt, of “no” and defiance, and of the dozens. They’re born of English and Spanish, of Seattle, of transiency, of trash talking and singing, and betweenness. And—do I have to say it? Yesterday’s hurts and today’s bruises. Li-Young Lee once described poetry as a kind of homesickness. Malcolm’s poems—nostalgic and tender—evoke this feeling. These poems are startling and affirming. They hold their own. They know where they come from.

— Yona Harvey, author of Hemming the Water

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. Friend's poetry does what all good albums of their time seek to do: set the record straight.

— Willie Perdomo, author of The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon