Kavon Cortez-Jones loves Milwaukee. The poet and lifelong resident calls the city the “Paris of the Midwest” in his new book, Club Noir. Cortez-Jones’ debut release is bursting with references to local landmarks, area musicians, and beloved regional institutions. The majority of the book—which features works written between the ages of 18 and 21—comes from a place of love and appreciation, but through acknowledging some of the difficulties faced while growing up on Milwaukee’s north side, some poems also indirectly shed a light on the city’s issues with segregation.
Host Tyler Maas caught up with the up-and-coming Milwaukee poet at Riverwest Public House. Cortez-Jones talked about his introduction to this often-overlooked art form, the upbringing and experiences that inform his work, and why he holds Milwaukee in such high regard. Oh, and they talk about Cheetos for a while, too. You can see Cortez-Jones perform at UW-Milwaukee on April 12, and at Gibraltar on Arte Para Todos’ opening night on April 27.
This episode is brought to you by Surly Brewing and Avalon Theater, which will host our screening of BASEketball on Thursday, April 6. Music in this episode comes courtesy of Piles (“Blue Glue”) and Kavon Cortez-Jones (“Lake Michigan”). Subscribe to On The Record via iTunes or Stitcher (for free!).