‘Readings at the Nick’ poet creates laughter from sadness

Braelyn Swan, Staff writer

Poet Anis Mojgani opened with “Come closer, come into this” on Thursday in the Austin Reading room for the final Reading at the Nick of the year.

Mojgani grew up in New Orleans and currently lives in Portland. Mojgani is the author of five books, a TedX Speaker, and has appeared on HBO and NPR.

Creative writing professor Joe Wilkins introduced Mojgani by quoting the beginning of the first poem he had heard Mojgani recite.

The second piece he recited was about growing up in New Orleans. Illustrating a mansion and his childhood, Mojgani brought the audience to laughter.

He had just released a new book on Tuesday, April 3, and had only performed his new work two times earlier in the week. He said he felt “excited and trepidasious” to be sharing his new work with an audience.

This new book came from what he described as a “pretty effed up divorce from a pretty abusive marriage” as well as other hardships in his life such as losing his best friend to suicide in 2006.

Mojgani said that American culture does not handle grief well. He said grief is seen as a room to get out of when it is actually buckshot under our skin.

He explained that he wrote about the grief of what it means to be black in America especially when you are not in a black body. Despite this premise,

Mojgani said, “I do not think this book is sad.”

The next poems he performed were introduced by saying, “No one has heard them before, so they might royally suck,” eliciting yet another laugh from the audience.

These poems and others throughout the evening were written about his friend who had committed suicide.

Mojgani explained that poet John Sans inspired his next poem. Mojgani said that Sans’ work gave him a strange sense of a powerful golden light and made him feel that “I can pay my rent by giving my landlord super tasty high fives.”

When asked, “Who are some of your other inspirations?” Mojgani named E.E. Cummings, Walt Whitman, and other poets.

He was also asked how his parents reacted to him deciding to go into poetry. He said, “My folks were always very cognizant of the importance of the arts and what brought their children happiness.”