A Hunger Called Music
(a verse history of black music)

by Meredith Nnoka


Borrowing from such sources as archival recordings and news stories, A Hunger Called Music documents the early history of African-American music beginning with work songs and ending with Motown-era soul. Using each genre’s historical context and the music itself as inspiration, the poems in the chapbook take on a range of voices and stories from Robert Johnson to Nina Simone, and from a white 1950s record producer to a witness to police brutality. In doing so, the poems work to unearth the commonalities of experience between previous eras and the current one through the intergenerational constant of music.


As published in The Massachusetts Review:


Our Business is making music
white enough to cover
even the deepest blues.
We steal to earn our keep.

We pull up troublesome roots
& reconstitute meaning
from a song’s skeletal frame.
This is how music becomes echo:

What we don’t gut, we bury.
What we don’t bury, we bleach
then iron, shred then darn, until
the song no longer knows itself.