Photo of book, father forgive me

father forgive me

Community Room 301

A moving and memorable debut collection of poetry by Milwaukee native Deshawn McKinney, “father forgive me” is an exploration of how generational trauma is passed and lives long beyond the precipitating events. The collection is a study of becoming, rooted in the need to context oneself and find peace within the self. At times genealogy, coming of age story, and psychological study, this is a collection that fiercely grapples with forgiveness and explores how to move forward with a life that may not discover it. Described as “an acerbic hip hop hymnal” filled with “fearless, wounding and tender” poems. “father forgive me” is a rich introduction to a prodigious poet from whom readers can expect to hear and learn much more in the years to come.

Deshawn McKinney

Headshot of the author Deshawn McKinney

Deshawn McKinney is a writer reppin Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His work appears in journals such as Lolwe and Glass. His debut chapbook, father forgive me, was published by Black Sunflowers Poetry Press in 2021.

Deshawn has performed for and built with audiences around the world, including as one of the headlining acts at the Boys and Girls Club’s Keystone Conference – one of the largest gatherings of teen leadership in the US – meeting with students in Kingston, Jamaica to share art and speak to collective freedom, and headlining Toast Poetry at the Norwich Arts Centre in Norwich, England with an exhilarating set that blended poetry and rap in novel ways. His work focuses on intersectional, diasporic liberation. He seeks to build coalition across peoples and movements to create sustainable, proactive, and effective bases of power. His art, grounded in hip-hop, is used to invite folks into the conversation and disrupt the status quo, with a focus on opening up spaces to those who have historically been absent or barred from them.

As a member of the First Wave Hip-Hop arts community at the University of Wisconsin-Madison he earned a BA in Creative Writing, pursuing his passion for service through his creative enterprises. He is a Truman Scholar, the nation’s premier public service fellowship, as well as a recipient of the prestigious Marshall Scholarship for graduate study in the United Kingdom. He holds a Master in Social Policy from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a Master in Creative Writing – Poetry from the University of East Anglia.

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father forgive me