If you have ever visited DC’s famous Busboys & Poets for their poetry night, you have this man to thank. This week’s #MCM is Charlotte’s own Derrick Weston Brown, author of the acclaimed poetry book, Wisdom Teeth. His talent has taken him all over the country including San Francisco, Oakland, Vancouver, upstate New York, Philly, Seattle, and of course DC. This week’s #MustLoveBeards brother is the always delectable Mr. Derrick Weston Brown.
Smooth jazz made sweet love to classic prose and Derrick Weston Brown was born. Our #MCM #MustLoveBeards feature will remind you why good poetry matters.
He is more than just a nice smile and thick beard you could fall asleep in. Brown is an insightful poet with a passion for education. He has played a number of roles including poet-in-residence, teacher, lecturer, and performer. He goes by many names on social media: Fatback McGristle, Neegrolicious Jones, Nipsey Rustled, Rad News Brown. No matter what alias he sports, this brother is beyond talented. With inspirations like the Black Rooster Collective, Gaston Neal, Risikat Okedeyi, Amiri Baraka, and Sonia Sanchez, his work was always destined to shine. He credits his mother and Black women for much of his success. Let’s be real though, Taji Mag loves this bearded man because of his willingness to be emotional and vulnerable in a world that tells Black men they’re only allowed to be hyper-sexual, ignorant beasts. Word after word, his art is unlike any other creator we have come across. It also doesn’t hurt that his locks and chocolate skin are the gateway to heaven.
Advice for Future Authors
If others want to publish their first book, Mr. Brown has some sound advice. “Have a good support system who can help cut through the insecurities and doubts. Let them talk you down, and keep your ego in check. I actually turned down the initial offer to get my book published. I was worried that people would assumed someone was doing me a favor. It took me a while to come around. My loved ones gave me that reality check that I may not get that opportunity again.”
The publisher approached him again and he finally accepted that the book deal was based on his merit rather than his connections. His story is a testament to the necessity of support in our community. Support systems matter. His experiences taught him that real friends will let you know when you’re being a knucklehead. That’s what love is: when your friends are clear and honest. He admits that he would not be where he is without his close friends, family, and mentors like Dr. Tony Medina (Howard University professor), Alan King (new book Point Blank comes out in November), Fred Joiner (Center for Poetic Though in DC).
What else has he learned on this journey?
- Avoid any book contests you have to pay for! That is a trick for them to fund their publishing so they can often be shady. Use the resources/connections that you have as you’re establishing your book tour. Be very selective about your free copies and where you send your book for review.
- Libraries are you friend! Get a good relationship with the local library. It will be cataloged and could end up in libraries around the country. Be aware of your publishers’ strengths and weaknesses. How do they treat other authors? Do they have the means to push your work? Are they too big? Does your book fit their format.
- Connect with Black women! Black women are the biggest reading demographic. Get in good with the sisters and you are set. They get their children reading. They get their men reading. They get the community involved. Black women are about 60-70% of my audience.
Derrick Weston Brown is currently working on a new manuscript called “Halo of Arms“. It’s not in book form yet, but he is looking for a place this new work can call home. For the people who already know and love Wisdom Teeth, they will feel the growth in this second book. The subject matter has changed. He is less guarded and more willing to take risks. For people who don’t know him, this book breaks some misconceptions and brings awareness regarding vulnerability and Black men. He will deal with doubt, anxiety, and seeking balance.
For all the latest on Mr. brown’s upcoming book, follow him on TWITTER and check him out via ColorLines.