We talk Obama, Al Green and Elvis with poet and 2015 Poetry Competition winner Aaron Brame...
Where is home for you?
My home is in East Memphis, in a neighborhood built amongst giant live oaks, magnolias, and poplars. We have vicious storms in the summer, and every year some of these trees come crashing down. This is just part of living here; when it happens we get our chainsaws, chop them up, then plant new ones.
I live at home with my wife, Renée, and our two children. This is the neighborhood Elvis moved into in 1956, when he first started making money. When the weather’s nice and my son and I go on little jogs, we run up to Elvis’s house, touch his gate, turn around and come home.
What songs or movies remind you of home?
Al Green reminds me of home the most, and I seem to hear him everywhere I go, whether that’s Chicago, New York, or Mexico City. I hear 'I’m Still in Love with You' in airports and faraway bars, and 'Love and Happiness' comes up playing on a stifling August morning when it’s time to go back to work. Renée and I danced to 'Let’s Stay Together' at our wedding. Al Green is Memphis.
Who is your dream barbecue guest?
(I’m from Memphis, so we have to define our terms here. A barbecue is not merely a cookout around an outdoor grill, but a traditional meal of dry-rub ribs, baked beans, cole slaw, and sweet tea.)
Barack Obama is at my barbecue. My country has suffered so much damage in the last year, and I suffer from a stark fear that no one will be able to set things straight again. If there’s one person in the world who could make me optimistic about the future, it would be Obama. Michelle can come too, of course.
What makes you homesick?
We have an amazing volunteer-run radio station, WEVL, that I listen to all the time. The DJs all talk real slow and play whatever they like. I get homesick when I’m somewhere strange and I can’t turn the dial to 89.9 and hear maybe 'Baby’s Got Her Bluejeans On' or some great bluegrass song from the 1940s.
Also, I get really homesick for our wonderful Memphis tap water. All y’all’s water is gross.
Aaron Brame is the former senior poetry editor at the Pinch Journal. His poetry and prose appears in Lumina, Hartskill Review, Kindred, and Tupelo Quarterly, among other places. He teaches eighth-grade English in Memphis, Tennessee. He won the 2015 Synaesthesia Poetry Competition.