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4.36  ·  Rating details ·  581 ratings  ·  56 reviews
In May’s debut collection, poems buzz and purr like a well-oiled chassis. Grit, trial, and song thrum through tight syntax and deft prosody. From the resilient pulse of an abandoned machine to the sinuous lament of origami animals, here is the ever-changing hum that vibrates through us all, connecting one mind to the next.
Paperback, 80 pages
Published November 19th 2013 by Alice James Books (first published November 12th 2013)
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4.36  · 
Rating details
 ·  581 ratings  ·  56 reviews

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Aug 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2017
I loved this.
It was so raw and emotional and everything I wanted in a poetry book.

I've never been the biggest poetry fan. A lot of times it takes someone sort of walking me through each reference, the extremely metaphorical writing, the significance of the form and structure of the poems, all of those things.
In the end, it's just never been ~my thing~.

However, I do love a lot of spoken word poetry.
And I was able to read this more like spoken word. And it deals with racism, abuse, loss, depr
Jul 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
May’s poetry explores Detroit’s post-industrial landscape with many of the poems focusing on the relationships between humans and machines. Humans hum. Machines hum. Electricity hums.

Glass above my bed trembles
at the touch of bass pouring thunder-thick
out of twelve-inch speakers and I almost don’t mind
being jolted awake because I know this song.
From A Detroit Hum Ending with Bones

May uses sestinas (the traditional Italian form in which lines end with particular words that repeat to explore
Andrea Blythe
Apr 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I admit to being drawn to this collection because of the gorgeous cover and its steampunk robot with a birdcage head, which immediately sparked my imagination. The physical book itself is also beautiful, with a lovely typeset. A smattering of dark pages, each for a "phobia" poem (such as Athazagoraphobia: Fear of Being Ignored"), appear throughout the book, starting out black at first then lightening toward softer grays. It's an interesting way to highlight a set of associated poems and there's ...more
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
May is a phenomenal poet. This collection breathes Detroit, cement, metal, and soul. The focus on tangible details, (like a child thinking that a discarded hypodermic needle would make a good sword for his toy), draws the reader into his world. A world of struggle and survival, but not despair. This is poetry that would appeal to men and women. Perfect for a book club or high school. Would definitely recommend. "I don't get cars, but I get this: how difficult it is to get/a wreck off cinder bloc ...more
This was one of the poetry books where each poem could be appreciated for the way in which it was written and thus enjoyed, even if it wasn't as resonant with you as a reader. It was a poetry book that read effortlessly and dragged my attention into it, the way poetry should be. It wasn't a burden to read these poems. In fact I was sucked in so deep that after some poems I went back to reread the poem since I wasn't ready to leave it.

The best, I'd have to say, were the following: "Hum of the Ma
Allie Thom
Aug 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I picked this book of poetry up on a whim while at my local library. As some other reviewers have stated the cover artwork has a steampunk theme and immediately drew me in and had me curious about what exactly the inner book held. I was hooked after only reading the first few lines of Still Life (the opening poem) and then once I got to Athazagoraphobia (Fear of Being Ignored) I was tremendously happy I chose to read this magical work of insightful art.
Dallas Swindell
Feb 08, 2018 rated it liked it
Hum brims with tight, concisely narrative poems anchored in the expanse of extended metaphors. There is a quotient of the surreal within each stanza, but the ideas driving Jamaal May’s poems don’t dwell within this magical realism, sublimely pushing and pulling the reader through a hall of mirrors. Instead, the metaphors stand firm like pillars of thought or conviction, stationed and repeating, support for the fodder of each poem’s thesis. The eponymous Hum flutters and rumbles throughout the co ...more
André Habet
May 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I live you is a mistake I make so often,
I wonder if it's not
what I've been really meaning to say.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, poetry
I feel like I should write a review for this collection, because it was good. (I'm just really lazy…)

Whatever the case, this is really thought-provoking collection of poems. Trauma (whether it be from war, abuse, loss, etc.) is interwoven through so many of this poems and expressed in such different ways.

This is such a clichéd way to describe this collection (especially considering the fact that it reflects Detroit), but it's gritty. It has this steampunk vibe that I really dig, where you can se
Dannie Ray
Oct 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books of poetry I've ever read. The amount of thought and detail May put into this is incredible. Not only are all of the poems singularly great, but they weave together in a way that makes the sum even greater than the parts.
Ray Carroll
Dec 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
Such an intricate and thoughtful collection of poetry. It's been a really long time since I've read something so powerfully understated. Recommended to me by Matthew Cuban.
Sep 27, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: genre-poetry, 2016
I loved how these poems bear witness to a life unfamiliar to me, but in such a way that is accessible and I get it. "The God Engine" was probably my favorite.
Aug 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
I really loved this collection of poems. I liked his newer collection better - but this one is excellent as well. The poet always makes me think. His poems are broken up with poems about “fears” - many phobias I didn’t know existed. He takes the word and he casts it broader than I would have seen otherwise. I hear the hum: the word that echoes throughout, in the constant sounds around us. I hear it in the whirr of the air conditioner where I type, in the buzz of the lights above me, in the rhyth ...more
Lexi Nylander
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
"A melon falls from a bag, a platoon of ants pour in and out of its gash, and I wonder if it takes being broken and emptied to be filled with something new."

"Eyes flicker like flashlights are behind them because flashlights are behind them, wired to panels, triggered by my touch ... Tell me where it aches. Tell me where rust encroaches - I know what oxygen does to your surface- How could I not? I am breath and air and air."
Christina Hopp
Jul 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
There are so many beautiful poems in this collection. The whole book is underlined with my favorite weird comparisons and phrases - he has such a unique voice. I enjoyed taking my time and experiencing each poem, really trying to find what he's trying to say. Jamaal May is officially one of my favorite poets and I really recommend this poetry book!
Keith Taylor
Mar 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
It's probably too early to tell yet, but I'm pretty confident the poetry of Jamaal May will last. His first book remains one of the most memorable first books I can think of. It's complex without being hermetic. Here's what I wrote a while back:
Madelyn Grace
Jan 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First off -- the cover is incredible and I saw it immediately.

Hum is a wonderful collection of poetry with heart, grit and subtle rhythmic tones. I finished it in one sitting over lunch, absolutely adored it. My favorite is A Detroit Hum End with Bones.

Hum hooked me and I'll now read anything May writes!
John LaPine
Mar 05, 2018 rated it liked it
very "traditional" feeling poetry from a Detroit author, with themes of race, city, noise, machines, metal, and phobias. couldn't finish it but I might revisit later when I've honed my taste for poetry.
Wesley Ballesteros
Jan 06, 2019 rated it really liked it
Absolutely stunning work. Some of these poems feel deeply personal, almost too intimate to read, but that’s what makes it so remarkable. He’s speaking to real people and he’s speaking to himself, giving us a painfully beautiful collection of relatable pieces.
Kenya Wright
Sep 05, 2018 rated it liked it
It was cool but very metal and nature sort of war. I'm not into that. :-/

But well-written.
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: african-american
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
I picked up this book of poems because the cover art caught my eye, but I stayed for the thought provoking poems. The phobia ones were my favorites.
Dec 04, 2018 rated it liked it
Crystal clear and fluid. Real life never sounded so romantic, so wistful.
Matthew Smith
Aug 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
These poems changed my life.
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, just-because, poetry
Will be dipping back into this again and again!
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Luminous collection of poetry with a puff of exhaust against the wings of a migratory bird.
Dec 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Such a beautiful collection!
C.E. G
Mar 13, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry
3.5 stars. I originally found out about this book of poetry from an article on The Toast. The collection is carried by the hum of not-quite-dead, rusty machinery and humans in the Detroit landscape. It kind of made me feel like a cyborg, and also that Detroit might be full of cyborgs.

The Girl Who Builds Rockets from Bricks

finds no voice louder

than hers in the caverns
of deserted houses

or overgrown lots that surround
her excavation for spare parts:

shards of a whiskey bottle, matches,
anthills erupt
Jan 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Motor city ghosts in the machine.

One of the best things about Jamaal May's world is that everything is alive, makes a sound, has a voice, tells a story. Glass, metal, people, paper, animals, phobias, dreams, the dead: it's all in here, delivered in plain, yet still artful, language. This is because everything is a machine, cunningly built, even if it is not clear by whom.

War, too, is a machine, and roundly criticized for being so in poems like "Chionophobia: Fear of Snow," "The Boy Who Bathes th
May 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
I got this book through my poetry class at my university for free because we eventually touched on putting together a collection of poems and the significance of all that. Initially, we only had to read some poems out of this book (the "hum" poems and the "phobia" poems), but I wanted to read the whole thing when I got the chance. And I did just that.

I enjoyed a lot of May's poems, and I liked that a lot of them were dark and, at times, surreal. Considering May is from Detroit, a lot of the imag
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Book Release for Jamaal May's "Hum" 1 6 Apr 09, 2014 10:55AM  

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“I kept fiddling with my phone through dinner
because I was fascinated
that every time I tried to type love,
I missed the o and hit i instead.
I live you is a mistake I make so often,
I wonder if it’s not
what I’ve been really meaning to say.”
“She's not "maternal", she's dangerous” 0 likes
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