My Old Man Was Always on the Lam

by Tony Medina

112 Pages, 6 x 9

Library of Congress Control Number:  2011920124

ISBN:  978-1-935520-36-8

Publication Date:  02/02/2011

Press Release

Cover Art:  photo of Fannie Lou Hamerís house taken during sojourn with S.N.C.C.
by Adger W. Cowans


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My Old Man Was Always on the Lam is a blues memoir in verse. With brutal honesty and lyrical prowess, Tony Medina plays the changes in an intimate collection that sticks like a stinging Ali punch and moves like a New York City subway train through the raw, unmitigated terrain of his psyche. Sparked by the sudden death of his father in Harlem, My Old Man Was Always on the Lam examines his relationship with a long-lost mother who abandoned him at birth, exploring his Bronx projects childhood and his relationship with the paternal grandmother who wrestled him from the clutches of the State and raised him, culminating with a reunion with his terminally ill mother, attempting to fill in the gaps of a precarious past destined to collide with its bare-bones present. In this, his fifth full-length collection, Tony Medina is at his most personal and revelatory.


My Old Man Was Always on the Lam contains powerful, moving, compassionate poems that spring out of the life of Harlem apartments and streets. It contains deeply felt, evocative poems of loss and mourning. In an era when too much work produced depends totally on the polished surface provided by the use of brilliant language, Tony Medina risks everything with his willingness to tear away the surface skin of relationships and life, to journey to that dark center where memorable poetry lives. My Old Man Was Always on the Lam is the work of a truly original and vibrant poet.

—Maria Mazziotti Gillan
author of the American Book Award-winning ALL THAT LIES BETWEEN US

Tony Medina infuses his signature wordplay with a heightened aesthetic urgency in These bare-boned, tender laments for his parents, extended family, and humanity, or lack thereof. The old folks/In front of/My fatherís/Building are/Buildings that/have been/Abandonedóthese poems are sober brutal truths as pavement for a long ill-tempered sprint with death. And life.

—Quraysh Ali Lansana

Demonstrating a combination of traits that gives him a voice like no one else, Tony Medina's poems are funny, intense, and tragic, and sometimes make you laugh until you cry. There's a terrible beauty in this book, a sparse and haunting music that stays with you. These poems are brave, and true, and well worth returning to again and again.

—Lelsie Heywood