Lyric Essentials: Maya Williams Reads Raych Jackson

Welcome back to Lyric Essentials, where we invite authors to share the work of their favorite poets. This month, Maya Williams joins us to discuss the work of Raych Jackson and how poetry can intersect with the complexities of the Black community and Christianity. As always, we hope you enjoy as much as we did.

Ryleigh Wann: When was the first time you read Raych Jackson’s work? Why did it stand out to you then?

Maya Williams: I first watched Raych Jackson on Button Poetry, and then read their book Even the Saints Audition, and have been in love with her work ever since. It stood out to me then because it was so refreshing to hear someone talk about the complexities of Black community and Christianity.

Maya Williams reads “On Job” by Raych Jackson

RW: How has Jackson’s writing inspired your own? 

MW: Jackson’s writing has inspired my own by inspiring me to go directly back to Biblical text of where suicidality takes place and write in response to it. In my book Judas & Suicide , there includes a poem about Jonah that is inspired by Jackson’s poem about Jonah.

RW: You’re the author of the forthcoming Judas & Suicide. What was the process of creating this collection? 

MW: The process of creating this collection first involved writing a poem that’s the same name as the title of the book. It took three years to write, and then got accepted by Game Over Books in late 2021.

Maya Williams reads “Jonah Was Trapped Before He Met the Fish” by Raych Jackson

RW: What have you been up to lately (life, work, anything!)? Got any news to share?

MW: My book Judas & Suicide  is out this month! I’m going on a book tour for it that has in person and online events that can be seen here:

Read more from this interview at our Patreon

Rachel “Raych” Jackson is a writer, educator and performer. Her poems have gained over 2 million views on YouTube. She is the 2017 NUPIC Champion and a 2017 Pink Door fellow. Her recent collection Even the Saints Audition won Best New Poetry Collection by a Chicagoan in the Chicago Reader fall of 2019. Jackson currently lives in Chicago.

Visit her website here.

Purchase her collection here.

Maya Williams (ey/they/she) is a Black multiracial nonbinary suicide survivor who is currently the seventh poet laureate of Portland, Maine. May 2023 marks the release of eir debut collection Judas & Suicide. October 2023 marks the release of their second collection Refused a Second Date. They were one of three artists of color selected to represent Maine in The Kennedy Center’s Arts Across America series in 2020 and were listed as one of The Advocate’s Champions of Pride in 2022. You can follow more of eir work at

Ryleigh Wann (she/her) hails from Michigan and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY. She earned an MFA from UNC Wilmington where she taught poetry and served as the comics editor for Ecotone. Her writing can be found in The McNeese ReviewLongleaf ReviewThe Shore, and elsewhere. You can visit her website at

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