By Tara Cavanaugh
The last time David Blair spoke with BTL in 2009, Michael Jackson had just died.
The death of the King of Pop, grieved by fans around the world, hit Blair – who authored a poetry anthology about Jackson – especially hard. BTL writer Chris Azzopardi captured Blair in mourning, writing “‘Whoever thought Michael Jackson would die?’ the 39-year-old asks, as if the artist was – or should’ve been – immortal.”
Blair’s friends, family and admirers now find themselves asking the same question.
Blair, a renowned poet, singer and songwriter, was found dead this past weekend. The Metro Times reports no foul play is suspected, but heat stroke may have been the cause of his death.
Blair, who was born in New Jersey but lived in Detroit since the 1990s, was a prolific artist. He earned a National Poetry Slam Champion title, performed with Urban Folk Collective and The Boyfriends, and taught poetry and songwriting in Detroit Public Schools. Performances took him throughout the U.S., Russia, Europe and South Africa.
Blair was also a 2010 Callaloo Fellow, a 2009 Seattle Haiku Slam Champion and the recipient of Seattle’s 2007 BENT Mentor Award for LGBT Writers. He was named Best Urban Folk Poet by Detroit’s Metro Times and Best Folk Artist by Real Detroit Weekly.
His first book of poetry, “Moonwalking,” about the life of Jackson, hit shelves in April 2010.
“What interests me about (Jackson’s) life – and about writing about him – is that everything that he is calls to mind a discussion of race, gender, sexuality, poverty, stardom, rags-to-riches and age,” Blair told BTL in 2009. “He’s a very American figure. I don’t think that all that Michael Jackson is could’ve been produced anywhere else in the world but right here.”
Blair was also well-known for his poem, “Detroit (while I was away),” which he performed at the 2009 TEDxDetroit conference.