Mike Posner was not the kind of kid who balked at writing poems for class assignments when he was growing up in Birmingham schools.
It’s stood him well to this point in his life.
“Oh, no, I didn’t mind it all,” recalls Posner, 29, the Southfield native and Birmingham Groves High School alumnus who’s become a Grammy Award-nominated hitmaker for himself (“Cooler Than Me,” “I Took A Pill In Ibiza”) and others (Justin Bieber’s “Boyfriend,” Maroon5’s “Sugar”). This week he adds published poet to his CV when his first book, “Tear Drops and Balloons,” comes out on Friday, March 17.
“I like poetry,” Posner says by phone from New York. “It feels the same as writing (songs) but there’s less form. There’s less convention. I feel like I actually get closer to the capital T truth than I can in song, where I have to fit something into a melody or worry about how many syllables are in a line or what sings well.
“It’s a different thing.”
Posner calls his book “the greatest hits of my first 29 years of poetry.” It mixes pieces that are both deeply personal and winsome, carefully crafted and slyly off-the-cuff. Some even began as extemporized onstage recitations — his habit at almost every concert he performs.
“I’ve been writing this stuff longer than I can remember, but I never knew what it was for,” says Posner, who also illustrated and designed the book with close friends and creative partners Eric Gorvin and Jacob Smith. “I found myself going through all these old notebooks and discarded phones and old laptops to find all these poems and picking the ones I thought were best and putting them together.”
Posner acknowledges that some of the poems continue “an ongoing theme of embarrassing my mom (Roberta Posner) — which I’ve been doing since 2005 when I started releasing music in high school.” There are, however, poignant passages such as “Alone In the City Part 3,” inspired by the cancer battle of his late father, noted metro area attorney M. Jon Poser, who died in January.
“A lot of the end of my dad’s life happened after I had finished with the book,” Posner notes, “but he certainly had been diagnosed and has started his transition while I was working on the end of it, for sure.”
The publication of “Tear Drops and Balloons” is part of a particularly prolific period for Posner. His second album, “At Night, Alone,” came out last May after a six-year wait, and the “Ibiza” single was nominated for Song of the Year at this year’s Grammy Awards. He’s finished a follow-up album that he describes as “innovative,” which has no release date set, and is working on yet another. And he’s touring this spring, starting later this month, with a May 2 homecoming show at Detroit’s Saint Andrews Hall.
Meanwhile, Posner and “Boyfriend” collaborator blackbear, under the moniker mansionz, will release an album called “mansionz Greatest Hitz” on March 24. The two made waves at the Grammy Awards by goofing around on the Grammy red carpet, both sporting green-dyed hair.
And there will be more poetry, Posner promises. He’s thinking of releasing some of his concert creations as an album, and his muse seems to be in especially high gear these days.
“It’s the year of stuff coming out,” says Posner who will be speaking and doing a poetry reading during this week’s South By Southwest conference in Austin, Texas. “I feel the most inspired I’ve ever been. I didn’t realize it was possible for me to do tours and shows and also be finishing albums so quickly — and a book, too. It’s all just coming out of me right now, so I’m just going with it and not asking questions, y’know?”
Plenty Of Posner:
• Mike Posner’s first poetry book, “Tear Drops and Balloons,” publishes on Friday, March 17. For more details, visit teardropsandballoons.com.
• Posner and collaborator blackbear release their first album as mansionz, “mansionz Greatest Hitz,” on March 24.
• Posner performs May 2 at Saint Andrews Hall, 431 E. Congress St., Detroit. Tickets are $23 in advance, $30 day of show. Call 313-961-6358 or visit saintandrewsdetroit.com.
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