A Bit About Me
An Impassioned Writer
Malcolm Odell Varner is an author, poet, and suicide prevention advocate. Malcolm’s published works include Looking Beyond the Storm: Selections of Poetry, Creating Positive Ripples: 100 Messages of Encouragement, Looking Beyond the Storm: Now the Rainbow is Out, Cotton Candy Coated Chocolate Kisses: Black Gay Love Poems, and his latest work, A Family of Their Own. His essays and articles have been featured in literary outlets such as The Columbus African American News Journal and TRUTH magazine.
During middle school Malcolm developed a passion for reading and writing, primarily to cope with being bullied for his perceived sexuality and dealing with common hardships faced by inner-city adolescents. Composing poetry and reading the likes of C.S. Lewis thus became a catalyst to see beyond his childhood trauma. However, it wasn’t until years after graduate school and the realities of a mental illness diagnosis set in that Malcolm’s relationship with writing and language elevated. At the age of 28, he discovered the limitless potential art held for the artist and his/her audience; and moreover, this exchange was inherently an intimate social endeavor and enterprise. His celebrated poem “The Vow,” which speaks to unwavering hope in the face of life’s greatest challenges, underscores the power of words and their potential to shape our reality. This piece, in fact, ultimately set in motion Malcolm’s advocacy and publications starting with Looking Beyond the Storm: Selections of Poetry.
As a black cisgender gay writer who lives with bi-polar disorder, Malcolm explores the intersections of race, sexuality, religion, socioeconomic class and mental health. His novel, A Family of Their Own, confronts these themes with fresh creativity as his first fiction project. The story chronicles a black gay couple who adopts a child from a county agency, while they’re forced to navigate religious opposition from family members and a distressing hate crime. As an author, Malcolm’s goal is to move people through the act of storytelling by underscoring those factors that contribute to our shared humanity.
Born and raised in Cincinnati, OH, Malcolm is the product of a Jesuit Catholic high school education. He received a B.A. from Oberlin College in Religion and M.S.S.A. in Community and Social Development from the Case Western Reserve University’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences. He is a graduate of Cincinnati Urban League's African American Leadership Development Program (AALDP) as well as the Black AIDS Institute's African American HIV University (AAHU). Additionally, he’s a licensed social worker, and member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated.