The power of poetry, to me, its immediate access to the individual, enmeshed: with their self-reflection, with their environment, their body, their pasts, their place in presupposed power structures- poetry is the expression of an unconscious superhighway. Poems can express themselves as fixed and as plastic, as grounded in space and liminal, heterotopic. They can be lively and spectral- palms kissing at the intersection of here and every elsewhere imaginable.

It is piss and sugar/it is waiting/blue carpet/a dreg of rum, drying sticky in a glass at a hostel in Shanghai/a rotting wisdom tooth/forgetting how to swim/a stained labcoat/it is our fathers/a cracked book spine/cheap glitter/bay windows, French doors…

As a young, Black, woman poet, the political is paramount and ultimately inextricable to informing my experience; over the years, has become more apparent. Poetry facilitates a platform to express larger political concerns- be they of the mass failures of global powers and self-sick demagogues, to the politics of the body and identity. Alternatively, poetry has served me as a secret code: all the things I’ve seen, my private joys and quiet terrors,form a single-file line. They sing. They speak, as one, thesubtext- like a Greek chorus or the muses, chatting around a water cooler. In my work, there is witness, communication. My poems are for both future selves and every past self that waited, in incalculable yearning, for an unfolding.

It is a weepy, public apology/a premonition of heartbreak set, strangely, in a Moroccan hotel/an alarm clock/it is pretending you’re having a fun time at this party/held breath/a coral reef/a supplication/a supermoon/a tshirt knotted at the waist/magpies/cold rooftiles pressed against skin, under a blood orange sky up North/it is why and how many and who all gon’ be there/it is the lace curtains and the rage…

Poetry is my compass and flashlight and a crystal ball. My workoften focuses on documenting the personal in ways that are fixated in evocation- at times, in abstraction. I lean into it to help engage with my past and the past of my people, illuminate a sometimes-nebulous present, and lay the groundwork in imagining new futures. 

It is and ambulance and ambulance chaser/a heliotrope/a loveliness of ladybirds/empty peanut butter jar/that smile you try to smile when you’re trying not to cry/a sloppy set of kisses, and the beardburn that followed/it is glue/dust bunnies/it’s the train back from Brooklyn/it is asking for patience but not receiving any…

My work is often prayer and petition. It speaks for me when I want for narrative and can only find hints: that which is pre-language but post-visceral. The power of poetry is in its ability to weaken the mortifying sting of desire by acknowledging it head-on; there is an inherent want to witnessed, if only by oneself. Being human is embarrassing; poetry refuses to flinch. This is what I respect the most: poetry lives in the ugliness of knowing, wherein there is intimacy. It may be scared, but it is never scared enough to turn away.

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  1. […] Hmm, yes. I love this quote, from your piece in The Poetry Question, that says “As a young, Black, woman poet, the political is paramount and ultimately inextricable […]

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