During the past few weeks, I have been pretty busy with poetry and travel from Saratoga Springs to Boston to New Haven to Putney to Windsor not mention hosting Poetic Vibe and performing twice in Albany yesterday. Needless to say, sleeping in today was magical.
Over that time, I had a few Q & A sessions with students, twice after workshops in Vermont with 4th-6th graders and another time after performing at Loomis Chafee in Windsor. I get all kinds of questions from young folks trying to learn more about my life as a poet: Have you ever performed outside of the United States? Yes. Do you have a favorite poem of yours? Not sure, but for now "the girl dream"-a poem I wrote about my mom. How many poems have you written in your life? No clue but I'm pretty sure I can say more than I am aware of. Who is your favorite poet? So many poets I love but June Jordan wrote my favorite poem, "Poem about my Rights." Do you ever write poems about your family? Yes. I write a lot about experience and they are part of my experiences. Do you ever write poems that you don't like? Yes, all the time and mostly I don't like a poem until the 2nd, 3rd, 4th draft. And among all the questions came this one: Do you ever get asked about doing too many Black poems?
1. All of my poems are Black poems because I'm Black all day, everyday.
2. White poems never get called White poems. They just get called poems.
3. The implication of the question is really do I ever get asked about doing too many poems that address systemic racism or police brutality or stereotypes of Black people or any issue Black people are still dealing with that might make White people uncomfortable. Comfort is not my priority. Change is.
4. This question is like the question: Do you think there are too many rape poems? There are not too many rape poems. There is too much rape.
5. Black poets are not afforded the privilege of not talking about race. 6. Short answer: Yes.
7. And young Black poets, do not ever let this question sway you into writing an experience that is not yours. Your story is necessary. Your story is valid. Your story is beautiful and complex. Your story is the affirmation that we are not a monolith. That we are magic. That WE ARE. Your story deserves your pen and the mic will be here when you are ready to spit your truth. And for every Black poem you write, THANK YOU. Keep writing.
Happy Black History Month y'all!