Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on the interstates of America. My parents moved around quite a bit and I had to keep up. Many young people have this kind of experience and I'd like to believe that this makes us "well-rounded" individuals. I've learned how to adapt, fit in, and recreate myself. My writing reflects this. Floating from one genre to another is exciting. Every poem or essay I write may have a general theme, but it's a new chance to recreate myself.
When did you first start writing?
I'd like to say that I was prodigy of some sort, but writing didn't seem feasible to me until I was about sixteen. Writing was something other people did. Smarter people. My interest in movies as a teenager moved me to start writing my own narratives. I wrote a couple of novels that closely followed traditional themes in films, like the kind you'd find in predictable romantic comedies. It seemed easier than I thought it would be. Soon after that I started writing poetry. That turned out to be a lot more challenging. I'm still struggling with poetry but I find it more exciting than novel writing.
Who are your favorite authors?
James Baldwin and Maya Angelou explain what it means to be black woman in America. Stephen King explains the "what if's" of human nature. William Carlos Williams explains emotion. I look to these writers for guidance on how to live and what to expect from life.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
When I finish writing a poem or an essay. Finishing something means I can start something new and exciting. Writing, for me, means not standing still.
Describe your desk
It's a table that doesn't belong to me. It sits in a coffee shop that I frequent. It reminds me that nothing is permanent and I'd better be prepared to take change in stride.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My mother and my anxiety over our tenuous relationship drove "Don't Smoke Around the Rabbit" into existence. Most of the characters in my poems are small prey animals who lack control over their own lives. Fear keeps them on the run. Putting myself in the place of a squirrel illustrates the major themes of my book: My mother, my blackness, my life on the run.
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