I love being surprised when I write. Usually I start with a scrap of language, something musical and/or imagistic that feels alive and urgent for some crackpot reason. Then I follow that initial burst of energy, hoping to discover other bursts. Or squeaks, at least. Sometimes I’m pretty purposeful in trying to disrupt/interrupt the poem–I’ll throw in elements that I’m not sure fit together, and that becomes the challenge.
Did you know as a child you wanted to be a writer?
No. I wanted to be a reader. I thought everything that needed to be written had already been written or would be. I only wrote the first book because I thought it wasn’t there, and I wanted to read it when I got through.
I keep writing because I realize that until Black people’s social reality is free of oppression and exploitation, I will not be free to write as one who’s not oppressed or exploited. That is the goal. That is the struggle and the dream.