How did you get into poetry?
This is a question with many origin stories. I come from storytellers. My father has a million jokes in his pockets—they are not dad jokes. My mother has been recounting her childhood and her adventures for me since I was a tiny thing in her arms. My grandfather had a third grade education, but was one of the sharpest orators and could string you a riddle so well you were in awe by the end of it. I loved to read growing up. And would come up with ideas for stories or songs. I wanted to sing, but didn’t have a great voice so I turned to hip-hop. I wanted to rap and then discovered poetry slams. I wanted to slam and then discovered publishing. I wanted to write poems and then began believing I could write fiction. And so I tell the narrative of my people as best I can with all the gifts that have been given to me.
Do you have any books?
Yes! My chapbook Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths was published by YesYesBooks in September 2016 and my debut young adult novel, The Poet X (HarperCollins) was released March 6, 2018. In May 2019 I released my sophomore novel, With The Fire On High.
Can I book you to appear at my school, college/university, organization?
Yes! Fill out the form on my Contact page!
I’m not part of a school, how can I book you to speak?
Please visit the Contact page.
Who is your favorite writer?
Lucille Clifton is amazing, ya’ll. Her collection Good Woman was transformational. I also love Natalie Diaz, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Gloria Anzaldua, Julia Alvarez, Safia Elhillo, Clint Smith, Sarah Kay, The Dark Noise Collective, and too many others to name.
I want to be a writer/performer, how do I become one?
I think it’s important for all artists to take in the work they want to put out. If you want to be a writer you read widely and read as a writer. You read trying to figure out how the writer created the feeling in you that they did. How they create such a precise image. How they their work arrived at places that felt both surprising and inevitable. If you want to be a performer, you watch as many one-person shows as you can, you watch as many comedians as you can, and you watch poets present in varying styles. You study. You practice what moves you, you reconfigure what does not work. And you make sure that imitation is practice, but that the final product is true to your unique voice and the gifts you’ve been given.
If I send you an email will you read it and comment on my poem?
I read every email that comes my way, and appreciate hearing from everyone who encounters my work. Unfortunately due to the high volume of requests and to the demanding timeline of my own work, I wouldn’t be able to provide the highest quality feedback to your work. BUT, I think the fact that you know your work needs other eyes is dope. Consider finding a critique partner or poetry collective, or someone you trust to read your work. Handing off something you worked on can be an intimate experience, so having the voice of someone you trust care for your work is important!
I would like to perform one of your poems for my speech/debate/team/drama/open mic/ competition. Can I have your permission to perform your poem.
You got it! Just make sure you cite me as the author of the poem.
I just saw on your Events page you’ll be making an appearance at a school nearby. Can I come?
The best person to ask would be the university or school where I’m appearing. Every school has a different policy and I’m not always aware of the nuances regarding public attendance at each presentation.