Isolated and unincorporated, North Gulfport lacked a basic infrastructure: flooding and contaminated drinking water were frequent problems. Although finally incorporated in 1994 – not long after the arrival of the first casino – many of North Gulfport’s streets still lack curbs, sidewalks, and gutters.
I think often people don’t realize the great diversity of Southern writing because in their minds, if you’re not from the South, it can seem regional and small, and of course that’s not the case at all when you start to read the work.
I think there is a poem out there for everyone, to be an entrance into the poetry and a relationship with it.
In my own life, I believe it was an early education in poetical metaphor that helped me to grapple with and make sense of all the difficult and traumatic things that were to come.
It’s so necessary to try and record the cultural memory of people. To set it down for generations to come. To better understand where we are headed. The problem is, a good portion of what we choose to remember is about willed forgetting. Which we all do, I believe, to protect ourselves from what is too difficult.
I find myself frequently introducing myself to someone, saying that, you know, I’ve grown up black and biracial in the United States.
The more I’ve gotten interested in writing about history and making sense of myself within the continuum of history, the more I’ve turned to paintings, to art. I look to the imagery of art to help me understand something about my own place in the world.
In the early 1970s in Atlanta, I attended what had formerly been an all-white school but had become a black school after integration and white flight. Perhaps because of this, the teachers created a curriculum that included a focus on African American literature and history year-round, not just in February.
Before I was ever a poet, my father was writing poems about me, so it was a turning of the tables when I became a poet and started answering, speaking back to his poems in ways that I had not before.
I think poetry’s always a kind of faith. It is the kind that I have.