I don’t know where we begin, but I know we end on this earth as the stories others tell about us. So much of my art comes from the assumption that living, or existence, as we know it is liminal. To me, literature is a conversation amongst writers where the world gets to hear the best parts. To join the conversation, all a writer needs to do is read, understand the traditions at play, and respond. What each writer brings is their personal perspective, their own secret language of understanding and its unique context. Each writer is able to write something that no one else can.
My context includes that I grew up a young, neurodivergent black male in Smithfield, North Carolina. And aside from an older cousin at our church, I didn’t know writers. Most people in my neighborhood had regular jobs. They worked for the city, in retail, or had a trade. My father was a janitor at a school in a neighboring district, and my mother was an amazing homemaker. Neither of them graduated high school, but they were both compelling storytellers. My father could make anyone laugh with a slick line. My mother turned anything into an opportunity for learning and could easily relate it to me, whether it was retelling my favorite stories from books but fabricating portions and inserting me into the narrative or telling her own cautionary fairy tales based on something I’d done.
As my poetry develops through reading and listening to literature and letters, I better understand that I fit in a tradition of poets which include such disparate fellows as Langston Hughes & Ted Hughes, Christopher Okigbo & Czesław Miłosz, Matsuo Bashō & Pablo Neruda, Tomas Tranströmer & Audre Lorde, Izumi Shikibu & A. Van Jordan, as well as Gwendolyn Brooks & Edith Södergran all alongside the voices of Tupac Shakur, Hank Williams, Lupe Fiasco, Lana Del Rey, Outkast, and the French rock band Phoenix. It has helped me find my secret language, helped me understand what I’d like to really say about the world.
As of late, I believe writing is a way of using metaphor to make an argument about how aspects of the world work. Whether a poem, a play, a film, a story, or essay, writing is one person (the author) communicating with other people (readers) on whatever specific occasion possible answers to a question about existence. I see a story or lyric moment or scene as a microcosm of the way the world operates. We’re all trying to process the cosmic in our own ways. It helps me write, and the goal of all of my artistic work is to, as Emily Dickinson might say, “ease one life the aching” so as to not live in vain. Whether that be through recognizing the beauty in tragedy (or vice versa), laughing through pain, or challenging institutions and individuals who do not believe that a radical distribution of wealth and power needs to happen in a world with such abundance and exploitation.
If poetry is the language of my soul, then everything else may be an attempt to better understand, communicate, and translate it. Writing is writing is writing is writing. Programming is another medium with its own traditions and forms. My goal is to wield technology in ways which can help improve my writing process and automate some tasks that one takes on as a writer and share this technology with others.