Thank you to Albert Abonado for such a good interview, such insightful — both writerly and historical/cultural — questions. An excerpt of the interview:
Could you give a little background about your history with writing? What brought you to poetry?
A few things. First would be my grandparents’ and family elders’ penchant for storytelling. There was an old story my mother’s mother used to tell me about a brown god who shaped people from mud, and baked them in a huge oven. The undercooked ones were white people, the overcooked ones were black people, and the ones cooked just right were us. Many years later, in college, I came across this very same narrative in a Navajo story I read in a Native American Studies course.
As far as coming into poetry, it may have been Ntozake Shange’s For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, or Jessica Hagedorn’s Dangerous Music (Momo’s Press, 1975), that poetry could be loose, and funky, woman of color-centric, indignant.