What role does poetry play in your community?
I take it by using the word community you mean “in my city, town or neighborhood”.
For me the word “community” might mean something else. I was born in the east. I live in the south. I’ve traveled the length and breadth of America from north to west and all in between using art and poetry to bring people together. To inspire, uplift and educate. I have friends, family and allies in every corner of this nation. We helped pioneer social media arts/activism as you know it today which further eroded illusionary boundaries. America is my community. The USA is my hood. From 3,000 miles away you are my close neighbor. The only tattoo on my body says PD. Prysmatic Dreams. You can trace that name back like the dinosaur bones of the internet. Its short definition means “a living bridge between peoples” and it was birthed as an ideal to fulfill MLK Jr’s dreams by living them. Throughout all of that space, time and places poetry has been the vehicle and the catalyst for change. Bridging gaps. Even here in this small town poetry has been a catalyst for changes occurring as we speak. We’ve been in regular discussions with the mayor and working with the community development office to use arts as a way of bringing Eastover, SC into the 21st century and enriching the city and its citizens.
Other cities and towns like Providence, RI or Charlotte, NC have done so successfully and we’ve played some small roles in those as well.
How has poetry informed your work as an activist?
Poetry and being a poet allowed me to be taught directly by some of the best wordsmiths, philosophers, idealists and activists this country has ever birthed. I learned what they knew and studied their work first hand. Often at their sides as comrades. Poetry gave me a stage and an audience willing to listen as I developed my own ideals and talents. For me personally poetry was like the old Negro spirituals which had dual meanings only the initiated could decipher. Where to go, what to do, how to survive, how to find freedom.
Poetry forces you to have something to say. Good, bad or indifferent.
I remember a protest song from 2014 about our ongoing struggle as a people with identity that said; “never trust a man with no message”. The song made me cry. It still does. Not only because it’s a beautiful and simple song but because it reminds me that my whole life has become the message have I brought. It probably always was. Destiny. Nothing is a coincidence. Everything leads you to where you are now and it will take you to where you need to be tomorrow. I sometimes think that death is not the only action which is unavoidable. Life fits that description also.
“I am no longer accepting
the things I can not change.
From now on I’m changing
the things I find unacceptable.”
“Why can’t we move back in time as easily as we move forward?
Maybe it’s because we’re not moving forward,
we’re falling down through time
and there’s no such thing as falling up.
Man, I miss my wings.