water ain’t thick enuf to wash me
so I grease my scalp often.
a regular oil spill.
this pussy ain’t been much more than a flood.
how I wish to seal up every hole
and leave nothing but a mouf,
suck on my own press-on fingernails like a sexless
offer up the soft of me to myself, my own hunger.
niggas die everyday.
I ain’t got no new words to christen this genocide.
every sidewalk a yung ancestor outlined
in flamin’ hot dust.
a bitch is tired.
how woman-ish it is of me
to name my Empty with an open mouf
so like a man’s. I used to be fulla something
heavy hydrant heart summer spewing Koolaid
the red powder
when will an un/nigga be struck down with no acquittal ?
my black ego swollen leave me god of something stained
un/blacken me here so that I could know safety.
what audacity did I have to be born black and alive and stay that way
somewhere is a death
with my name
on its hoop earrings.
look at all this blood
something finally for me
What does the title, “Emerging poet,” mean to you?
Emerging seems both a limited and broad title. To be an emerging poet sometimes means not yet having a book or being published at all; it can mean not being widely recognized. For academic artists, it can be for folks who are still working within their program. For all of us, it means we are still learning. I also believe to be an emerging poet is to not yet be widely visible, to still be submerged under some barrier to public recognition or respect.
Do you consider yourself an “emerging” poet? Why or why not?
I think I just consider myself a poet who’s still trying. I’m trying to subvert my idea of where I think I need to be or what is considered to not be “emerging.” I’m trying to check myself when I say things like “I’m not there yet” before I even define where there is and what would it then mean to be there. There is no place in my journey where I would consider myself done. With the use of “emerging,” I am wondering what are we emerging from under and to where?
What do you think it takes to be “recognized” in the poetry community?
Sometimes it takes whiteness, sometimes persistence. I don’t believe there is only One poetry community and some “communities” are actually just scenes, which lack the work and sustainability of communities, but sometimes allows easier access to social mobility and widespread recognition. There’s a privilege to becoming recognized in one of these communities in that you have a community or scene to begin with. Access is key and takes many forms, whether it be access to technology to consistently publish and market your work for online recognition, access to workshops/classes to develop your craft, or access to poetry events, youth programming, or if where you live has a slam. Sometimes you have to make your own community that affirms and nurtures your work, which won’t necessarily yield recognition, but healing.
How do you think power politics shape the poetry community?
I’ve never been a part of a poetry community, but I was in a slam scene for a year or two. I grew to notice that there was a reason certain people consistently got opportunities and recognition over other folks. The crowd loves a good cis white woman and a token POC could often win over and over again regardless of craft or performance, especially with a trauma or identity piece, because of how starved the scene was of melanin and how quick the city is to consume brown pain. A faithful member of this scene was a white trans woman who hardly ever received high enough scores regardless of performance to join the slam team or be sent to a Final Stage. There were a select few folks who wouldn’t get access to chapbook help or invitations to feature at home poetry events. I think, in lots of communities, there are gatekeepers. There are also folks doing the work to use their position in poetry communities to share those resources. But there are always folks left in the margins.
What does community mean to you?
Community means love and love means doing the work.
KIKI NICOLE is a yung negro artist trying to remember how to breathe in the Pacific Northwest. They are a Pink Door Fellow and a member of the Spring 2017 Queer Emerging Artist Residency cohort at Destiny Arts Center. Their work has appeared in Wus Good Magazine, Radar Productions' GLOW Queer Poetry Feature, Voicemail Poems and elsewhere. Find them in the middle of the club with a book in their hands and a subtle twerk.