SPLAY MY COUNTRY by Xandria Phillips

 

goods where

           

            the umbra

 

where the nettle thicket

           

            amass 

 

 

 

I have forsaken

           

            my view

 

of the cosmos

           

            for sprawls

           

of ozone

           

            -kissed teeth

 

this is how I feel

           

            small and significant

 

when you blow me

           

            over like topsoil

 

dusting a bulb 

           

            small enough to live

 

inside my mother

 

 

           

            a piece of genetic

 

scrap metal

           

            a prayer

 

another planet’s

           

            sun dust

           

I meant nothing 

           

            and I still do

           

but now the nothing

           

            comes disguised

 

as neon drowning orion

           

            in blush every night               

 

and another day

           

            leaning back to die

 

against the skyline

 

           

           

            this city is a mouth

           

forged around

 

            every gaze bound

           

for the heavens

 

            and I am begging it

           

to keep chanting

 

            its black harmony

 

                       

                                                to open

 

                       

                       

                                                wider still

 

 

What does the title, “Emerging poet,” mean to you?

 

I fluctuate in my feelings about and understanding of the term “emerging.” I of course appreciate when resources and publication spaces are created for young or new poets. At times I feel seen in my struggle, but often time “emerging” also feels coded to mean “wait your turn.”

 

Do you consider yourself an “emerging” poet? Why or why not?

I consider myself one who benefits from resources provided for emerging poets. That being said, there are a lot of other adjectives better describe what type of poet I am.

 

What do you think it takes to be “recognized” in the poetry community?

 

“Recognized” is very loaded and I'm hyper-aware of the difference between being seen and recognized. Recognition seems to usually involve major publications, awards, and grants.

 

How do you think power politics shape the poetry community?

 

The poetry community is heavily concerned with liberalism and diversity. While these ideologies may aim to do good, I think more often than not they fall short when it comes to amplifying poets who write from society's more precarious identities.

 

What does community mean to you?

 

Community is what got me through graduate school. It's people like Tafisha Edwards, who used to Skype with me until four in the morning when I was too sad to actually go out on a Saturday night. Community brings the world to me when I cannot access it myself.

 

 

 

XANDRIA PHILLIPS is the author of Reasons For Smoking, which won the the 2016 The Seattle Review chapbook contest judged by Claudia Rankine. She hails from rural Ohio where she was raised on corn, and inherited her grandmother’s fear of open water. Xandria received her BA from Oberlin College, and her MFA from Virginia Tech. Xandria is Winter Tangerine's associate poetry editor, and the curator of Love Letters to Spooks, a literary space for Black people. She has received fellowships from Cave Canem and Callaloo. Xandria’s poetry is present or forthcoming in Beloit Poetry Journal, West Branch, Nashville Review, Nepantla, Gigantic Sequins, Ninth Letter Online, The Journal, The Offing, and elsewhere. 

 

 

 

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