In the early 1970s in Atlanta, I attended what had formerly been an all-white school but had become a black school after integration and white flight. Perhaps because of this, the teachers created a curriculum that included a focus on African American literature and history year-round, not just in February.
My obsessions stay the same - historical memory and historical erasure. I am particularly interested in the Americas and how a history that is rooted in colonialism, the language and iconography of empire, disenfranchisement, the enslavement of peoples, and the way that people were sectioned off because of blood.
I think the biggest thing that I have to do is to remind people that poetry is there for us to turn to not only to remind us that we're not alone - for example, if we are grieving the loss of someone - but also to help us celebrate our joys. That's why so many people I know who've gotten married will have a poem read at the wedding.
Isolated and unincorporated, North Gulfport lacked a basic infrastructure: flooding and contaminated drinking water were frequent problems. Although finally incorporated in 1994 - not long after the arrival of the first casino - many of North Gulfport's streets still lack curbs, sidewalks, and gutters.
It's so necessary to try and record the cultural memory of people. To set it down for generations to come. To better understand where we are headed. The problem is, a good portion of what we choose to remember is about willed forgetting. Which we all do, I believe, to protect ourselves from what is too difficult.
Often as a poet I find that I am somewhat outside an experience I want to hold onto, consciously taking mental notes or writing them down in my journal - for fear that I will forget. It's not unlike being on a trip and taking pictures, your face behind a camera the whole time - the entire experience mediated by a lens.