Voices of Bettering American Poetry — Khadijah Queen


What advice do you have for young and emerging writers, particularly of marginalized identities? What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I received came from my mother, actually. I’ve always been conscientious to a fault and probably say yes to more than I can reasonably do, which leads to overload and, sometimes, to lateness. That’s no good. So, she said to do the best you can and leave the rest alone, which I’ve recently modified to include saying no to things I’d like to do, but simply haven’t the time for. I’ve had to let go of the stress and guilt around not doing all the things, and that feels like such a grand luxury, even though it’s really necessary.

What would you like to see change in the literary world, or how would you “Better” American poetry? Can American poetry be “bettered?”

I love seeing micro communities in poetry make their own alternative spaces for work that doesn’t fit the status quo, yet their excellence is undeniable—this anthology being an example. More of that, please.

What have you been reading, watching, or listening to lately? What new or emerging writer do you want the world to know about?

Philip Metres‘ Sand Opera is changing my life. And there are so many young writers whose work I love, whose work is changing poetry for the better, making it more alive and active and current and fly. It’s hard to choose one, and I still say to my students and try myself to be in the habit of reading everything. I will say that have been harassing Ashaki Jackson for a first book for many years now. She has two chapbooks out this year, though, so let’s hope she’s getting closer.


KHADIJAH QUEEN is the author of five books, including I’m So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On, forthcoming in 2017 from YesYes Books. Her verse play Non-Sequitur won the Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Women Performance Writers and was staged in 2015 by The Relationship theater company in NYC. She is core faculty in poetry for the new low-residency Mile-High MFA program at Regis University.

Source: vidaweb.org