During your reading at Wednesday Night Poetry, you said something that struck a chord with me, which was: “My being alive is a protest even if it is a protest against something inside of me that I am struggling with.”
Yes. I have been having a difficult time figuring out my place as a poet and what my responsibility is as a poet, especially as a poet of color that identifies as Afro-Latina. I’ve been trying to figure out how to lend my voice and whether my voice needs to be heard or not, and whether what I have to say is important.
A man and I stand on a New York street corner waiting to cross. Music playing in both our ears. He looks down and says something I cannot hear. I remove an earbud. He points “nice kicks man” I return “thanks man, cool shirt” a few beats later we both agree that you gotta stay fresh out here in these streets cause “you never know who you’re gonna meet” I joke “Rihanna could be right around the corner” we laugh and end with “have a good day, be safe” a few hours later I am sitting on a stoop enjoying my peace. A door slams behind me. A man looks down at me, at my shoes. “Fresh ass adidas” he doesn’t wait for a response. My voice chases after him “thanks man, preciate it”
I am many half things, which is not strange at all. Sometimes I am a metal sculptor, other times I am a blacksmith. Sometimes I am a 3D/CNC technician; other times I design artistic installations with robots. Sometimes I am an artist. I serve tacos part-time. There is nothing too strange about that.
August 21st, 2016. Oakland, California. I’m a twenty-three-year-old college junior on my way to my first class of the year. “If you don’t study under Jay Gupta while you’re here you’re wasting your time,” said one of my advisors. So I signed up for his 11:00 AM study of aesthetics—the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature and appreciation of art and beauty. I haven’t set foot on a college campus in almost five years so I’m intimidated.
While the world is on lockdown Kai Coggin casts a poetic spell across screens. “In case you are out there and you are going through this alone, I want to do this for you.” She raises her left hand and moves it toward the webcam. She pauses, eyes bright with affection. “Go ahead. Put your hand up to it.” I raise my hand to touch hers.
You’ve described your writing process as bizarre—that the poem moves through the body; the words reveal themselves last. How do the words actually come to you? ANDREA: I write out loud running around the house. I'm hyper-focused on sound, how the words sing and how truthfully they make their way into the air. Something can feel honest on the page, and then when spoken they can reveal themselves to be less than authentic.