Writer. Performer. Educator.
"....My definition of poetry is forever changing, but right now I think poetry is the intense emphasis on the beauty, sound and meaning of words.....".
What are you trying to communicate with your art?
I think it boils down to honesty. I just want people to read or hear my poetry and think, “that’s some real shit” albeit some emotional, political, social or existential shit.
How does your work address your status as a black woman, living in America today, and why does it have to?
I write from my perspective. Even when I’ve written persona pieces, it’s always been my perspective. So I naturally write about my Blackness, my womanhood and my queerness either directly or indirectly. I also know that I have the capacity to use words in ways that others cannot, so it is my duty to “give name to the nameless” as Audre Lorde said. I have to write about my identity because if I don’t, who will?
One of your pieces- Word: F*ck I Look Like! - Resonate forus what inspired you to write such a piece?
What inspired me was the fact that I was living in two very different worlds, which were both saturated with white supremacy, I was privileged in that I had the capacity to code switch but it also led me to experience both the white students and the Black students as an outsider. I saw that my fellow Black students had been miss-educated, but it was difficult for me to reconcile that fact with my visceral frustration of being ostracized, I also saw that my white peers were receiving a much better education because of class and race privilege, but they were still so vastly ignorant when it came to understanding marginalized groups, consequently out of these conflicts arose a great deal of anger.
What are your thoughts about the racial tension in America today, a tension the wider world is abundantly aware of?
I feel like tension isn’t quite the word. It’s more than tension. It’s pervasive white supremacy and the re-emergence of the blatant expression of that supremacy, the likes of which we haven’t seen in decades. This is what “colour-blindness” got us. This is the culmination of years and years of denial. It’s very difficult for me to even fully conceptualize the world I live in.
Kai Davis, and the idea being that there is no need for procrastination, when even this Introduction will eventually be a real introduction- that is, introducing you to Kai Davis, without doubt, Kai Davis, as Performer, Educator, and Writer, has an ability to of which the tone expression that is refreshingly no-nonsense, amongst her other disciplines a poet who can make archaism so energetic and enjoyable to hear, and never shunning away from her roots, more so the need to re-establish the beauty of her culture, and womanhood, with these factors evoking her passion for her art, and the beliefs that drive them, Kai Davis is a poet who makes her presence most felt, her most uncompromising poems for her audiences works of listening delight, and poetic significance.
Kai, tell us a little about yourself. Who is this Kai Davis?
I grew up in the Germantown section of Philadelphia, where I attended a private Quaker school called Germantown Friends School. After middle school, I transferred to Central High School. I now attend Temple University where I study Creative Writing and African American Studies. Not quite sure if that really answers who I am as a person, but that’s a little bit of my history. Still trying to figure out how that history shapes me.
How long have you been writing poetry?
When did you write your first poem? How old were you?
I’ve been writing poetry since middle school, although I probably wrote my first poem way before that. The first time I remember actually caring about poetry was in the 8th grade when I wrote a poem for our little literary magazine about my locks.
What is your definition of poetry?
My definition of poetry is forever changing, but right now I think poetry is the intense emphasis on the beauty, sound and meaning of words. However the thing that separates prose from poetry for me is focus and intention, which much prose lacks or obscures.
Has your idea of what poetry is changed since you began writing poems?
I used to think that poetry wasn’t supposed to make sense; that it was supposed to be difficult and complicated. I don’t believe that now. I think that’s the post-modernist white western view of poetry that was pushed on me at a young age.
Finally, what for the future for Kai Davis?
I want to go to grad school and get my doctorate. I want to teach. I want to publish. I just want to keep creating and contributing to the world, all the while learning everything I can.