With only about one month remaining, you don't want to miss out on all of the great poets we've had so far on this awesome series! Stay tuned by subscribing to my profile or checking back once a week for more articles! Thank you so much for your continued support in this process and along this journey. The amount of feedback I've received and I've watched the featured poets receive has been phenomenal! Thank you for continuing to inspire me to do this each and every week!
This week's Poets of the Week are Ryk McIntyre, the ever-thoughtful and lovely poet from New England, and, Siaara Freeman, the outspoken, fierce, fearless poet from Ohio. Here's what these poets had to say about poetry, life goals, their Hogwarts houses, and their poetry families.
Q: If you had one goal in life, what would it be?
Ryk McIntyre: You mean after throwing over the racist/sexist/phobic white supremacist military-industrial patriarchal oligarchy? To be of service to people in need, whether that be through political work and social justice, the arts, or my favorite—helping people kick addiction issues. Also, not dying. Nothing helps living than not doing that.
Siaara Freeman: Hmmm. That’s hard TBH. Im full of goals, if the question was “what are you full of?” ambition –would be the answer, so let’s see…I guess my goal, is to never be done. There is always something or someone who needs saving, always an answer that must be found, a joy to uncover, trauma to help heal, a kind word or hand to lend. My goal is to be endless in help and in influence particularly for the people and places I come from aka “The Hood” aka “The Streets” aka “ The Block” aka "You are from WHERE? OMG”
Q: Is there anyone in the poetry community that you consider family? If so, who?
Ryk McIntyre: This is a tough question. Chronic health issues have kept me from regularly attending the readings I used to, and in this scene, that makes one easy to forget. Also, like any ex-drunk, I have burned more bridges than I wish, in more than one poetry scene, and my tendency (for reasons of health and otherwise) to isolate in past years hasn’t helped that. I would say Jack McCarthy was a sort of surrogate father to me, the last 15 or so years of his life. For me, “Family” is also such a charged and loaded word. Better said, there are a lot of people in the poetry community that I consider “my tribe” and it constantly surprises me—and moves me—to hear the people who consider me to family to them.
Siaara Freeman: This is where I'm blessed. I literally came of age in the poetry community. I began at 14 with Brave New Voices and am still here at 26. It was not an easy journey, growing up is not easy for most people where I come from, in fact aging itself is a blessing where I come from. I had many opportunities afforded to me, but the biggest godsends were the humans, from my peers who I aged with to the constant guidance and support of the adult coaches and mentors in the scene. There are so many, so ill just list what pops in my head the quickest-when I think aunties I think: Rachel McKibbens, Nicole Homer, Izetta Nicole, Tara Betts, Louise Robertson, Su Flatt, Sonya Renee Taylor, Dominique Christina, Phoenix Lashawn, Dee Matthews, Aricka Foreman, Kisha Nicole Foster, Emily Rose, Eris Eady and Giselle Robinson (rip). When I think of uncles, I think: Will Evans, Scott Woods, Billy Tuggle, Tom Noy, Anthony Evans and like 5 dudes in Detroit. Siblings: Nkechi Edeh, Natasha T. Miller, Shanitra Harris, Whitney Walker, Justin and Brittany Rogers, Arianna McCall, Caira Lee, Blythe Baird, Rachel Wiley, Bee Kapri, Lauren Bullock, Princess, Danez Smith, Hieu Minh Nguyen, J.G, Shameaca Moore, Ajanae Dawkins, Alexis Smithers, Ashlee Haze, Mathais, Marcel, Casey Lynne, Sabanine Bradley, Tim Henderson, Jacob Rakovan, the entire Pink Door coven, a host of poet kids and kids of poets, and the list could honestly go on forever, like when I say blessed, I mean B L E S S E D.
Q: What was the best workshop/slam/open mic you have ever attended?
Ryk McIntyre: Too, too many to even start to count, over the 26 years I’ve been associated with Slam, and 35 years for poetry in general. Been very blessed in that regard. Also, appearing in this interview series with Siaara Freeman is kinda huge for me. Another blessing.
Siaara Freeman: Workshop: Dee Matthews does this prompt at a Pink Door (WOC writers retreat run by Rachel McKibbens). I'm still writing different prompts from it. It’s a prompt literally designed to snatch some of the literal out of your work. I can get super literal and the workshop always leads me into a space of ethereal and fantasy and why not? I love it. SLAM: 1st year of Brave New Voices made final stage with my bestfriend KK and our slam team in California. Lit a fire under my a** nothing has been able to put out. Open Mic: Boston: Cantab & House Slam while on tour. I was the feature and I wanted to listen to them instead. Oh, and Chicago Young Authors did the same thing.
Q: What Hogwarts house are you?
Ryk McIntyre: Slytherin. Straight-up Snape. Touched the robes Alan Rickman wore, once. Remind me to tell you that story sometime.
Siaara Freeman: SLYTHERIN. Goes back to question one doesn’t it? – ambition and all that. And what is wrong with ambition??? Nothing. And what is wrong with being cunning? Nothing. And what is wrong with being loyal to what is loyal to you? Nothing. Not to spoil anything, but like honestly, does it get much better than Snape? Should it not have been “Snape & The Sorcerer’s Stone,” “Snape & The Chamber of Secrets” – I mean C O M E O N. Slytherins have the worst rep and the best colors. You say Voldemort was a Slytherin and the worst wizard of all time; I say Merlin was a Slytherin and the best of all time. History is just history until you do something with it, I know, I know, very Slytherin of me, thanks.
Q: What is the fiercest thing about you?
Ryk McIntyre: My ability to keep going despite what life throws at me. My loyalty to those in my tribe. My willingness to try and help the people who have reached out to me, because of my open discussion of my own addiction/mental health struggles. Also, I look d*mn good in a black suit.
Siaara Freeman: Sounds corny, but my love. My love is so strong. People thought I would stop talking about my father’s murder with such pain, people said time would chill me, people said time would ease things. My love does forget. I never forget lovers and I've had my share. I still know every scent, every secret, and every dream by heart. I've been told all my life, I have charisma, what I think is- I have is a genuine love of people – I'm an extrovert, people feed my energy and I feed it back, my love is never destroyed, it just transfers.
Q: If you had to be a magical creature, what would you be?
Ryk McIntyre: Batman. The character symbolizes both my best and worst qualities. On one hand he lets nothing defeat him and when knocked down, always picks himself back up. His desire for Justice is his main focus. On the other hand, he can be reclusive, paranoid, obsessive and unaware of his own privilege. When the character is matched with a writer that understands the aspects that make him both heroic and tragic and oh so human, then Batman makes a magic all his own.
Siaara Freeman: I am a black girl. So I already am. If I could be another, I'd be a siren, but to be honest, I'm not sure I'm not already.
Q: Why is poetry important to you?
Ryk McIntyre: Even more than Punk Rock, with its ethos of “anyone can do this”, poetry doesn’t even require one to learn a musical instrument; just to get up there behind the mic and share your… whatever: yourself, your experience, your sense of humor; your story. I love that it is very often the rare outlet for people whom society has marginalized into silence and compliance. I love watching them bloom, realizing they are important and someone wants to hear what they have to say. I have learned more about my own white, male, cis-appearing privileges—and ways to not be like that—by listening to the poems of PoC, Women, LGBTQ and Survivors of some of the worst life and society can throw at them. Their strength reminds me to look for my own.
Siaara Freeman: It is how I can prove I was here. On this earth. In this time. In someone’s heart. I am black and woman and queer and urban and just about everything a bigot is looking for in America. I am not afraid of death, but I would like to be prepared (Slytherin sh*t), my preparation is poems. I don’t have a child currently, so this is my legacy. I was all my father had when he left to prove he was here, poetry is what I have left to leave.
Q: What are your plans for 2017?
Ryk McIntyre: World conquest, two new manuscripts and a spoken word CD with music backing me up. Maybe just the last two. The first one’s been done to death. So I’ll probably stay in school, since I’m having so much fun there. Who is the 55 year-old A student? I am.
Siaara Freeman: Same plan I have every year, to try and take over the world. Nah, seriously though, cool things for next year. I'll still be mid tour, my new magazine Wusgood.black will be three months in the game. I have one book of selfies being released by HMO Publishing. Two manuscripts currently being shopped around and I really would love to relocate for 16 months and have a baby. And then seriously try and take over the world.
Q: Anything else (Poems, Links, Comments, Etc)?
Ryk McIntyre: I have a poetry blog which I update on a regular “when I feel like it” basis. Check it out!
Siaara Freeman: Go read poems by the family I named, you’ll love them, promise. Go check out Wusgood.black & Tinderbox Poetry Journal (I'm an editor there). Treat people the way you would want someone to treat your true love. I have hopes just like everyone else, keep your fingers crossed for me. Xoxo -si