Kara Jackson, singer/songwriter/musician/writer:
When I was a teenager, doing work and having the audacity to call myself a poet or an artist in one way or another, that confused people. When I saw old people trying to hold me down or trying to humiliate me or whatever, I just saw that as an invitation.
Gwendolyn Brooks is one of the integral poets who inspired me to write poetry. Gwendolyn Brooks is a champion at writing what’s under your nose. And so that’s the kind of ethic and the kind of practice that I apply in my own work.
I think the South is important for my work because that’s where I come from. Like, I can’t really explain myself without explaining my dad. My father was born and raised in Dawson, Georgia. It’s my favorite place on this earth. That’s about the size of any pebble.
I think Dawson, Georgia really represents how culture generally happens in every corner of our country and this Earth. And it frightens and confuses me the way we as a country feel so comfortable throwing away this space.
I mean, black people are there, and that’s why it’s so important to me that people understand that the South isn’t disposable, because my people aren’t disposable. It evokes a broader aspect of lineage in my work. I really can’t do anything without thinking about where I am in this place and how I wouldn’t be where I am in this place without the people who came before me.
So I constantly think about how I honor my lineages, but also how I deviate from those lineages. I think every black person, every black artist should have the space to talk about whatever they want and express themselves in a way that feels natural.