Chicago-based poet Kara Jackson is heading to our shores next month for the New Zealand Festival of Arts in Wellington, where she will appear in discussion local poet and writer Courtney Sina Meredith.
Jackson, who was named the 2019 United States Youth Poet Laureate, is coming to Aotearoa on the heels of releasing her new chapbook, Bloodstone Cowboy, which has been a reclamation of her lineage, an affirmation of self, and a declaration of her right to contain multitudes.
Jackson says she started writing poetry when she was around 12 years old.
“It was really bad, I wrote really bad poems,” she laughs.
It was in high school, where she joined a spoken word club, that she started taking it more seriously.
“I actually started to focus on the craft and the performance aspect.”
She says she became a better poet when her teachers began to show her poetry written by people with whom she identified.
“I think that made it easier to see poetry as a kind of spectrum in which I could grow, rather than something I have to be good at immediately. I would see poets that look like me and think, that’s so cool, I can grow up and become that.”
She says Bloodstone Cowboy is a book that deals with her immediate and extended family lineage.
“I’m thinking about my ancestry and the women in my family and where they’re coming from. I’m also thinking of family as a kind of structure and definition and something that’s more fluid that maybe we often think of.
“I’m thinking about lineage not just in terms of my mum and grandma, there are poets who assume those roles and have mothered me. Mothering can take on different forms and transcend gender and what we think of motherhood to be.”
Jackson believes poetry is going through a resurgence, which has been helped along by social media.
“With that resurgence comes the presence of a lot more queer poets, a lot more poets of colour, and a lot more young poets and I think that comes from the ways we engage with language and use words. I think it’s really cool that I can go on Instagram and see a poem.”