In the fall season 2009, Georgia Popoff taught a lit. class in contemporary and emerging African American poets. One of our guests coming to read for the DWC Spring series this Friday, DeLana Dameron, was one of the writers featured in the syllabus. As we have developed the habit of asking many of our visiting writers, here are DeLana's answers to five questions from the random inquiry generator:
Georgia Popoff: The spiritual aspect of How God Ends Us is so much the spine. Can you speak a bit about your missionary work as well as how the words may focus or open your spiritual self through the work?
DeLana Dameron: I was a freshman in college at the University of North Carolina when I went to Jamaica. That was the first and only missions trip I embarked on. I decided that I couldn’t continue in my own religious/spiritual journey in that way, being that the trip was so rife with racial tensions – the group I traveled with was white, the community in Jamaica we visited was, as you know, mostly black. I already had my ideas about the situation, about who I am as a Christian before I wrote the poems; it just sort of allowed me a space to put them into more concrete terms, a space to explore. I like to think of my poems that engage the Christian God as a space where I can have a conversation, an argument. Kind of like a public prayer. A place where I say: "Look, I believe in you, but here’s my issues."
GP: Place is obviously significant in your poems, as it is to so many poets. What do you feel is the relationship between geography/location and your inspiration?
DD: When people ask me where I write, I like to say: “I write in the world.” I live in a studio in Harlem (I lovingly call it “the Perch”), and even before this small space, I made this one rule for my writing: I will only use my living space for living. So, I’m generally out and engaging and watching the world/landscape I’m living in when I’m writing the poems, and they find their ways in.
GP: Many of us at the DWC are foodies; food is an important aspect in our lives individually as well as in events. For instance, we have a series of dinners as an annual fundraiser. What is your favorite cuisine and what would be your favorite meal?
DD: I’m a foodie as well. I love to cook. I suppose my favorite cuisine is Mediterranean or Middle Eastern. My favorite meal is any Ethiopian dish served over injera.
GP: Now that your first book is birthed, what is next?
DD: I want to increase my prose presence in the world. I’ve drafted a novel; I have some essays. I just need to push them out and let go of them. Also, a second collection, Cartographer, is circulating at some prizes. Let’s keep our fingers crossed!
GP: If you could be in a hot tub for a long chat with five other people, living or dead, who would they be and why?
DD: Aye. A hot tub is such an intimate space. I’d want to invite some long lost family members, but that might be weird. I’d say some of my favorite writers (some living, some dead; though, I’d hope in the hot tub, they’d be alive!): Toni Morrison, Mahmoud Darwish, John Hope Franklin, Jacob Lawrence, Zora Neale Hurston.
Thanks DeLana and we hope that many of our members will mark their calendars for this Friday when DeLana Dameron and Jane Springer share their work. As always, the reading starts at 7:00 p.m. and is FREE! Everybody bring a buddy!
Georgia Popoff, a member of the DWC faculty and frequent contributor to our blog, likes thinking up interview topics and generally questioning the world.