As for the differences between audio and the printed page, the sonic aspects of poetry are important to me. I read my poems aloud to myself as I'm composing them. And I enjoy reading to an audience. I think people get tone more easily when they hear a writer read her work. Some people have told me they hear more humor in my poems at a live reading than when they see them on the page. I think that may be a matter of pacing. On the other hand, I've listened to a lot of poetry readings and I know how much you can miss. If you stop to really register one line, you miss the next three or so.
Please tell me a story about a girl who gets away. " I would, even if I had to adapt one, even if I had to make one up just for her. "Gets away from what, though?" "From her fairy godmother. From the happy ending that isn't really happy at all. Please have her get out and run off of the page altogether, to somewhere secret where words like 'happy' and 'good' will never find her. " "You don't want her to be happy and good?" "I'm not sure what's really meant by happy and good. I would like her to be free. Now. Please begin.
I bring my classical training - some of it, but not all of it - and also my background and culture, to spirituals. And I try to leave room for that unpredictable factor, where the feeling of the song is allowed to come through. The same ethos can be applied to singing Mozart, or Schubert, or Bach. It's not just about what's on the page.
The media love to cover black people on the front page. After all, when you live in a society that will lock up about 30 percent of all black men at some time in their lives and send more of them to prison than to college, chances are a fair number of those black faces will end up in the newspaper.
I’ll tell you now. That silence almost beat me. It’s the silence that scares me. It’s the blank page on which I can write my own fears. The spirits of the dead have nothing on it. The dead one tried to show me hell, but it was a pale imitation of the horror I can paint on the darkness in a quiet moment.