Khadijah Queen. Courtesy image.

We at Gemini Ink are thrilled to be hosting Khadijah Queen as one of our visiting writers this week. Queen, an award-winning African-American poet, is the author of “Conduit” (Black Goat/Akashic 2008), “Black Peculiar” (Noemi Press 2011) and the forthcoming “Fearful Beloved” (Argos Books 2015).

Known for her innovative, daring poems, which can, according to publisher Small Press Distribution (SPD), “weave the personal and the political in both ruthless and tender ways,” Queen will be reading her work at a free public event at the Southwest School of Art on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and conducting a one-day poetry workshop on “Stretching Your Voice through a Fictional ‘I’” at Gemini Ink’s offices on 1111 Navarro St. on Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m..

As a way to offer readers a glimpse into the rich imaginative world of this poet, we decided to ask her a series of slightly more whimsical questions (plucked right out of Vanity Fair’s Proust Questionnaire) and came up with this sampling of Queen’s likes, dislikes and mental detours and side trips. Half P.J. Harvey, half poetic battle cry, Queen’s poetry excavates a unique vision down the page. Read on to find out more about the writer whose poetry has been called “a leap into chaos, an unflinching love letter and a fierce indictment.”

Gemini Ink: Who are your heroes in real life?

Khadijah Queen: My mother and my sisters and my friends.

GI: What is your greatest fear?

KQ: Accidentally traveling backward through time and ending up somewhere in the wilderness with crazy people like that lady in “Outlander” or in “Sankofa.”

GI: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

KQ: My excessive need for rest and sleep.

GI: What do you consider your greatest achievement?

KQ: Raising my son (still in progress).

GI: What is your most treasured possession?

KQ: My persistence.

GI: If you died and came back as a person or thing, what would it be?

KQ: Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s significant other. Don’t hate.

GI: What is your greatest extravagance?

KQ: Honeycomb cereal and dating.

GI: Which words or phrases do you most overuse? 

KQ: Probably the F word, but can it really be overused? I’m not convinced.

GI: What is your greatest regret?

KQ: That one time Prince called me up on stage and I was too afraid I would cry or pass out up there, so I stayed in my 8th row safety bubble.

GI: Which talent would you most like to have?

KQ: The ability to dance. I’m just not equipped.

GI: What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? 

KQ: There are so many human miseries, some of which I’ve lived through and don’t wish to repeat or make light of. But, for the sake of good humor, it would have to be being trapped making small talk among materialistic, superficial people for an extended period of time. Or being stuck in a waiting room where “Duck Dynasty” is on with the volume turned up.

GI: Where would you like to live? 

KQ: I love where I live now.

GI: What is your favorite occupation? 

KQ: Writing and drawing and reading.

GI: What is the quality you most like in a man?

KQ: Reliability. Although good abs don’t hurt. Just sayin’.

GI: What do you most value in your friends? 

KQ: Acceptance.

GI: Who is your favorite hero of fiction? 

KQ: Meridian, from Alice Walker’s novel of the same name.

GI: What is it that you most dislike? 

KQ: The smell of fried pork products and weirdly drawn eyebrows.

GI: What is your motto? 

KQ: Right now I just picked one from the internet: castigat ridendo mores.

GI: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

KQ: When I’m making something.

To find out more about Khadijah’s reading at the Southwest School of Art on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and her poetry workshop on Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m., call 210-734-WORD or visit our website at geminiink.org.

*Top image: Khadijah Queen. Courtesy image. 

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Alexandra van de Kamp

Alexandra van de Kamp is the Creative Writing Classes Program Director for Gemini Ink. She is the author of two collections of poems: The Park of Upside-Down Chairs (CW Books 2010) and Kiss/Hierarchy (2016)...