Tell the poem to touch itself at night.
Tell the poem to hand pick the stars scattered between its valleys
And bring the torrent rain.
Tell the poem we know it’s been fascinated with space exploration.
Ask it to align itself with the likes of Orion.
To find the biggest dipper for the collection of any spillage.
Hurtle and orbit as close as it can to the sun
Tell it to burn if it has to.
Tell the poem that there is life somewhere on some distant planet,
Waiting to be found or hiding.
Tell the poem to spill its seabed loose.
Remind it of its defence.
Let the ocean out on the land like a pack of wild African dogs.
What does the title, “Emerging poet,” mean to you?
To emerge is to come up out of a state where you were not previously seen or heard and make yourself visible. The term “emerging poet” means to break through and allow your work to flourish. This might mean becoming much more engaged in the community by putting your work out there. Writing manuscripts, entering competitions, doing research, performing your work at open mics in hope that the right person hears and taking more steps to becoming published. I think it is a kind of metamorphosis to emerge and as a poet, it is seeing yourself and your work evolve and transcend into something new. It is putting your work out there in the most unapologetic sincere way.
Do you consider yourself an “emerging” poet? Why or why not?
I do consider myself an emerging poet. I am a queer writer who has recently, within the last two years or so started addressing that part of me through writing and sharing that type of work publicly. I have also recently started really pushing towards becoming published and pushing for work to stretch beyond the boundaries of this small island state that I come from. Being a Caribbean writer isn’t easy when so much other place are more relevant. When our number of top authors are minimal and are yet to be seen and heard by the wider world. I understand that there is a need to speak my truth.
What do you think it takes to be “recognized” in the poetry community?
To be recognized in the poetry community you really have to capitalise on your individuality. On the thing that makes you and your work unique and really workshop it and groom it into some form of garden or moon, which ever works for you, and then look for any opportunity to be read or heard. Someone somewhere will take a liking to it. I think there are a lot of poets and writers in existence but everyone has a different story to tell. Our narratives are the things that differentiate us from others from other writers.
How do you think power politics shape the poetry community?
The topic of Power politics is still a conundrum to me. I have had multiple conversations about it with writers from a lot of different places and still I don’t think I have enough to share my opinion openly about it. On a very surface level I think it lends diversity to the poetry spaces. It affects what we write about and the type of pieces that we present. Politics have a way of touching everything regardless. Where I come from you get to really here what issues are affecting our society and youth the most because you hear it in their work. Politics is truth, poetry is also truth. When they come together it’s a completely different story all together. I am still exploring this even with my own work.
What does community mean to you?
Community is a people working in together towards a common goal. This space free, unrestricted and boundless. It means you can be authentic and celebrate that authenticity with people who make you feel included. With people who understand how important it is to be able to do so without scrutiny or discrimination. This space is welcoming to all willing to grow and exist. The community where poets exist revolves around words and expression. We’re all trying to be heard. All trying to give our voices. We all want support.
DENEKA THOMAS is a 24-year-old Spoken Word Poet, Writer, Teaching Artist, Photographer and an aspiring author with an urgent voice that raises against gender inequality, advocacy for women, encourages self and body image appreciation and exhorts environmental awareness. Deneka is Artist and Performer with the Spoken Word Based Company the 2 Cents Movement and a Teaching Artist with the Trinidad and Tobago extension of the Brooklyn Based Theatre company Girl Be Heard. She is a creator who is insistent on questioning and going beyond the status quo. Her writing is a happy marriage of campaigning for women’s rights and a pure fascination of the earth and its ecology. These combine to create her personal brand of ecofeminism. However, her work is a force that challenges and probes everything that concerns existing. She is a Verses Bocas Poetry Slam 2015 Finalist and a First Citizens National Poetry Slam Finalist 2016. She is currently developing the manuscript for her first collection of poems and is one of the coaches for the team representing Trinidad and Tobago at Brave New Voices Festival in San Francisco in July 2017.