National Poetry Month Celebration 2015
Bio: Deonte Osayande is a writer from Detroit, Mi. His poems and essays have been published in over a dozen publications and have won awards in the Dudley Randall Poetry Contest, the Wayne Literary Review Poetry Contest and have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He is a three time member of the Detroit National Poetry Slam Team as well as slammaster/co-founder of the Freshwater Wordsmiths poetry slam and open mic. He's a poetry reader for The Adroit Journal, teaches creative writing through the Inside Out Detroit program and is a Professor of English at Wayne County Community College.
1. Where do you draw your inspiration from to write poetry?
My inspiration comes from life, images and my senses. I know that's a fairly generic answer but I write in spurts. I do prompts from time to time to either make sure I don't get rusty or when I'm coming up with one for my students/mentees to make sure I'm not asking them to do anything too difficult but for the most part my poems come out when they want to. I write about what I live, see, hear, touch and what touches me. Sometimes it takes time for those experiences to inspire me to write and sometimes it's nearly instant.
2. What advice do you have for someone that is threatened by poetry?
Give a wide variety of poetry a try before shutting yourself off to it. You never know what kind of great things you can get out of poetry. When I was younger I hated it because all I was being taught was sonnets from old white men who died hundreds of years ago. I'm so thankful I didn't completely give up on it, and now many of my favorite poems are written by women of color and old dead middle eastern men who died hundreds of years ago, haha.
3. Where are you from/Where do you live?
I have narcolepsy and I used to be a collegiate track and field sprinter. I started having trouble staying awake in school since middle school but we (my family and I) didn't really know why until college. I've tried to write about it numerous times but that and my experience running track are two things I never feel like I adequately put on the page.
4. Where are you from?
I was born in Huntsville, Alabama but I've been in Detroit since I was a baby. It's home.
5. Who is your favorite poet?
I don't think I have a specific favorite poet. I'm just a fan of the art form and of great poetry. It's a lot of work that I'm a fan of from all different traditions. I enjoy Rumi, Hafez, Sylvia Plath, Han Shan, Li Po, Langston Hughes, Audre Lorde, Edgar Allen Poe and so many others that are from today.
A Poet in Action
by Deonte Osayande
“Today I heard a music that can make the snow shine”
I couldn't hit a note if it were placed
right in front of me, but I continue to sing like a bird.
I can't remember if there was snow
or if the radio was on in the car that day. I don't know 0
if something specifically
sparked the moment we three shared, but I instantly think
of Omari singing about wanting to swallow Keisha Cole's ovaries
as the two of us cried laughing despite the cold. I've never been a fan
of the snow. It makes me sleepy. I remember telling you in a past life
I was probably a bear. For a long time you called me
your man cat. It fit because whenever I came over
your place I curled up on my big sister's couch as if I owned everything. When
you went in to the hospital you gave me the keys
so I could take care of your cats. After they ate your canaries
they kept hiding from me but their purring
still sounded like the rumbling of nature's love song. I could see
the joy in their eyes when I brought you back home
months later. When David died I knew I had lost
my really cool uncle but I would not yet understand
how poets summon the rain from anywhere
except clouds. When I was first taken in I did not yet get
how writing alone could be the start of what makes us family
but now I've lost my big sister and have found
a thunderstorm I didn't know I owned. Even now, reading your poems
I see how people got captured by your raw exposed heart. The tune
of your laughter replays in my dreams like an album of hurricanes. We have lost
so many in such a short period of time but today I saw
a ray of sunlight melt the snow and uncover a yellow bird's
feather. I'm convinced that was you singing a note
in the royal skyline of a majestic landscape in the fantastic above.
What's Coming Up?
On April 13th, Deonte Osayande will be the featured poet at Mic Check Mondays in DC at Culture Coffee (709 Kennedy Street, NW Washington DC from 9-11pm).
Please share your reaction below.
The energy you contribute transcends your imagination.