Tell us about your work.
I am an artist that works at the intersection of language and life, performances and people. I am a poet, actor, musician, journalist, activist, artivist, community organizer, educator, teaching artist and father. I was the inaugural poet laureate of Albuquerque, New Mexico. I us my words to practice what I call "radical empathy" and I teach others to do the same. I've taught, learned an performed in 5 countries, in jails, churches, hospitals and for His Holiness Dalai Lama XXIV. I work with dancers, visual artists, videographers, photographers, musicians, actors and, most of all, young people.
How old were you when you knew you wanted to be an artist, and where were you?
I was always artistic. My parents, mom in particular, was rather militant about exposing use to cultural opportunities and travel. She was all about expanding our horizons from the insides, from a place of creativity. So, I was in tap class, piano lessons, church choir, church plays, drama club ... etc. I was a jock (Soccer, Basketball & Track) so she thought that the Arts was a proper balance to our overall menu of activities. However, it was probably the time I spent with my brother, Rasheed, who is two years younger than me, growing up. We used to play what we called "game" in our bedrooms for hours, where by we'd simply role play our future lives as teenagers, movie stars, famous musicians, mutants, superheroes Teen Wolf, or the JACKSON 5. We'd conjure up situational scenarios and act/imagine them out for hours, complete with our own stunts. I think it was pretty certain that I wasn't exactly going to have a desk job for the rest of my life after that.
"If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?"
Wifi, MacBook (with a bump in' onboard speaker for my iTunes playlist while I research, read and write on my tablet) and my 9 year-old son.
What is the best advice you’ve gotten in your career thus far?
That you know you've arrived as a poet when you show up to perform at places, venues and gatherings where you are the only poet on agenda. And with that reckoning comes a responsibility to craft and representing the community (which ever Community you represent at the time).
Name an artist you’d love to meet and why?
Ta-Nehisi Coates. I know, I know, he's not an artist. But he is a MacArthur Genius Award winning writer (An Artist!) and comic book author ... and some of the most poignant contemporary commentary on race in America, which is what I write about often...my experience in America. And I dream of having a body of work worthy of a MACArthur.
“If I weren’t doing this I’d…”
Be...not breathing? This is how I make sense of the world even when I don't make sense to the world. I've tried other jobs, none last very long. This has been my constant in some way,S Hale or form since college...and I went to school for Chemical Engineering (graduated with a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Communications). But I do fancy working as a speech writer one day!
What are your 3 goals for the next year?
To finish my book manuscript (memoir/nonfiction). To finish my one man show (and possibly a second one man comedy about being 30). To score a writing residency (a Fulbright would be awesome) abroad or domestic.
What are you working on now?
I am a The Creative Writing Director at New Mexico School for the Arts and finishing a year long Citizen Artist Fellowship with the Kennedy Center. Also finishing my first full length hip hop album.
Tell us about your work.
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