With the summer in full swing and school out of session, it is a great time to catch up on some reading. There will also be book fairs and festivals this summer for those who are inclined towards literature. In July, we have the Harlem Book Fair, and in August there will be the first ever Queens Book Festival. In looking at the upcoming events, as a part of the Black Writer’s Collaborative network, I discovered a writer who is scheduled to be at this year’s Harlem Book Fair. I’d like to introduce you to writer and poet Dara Kalima. She is the author of “Black Man, Black Woman, and Black Child” a perspective on the African-American experience. I was able to reach out to Dara for some questions about her book, and writing in general.
Polite On Society: What motivated you to write Black Man, Black Woman, Black Child?
Dara Kalima: The title poem came to me many years ago. My goal in that moment was to explore the dynamic in the household. I wanted to understand how three people can live together and still not fully appreciate what the others may or may not be going through. In time, when I decided to compile the book, I realized this poem lent itself to a larger structure. It’s written in 5 sections; I tackle with the experience/perceptions of man, woman, and child, explore the family unit and then look at what it like when these people have to face a world that was not necessarily designed for their success.
POS: What is your purpose in your writing? Who are you trying to reach?
DK: I write for those people who don’t know how to share their stories, who feel alone, unheard, etc. I write because by writing my story can help provide healing for another. I’m trying to reach anyone who will listen. But in the case of this book specifically I want those within the community to better understand each other and then I want those outside of it to see us as just regular people who may just have a bit more of a challenge facing them.
POS: As a poet, how do you decide how much of your life experience to pour into your work? Do you ever feel at risk of going too personal?
DK: I have put a lot of my life on the page, some would argue too much and at this point though it may have all been written it’s not all shared. But I write often times to help me find clarity on things. If I don’t understand how an atrocity can happen in the world, I tend to write the questions, or my perceptions. If I’m hurting over a broken heart I write about the relationship, where it went wrong, how I am feeling and what healing looks like. I get shy and blush or get angry when I read some of my work but if the goal is to have deep and candid conversations, then I cannot shy away from these things in writing. I would be doing myself, my readers, and my craft a disservice.