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Willie Lee Kinard III Explains His Approach To Writing

"Discipline-wise, I don't necessarily have to write every day because I'm thinking and imagining every day. So, for me, it's like giving myself enough time to be silly, goofy, imagine creatively. Maybe 15 minutes a day, maybe an hour. I take my morning cup of tea, which is fairly new again in my life, sit with whatever I'm thinking about, draw, doodle, give myself space to release it. And if it feels like it starts to be something, then perhaps coaxing it towards something that's a little bit bigger. Maybe a poem, maybe a portrait, maybe a song, something of the sort.

Most of the things that I'm thinking about kind of blend into the rest of my life. If grief appears financially, it's also appearing spiritually or emotionally. If anger is appearing physically in your life, it's probably going to weigh on you mentally. And so, in that case, it kind of infiltrates all the other creative processes. When I'm mad, sometimes it's a poem about pepper. Sometimes there's a poem about glass breaking."

"I think what you just said really hit me when you said, 'I might not write every day, but I'm thinking and imagining every day,' because that's another kind of fault line for a lot of creatives. They're thinking about production in a very linear way. They're thinking production means that I've written the poem today. Maybe there's some areas in your life that that is what it means.

But I think a lot more people would be really benefited with that thought process of, 'Yeah, some of these days that you are thinking about production, the thing that you should be thinking of is, are you taking that time to really rethink, reimagine, just really kind of be free artistically?' And in that way, when the time comes and when it's been properly distilled, you can actually focus that energy into something tangible, like a poem or a portrait, like you were talking about. So, I really appreciated that, definitely."

"So, I also think it might be helpful to not think about production as having made something, as opposed to laboring towards possibly making something. I remember some years ago, I got the opportunity to interview Alicia Nicole Harris for me and my co-creator's slightly now-defunct publication, For the Scribes. And she said, 'Every day you write is not writing. Sometimes it's just practice. Sometimes it's just an exercise.

But every word that you put towards a project is a word that you didn't have before. If I had to think about a book being made of poetry, I would have no book. But if I had to think about a book being made of poems and possibly making a poem, if it takes an hour, if it takes a day, if it takes a week, or if it takes like five years, that poem's process is going to take however long it is. I cannot time it. It makes no sense to try to put effort on it like that, to me at least.'"

"So, I think if anything, for me, and I don't necessarily know for other folks, I think sometimes it gets to be helpful to not think about poetry as a process of completion as much as it is a process of discovery and allowing yourself to make tiny discoveries consistently until you find revelation."

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