Editor’s word: That is an installment of Black Artwork at Rice, a Q&A collection that goals to make clear the inspirations, influences, knowledge and work of Black artists within the Rice neighborhood. Have somebody in thoughts whose artwork must be within the highlight? Nominate them right here.
Efficiency can elevate the facility of poetry, already a helpful avenue of self-expression, by permitting the artist to share their work and really feel the help of an viewers. That, at the least, has been the expertise of spoken phrase poet Morgan Seay. Her work, which regularly highlights the Black girl’s expertise, has been showcased within the Rice Ladies’s Useful resource Heart’s “Engender” zine and on the Black Pupil Affiliation’s Soul Evening. The Hanszen School junior spoke to the Thresher about her artistic course of; wrestle, resilience and hope within the Black neighborhood; and her presence as an artist at Rice.
This interview has been edited and condensed for readability.
Rice Thresher: How did you begin writing spoken phrase poetry? Had been there particular catalysts? How do the writing and efficiency points come collectively for you?
Morgan Seay: I’ve been a author for [the] majority of my life. It’s at all times been an outlet for me to both share my very own ideas and emotions, or create this personal world that [I] can escape to and reside in. However as I turned extra conscious of my race and the position that my race performed in my experiences in society, I felt like an outlet during which I may specific my ideas, emotions [and] experiences was writing. Rising up in my neighborhood, you couldn’t actually speak about race, particularly the Black expertise. These are issues about my tradition that I like however [there is] ache that I’m experiencing. It was a very exhausting topic to handle in a neighborhood that wasn’t actually receptive to that.
I bought into spoken phrase particularly [because of] a spoken phrase poet named Rudy Francisco … Numerous his writings give attention to the Black expertise and extra [general] matters like love, ache and household. After I was capable of see the power of his phrases together with the feelings that he conveyed — the emotional side once you’re sharing [a] piece by way of spoken phrase is de facto highly effective — that’s what pushed me to go for spoken phrase versus common poetry … When you may convey these feelings in entrance of individuals, it makes the expertise extra highly effective, for my part, and it’s just a little bit extra of an intimate connection.
RT: What’s your artistic course of like?
MS: Numerous the time, my items come from being overwhelmed with emotion. After I wrote “Ode to the Black Girl’s Physique,” that was within the midst of all the things that occurred this summer time — so after the demise[s] of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. That was a very emotional expertise for me and I most likely wrote that inside 45 minutes. Numerous my writings first come out [as a] stream of thought, [as in,] ‘That is what I’m feeling; that is what I’m experiencing; these are the issues I wish to convey to different Black individuals or these are the feelings I wish to convey for myself” … I’m going again to [a piece] over a number of days and make adjustments to it or variations to it, or typically I scrap it fully as a result of my feelings have fully modified … In plenty of my items, I circle by way of these emotions like disappointment, anger [and] delight. When these sorts of feelings are shifting, my work undoubtedly adjustments based mostly on these as effectively.
RT: It appears as if feelings typically gasoline your work. How do you’re employed by way of your emotions whereas creating?
MS: Prior to now, expressing my feelings, particularly on matters like Black trauma and Black ache, has been actually exhausting to share with individuals as a result of there’s a way of vulnerability in speaking about such delicate topics and actually permitting somebody to understand how you’re feeling. Writing these issues down turned an actual outlet for me to have the ability to specific these emotions, whether or not it was one thing like ache or grief or … full delight. I believe these sorts of feelings are actually driving my work as a result of I really feel extra comfy expressing them on paper somewhat than speaking to somebody straight [about them] … Having the ability to string [them] into poetry [with] this two-fold which means — [the poetry is] very superbly worded and good, however on the identical time, it has a really highly effective which means behind it — utilizing that as an outlet to precise my feelings, I used to be way more comfy with. I believe [poetry] nonetheless [allowed] that stage of intimacy that I used to be on the lookout for with out [making me feel] like I used to be fully uncovered to the world.
RT: Does efficiency impression the way in which you’re feeling a few piece’s material? How so?
MS: One of many first items I carried out at Rice was “Chains” which [is] about these generational struggles that Black individuals have been going through and this type of racism that was perpetuated over generations, [along with] the power and resilience of the Black neighborhood … to beat that it doesn’t matter what. That piece has been particularly private to me, and it had plenty of sturdy ties to my feelings, so once I wrote it I felt delight, however on the identical time plenty of anger and disappointment about this gorgeous violent historical past.
[Performing “Chains” for the first time at] Soul Evening, I believe that my feelings modified as a result of in that room, [as I was] surrounded by Black college students who’re additionally very conscious of those experiences, it felt very comforting that I may share a bit of me … that I knew they understood. However on the identical time sharing it with the higher Rice neighborhood … introduced me plenty of consolation, figuring out that individuals have been listening to what I used to be saying and understanding what I used to be saying and have been actually receptive to it. [In front of an] viewers that’s captivated and actually considering what I’ve to say … these preliminary feelings, nonetheless sturdy or charged they have been — so whether or not it’s ache or anger or worry — these are undoubtedly nonetheless current [because] once you’re studying a bit you return to all these issues that trigger you to write down it within the first place … However once I’m performing these items I really feel plenty of consolation in figuring out that individuals are listening to what I’m saying and so they’re recognizing it for extra than simply, “It is a fairly poem.” I believe that with the ability to see that individuals are receptive gives this added factor of … [comfort from] individuals being accepting of my feelings and people experiences.
RT: Amongst your poems, which is your favourite?
MS: I must say “Chains.” I believe writing about ache is a really weak, emotional course of. With that piece particularly, I wrote lots about Black ache and Black strife, nevertheless it ended on this message that “the combat isn’t over; there’s a lightweight on the finish of this tunnel; we as a neighborhood are sturdy,” and people are phrases that I wholeheartedly imagine. It’s very nice to have that transition from “these are painful experiences however we’re larger than this, and we’re going to get by way of this as a neighborhood.” It felt actually unifying.
RT: Do you will have plans or goals in your artwork? What’s subsequent?
MS: General taking extra time to write down, I believe — being a pupil and dealing and having extracurriculars, it takes plenty of time away from writing. I might undoubtedly wish to carry out extra, however getting again to a spot the place I can write persistently is the following step.