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Interview w/ Jakima Davis

John Berbrich: Jakima, many of your poems take place on the streets of New
York City. Please describe your neighborhood for me.
Jakima Davis: My poems aren’t about New York City or any city or town.
Naming them after cities and towns is just absurd; that doesn’t make sense; at
times, it’s very stupid. My neighborhood is a suburb ghetto. Mount Vernon
is supposed to be a suburb in Westchester County which is outside New York
City. But the last 20 years or so, it has been more ghettoish.
John: Well, okay then, do you get down to the City itself often?
Jakima: I used to go years ago, but I don’t go down there much now.
John: So where do you get your poetic inspiration from? Just the mundane
things of life?
Jakima: I really don’t have a specific inspiration. It’s just based mainly on
being absurd. When I first wrote, the poems were bad, lame imitations to the
point I didn’t read much. Later on I started reading more. Most of the
inspiration comes from lyrics and instrumentals; I prefer complexity over
simple. It’s pretty much mundane.
John: You write a lot. Do you schedule writing time or just let the inspiration
of the moment take you?
Jakima: I let the moment take me. I haven’t written much in a while; but
most of the month, I’ve been writing more than ever. Guess I’m making up for
lost time.
John: Tell me, do you let the first draft be the final version or do you revise
and edit your work?
Jakima: Most of the time; the first draft is the final version. Though
sometimes, I may rework a few lines. Not a revision, but more like an edit.
That only happens if I make a mistake or use a word that I used in the past but
not anymore.
John: Do you ever perform your poems in clubs? Often the lines have a
marvelous thumping beat, like the throb of a pulse.
Jakima: I don’t go to clubs though I’ve occasionally performed at slams while
in college. I’ve never considered myself a performer.

John: What do you think of the world situation today, especially the situation
in the USA?
Jakima: All I can say is that America became the World’s official joke.
Americans often brag about the freedom and opportunities we have, though in
truth we have nothing. The World has the same problems too, but they’re
more honest with it. We’re often critical of what they do while we have issues
ourselves. I’m not saying the situations around the world are our fault; they
too have choices, but I’ll say most of it could be avoided if we just mind our
business. As for America, we’ve always been a joke, but while Trump was in
office we became the laughing stock that’s not taken seriously at all.
John: You think poetry spreads good energy?
Jakima: I don’t think my poetry spreads any energy. I see it as more people
scratching their heads; wondering what I am saying. Sometimes I don’t make
sense to the point I give editors headaches (that I was told). My poetry
spreads confusion.
John: Well, I don’t disagree with you there; however, for me at least, even
though your poems are chaotic and confusing, they do transmit a certain kind
of energy. I guess I’d say that they appeal to me more on a physical or
spiritual level, rather than on a strictly intellectual one.
Jakima: I never thought I was an intellectual or a politician, but I always
thought my poems do have something of a spiritual appeal. I’m not
completely religious (I’m more spiritual than religious), but I feel the sense of
spirituality in my poems that can turn someone on—believers or unbelievers.
My poems aren’t really autobiographical; people think they are but they
aren’t—people (including my mother) occasionally question the nature of
them. I see myself as more complex and absurd.
John: Have you ever read the Dada poets from the early 20th century, Tristan
Tzara, Hugo Ball, Hans Arp, & others? Their work was primarily complex
and absurd.
Jakima: Nope never read them. Heard of them but haven’t read them. If I
can get hold of them I will.
John: I’ve noticed you’ve written a number of haiku lately. Is this something
new?

Jakima: I’ve been writing haiku off and on for over ten years. I’ve been
working on this manuscript for some years before, but ever since we been
talking about it I’ve been getting into more.
John: Do you have any favorite haiku poets?
Jakima: Haiku poets. For now I say Issa and Richard Wright. It’s still a
learning process.
John: Who are your favorite poets in general?
Jakima: Hughes, Whitman, Kaufman, Brooks, Scott-Heron, Giovanni,
Thomas; those are the main influences.
John: Let’s expand on that a little. What is it about the poetry of Langston
Hughes that appeals to you?
Jakima: Hughes appeals to me by his musical and political sense. At first, I
didn’t care much about him, but later on I’ve been reading him. He really gave
me a purpose to write the way I do.
John: How have those other poets influenced you?
Jakima: Whitman’s one of the first poets I’ve read. He’s the reason I do free
verse. Gil Scott-Heron inspires me to take risks and be political. He inspires
the music in my poetry even though I’m a poet and not a songwriter. And
Nikki Giovanni is crazy!!! She’s a little bit of everything—political, personal,
musical. All these are to me intellectuals.
John: Do you play guitar? I notice it comes up a lot in your poetry.
Jakima: I was learning at first—even took a class while in college. Gave up
on it later on. I think I still can play a few chords and notes. Guitar references
in my poems have nothing to do with the instrument.
John: Do you play any musical instrument? Do you sing?
Jakima: I’ve tried a couple instruments. Guitar and recorder—gave up on
them both. Don’t sing!!! Can’t sing a tune.
John: If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Jakima: Although I would love to visit England someday, I would live in
New York. Too much money to live there, but I wouldn’t trade it for the

Patches

by Jakima Davis

Patches on my jeans
Dust blows in the wind
Teardrops on my notebook
Lipstick and makeup

Patches on my jeans
Poems pocket size
My lips full of passion
Breakfast in bed

Patches on my jeans
A Friend of God
Is a friend of mine
Able to sleep at night
Patches on my jeans
Sitting on the beach
I can’t go wrong
Take what you want
Patches on my jeans
Too late for goodbyes
I run around in circles
Say goodbye to Hollywood

*also published in Up North Magazine

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Jakima Davis, has two recent chapbooks, “Strictly Business” & “Neon
Obbligato,” published by Dave Roskos at Iniquity Press/Vendetta Books of
New Jersey. Jakima can be reached at davisjakima@yahoo.com and also on Facebook.