When did you start writing/performing?
I started writing poetry when I was 12 years old. It began as a way to
impress my teachers in elementary school, transformed into an outlet
for my teenage anxiety in the form of journals and a book of poems,
then blossomed into the art form known as spoken word. I am
relatively new to the "spoken word" scene... I slammed in my first
poetry slam less than four months ago.
I began formulating the artist you now know as Queen D in 2004. I
started performing weekly at Talkback Tuesdays in Sacramento. I
would get on the stage like a novice, looking down at my notebook
and barely speaking above a whisper. It took a dramatic turn of
events and some awesome and very supportive poets to get me to
put my book down, memorize my pieces, look at my audience and
make them feel my words. It's been only a year now that I have fully
immersed myself in poetry and became the QUEEN D that
everyone knows today.
Who are your favorite writers/performers? Who has influenced your
Besides the greats like Maya Angelou and Nikki Giovanni, all my
influences have been local poets that I have been able to sit with, talk
to, physically touch and build with. Rodzilla, the Black Academic out
of Sacramento but who currently resides in Denver, is my all time
favorite spoken word artist. Outside of being a prolific speaker, he
took me under his wing and made me realize that I am a leader in the
Black Arts Movements and that I had a responsibility to all women to
stand up and be heard.
NerCity out of Oakland, is the poet that introduced me to spoken
word when I was still teething in my first notebook. He helped me gain
confidence as a performer all the while encouraging me to remain
humble. Lastly, Amir Sulaiman, one of the greatest poets in the
country, kept me grounded in the fundamentals of life and poetry and
he reminded me to keep the sincerity in my work. There are so many
poets that get "high" on the spotlight and "fame" of being a poet and a
leader, that they lose focus and ruin the "truth" of this art form.
There are other poets such as Heather Christian, Flo-Real, Scorpio
Blues, Clarity and Queen Sheba that have had a tremendous
influence on me as a poet as well.
When we saw you at the Java Café, you performances were
emotional. You were not afraid to use certain language or discuss
certain issues. What inspires you, both in your life and in your
First of all, I write from a place of truth, sincerity and realness... I
write me. My story, my feelings, my heart... I strip naked (emotionally)
on the Mic:
1. To cleanse/purge myself
2. So that others do not have to
3. So those who share in my pain or relate to my story can
At Java Café, I was hesitant to use certain language but my best
friend's mother was there and I asked her if it would be okay
(respect). She said "as long as you are being true to yourself, then
you do what is necessary." My poetry is very emotional and very
vulgar at times... That is because that is where I was in my life when I
wrote those pieces.
What inspires me most in my poetry and in my life is my father. He
passed away last year on Feb. 8 and the loss devastated me
completely. I quit my job, moved out of my apartment, loaded up my
car with my bare necessities...then began to drive. I didn't know
where I was going, what I was going to do but I knew that I only had
two choices: I could slip away in the dark isolation of depression or I
could force myself to live. I chose to live and not too long after that, I
found Mouth Off (Every Wednesday at the Air Lounge in Downtown
Oakland). This venue became my safe haven and I blossomed. I used
all my energy, fear, anger and sadness to create poetry and the
people loved it. Some called me a hippie, a drifter, a gypsy, even a
wonderer...but I knew where I would be every Wednesday. However,
I was not content with just sharing with my Mouth Off family and
audience so I made it my goal to get on as many Mic's as possible... I
began getting features and I started slamming... That's when you
Describe your pre-performance/reading routine. How do you get
ready to read/perform your work?
Believe it or not, I get EXTREMELY nervous before I get on the Mic. I
normally pace, reciting the poem over and over in my head. I say a
little prayer asking God to make me be at ease on the Mic, to make
sure I don't forget any lines and also to let someone in the room
benefit from hearing me speak. Then I "hulk up." I bounce a little and
say the names of some of my favorite poets, take a deep breath then I
step to the Mic. Once I open my mouth there is no turning back.
What's next for your poetry/spoken word?
I am still hungry... I am still going to be at any open Mic I can get
on. I want to travel, get some more exposure, meet some great people
and hear more poets. I am still learning and cultivating my craft, so I
want to surround myself with positive people and continue to grow as
an artist. I will be working on a poetry CD soon and I may release my
lifelong (I am only 26) collection of poems this year as well. Also, I am
going to continue slamming until I make it on a slam team. These
teams go to nationals and compete against other poets all over the
country. I think it will be an awesome experience for me.
So where do you see yourself in 10 years?
10 years?... Wow... I haven't even thought that far. Okay... In 10
years, I hope to have conquered the spoken word scene, traveled the
world, gained national acclaim and prepared a place for new poets to
prosper and grow in the art of poetry but even bigger than that...the
art of self-love. I want to be doing something bigger than poetry and
open Mic spots. I want to be a teacher...have my own after-school
program with a curriculum designed to help kids believe in life, in love
and in community. I want to have inspired women to love themselves
and respect their bodies. I want to inspire men to love their families
and respect their community. In 10 years, I want to be stable, be
married and have a family. I will encourage my children and support
my husband. I will be a published author and a poet that visits
schools and makes people want to write...just makes people want to
Anything else you want to say?
I have been called a feminist, Pro-woman, anti-male--- so I have
created a word for myself: I am a Femilutionary. I am a soldier for the
revolutionary change in women. There is an African proverb that says
"The hand that the rocks the cradle, rules the nation." Well, the hands
that rock the cradle in 2007 are full of anger, envy, hate, low
self-esteem and more...so what does that mean for our children? For
our nation? I am focused on helping women realign themselves with
love and respect. I am not against men...that is just not my fight.
Rodzilla said it best, "and to the sisters...you lead the world...so, why
are you following a lost brother who isn't looking for directions?"
I believe when we create a change in women...the men will follow.
They will have no choice. With the phenomenon of teenage
pregnancy and promiscuity, the glorification of sex and disrespect of
women in the media...we have a lot of work to do.
|Interview with Danee "Queen D" Black
January 22, 2007
This interview was done through email. Answers and
questions have only been edited for spelling, grammar, etc...
No content has been changed.