Author Spotlight: Vincente G. Perez
Newfound | Selected for the 2023 Emerging Poets Chapbook Series | Release Date: October 1
What living poet/writer had the biggest influence on your book?
Ariana Brown is one of the most generous writers and performers. From her poetry to her work with youth and emerging poets, Ariana models how to encourage people to work on the craft of poetry while also keeping in mind our needs as people. Her pedagogy is a masterclass on how to serve your community and keep the writers and poets in mind as people and not just productive machines. She keeps me excited about writing and poetry and has significantly influenced the way that I approach the page and stage. She influenced my writing process by reminding me to never lose myself or my drive for why I do poetry and who I do it for.
What non-living poet/writer had the biggest influence on your book?
This is easily Frantz Fanon. As a poet and scholar, I find Fanon to be the most influential decolonial figure because he was a revolutionary and a theorist. His career is a model for thinking and doing theory in a material way. His writing is sharp and clear—I learn so much just within a few pages. This is the kind of work I want to produce—work that clarifies and takes a stance by including the personal. Fanon is one author who I think all marginalized people should read to learn about the structural reality of colonialism and the way that oppressive systems embed themselves in our psyches and how we relate to one another.
How did writing this book transform you?
This book is/was a constant reminder that I am not a scholar one day and a poet the next—theory and practice are one and the same to me. I have been working on this project since 2017 and I would come back to the manuscript every time I needed a reminder of what I stand for and why I am in this world. Part of my life work is producing poetry and offering it to people and this book is proof that not only does my work resonate with people it is also one of the ways I hone my ability to analyze the worlds we inhabit. My first self-titled book was for my sons and taught me how to do page poetry as a slam poet and rapper. My debut transformed me into a practicing poet who is committed to his craft and his role as a political artist and intellectual.
What is poetry to you?
Poetry is political praxis, a way to condense long form writing into works that you can slowly digest. Poetry can be a form of political education if you learn to sit with it appropriately. Poetry is a performance where the speaker of the poem engages with many things seen and unseen to produce a work for some sort of audience. Sometimes poetry is a conversation, sometimes it imagines new worlds, and sometimes it simply exists for itself and invites you to determine whatever meaning you’d like to bring to it. Poetry is promiscuous and serious at the same time and lends itself to anyone brave enough to confess to others.
You can often tell a lot about a book by how it begins and how it ends. What is the first line and last line of your book?
1. “Fuck you, the poem is the compromise.”
2. “a generational gut punch where so many tried to place a period”
I think poetry and art practice in general are places to be our most genuine and authentic selves. I know revolution and radical change requires more than thoughts so my first and last lines really speak to my desire to imagine how we raise our consciousness to meet the times we’re living through. I don’t want to be remembered as someone quiet or nonchalant—I have a true passion for raising hell and rejecting complacency. I believe there’s a world to win so these two lines open and close my book that is a challenge to anyone still brave enough to reject the dominant narratives in the American popular consciousness.
If you could organize a reading with any writers living or dead, who would be in the lineup? Where would you host the event?
I would organize a reading with Sonia Sanchez, Noname, Danez Smith, Eve Ewing. I can’t say enough about how each of these artists has taught me how to approach the page and the stage in new, innovative ways. I think these poets have completely destroyed this anti-black fascination with form and have performed and written poetry that will stay in the American consciousness for decades.
This event would be in Chicago perhaps at Millennium Park and the weather would be fantastic.
Vincente Perez is a performance poet, scholar, and writer working at the intersection of Poetry, Hip-Hop, and digital culture. He is a PhD Candidate in the Performance Studies program at UC Berkeley & holds a BA in Anthropology and Comparative Race & Ethnic Studies from The University of Chicago. They were a 2021-22 Poetry and the Senses Fellow at UC Berkeley’s Arts Research Center. His debut poetry chapbook, “Other Stories to Tell Ourselves” is available now (Newfound). Their
poems have appeared in Poet Lore, Honey
Literary, Obsidian, Poetry.onl, Digging Through
the Fat, River and South Review, and more.