Interviewed by Lisa Vihos, November 27, 2015
As a poet who is African American, the very act of writing poetry creates change. I write to encourage, inspire and remind. My specific historical context and skin color coupled with writing poetry about the reality of many Africans (from the continent and the Diaspora) automatically ignites change because the majority of people in the world do not know the truth about me, my people or our contributions to the world, especially to the United States.
My poetry in Wisconsin asserts that peace, justice, and real community all have to be connected to truth. In the pursuit of this truth, I helped to found The Hibiscus Collective (for multiethnic women) and A Place at the Table (for women artists seeking to have their voices heard in the world). We still pick up anthologies entitled Wisconsin poetry, or Midwestern poetry and don’t see our voices represented. We write because we must not be silent or silenced.
There are international, national, and state issues right now that are causing people to die unjustly. Stopping the death of human beings becomes an immediate, critical issue that should move straight to the top of our concern, advocacy and poetry.
Fabu is a past poet laureate of Madison, Wisconsin. Pictured above is The Hibiscus Collective in 2010 with (from left to right) Rakina Muhammed, Blanca Cruz, Fabu, Nydia Rojas, Jolieth McIntosh, and Araceli Esparza.
“Wisconsin Poetry Activists” is a flash interview series by Lisa Vihos, which grew out of research that she conducted for an article in Wisconsin People & Ideas, Turning on the Lights, Spring 2016.