Interviewed by Lisa Vihos, November 27, 2015
I, for one, am a living testament that poetry has the potential to create change. I lost my father when I was young, and nobody really paid attention to me, growing up on the west side of Chicago. Then I read Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem, “We Real Cool.” I read it in class, and I wasn’t supposed to be reading that poem. It changed me right there. Later, Langston Hughes, “The Darker Brother.” I felt like it was talking to me.
We have to have a platform, a place to get the message out. We have to touch the heart and soul of the individual. We need to change the way we perceive each other.
When we listen to each other, we are changing the culture.
Kwabena Antoine Nixon is a poet, educator, and the co-founder and host of Poetry Unplugged in Milwaukee, a weekly poetry gathering started 11 years ago that draws over 200 people every week.
“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.