Mick Powell | chronicle the body
an excerpt & interview
candy girls (2011)
i remember my body a butterfly’s tongue.
i remember putting my tongue where it didn’t belong.
i remember being sorry i was alive
where i shouldn’t have been alive
with my tongue where it didn’t belong.
i remember my body a fat blunt.
i remember being passed around the room.
everyone put me in their mouths.
i imagine feeding a nation.
i imagine my body sweet milk.
Musically, what eras most influence your poetry?
i would say 90s and early 00s hip hop and r&b, particularly that exceptional decade of 1994-2004. i’m always supremely grateful and indebted to TLC’s CrazySexyCool album (and their entire discography) for helping me understand my body, my sexuality, my deserving-ness of being loved/wanted/desired in the ways that i want to be loved/wanted/desired. also Aaliyah’s self-titled album and Ja Rule’s Pain is Love album. and of course The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and Baduizm, and like, Who is Jill Scott? and Floetic and ATCQ’s The Love Movement. there’s so many more artists and albums i could name, but i’ll just say that i feel like my poetry is close to and influenced by and rooted in music that i’ve found to be calming, soothing, and healing over the years, particularly through a sort of reclamation or reimagining of my body and the bodies of the people i love. and i think that some of my favorite contemporary artists like Alina Baraz, SZA, Noname, and Solange are doing some of the same work that i value.
Chronicle the Body poses many questions. What questions would you ask the manuscript itself?
i think i’d want to ask the manuscript “are you ok?” like, what do you need and how can we get it and who is in community and how do we maintain and sustain and move forward and stay safe and be healthy? and since the chapbook poses a lot of questions, i’d want to know if the questions are ever fully answered, like what conclusions come about as a result of its being? and then i’d want to know what happens next—where does the work go from here? i think part of my use of the word “chronicle” in the title is meant to imply a simple retelling of events, a sort of written and oral poetic history, so i want to know what do i do with this history besides heal from it?
If the body is a house for memory, which room do you write in? Why?
i am most definitely and most literally writing from the bedroom—in the chapbook and in my life in general, the/my bedroom is a complex space that i try to capture in a bunch of the poems in chronicle the body, especially since setting plays such a role. while the bedroom is a place of horrific and almost insurmountable trauma, it’s simultaneously a place of rest, peace, and healing. it’s a space where i take solace, where i can tell the truth, where i can both confront and live through pain and also take shelter from it when i need to. the bedroom is a place i purify often and a place where i’m always looking to try new things, so i feel like it reflects my writing in those ways, too.
When you write about sex, how do you complicate it?
many of the poems in my chapbook are about violent, nonconsensual experiences that i don’t consider “sex.” they are about rape and abuse. but my poems about post-traumatic healing often reference masturbation, which i think has been really important in the process of coming to own myself. i think self-pleasure is mostly undervalued, delegitimized, and/or shamed, so i try to complicate that by recognizing it as an act of self-love and self-care for me. and when i write about positive sexual experiences that include more than one person, i’m always thinking about how those experiences for me are predominately queer in a variety of ways, and how that, too, is an act of reclamation, in both the doing of it and the writing of it.
Mick Powell (she/her) is a queer black fat femme feminist poet who likes revolutionary acts of resistance. She is currently an MFA in Poetry candidate at Southern Connecticut State University. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Winter Tangerine, Apogee, Crab Fat Magazine, two anthologies focusing on black feminisms and Beyoncé, and others. Mick loves onion rings, smooth hip hop instrumentals, and loving on her loved ones.