10+ QUESTIONS with Rage Hezekiah

by Sara Siegel | June 2018

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Rage Hezekiah was featured at Mass Poetry's U35 reading in September 2016 and has led several workshops at Student Day of Poetry. // 10+ Questions! is a series in which we catch up with poets who have been featured in our programming.

It's been a while! What's new in life?
I just returned from my second year at Cave Canem, a rigorous and enriching retreat for Black Poets. I recently read at a lovely festival called “The Thing in the Spring” up in Peterborough, NH, and this year I’ve been fortunate to teach at some of the local Student Day of Poetry programs throughout the greater Boston area, which I’ve really enjoyed. 

What are you working on these days?
I’m in the process of sending out my manuscript for consideration in chapbook and full-length book contests, as well as applying for residencies for 2019. I’m also revising my work from Cave Canem, and incorporating the brilliant feedback I received.

Is your poetry different now than it was then, and if so, in what ways?
I think I’m developing my ability to take more risks as a writer, and being willing to write more intimately about challenging topics. When I finished grad school my joke to myself was that I needed to stop writing about birch trees. I feel like in the past couple of years, I’ve been more able to show up to my writing process with less fear, and I’m really grateful for that.

Who/what are you reading lately?
I just read Mónica Gomery’s Here is the Night and the Night on the Road, which is a triumphant collection. I also revelled in Brionne Janae’s After Jubilee, Kaveh Akbar’s Calling a Wolf a Wolf and Nicole Sealey’s Ordinary Beast. All of these collections were truly transformative for me. 

Any major publications, readings, etc. we should know about?
I have poems forthcoming in Salamander, and Rattle, and the most up to date information about readings and publications is at my website: https://www.ragehezekiah.com/

AND IN THE STYLE OF 2000S EMAIL SURVEYS...

What’s your favorite animal & why?
I’m obsessed with octopi, mainly because I feel like they’re magical creatures. Pretty much every space I inhabit is full of pictures of octopi. 

Beach or mountain?
Definitely beach. I grew up being a beach baby, and my heart is happiest at the ocean. 

What’s the last song you listened to?
I feel like I’m late to the party, but I’m really loving “Redbone” by Childish Gambino.

If you could spend next year living in the setting of any book, TV show, or movie, where would you choose and why?
I recently finished watching the Anne of Green Gables reboot on Netflix, and Prince Edward Island seems like a magical place to be a free-spirited writer. 

Tell us a joke you know by heart. 
Q: How do you catch a unique rabbit?
A: Unique up on it.
Q: How do you catch a tame rabbit?
A: Tame way. Unique up on it.

I’ve loved that joke forever. 

What’s a habit you’re proud of breaking?
Biting my nails.

What’s the best thing you ever found at a thrift store?
I have a cozy, L.L.Bean cardigan, that I love and found at Savers. So I’d probably have to say that sweater. I also frequent Savers to find Ravensburger puzzles, because their patented soft-click technology is very important to my puzzle affinity. 

What’s a word you hate?
“Irregardless” - which is not actually even a word. Does that count?

If you could have a super power, what would it be?
Making any food I want materialize at any given moment. That would be magic. 

You’re stranded on a desert island but luckily you have these three things with you…
Mr. Bear, my first love and forever bestie, who is very tended-to stuffed animal
My journal
A fresh pack of black Pilot V7 pens

A New Poem

Life Science

I plucked an owl pellet from the ground
cradling it, delicate, as if a palm-sized bird

and not the mass of bones and fur purged
from a second stomach. In science class

as a girl, I learned these dark forms teemed
with the remnants of undigested pieces.

Wielding a small scalpel, my latexed hands
unfolded the debris, bits of spiny tail,

shards of teeth and claws. Sharpness cased
in what looked like hardened mud, but wasn’t.

I was fascinated picking it apart, plunging tweezers
into particles of animals long dead. The girl beside me

raised her palm, tentative into the room’s warm air,
butthey don’t look like they could hurt anything,

eyes fixed on color photos of their feathered bodies.
We’d been told owls eat their prey whole.

I’ll never know, I thought, who’s capable of what.

initially published in Portland Review
 

About the Poem

This poem was published a little while back, but I’m having a love affair with birds, so I thought I’d share it. I’m fascinated by the way some birds look so unassuming, but are really very powerful creatures.