Hi Zariya, what are you up to lately?
Right now, I’m working on two video projects and moving into a new apartment.
What is moving you at this moment?
Authenticity. Especially now that we’re at the point where even a lot of activism is so contrived and commercialized. I love getting to see people be nasty and ugly. Or even painfully pure, oblivious, and innocent. Especially in art. We spend most of our time just talking to people’s projections–– I like people who aren’t afraid to speak their truth and still be open to hearing others.
Amen. Are there any authentic artists or poets who's work you're inspired by at the moment?
Right now, I'm really in love with Sheila Heti's book, How Should a Person Be? and Meridian by Alice Walker.
Astrology plays a big role in your life, does it influence any elements of your writing?
Yes and no... I feel it informs my personhood which, in turn, informs my writing.
How would you describe your relationship to poetry?
We’re related by blood. Haha.
Can you remember the first words (ie. poem, story, lyric) you fell in love with?
I was maybe four years old, my mom taught me a poem called Merry-Go-Round by Langston Hughes:
“Where is the Jim Crow section
On this merry-go-round,
Mister, cause I want to ride?
Down South where I come from
White and colored
Can't sit side by side.
Down South on the train
There's a Jim Crow car.
On the bus we're put in the back—
But there ain't no back
To a merry-go-round!
Where's the horse
For a kid that's black?”
Can you describe your current writing process?
Not really. I don’t have a special trick yet, unfortunately. I try not to force things. I think it makes it more organic when I do write, makes it feel more special. I just keep my journal with me and write whenever I feel. It either comes or it doesn’t.
Do you have a favorite space to write in?
I love to write at the park.
You've been very involved with spoken word/slam poetry, but now you told me you're gravitating toward written word, do you feel there's a difference- how would you describe it if so?
I think slam does sometimes tend to feel more impactful––there’s just something really special about hearing a writer read their own words with their intended inflections… little pauses in between…. their emotion. At the same time, a good poem should be good on paper, even when if its intended to be spoken. So, I don’t think they’re so different.
Where do your poems come from?
On a good day, from the muses.
How does poetry connect us as human beings?
Through our hearts.
What is the path of love?
Acceptance. Which is easier said than done.
What is your dream for the world?
What does it mean, to be tender?
To lead with your heart, always.
Where can we find more of your work?
My instagram is @zariyaallen
Photos by Dani Fine