Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Boston Poet: Mignon Ariel King

A Boston Poet: Mignon Ariel King ( Click on highlighted title above to get WGBH site)

Mignon Ariel King is making poetry for the page. Aside from the fact that she knows it's not cool, she's been writing poetry for most of her life now. She's born to log iambic pentameter-like script, and evoke verse like the dozens found in her first book of poems called "The Woods Have Words." Published by Ibbetson Street Press, the 78-paged collection introduces readers to a Boston that is not often documented in books, on television, and in film. Born in Boston City Hospital, and raised at the intersection where Roxbury meets South Boston, Mignon grew up in a neighborhood where black, Irish, Puerto Rican, and Cape Verdean people lived side-by-side despite forced busing.

"My favorite spot growing up was the Dudley Library," she recalls.

Reading and writing were anchors for her and the poetry mattered the most. Today she is startled by the small number of black women poets who actually participate in Boston's "real" poetry scene, which includes
a good number of open-mic venues, social groups and workshops. "You walk into a group of poets," she exclaims, "and there will be thirty people there, and there's usually a maximum of three black poets and you're the only female one. There are like 5 of us, apparently, in the whole state."

Though Mignon will do a staged reading of her poems, she says, "It's different if you're a spoken word artist, but to be a written-word poet in the Twenty-First Century is incredibly not cool."

Mignon isn't aiming for cool anyhow. "I would rather just a community of writers focused on publishing rather than friends," she jokes. This is why in 2008, she launched the online journal of black women writers called "MoJo!" where she hopes to build and strengthen a chorus of new century black women writers. She also just finished a trilogy in three genres after twelve years of hard work. When asked if she would ever accept the honor of being a poet laureate, she immediately declined and said, “I’m not a people person.”

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