Kevin TheMysfit Wiggins On Starting and Prospering in Poetry

Wiggins, 2019 winner of The DC Poet Project, releases first poetry collection

Kevin TheMysfit Wiggins started writing poems at age six. But it wasn’t until he was an adult that his art took on its own life.

Wiggins is the 2019 winner of The DC Poet Project. The honor’s awarded each year by the Washington, DC-based arts nonprofit Day Eight. Wiggins’s prize for winning is the publishing of his first poetry collection, Port of Exit. The book is now available for purchase.

I recently met Kevin at a Day Eight event. Thanks, Kevin, for agreeing to be interviewed. You can buy Port of Exit here. A poem from the book is at the bottom of this interview.

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Q&A with Kevin TheMysfit Wiggins

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I grew up in Baltimore, in and around the DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia). I now live back in Baltimore.

I don’t have many hobbies, probably because I spend most of my time working. I have three jobs, four if you include selling my new book of poetry (Port of Exit). When I do have free time, I'm usually sleeping, hanging out at a bar with friends, or alone on the couch with Häagen-Dazs and Netflix.

Is it true you started writing poetry when you were six?

Yes, I started writing poetry at a very young age. Despite the nightmare that home was for me as a child, my poetry didn’t reflect that at the time. I started out writing songs. I wanted to be a singer as a child, and the older I got, these songs started to become therapy sessions without music. No rhyme or reason, just myself, my thoughts, and my pen, and before I realized it, I was purging testaments of my life. Things at that time, I didn’t want to share or recite for public consumption but just my own release in the form of poetry, which I didn’t allow anyone to read until my late teens and began reciting on stage in my early 20s.

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What has poetry meant to you over the years?

It’s been my council, my confidence, my confidant, and my confirmation on so many occasions, and it’s shown me that I've been a vessel to give life to the stories that many don’t have the language to speak. Often times, I don’t feel I have the language to speak some of my own stories until poetry says otherwise. I truly believe it chooses you and not the other way around.

When did you start performing your poems, and how did that come about?

I started performing in my early 20's. The guy that I was dating at the time was a poet as well. He and I would go out to open mic's, and I would encourage him to get on stage, but I didn’t have the confidence to do it myself.

When we broke up, I started signing up on the open mic lists and I would get on stage with a binder full of poetry reading my work and quickly rushing off the stage. I took a year away from the scene and I came back when I was around 24 years old,  as someone who was serious and secure in his craft.

Is there a message or understanding you want readers of your poems to receive? 

Just as human imperfect beings, we are no more or less than the next individual and all deserving of the same rights, love, and respect. No one should be treated differently despite our differences.

Who are some poets that you admire, either those in the past or present?

James Baldwin and M'reld Green

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Have you read any good books lately?

Unfortunately, I have not! I started a novel back in 2010 that I've yet to complete and vowed not to read another book until I completed my own. Awful, I know. But of the books that I've read my favorite by far is Nervous by Zane (paid link).

Anything else you'd like Bidwell Hollow readers to know about you or your work?

I think that my work speaks for itself. I will say that if you've only read it, please come out and catch me in motion. I am a dynamic presence on stage and you can actually witness these stories move beyond pages.


“Test”

By Kevin TheMysfit Wiggins

Was it just another test or did our skin tones fail us?

Was it just another test, or is the reality that our system fails us?

Did we somehow fail the test, by receiving the blessing of dark tones

While leaving mothers to moan over caskets of dead sons

And lost ones to a system designed to protect and serve

But black boys always seem to fall victim to their guns

No longer are we just guilty or guilty by association we’re guilty upon creation

Somehow we failed a test that wasn’t even administered

We left the seat but not before filling in the dark bubble

Upon that white sheet

We are the stain left slain for being kings

Taken for our crowns

To be remembered as chalk outlines on stolen grounds

Bodies found where souls havec toiled

Mere mortals who couldn’t pass this test

Who were taught to place one right hand

Over a left breast

To pledge an allegiance

To an America that had no allegiance to us

So they feed it to us

Between the confines of bars and caskets

Covering up the cover ups

With white sheets or wrestling mats

It’s mass murder

When will we stop pretending that this is dress rehearsal

for some stage play like:

“Our arms are too short to box with frauds

Who think they’re God’s but are more like white devils”

I tell you

Well I ask you when will we stop failing these tests?

When will we stop being the victims of this identity theft?

The true criminals are the ones toting badges and guns

With a bullet proof vest

Yet they’re protected

How many times will we take this same test

Before we suggest that this is a state of emergency?

Black men are becoming extinct

Or is it only

Just a test?

— “Test” from Port of Exit. Copyright 2019 by Kevin Wiggins. Published by Day Eight. Used with permission of the author and publisher.


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