Ain HD: Write to the Core Tuesday 24 May, 2011

Born in Cashville, raised in Motown, resting in Black Hollywood, Ain HD (Ain Heath Drew) considers herself a writer with a passion for “poetry, African-American literature, children’s stories, music, revolution, experimental fiction, thrift store hopping, and all things artsy”–not to mention tattoo collecting. Ain has been featured in PoetTree Magazine and the Kankazine. Her work […]

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Born in Cashville, raised in Motown, resting in Black Hollywood, Ain HD (Ain Heath Drew) considers herself a writer with a passion for “poetry, African-American literature, children’s stories, music, revolution, experimental fiction, thrift store hopping, and all things artsy”–not to mention tattoo collecting.

Ain has been featured in PoetTree Magazine and the Kankazine. Her work has also been on literary sites such as Dotlit and Identity Theory. Ain’s essay, “Being a Sista at PETA,” can be found in the powerful anthology Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society. In addition to writing, Ain is active in her community, working with organizations like United Sisters Mentoring Program and FTP (Feed the People, Free the Prisoners, Fruition Through Persistence).

Her self-published poetry collection, [If] Life’s Rotten: Write to the Core, explores love, social problems and self-discovery. Here we discuss Ain’s book, the core personal experiences that shaped her poetry and artistic philosophy, and laugh about romantic fantasies.

We always begin by asking people background questions. For you, I’d like to start with the first writing prompt from your book, [If] Life’s Rotten, Write to the Core. “Who are you? If you were an object or an idea, how would people describe you? How would you describe yourself?”

I’m never sure how to describe myself, but I know how I’d like other people to describe me. Of all the adjectives that get thrown around, I probably hear “weird” the most. I’m cool with that.

Where did the title come from? Why the “[If]”?

Writing has always been a release for me. I’ve never necessarily been one to
write poetry that captured the pretty or sweet. I go out and experience the things that I enjoy, I write about the things that I don’t. I’m not claiming that my poetry is dark, but I address a lot of rotten things that the world hands to us, including poverty, discrimination and inequality.

The brackets are present because I realize not everyone will agree with my statement and they tone down the extremeness of it.

In addition to poems,Write to the Core, has writing prompts for self-reflection that makes it feel like a life-changing personal reflection class. Why did you choose that approach?

I wanted to include the reader by adding the prompts so they could interact with the poetry. Critical thinking is a must in this age of mass media. I don’t want people walking away from my work trying to dissect my words; I want them to connect with them.

Many prompts concerned personal development, but some also addressed politics. Like prompt #9: “Classism is a big problem in American society. How do you feel about the separation of classes? Do we have a system set up that works to keep the privileged rich as the underprivileged get poorer?” How would you answer them for yourself?

I don’t believe in politics, I believe in people. Most political positions are about as useless as office managers. If you remove these people from power, I would hope that people would be able to govern themselves. Essentially, I ask these questions to challenge people to think about whether the system is working for or against us. What people do with the thoughts is up to them, but I hope for all of us to become more proactive.

Still, I don’t believe, I know the system is designed that way. In knowing that, I encourage people to become more self-reliant, support independent business, embrace the idea of cooperative economics and stop falling into the traps of consumerism. I don’t think I have an artistic responsibility to highlight or speak on these things–it’s my responsibility as a citizen. More of us should be having these conversations.

You mentioned finding “a love poem that spoke to my personal experiences, I folded it up and kept it in my underwear drawer.” What was that poem?

That poem was Sonia Sanchez’s ‘Poem No. 3.’ I dig the simplicity of it.

She wrote:

i gather up
each sound
you left behind
and stretch them
on our bed.
each nite
i breathe you
and become high.

This poem was a keepsake during a time that I was nursing a wound. She speaks of a love lost but she’s not mourning. She’s enjoying the comfort of memories.


Memories
by Ain HD

If I could live each day
From scratch
Not remembering what happened
Each yesterday
I would be content
Because all these little
Scattered pictures
Of your beautiful
Face
Would fade away
And if I saw you
In the street and you said hello
I would be clueless
As to who you were
Instead of wishing
You had said
Something more

If you could make love to any artist from history who would it be? :-)

I’ve played these sessions over and again in my head so it’s hard to choose just one. I have a slutty imagination.

I have a Jean-Michel Basquiat fantasy. He seemed to have a muted sexual energy that probably translates into a great deal of passion. I also have a Tupac fantasy. He was both rugged and sensitive. That contrast is attractive. Then there’s Bob Marley and the beautiful Marvin Gaye.

Heaven
by Ain HD

I sang a duet with Nina Simone
Played craps with Tupac & Biggie
Did a routine with Aaliyah
Tapped with Gregory Hines
And salsa danced with Celia Cruz

Me and Left-Eye had a freestyle battle
Big L said it was a tie and Freaky Tah said “right right”
Because Big Pun said “both of these mamis’ tight”
And Easy E sat back smooth and said “yeah, they aiight”
In that smooth Cali drawl
And then we listened to a set of Barry White

Luther V. was live at dinnertime
When I ate with the civil rights greats
Who say that we don’t try hard enough
To have all this heaven
Down there

In your poems, and even some of the writing prompts in the collection, I saw a sense of longing and, I guess that’s where I’m at in my life–longing for my professional and spiritual lives to come together the way I’ve wanted. How would you describe the place you were when you were writing and compiling this collection?

I was in a few places (mentally, spiritually and physically) while compiling this collection. These poems were written over the course of several years. During some of that time I was either comfortable, transitioning or lost. At this time, I’m comfortable again and still transitioning. I’m still growing, which is something I hope I can say when I’m 99.

Finally, what does Living Unchained mean to you?

Living Unchained means living without constraints and making your own rules. It means defining success for yourself and refusing to bend to the expectations of others. It means not conforming to commercial ideals and honoring traditions in a way that suits the lifestyle you desire.

Follow Ain HD on Twitter: @AinHD

 

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4 Comments

  • Thomas says:

    Awesome. I love Ain. I keep a physical copy in my bag, and the PDF is on my iPad. I especially enjoy the writing prompts. It’s fun to do them over again at different points in my life, and see how my responses differ.

  • BuffyDoodle says:

    Beautiful. I love me some Ain Green Bean Drew. Life’s Rotten encouraged me to pickup the pen again.


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