Krysten Hill’s chapbook HOW HER SPIRIT GOT OUT explores the labyrinthine landscape of family. Her poems are in conversation with her foremothers, both literary and literal—Audre Lorde and Zora Neale Hurston, aunties and grandmas. Hill summons their wisdom in service of her work. Her language is so rich it feels as though the reader is eavesdropping at someone’s family reunion. The people in her poems feel familiar; at times I thought the family was my own. Hill’s poems invite us to consider what it means to bear witness, to claim your selfhood and survival in a city that knows you’re/unarmed.
Simone John / Gramma : How did you find your way to poetry? Or, how did poetry find it’s way to you?
Krysten Hill : The women in my family are loud storytellers. When they get together in the kitchen truths get told, curses get made, and laughter heats the room. I think that’s why kitchens exist so much in my poetry because my imagination is always reconstructing a space where women were safe to tell the truth. One of my favorite places to be as a child was under the kitchen table. I was so quiet under there and could make myself really still while I was listening—I think they just forgot that I existed and said anything they wanted. Under the kitchen table, in the sea of black women’s knees, I heard the potential of what storytelling could do and how it gave them a place for healing and joy.
[full interview here]