In 2024, the Academy of American Poets invited twelve poets to each curate a month of poems. In this short Q&A, Rosamond S. King discusses her curatorial approach and her own creative work. Welcome to the Guest Editor Q&A, hosted by the Academy of American Poets. I’m Mary Sutton, senior content editor at the Academy, and I’m here today with the Guest Editor for June, Rosamond S. King. Rosamond is the author of All the Rage and Rock|Salt|Stone, winner of the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Poetry. Rosamond, welcome and thank you.

Rosamond S. King: Thank you. Let’s jump right in. How did you approach curating Poem-a-Day for the month of June, which is Pride Month?

King: Yes. Well, that was the first thing I thought of was that it was Pride Month, and so I did want to include a number of queer and trans poets. But I was so excited to get this opportunity having been curated into the series myself a couple of times before and having had a wonderful experience, that I decided to broaden out my scope a bit. And I decided to include poets based in other countries. People who the majority of the readers may not be familiar with. Some people who haven’t been published in the series before. And given what’s been going on in the world, I also wanted to include poets in translation, poets born in or having connections to countries and territories that are involved in conflict. And I want it to be intergenerational and include poets who are both older and younger than me. You’ve written extensively about expressions of gender in the Caribbean and sexual stereotypes about Caribbean people, as well as the transgressive forms of sexuality that are known, but not openly discussed in some parts of the Caribbean. In light of Pride Month and this curation, how have you attempted to address erasures, which you’ve written about, and stereotypes about Caribbean people, in both your writing and editorial work?

King: Thank you for that question. I really appreciate it. And I approached it in a way that is, I think, in concert with what I’ve done before, which is by ensuring that there is representation of different kinds. So there are folks who I’ve curated who identify themselves as queer or trans, but the poem[s] that I have curated [don’t] necessarily announce that. And then I have poets who I’ve included who their poem does fairly clearly state or gesture towards sexuality and gender difference.

And so I think that’s very important because, of course there’s incredible diversity among queer people, just as among any other population on the planet and any other communities on the planet. And so I wanted to have that breadth of variety of content, variety of shape of the poems, variety of voice. Now, is there any poem on that you haven’t curated that you would direct our readers and listeners to?

King: I had a really hard time with this particular question [laughs] because there are so many wonderful poems and poets on the Academy’s website. One of the things, if I can answer the question perhaps a little bit differently, that I might suggest to people is to put in a random word or phrase into the search bar and see what comes up. Because you will likely be surprised by a poet that you actually haven’t heard of. And I think that’s one of the gems of the site is that you can certainly search for famous poets or a poet that you came across and you want to learn more about them, but I think one of the true joys, especially at a time when people aren’t necessarily browsing physical bookstores as much, is just to be able to discover a poet that you didn’t know before. Speaking of poets, do you have any ... I’m sure you do, so this is going to be a very big question. What are some of your favorite poetry collections? Collections that you frequently revisit?

King: She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks by [Marlene] NourbeSe Philip, No Language Is Neutral by Dionne Brand, Muse & Drudge by Harryette Mullen. These are three examples that always kind of rise to the top for me because they’re all Black woman poets. They’re all poets who are ... in some ways, all poets are experimenting with language, but these particular poets are really diving into the sound of language, the shape of language, different vernaculars and accents. And that is part of what drew me to poetry as someone who grew up hearing different varieties of English and different languages in my household and around me. And who or what are you reading right now?

King: I am so excited about Christina Olivares’s Future Botanic. It is a wonderful collection, and there are poems there that, in the same poem, they’re quiet, and then they explode and they’re loud, and then they shower you with unexpected glittery sprinkles. So I’m very excited about that collection. And I’m also excited, looking forward to reading If I Gather Here and Shout by Funto Omojola, a poet who I only recently became aware of and who’s Nigerian American. And again, kind of really diving into different forms of language as well as different cosmologies. And aside from this curation, what else are you currently working on in your writing, teaching, and publishing life?

King: Well, I’ll maybe focus on my writing life right now, which it’s exciting that I continue to have a writing life. [laughs] Sometimes there’s a bit of a hiatus. And I’m kind of in an extended moment of research and exploration, as well as writing. I continue to be fascinated with punctuation, and I’m exploring what I call punctuation enjambment, using punctuation at the beginning of lines instead of at the ends of lines. I’m also very interested in erasures and exploring found poems, using government documents as source materials.

But the way that my life has been unfolding lately, I’m deep in the experience of family caretaking. I’ve been writing my way through. And I’m not sure exactly what shape it will take. It might be a speculative memoir, or it might be [a] fiction in verse. I’m excited to do something different and to see where it takes me. Well, we’re excited to see where it takes you as well, Rosamond. Thank you so much for joining me for this recording.

King: It’s been my absolute pleasure. Thank you, Mary.