Poet and dancer, Danielle Davis sends us spinning through her imaginative words.
The art of writing is as flexible as it is transformative. The intentions staring you in the face are as clear as the black, sharp font in front of you now. Or the hidden gems that wait for your mind to catch up to it is fantastical measures. That control all found within the uniqueness of the author’s hand. Each genre tying back to them as reflections of their highest selves. We see this distinctly through the life and writing of Kansas poet, Danielle Davis.
As a fellow writer, it became easier to understand the weighted responsibility of the craft. Carving out the time to interview Davis at the tail end of this summer helped solidify the acceptance of that. Our discussion fell around the confidence and curiosity that it takes to dive into writing intentionally—thoughtfully. The Black midwestern poet shares her writing path and the importance of stepping out of your comfort zone, especially during the times when it feels like our voices go unheard and blatantly overlooked.
As a 20-year old student at Fordham University in the Bronx, New York, Davis has found ways to continue to strive creatively. At the private institution, she carries the impressive course load of dual majoring in English and Dance. Although these arts differ in many ways, I found out just how complimentary they are to one another. Combining her 14-year dance experience with her empathetic writing technique has caused a snowball of creativity for the artist. What stood out was how strongly the two arts worked together in her favor. “There are times where I may be stuck in expressing myself through my writing. Movement and dance can unlock that for me”, says Davis.
The revelation of utilizing her gifts co-dependently was a big “A-HA” moment. As a growing artist, it can be a challenge balancing out your interests and/or talents, but Davis makes it looks quite effortless. Even through the changes brought on by the recent pandemic, there was a silver lining to be found. Davis stated that over the last 6 months, like school across the nation, there was an unexpected break in classes.
This also meant a brief intermission when it came to dance. Davis, looking on the bright side, took it as ample timing to find solace in her writing. When reviewing her earlier poetry in comparison to current, some luring emotional transitions jumped out at me. Those poems are “Fair Warning”, “Apocalypse”, “Creation” and “To a young black person from a young black person”.
Published in 2018, Davis’ use of imagery in “Fair Warning” echoes an alertness to personal truth and strength. The poem circles in the dividing line, “be careful”, she places the words intently. This felt like a reminder to self and those opposing, to not confuse softness as weakness. After reading through many of her stimulating poems, I came across one that felt aligned with the attitude of the former; “Apocalypse”. A piece written November of 2019.
The prophetic poem seeks your attention immediately from the caption Davis writes, “The planet is dying, let’s fall in love”. Even when the world is at it’s worst, what could be endings in many ways, that love is the only craving. That it may be the only longing that is left of us. You are left with the curiosity of where that love leaves or hopefully, leads us in the future. She reflects on the poem, stating, “I remember having a conversation with friends about this poem. There was just this feeling that we were overdue for something”. Fast forward a year and certain life challenges have become enraging and eye-opening.
Near this same time last year, Davis gives a bursting sense of hope in her piece titled, “Creation”. There is magic in the making, quite literally. The key idea here was identifying the dreamers as the creators. We are them and they are us. Her style of poetry brings people one step closer to understanding them/us on our own terms. Davis manages to string this same feeling into her one of her most recent works, “To a young black person from a young black person”, which wades into what our destinies look like from our creative endeavors. Just like our ancestors, we carry the destiny of future generations, becoming more agile in every stride forward.
Danielle Davis is a writer that encourages the expansion of our curiosities. She is a rhythm to be reckoned with through her words and I am certain, in dance as well. There are layers upon layers to the Black experience and her work expresses the necessity of exploring each other them. It may not be an obligation, but this is our passage. Guiding others through the destruction has always been there. It always will be. We carry each other during these times. It is evident that her words will continue to be a healthy beam of light in our collective growth process.
Join us next sunday for our upcoming artist review: Reonda Thomspon