Where do I start? Dominique James is the type of girl -- errr, excuse me, woman -- you would want to have as your best friend. Lucky for me, she is one of my best friends. Her drive is inspiring, her humor always elicits more than a few giggles, and you can trust her with any secret, however big or small. Oh, and she can work wonders in the kitchen.
Let's back track a little and spend a some time talking about her drive. Dominique is 18 years old and has accomplished more than some twice her age. She managed to win the Golden Gloves boxing championship, perform with Yo-Yo Ma, secure a full ride to college, and hold down a job all the while putting together her first book for publication. To say the least, Dominique is doing it on all of us.
Bump up and coming poet, Dominique has spent the years proving that she is more than hype. Her poetry is smart, artful, and displays talent well beyond her years. Having just finished up four years of schooling as her classmate, I can honestly say that there are few people more thoughtful than Dominique. She challenges societal conventions in a way that makes you reconsider things you thought to be true.
On August 13th, she will be releasing her first book, Saffronia. To give you an idea of what to expect from the book, "Saffronia by Dominique James is a collection of poems and not poems that explores the fluidity of identity as seen through two characters: Saffronia and the Redbone." Das dat official synopsis. Even if you can't make it to the party, you're going to want to pick up a copy of her book the first chance you get. I'm sitting in her kitchen right now (gasp!) getting the inside scoop about fashion, food and poetry. Check out our quick interview below.
All Worn Out: Let's talk fashion first. What are three words you would use to describe your style?
Dominique James: Fine, fine, super fine. Jk. The honest answer would be: lazy, too much sex, and flexin'. Jk, jk, jk. Sexy goddess tomboy. Yea, that's it. Basically, I'm Apollo, Artemis, and Aphrodite. Triple A.
AWO: That was way more than three words, but you good. When did you first start writing poetry? And, two, when did you fall in love with poetry?
DJ: Is this Brown Sugar? Cuz that's my movie. The first poem I wrote was in second grade because I thought Rhyme Zone was the rawest website. It was about doves and every word that rhymed with dove. Like, love. Hopeful romantic since '95. Hoes love poetry. Don't put that. My dad might read this.
AWO: How did you know that it was time to publish a compilation of your work?
DJ: I think I was finally at a point where I was writing in my own voice, and not someone else's. I could keep waiting forever. Like, this poem could keep getting better, I could keep pursuing a better metaphor. But, I reached a point where I have a sense of identity. I feel like I have something authentic to say.
AWO: Where do you see yourself taking your craft?
DJ: To Paris. Everyone always asks "Do you wanna be a poet? Do you want that to be your job?" I would never want poetry to be my job. I would never want to have to write my poem to pay the bills. It wouldn't be fun if it was something I had to do. I definitely want to publish another book before I graduate from college. I want to be the first celebrity poet. But, not for shallow reasons. Once you have a celebrity poet, you know poetry has finally become accessible to the masses.
AWO: If someone were to look at your Instagram, it is clear that you're into food. What's your favorite dish to cook?
DJ: Cookies because who, like, doesn't like cookies? And if you don't like cookies, clearly something else is wrong that my cookies can't fix. My signature cookie would be chocolate chip cookies. I think I've perfected those. Due to requests from other people, I've ventured into the world of peanut butter and snickerdoodles. And I must admit, those are smackin'.
AWO: What is the best piece of advice you've ever gotten?
DJ: That's super hard. Honestly, it'd have to be something my dad said: "Love. It's the only rule that works." I'm always looking for rules and general standards. And he was like all those rules have loopholes and if you operate from love, everything will fall into place. That just makes so much sense to me.
AWO: So, you've been a hopeful romantic since '95; what is the best way for someone to win you're heart?
DJ: So many ways. I literally be falling in love with people. I've planned weddings with so many people. I really love jokes and people who see me for who I am. Not some horrible or beautiful person that I'm not. I love chocolate. Oh my god, I love food. If you've seen me eat and ask me out, then I know it's real. But, I also cook. I compensate for the way I eat. Basically, if you listen to the clues I give and follow them, then we're good.
AWO: To round this out, what can people expect at your book release party?
DJ: Funny you asked that, a lot of people have. My book release is all women. Meaning, everyone from the people performing to the host to the DJ are all women. I did that because there are so many talented women in fields that don't get the spotlight and I thought it would be great to give that to them at my party. So, Kush Thompson, Jamila Woods, No Name Gypsy, and the host Rachel Jackson. They're all people I love. I'm really hoping it's a poetic dance party. I plan to lead everyone in a dance to my favorite songs.
On the topic of songs, Dominique dropped some dope Saffronia previews that integrate spoken word and music via SoundCloud. Click dem hyperlinks. They won't disappoint. And there is an even doper video preview, by Emma Coleman starring Alexis King and Talia Koylass, that is hitting the interwebs via this blog riiiiiight now. Watch it, love it, share it.
Make sure you visit NiqJames.com to get your tickets to the party. Her chapbook will be on sale for 10 dollars. A steal considering that it is nearly bound to be worth it's weight in gold once Dominique hits the scene as the first celebrity poet.