Interview with Theresa Davis

Posted by on May 14, 2012 in Feature, Interviews | 0 comments

AYWI Student Writer Olivia interviewed and profiled the venerable Theresa Davis, an Atlanta-based poet who has been shaking up the slam poetry slam for some time now. We’re lucky to count Theresa as one of our instructors! Read on to get informed—and then, get inspired to write today!

One of the great things about living in Atlanta is being able to meet a wonderful variety people, some strange and some very cool. This past year, through my experiences at the Alliance Theatre, I’ve been able to meet many older, professional writers, one of them definitely very cool: poet Theresa Davis.

For those of you not quite familiar with the poetry scene in Atlanta, Theresa is a powerful slam poet. Slam poetry is difficult for me to explain because how unique the art is. It is taking a poem that’s been written by you and performing it before an audience and panel of  judges. But it’s not just a performance: it is a declaration of oneself to the audience, the truth being spoken in all senses of the word.  Being someone who promotes her beliefs in the strongest way and backs them up with all the right words, Theresa’s personality fits right into the act of slamming.

Theresa has won numerous prestigious awards, including being the Women of the World Champion in 2011 and the grand champion of the Atlanta Art Amok Slam Team for 2011. She is frequently requested a sacrificial poet—a poet who sets the stage, per se, at poetry slams and leaves a lasting impression that renders her words singing in your head as you go to sleep at night, echoing in your conscious.

And her words will make you stop.

And think.

And the great news is, she has no intentions of stopping. For each of you reading this, I highly recommend watching her performances—they are truly something to behold.

Read on for Olivia’s exclusive interview with Theresa!


What do you believe the purpose of writing is?

People write for a variety of reasons. Depending on the situation I write for many reasons. I write poetry for the catharsis and a need to connect with others. Our stories overlap on so many levels, and I enjoy writing to find that intersection. I blog to vent.

What message do you hope to achieve through your poetry?

I am always hopeful that my work shows our human connections and create dialogue. I am on a mission to find our connections. When I speak out on issues like literacy, women’s rights, queer rights and any news that gets my up in arms, I am expressing my genuine truths and maybe someone listening can connect.

Are there any poets that still continue to inspire you?

I am surrounded by poets who inspire me. My all-time favorites are Pablo Neruda, Langston Hughes and Anne Sexton. In the slam community I have too many favorites to list them all. I am always inspired by spirits brave enough to share their stories.

How has poetry shaped your life and people’s perception of you?

Poetry has become very important in my life. I dream it, I feed on it and feel poorly in my body when I don’t do it for a while. It is a very odd thing to be considered a minor celebrity in my community. I am still working on learning to accept praise. I am very proud of all I have accomplished and grateful that people enjoy taking this journey with me.


What do you think up-and-coming poets should keep in mind?

I always try to encourage young people to remember who they are and why they write. It is easy to get sucked into losing sight of your goals. The vehicle that is poetry is a beautiful one, use your power for good.

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