TMR Readers Spotlight Series: “A Peek at my Interiority”

by Honora Ankong

What’s your astrological sign?  

Pisces (sun) + Virgo (moon) + Capricorn (rising) 

In these pandemic days when we’re all sheltering-in-place, what does your home feel like? 

Most days in my tiny Blacksburg apartment waft with the scent of incense/ candles/ palo santo. Every corner of every room is filled with either Miss Simone’s haunted melodies or Sade’s ethereal croon. I live alone, so I always try to make the space feel fuller or “awaken the ghosts” as I like to call it. I fill my space up with smell-goods, music, books, and alive things like plants and flowers (even though I somehow always manage to kill all my plants.) During the day, I keep my curtains and blinds open to catch every little bit of light possible. I try to take time out of each day to lay on the floor in my living room, close to the window so that I can bask in the sun. Down there on the floor I feel closest to God and the many gods, to the ghosts that haunt me and my poems, and most to my ancestors. Spirituality is becoming more and more important to me, so I am working on cultivating a spiritual practice that fits me. My goal for this year is to set up an ancestral altar in my apartment, so that I can feel closer to my guides. 

What music are you currently listening to? 

I am almost always listening to R&B (or any R&B adjacent kinds of music) and Rap music. Sounds like Nina Simone, Sade, Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Aretha Franklin etc. ground and inspire me, so I listen to them when I am drafting poems.  I have a tendency to listen to full albums— I think there’s poetry in the way an artist chooses to organize a collection of music. It’s also a comfort thing— listening to the same albums over and over feels therapeutic to me (I don’t know the science behind that).  My favorite self-care is listening to a full album in one sitting. Some of my favorite no skips albums are Telefone by Noname, Over It by Summer Walker, East Atlanta Love Letter by 6lack, Ego Death by The Internet, A Seat at the Table by Solange, Hot Pink by Doja Cat, Heavn by Jamila Woods, etc. etc.  Sometimes, I want to be hype and dance around my apartment— shed the grief I’m usually carrying in my body, so I listen to the “High Maintenance” playlist on apple music which features some of my favorite artists like Meg thee Stallion, City Girls, Saweetie, Flo Milli, Rico Nasty, Kash Doll etc. During the warmer months I like the lay out in the sun with my friends and listen to Frank Ocean or drive around with my best friends while blasting early 2000 hits like “Everybody Talks” by The Neon Trees while yelling “They don’t make music like this anymore”  

What are you currently reading/what kind of works are you gravitating towards lately?  

Reading poetry is very important to me and my creative practice. I tend to read a lot, although lately that has changed a little (pandemic dilemma). I read to feel connected to other poets, especially other Black poets in the diaspora. Reading has always been a spiritual practice to me and my greatest form of inspiration. Lately I have been returning to “the source” and thinking a lot about my literary ancestry and lineage— so I’m reading a lot from writer’s like Yusef Komunyakaa, Kwame Dawes, Lucille Clifton, Gwendolyn Brooks, Rita Dove, Audre Lorde, Sonia Sanchez, June Jordan, Ntozake Shange etc. Some more contemporary poets that I adore are Tiana Clark, Nicole Sealey, Tarfia Faizullah, Jericho Brown, Morgan Parker, Natalie Scenters-Zapico, Emilia Phillips, Danez Smith, Marcello Hernández Castillo, Julian Randall etc. Some younger poets that I consider my contemporaries and I’m always  watching closely (stalking their socials and websites for new works) are Xandria Phillips, Imani Davis, Omotora James, I.S. Jones, Romeo Oriogun, Chekwube Danladi, Aria Aber, Kemi Alabi, Destiny Hemphill etc. There’s a lot of great poetry coming from young African poets (especially through the New-Generation African Poets Chapbook sets.) Some of my favorite prose writers that I always return to are Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Carmen Maria Machado, James Baldwin, Yaa Gyasi, Imbolo Mbue etc. 

What are you currently manifesting for future Honora? 

I’m manifesting a chapbook ( & I know where I want it published),  an emerald green couch, a pothos plant, lots of green/fresh foods, another telfar bag, a record player ( again), a house with a lot of sunlight, jewelry, time outside of America( hopefully in a French speaking African country), lots of new poems ( better poems & gayer poems), a fire set of acrylics nails, a Frank Ocean album + a Rihanna album+ a SZA album, a community of Black queer folks, a fellowship/residency(post MFA plans?) , more love ( bc I’m a Pisces), the beach etc. 

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