Oct 6, 2016
30 Under 30: Morgan Parker, Poet
An unwillingness to budge is a good way to put your stamp on the world, and Morgan Parker has managed to do so with a passionate, uncompromising voice that examines black femininity in our current American culture. Her poetry has appeared in some of the usual places poems do (Poetry Magazine, The Paris Review, Tin House) and some in more surprising venues (BuzzFeed and Lenny Letter). That’s a testament to how her work speaks to readers who might not seek out sparse verses, but nevertheless find themselves affected by her words. But the establishment has caught on to her, too; Eileen Myles selected Parker for the 2013 Gatewood Prize, and in 2016 she earned the Pushcart Prize. Keep an eye out for her forthcoming collection from Tin House next February, the perfectly titled There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé.
Where do you live and how old are you?
Bed Stuy, 28
What made you first interested in your profession, and how old were you when that happened?
I have always loved books. My mom takes credit. She says that she read to me when I was in the womb, and that once I was a toddler, I’d bossily stick Little Golden Books in her face and shout “Read it!” When I was nine I wrote my first short story, and around that time I started “Parker Publishing House” at recess, requesting submissions from all my friends and putting them to work drawing and writing on the blacktop. The teachers quickly disbanded the operation when I wouldn’t let everyone join. I supposed I would rather fold than sacrifice quality. All of this makes me sound pretty insufferable, but I’m just very passionate.
Do you feel Brooklyn is still a viable place for a young person to build a career?
I see young people and emerging writers flourish here every day. It’s not for everyone, and it isn’t the only place to grow as an artist, but it’s without a doubt a place that challenges and inspires.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Wifed up, wearing muumuus and hosting dinner parties in the backyard of my California bungalow; writing books; loving; building my empire.
Have you ever felt like leaving your career path?
Only to run away to Paris with a hotelier, open a vineyard, or live at sea Richie Tenenbaum-style. Just kidding, sort of. My career path won’t leave me. My career is being Morgan Parker. Every day that means a new thing.
What’s felt like your biggest professional accomplishment?
When Jay Z read one of my poems and responded to the friend who’d sent it to him with:
Sent from my iPhone”
What’s some advice you’d give to people trying to get a foothold in your industry?
Read, write, listen, go to therapy, be a nice person, be as real as possible.
To learn about more sub-30 standouts, visit this year’s list of 30 Under 30.
Image by Jane Bruce
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