Simba Alik Q&A

Who are a few of your poet idols and what are a few of your favorite poems by them?


My idols are my friends, to be honest. My favorite poems are the ones they come up with on the spot. I love a poem that was not created with the intention of it being the perfect poem. 


Are there any authors/musicians that inspire you?


JAMES BALDWIN. INDIA ARIE. BEYONCE. AND JAMES BALDWIN. 

What do you enjoy about being a poet?


My favorite thing about being a poet is the conversation after the performance. You never know how your stories impact others until they come up to you crying after hearing a piece. I always write my poems for me first. To have an audience feel like my poems are for them also is an amazing bonus. 

What do you think is frustrating about being a poet?


The most frustrating thing about being a poet is the imposter syndrome that is birthed from systems that tell non traditional writers that they are not good enough. We must find ways to dismantle the elitist ideals in the literary community. My writing is mine and I will write how I damn well please. 


How old were you when you first started writing?


I started writing when I was about seven years old. I thought I was going to be the greatest rapper in the country! I had stacks of composition books everywhere. When I was 13, I was introduced to spoken word and told that my rhythm and performance belonged on that stage as well. 

Do you have a certain creative process (favorite place to write, drinking coffee, etc.)?


My process changes based on my stages in life. Currently, the dream team for Simba The Poet’s creative process is made up of a lake, a margarita, and a bomb playlist. I also enjoy a good roof top. 

What time of day do you usually write?


I write at whatever time the words come to me. I have noticed that my mind is more clear to write when I wake up with the sun. 

What was the inspiration for "The Gun That Killed Devin"?


TGTKD was written as my way to cope with the death of my best friend, my cousin. I did not write it to sell it, or to be my greatest work. I wrote it because I needed to. I spent a lot of time wondering why or how his murder happened. I wrote about all the things I thought contributed to his death. Writing this book helped me heal. 

Have there been any specific times in your life that poetry helped you get through?


EVERY TIME IN MY LIFE. Seriously, poetry is my therapy when I can not afford a therapist. 

What goals/dreams, in relation to poetry, do you have?


I just want to impact as many as possible. I would love to do some film work with my poetry. The next time Beyonce needs poetry for a visual album, I need her to call me. 

Is there anyone else in your family that shared your love of poetry/gave you the support to pursue being a poet?


I come from a family of creatives. They all support my poetry to the fullest! They drive hours to make my major poetry performances. If they had it their way, I would quit my 9-5 and be a full time poet. 

How do you think people can help support poets during this time?


SUPPORT BLACK ARTISTS. Watch live streams and tip. Book virtual performances. Let us know that you know we exist. Ask your poet friends for their cash apps because we are missing out on a lot of money during these times. 

Is there any advice you could give to beginner poets?


You do not need to write like anyone else but you. 

What's your favorite style of poem?


I love me a haiku. I should write a book of haikus. I will write a book of haikus. 


"Love in the South"

Original poem by Simba Alik


I’ve been looking for love in places I don’t belong

Like the South

In cross burnings

And baptisms

And gods that don’t know my name


In the South

They play dress up in God’s garment

Claim Holy Spirit at the tip of tongue

Wrap love around fingers that point at boys


In the South

You ought not love like God intended

Without condition

Cause in the South

Black Boys ain’t supposed to love at all 


In the South

They will wrap Bible Belt around neck

Will stomp the spirit from your body with a cowboy boot


In the South, there are boys like Nigel

And boys like Nigel will do anything to feel like they can fly again


In the South

Birds don’t always mean freedom

Birds mean crow

Birds are black


Black boys in the South can’t be birds until they commit suicide

‘Cause in the south

Flying looks like everything but freedom

Looks nothing like the love of God


Boys like Nigel love in places they don’t belong

They carry white flags

They hold screams between their teeth

They keep secret what happens here


Don’t nothin’ go beyond this house


In the South

Bible verses sound like curses

Or excuses for bloodstained hands

Or words that hurt boys like Nigel


In the South

We don’t say their names enough