Britteney Black Rose Kapri vs. Black Queer Hoetics

April 17, 2018

Danez Smith: She’s that feeling when you order a three-piece and you get four, Franny Choi.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING) And they’re the limited edition special sauce at the Chick-Fil-A if Chick-Fil-A wasn’t homophobic, Danez Smith.

Danez Smith: Wow, chicken based! And welcome to VS, the podcast where poets confront the ideas that move them.

Franny Choi: Brought to you by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness.

Danez Smith: Apparently we like chicken, yeah…

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING) I know! How did we both become chicken themed! That is amazing. I’m excited to geek out with our guest today…

Danez Smith: Yes!

Franny Choi: Britteney Black Rose Kapri…

Danez Smith: Yes, known ho, known black, known queer, known nerd.

Franny Choi: Yes!

Danez Smith: Franny, you're a nerd. Uhmmm..

Franny Choi: Well, OK.

Danez Smith: I don’t say that.. I’m a fucking nerd too, (MOVIE TENDER VOICE) I see myself in you.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING) To be fair, one of the proudest moments of my life was at the Nerd Slam, which is a side event at the National Poetry Slam, when Phil Kay and I read a poem and the entire crowd shouted “nerd, nerd, nerd!” Which could have been a very traumatic moment if it had happened, like, 10 years prior.

Danez Smith: Yeah. (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: Fortunately, it was, like, the crowning achievement of my career. All of which to say: I take it as a compliment.

Danez Smith: It is a compliment. What kind of nerd are you?

Franny Choi: Like, what's my primary…

Danez Smith: Yeah, like, like, what's your sun sign in nerd?

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING) Like, my nerd sun sign?

Danez Smith: Yeah.

Franny Choi: I’m a Harry Potter sun.

Danez Smith: OK. I like this.

Franny Choi: Pokémon rising.

Danez Smith: OK, I like where you’re going.

Franny Choi: Lord Of The Rings moon.

Danez Smith: Whoa. OK, cool, cool, cool.

Franny Choi: Yeah, what about you?

Danez Smith: I'm a Sailor Moon sun, Naruto rising and an X-Men moon.

Franny Choi: Wooo! Very queer, very queer.

Danez Smith: Yes, yes, yes. Queer, but also with claws.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: Yeah.

Franny Choi: Well, you know, we contain multitudes of geekiness.

Danez Smith: Yes. And our next guest contains a lot of multitudes, she is a black, queer ho. How do I know? She called her book that, coming out this fall. She's an amazing mentor, community activist, just all around... the bee's knees.

Franny Choi: And we are so excited to get to talk to her about all kinds of stuff, including her mentorship, including what it means to carry lots of multiple selves in one rad tattooed body. So let's get into it.

Danez Smith: Yes! This is Britteney Black Rose Kapri!


Franny Choi: We're here in the studio with none other than Britteney Black Rose Kapri. Welcome to this tiny room!

Danez Smith: Welcome, n****.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: This is a tiny-ass room.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: It is, it is.

Franny Choi: A tiny padded room.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: My future…

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: The inside… I like to think about it as the inside of, like, a rather insignificant God's womb.

Franny Choi: Mmmmm! Okay.

Danez Smith: Or a recording studio.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: Either or. (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I don’t even know what you’re saying there. But you chose an insignificant God to describe your working space.

Danez Smith: Yes.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: So maybe we should have a talk.

Danez Smith: I feel like you can't be inside, like, a popular.. like, you can't just be inside, like, Gaia's womb.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: What’s the major…

Franny Choi: The major God womb?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: What’s the God with, like, the…

Danez Smith: Like, the God of Flaming Hots womb. That’s the one we’re in right now.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: That’s a very important womb if you are, like, a Chicagoan, like, have you met these n****?

Danez Smith: OK, what about the God of Hot Fries?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: OK.

Danez Smith: OK, cool.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: It’s black, it’s black in here, y’all. As it should be.

Danez Smith: Yeah, black with a red door, makes sense. (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: How are you doing today, Britteney?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I’m exhausted. I was just with 104 teenagers.

Danez Smith: Oh my… doing what?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: It’s the start to the Louder Than A Bomb season.

Danez Smith: Oooooh!

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: So we had Captain’s Council. Where they have an insane amount of energy. As I was leaving, one of the kids turned to me and was, like, hey, Britteney, you trying to match? So obviously, I haven’t instilled the proper fear into these n*glets.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: And so I will be spending the next four weeks reminding them that I'm not fucking one.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Yeah. So that's what I'm doing.

Franny Choi: Does all that energy… do you find yourself, like, absorbing that energy? Or just drained by the energy of the teenagers?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Whilst I'm in front of them, I absorb it, I’m, like, super hype. I'm... As soon as I am alone, it is, like, a deflated balloon. I love it. I love the festival, I love my students. I love…. I love the madness. But the moment I, like, step out of the venue it's, like, hey, don’t talk to me on the street.

Danez Smith: Oooosh.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING) There goes.

Danez Smith: (WHISPERING) Don’t talk to me.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: When I, like, see my students on the weekends in, like, public, I’m always, like, hey. Hey, you know the rules. Do not speak to me. And they’re, like, oh, yeah, OK, for sure. Like, hmmmm, it’s Saturday. You’re not a real person.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING) You have humanity Monday through Friday…

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Oh yes. Lots of it. I love them.

Danez Smith: That’s a really, really, like blunt, but really good self-care tactic.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I have to. I see them everywhere. I was, like, getting panties at Target. And somebody walked up to me, and I was, like, you don't get to be here today. When I’m in the intimate aisle at Target, do not speak to me!

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: How did you learn that? Because I feel like so many of us… I think the, like, natural inclination is to, like, give and give and give so much of yourself…

Franny Choi: For sure.

Danez Smith: educators. Was there a person who told you that, was that just through experiencing, sort of, a breaking point, or?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: My first year, they had access to me everywhere. In my personal life, in my social media, my email, my phone…

Franny Choi: Urg, social media…

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: And they… I see my students in public a lot. Especially since a lot of my friends are Chicago musicians. So a lot of Chicago shows are, like, 18-plus or all ages. And it was just really uncomfortable engaging with them in my personal life. And so I had to figure out what it was, and, like, it's, like, you know, my students know me and they know my humor. So it's, like, yo, on the weekend you don't get to talk to me. Unless I've engaged you. You know, some people don't take to it well, most of them get it, like, OK cool. But, like, if I see them at concerts and they talk to me, like, if you’re gonna talk to me, I'll tell security you're drinking. And then they scurry away.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Very very quick, they scurry away. I know what you’re doing. And I will snitch. Cause I’m trying to drink in peace. Please go away.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: It was a lot of... It was, like, two years of just constant access to young people's trauma. And it put me into a spiraling, spiraling depression. Because I felt like I didn't have enough people to be there for me, and so I needed to be there for them. And then I realized, like, I can't be the best mentor if I'm also not taking care of myself.

Franny Choi: For sure.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: So I was, like, you just have to give me these, like, two days where you leave me alone. If you want to say something to me, tweet it. I respond to tweets. I respond to Instagram. I respond to Facebook. But, like, in person, I just need to, like, not have to be somebody’s mentor for a few days.

Franny Choi: Hmmm. For sure. Are there other things you are doing these days, like, self-care things that you're into, right now?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I have a personal trainer.

Franny Choi: Yes!

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: She’s a tiny thing.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: She’s a very, very petite woman that is kicking my ass.

Danez Smith: Yo, I think that’s the way of a personal trainer… You, like, either have to fuck them or want to kill them. Or want to be freed from them. (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Ummm… she doesn’t know I’m an artist, so she’ll never come across this, I’ll fuck her, she’s cute.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: But, no… I’m just, like.. I’m training for the Tough Mudder competition.

Danez Smith: What’s that?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Tough Mudder is a 5k obstacle course.

Franny Choi: (GASPING)

Danez Smith: Wooooow….

Franny Choi: An obstacle course…

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I don’t like running. I think running is the stupidest thing in the world. Unless the cops are behind me. I'm not gonna, just, like, run for fun.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: That's ridiculous. N****, what. I run for survival and that's it. So I, like, truly, truly enjoy obstacle courses. And I enjoy, like, sports. So, like, one of my favorite things is, like, white water rafting, I love zip lining, I love, like, intense things. And so, Tough Mudder is a 5k with, like, these ridiculous obstacle courses in mud. So it's, like, really, really difficult.

Danez Smith: Woooh.

Franny Choi: Woooooow!

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: So you create these teams. And everyone dresses up super funky and super crazy. So, me and a bunch of people are going to do our first Tough Mudder in August and I'm really excited about that.

Franny Choi: Wow, 5K obstacle.. What are the obstacles like?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: So there's, like… (LAUGHING) It's, like, climb this wall. Have your friends push you over this wall. There's, like, rotating logs in mud that you have to, like, get over and, like, under. And it's, like…

Danez Smith: Like American Ninja…

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Yes. Except for in mud, and less, like, hitting yourself in the face with, like, metal.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Less concussion.

Danez Smith: So you hit yourself in the face with… wood.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri:  Yes.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: But there is an American Ninja training gym in the West Loop that I’m going to start going to, like, once a month.

Franny Choi: Wow!

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Because I truly love competitions, so once I’ve, like, done a full month with my trainer, I’m going to start going to an American Ninja Warrior training gym. Which I will never try and participate in because I'm 5’2” and I don't believe in knocking my teeth out.

Danez Smith: Hmm.

Franny Choi: Hmmm...

Danez Smith: That’s good, you got nice teeth.

Franny Choi: You have to have standards.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I have pretty decent teeth, you know. I wanna keep ‘em that way. I have dental insurance now… You know.

Danez Smith: Check you out.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: A bitch is grown.

Franny Choi: Yes!

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I’m still terrified of the dentist and I haven’t used…

Franny Choi: I haven’t used mine!

Danez Smith: I haven’t been to the dentist, y’all, in, like… 3-4 years…

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I’ve not been 5-6 years.

Franny Choi: I feel like the last time I went to the dentist, my mother dropped me off.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: You know what I mean?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I went to a dentist once…. Up until a year ago, I still had a baby tooth in my face.

Franny Choi: Wait, what?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: And when it finally came out, it just fell out. It was just rotting in my face. But I had a tooth growing on top of another tooth, and the dentist was talking to me, and just yanked it out without telling me. And I was, like, oh, I’m never coming back here again.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: This is the worst thing. EVER.

Franny Choi: Did they give you a warning?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: No. They just pulled a tooth.

Franny Choi: They’re just, like, blablablah…

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I wasn’t under anything, he was just talking…

Danez Smith: Aaaaaooooooooh!!!

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: ...he just yanked the tooth out of my mouth.

Danez Smith: Did you fight him?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: No, it was the first time I had gone to a doctor’s appointment on my own, I was, like, 19 and I was just, like, is this a thing? Is this a thing that happens when you go without your parents?

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: And then my mom was, like… no, bitch! That’s not what they do. That’s not OK.

Franny Choi: And I was, like, oh, well, I’m never going back to one of these things. So I have a tab with my dental insurance and I look at it daily, like, I should make an appointment.

Franny Choi: I feel like dentists, like, don't have good enough PR for them to just be doing shit like that. You know, like, you gotta encourage people to come to you.

Danez Smith: Yeah, it’s like nine out of ten dentists apparently want their ass whooped. I don’t know…

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: With this Crest.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING) With this Crest…

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Which toothbrush is best for sticking your up here.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Let me know, sir.

Danez Smith: Well… which end of the toothbrush?

Franny Choi: Hmmm!

Danez Smith: Some of them got some nice curves on the, on the… not-brush-your-teeth end. I'm sorry. Maybe I'm the only one that looks at my toothbrushes in a sexual way sometimes.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Yeah.

Franny Choi: I’m sure you’re not the only one.. but….

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: The only one in this room, perhaps.

Danez Smith: OK.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Maybe…

Danez Smith: I live my truth.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Not everyone is as comfortable talking about their toothbrush fetish, that’s for sure.

Danez Smith: I live my truth, you know. I want oral health in all my mouths.

Franny Choi: Uuuh.. uuuh.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Next time we travel together, you will be in a different bathroom from me.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: It’s OK. I’m fine with that.

Franny Choi: I feel like there is some, like… the vibrating ones? They’re the electrical toothbrushes, you know?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: This has gone down a dark… turn.

Franny Choi: Like, why would you make it vibrate if you don’t…

Danez Smith: Well, in the middle, like, towards the beginning of this podcast, we switched from being sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness to just… Vice and PornHub, so…

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Ooooh, yay, PornHub!

Danez Smith: Gosh, shout-out to PornHub.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: PornHub and their, like, logos around, like, holidays is.. actually the best thing.

Danez Smith: It is! Except.. I was kinda weirded out by the Martin Luther King day…

Franny Choi: Wait, what!?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I guess PornHub’s logo changes for holidays, so during, like, they’ll put, like, the O becomes, like, a Black Power fist. They’re wild.

Franny Choi: Oh!

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: And then, like, it will become, like, a shamrock.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: They’re.. they’re pretty reckless, and they don’t give a fuck.

Danez Smith: Grace Lee Boggs for ehm…

Franny Choi: (GASPING)

Danez Smith: ...for Asian-American history.

Franny Choi: Come on, no one’s doing any Asian-American history, let’s be real.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: No, no. PornHub believes in… They have an Asian section, so.

Franny Choi: Yeah, yeah, yeah. But that they can have Asian-American empowerment though…

Danez Smith: Wasn’t there an Asian diaspora section…

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING) An Asian diaspora section! That is… clutch, that’s key. (LAUGHING) That’s the PornHub I believe in.

Danez Smith: Yeah, and then it’s like a subsection. Like, what kind of Asian do you want?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: This is the future that millennials want.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING) OK. So speaking of..

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Speaking of PornHub, my book is called Black Queer Hoe.

Danez Smith: Yes it is.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: Please interview yourself, please continue. (LAUGHING) Tell yourself more.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: Well, what has been writing the book like? Cause you were saying earlier, before we pushed the record button, that the book is kicking your ass. What was kicking your ass about it?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Well, one, my friend José and I decided to do our books in a three-month time crunch. Unlike normal people. So it was three months ago that I signed my contract. And it is going out on Thursday.

Franny Choi: Oh my god.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: So I didn't give myself the proper amount of time that people normally do. Even though I had been working on the manuscript, but realizing, like, as I was working it I, like, saw you tweet about this similar, like, once I got, like, 40 pages in, I was, like, oh, this book isn't what I thought it was. And it drastically shifted in a way that I love. But…

Franny Choi: Yeah, that is a beautiful thing if you have the time to then…

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: But that freaked me out because I was like, fuck. There’s a bunch of stuff that I thought I was going to write, but now I’m not gonna write, and there is a bunch of stuff that I have to figure out to write. But also, I’ve just never done anything on this type of scale, like, my chapbook was easy because I already had those poems. And then Kevin came up and was, like, hey, these twelve poems belong in a book. I didn’t realize I was writing a chapbook. I was just writing poems about my brother, and about the hood. So, like, writing towards a specific goal has been just, like, beautiful, and I love it, and I'm so happy with my book. But also, it just is, like, I have a full-time job and I mentor 200 kids that are always sending me their poems. And I'm just, like, trying to balance my work life, actually seeing people I care about and my family, and this book has proven to be very difficult. My mom calls me everyday, like, is your book done? Am I gonna see you? And I’m, like, it’s not.. still… Leave me alone, n***. Do you want to brag about me? Then the book has to be done, woman.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: There you go. That’s the conversation we get with bargaining shit with our mom. Like, do you…

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Do you want to shove this in your friend’s face?

Danez Smith: You want to be better than Sharon?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: And then she’s always, like, OK, fine.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: So. I, like, had this, like, clear idea of what the book was going to be, I knew how it was going to be ordered and what it was going to be broken up into. And then I realized that the way I was trying to do “black” and “queer” and “ho” was in sections. And I was…. I talk about intersectionality all the time. So, like, I can not break these things up because they exist, coexist in me, and in this book, and these poems can't be, like, segregated. And then that, like, sent me into, like, a whole whirlwind of, like, why am I doing this, and why are these things that I'm talking about, and am I not talking about these other identities in myself, but…

Danez Smith: Hmm.

Franny Choi: Hmm.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Yeah.

Franny Choi: Yeah, that makes sense, that ordering a book is hard when the book is so tied to, like, your own identity. Your own life, like…  I guess it is sort of a thing that we're, like, forced to do. Or asked to do. Organize our identities into, like, little coherent sections. But for a book, like, that's so hard.

Danez Smith: What has working on this book taught you new about yourself, you know, like, as a person or a poet, or both.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: A lot of my poems start off in, like, this prose format. I really like the way it looks, like, block-wise.

Danez Smith: So that’s, like, your first draft?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Yeah. But, like, Kevin has come to me, like, this is a ghazal. This is a sonnet. You're not actually paying attention to the form, and you're just falling back on this thing that you're comfortable with. And so I've done more, like, going through and being, like, okay, is this a broken ghazal. Is this a broken sonnet. Trying to do my best to pay attention to form more and think about, like, how someone else is going to see this. Cause the prose makes sense to me. It’s not too bulky for me, it's not too dense for me, because it's my poems. But when this leaves my hand, it needs to be accessible and available to the people that are going to read it. So thinking about form... I think I've been working towards, over the past few years, like, what poems look like on the page. But now that I'm, like, this is actually going to go in print, like... Thinking about, like, how it's going to be viewed once I can't explain it, has been really, really interesting.

Franny Choi: For sure...

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: And, like, if it requires too much explanation when I'm talking with my editors, then I'm not doing what I need to be doing..

Danez Smith: Right.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: what I'm realizing.

Danez Smith: What… I think it’s interesting, because, like, the way your career path has, like, played out, I think it's been that, you know, you're not, like, super…. You don't submit a lot. Your publishing credits are, like, bomb, it’s, like, Poetry Magazine and a couple of other places, but I think most people who have encountered your work have encountered it via your body. Via you.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Yeah.

Danez Smith: You know, but it’s also, your poems maybe have lived more in the body; I know that you are still an avid reader. And I know that you are still… you know, you're wise on this shit. I don’t want to say translating them into the page, but now, you know, furthering that exploration, who are, like, the pillars that you are reaching towards?

Franny Choi: Or are there, like, books that you have been reading, saying, oh, I want my book to do this kind of work?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I think part of the reason why a lot of things are in block form is… One of the most life-changing experiences was reading Meaty by Samantha Irby. And Samantha Irby being an essayist. And Samantha refuses to call herself a poet, but the bitch is a fucking poet in the… . It's just fucking beautiful and vulgar and real and raw. Because I think about, like, myself, like, my…. Anybody that, like, actually knows me, knows my social media is, like, ridiculous. But, like, I craft all of my posts very, very intentionally and, like, Samantha Irby also, like, her following, her Facebook is, like, very, very intentional and very, very dope. And, like, thinking about, like, how do I present this, like, form that is typically, like, meter and rhyme and shit that I'm not really interested in... But, like, how do I take this thing that I think is beautiful and also blend it with, like, the very hood side of me and the very scholar side of me and the very vulgar side of me. And I think all the poets I typically love, conveniently are my friends. I always go back to anything Hanif does. I think Hanif is, like, just one of the most… ridiculously detailed poets. In a way that, like, reading his poems, I’m, like… I think I know this reference. And then I’ll Google some shit and I’m, like, goddamn, I didn’t even realize this was a music reference. The way that he is able to put music references into his poems so effortlessly, I think, is the best thing. I think Hanif’s books…

Danez Smith: It becomes not patchwork…

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: They’re Easter eggs. It’s, like, surprise, like, if you get this reference it's a really dope thing, but if you don't get this reference, the poem is still amazing. I think that's what I want. I want to have, like, things that my friends are, like, oh, that's hilarious for us. But also that any other person can come to the book and still find themselves and still find the conversation they need. And I think mostly because I'm a nerd and I exist in, like, all of these different nerd cultures, like, Easter eggs are, like, one of the best things about movies and video games and things like that. And I want my book to have these Easter eggs and I want my book to, like, resonate specifically with my friend group where, like, these are our inside jokes. But how do I make inside jokes accessible without having to explain it, is what I'm trying to do.

Franny Choi: For sure. I mean, and I think that that's beautiful, the idea of, like, having those Easter eggs and how they, like, create little, like, layers of intimacy. You know, like, these... It's like a layered audience, right. It's so interesting that you mentioned both Samantha Irby and Hanif Adburraqib who are, like you said, both essayists. And I'm wondering what you think is the difference between, like, an essay and a poem.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: A complete sentence.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: That is it. (LAUGHING) And that’s why, like, when Sam doesn't call herself a poet, I get so irritated. They're both lyric essayists. The imagery, the metaphors, all of is there and it doesn't mean that those things don't exist in, like, regular essays. But I think their ability to pull their audience into their stories is remarkable. Essays offer up a freedom that poems don't necessarily do, but also poems offer freedom that essays don’t do. And I think both of them have figured out a way to take both of those things and blend them in the perfect.... It just is dope and…. I guess also, why I, like, look towards essays is cause I've always been a scholar, school has always been a thing that I love, writing papers is super, super easy for me. I've done poems for years, for years, for years, but I didn’t take poetry seriously until I was in college. But I’d been doing it. It was just what my friends were doing. It's what was accessible to me. And I loved it, but not truly the way I do now. My professors would, like, talk about how my papers were, like, different than other people's. And I realized why my dissertations never sounded like anybody else. Because my background in poetry. It's impossible for me not to write without verse. It is just impossible. It’s how I talk. It's how I view things. It's, like, how I approach everything. And it took me forever to realize that. And that really, like, made me, like, truly invest in my craft as a poet. And really, like, sort of, like, what Danez is saying. Most people would know me through performance. And I'm a very, very dramatic bitch onstage…

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I can make anybody cry at the drop of a dime. And my poetry was trash. But I could really, really sell some trash as poetry.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I could. And so now, in my older years…

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I’m working on, like, making sure my writing is meeting where my stage performance is. And that has been a lot of growth. And a lot of, like, having to acknowledge, like, I had a lot of people telling me I was dope and I wasn't. And it was, like, thank you for supporting me. But when it finally came to the time that I took it seriously, Kevin’s, like, okay, cool. There's some work that we need to do, motherfucker. Krista Franklin was, like, okay. People have been telling you you're dope, but now what. Get your ass to work. Work harder. Avery has always been, like, nothing impresses him. (LAUGHING) So do better. And figuring out how to, like, take all of these little things and, like, marry them into a successful and honest and true version of myself is, like, what I'm trying to figure out. I don't publish very much. I don't perform very much, often. Most of my time is spent with my kids. But I go places. I love music, I love movies, I love plays, and I engage with art every single day, even if people aren't engaging with my art. And that is always shaping the story I'm telling.

Danez Smith: Hmm.

Franny Choi: Yeah, for sure.

Danez Smith: Who are you listening to right now that you feel, like…

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Joseph Chilliams!

Danez Smith: Yes!

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: Oh! Can I tell you that is my faaaavorite album of last year, oh my god. Everybody go get Henry Church right the fuck now.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: So Joseph Chilliams performed at my first book release. It was, like, my first thing and his first thing. And so Joe is gonna perform at my next book release. And it's just such a great feeling to watch my friend grow. And also I, like, you know, this is going to show some of my growth. But, like, Joseph is one of the strangest people I've ever met.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: And the nicest and the kindest and one of the most talented. And he sounds, like, no-body else, at all. He truly has figured out his own style, his own steez. He’s fucking magical. I listen to Henry Church daily. It, like, truly is one of the things that I wrote this book to. It’s hilarious, but it's also real.

Danez Smith: Oh, it hits you, yeah. The jokes are sneaky. It’s easy to call him a comedic rapper. And it’s too easy to call him a comedic rapper, because then if you really listen, I find myself, you know, right, that switch between laughing and crying in his work is just soooooooo… seamless.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: And his ability to talk about black trauma with a smile is everything that I want from my book. And people will get it. My book is fucking hilarious, like, it’s just ratchet and vulgar and pretty much just linty tweets.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: But it is, like, I'm tired of making people cry. And I want to tell these stories without having to make people cry. And I think I learned a lot of that from Joe.

Danez Smith: There is an extremely subversive history in that. In blackness, you know, like, I think we're always turning…. there's a history there when thinking about minstrelsy, there's a history there when thinking about all the great black comedians, right. I think... I think about Moms Mabley, I think about Richard Pryor,... and even more recent folks, like, a Wanda Sykes, like, Whoopi Goldberg, like… Whoopi Goldberg ain’t… she old as shit now.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: She is! Them dreads is gray. (LAUGHING) But no, there’s like so many.. is there anybody super modern who is, like, really doing that for me in black comedy right now? Maybe…

Franny Choi: Like, dark humor…

Danez Smith: Yeah, like bathing them in..

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Michael Che.

Danez Smith: Michael Che…

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: His stand-up special was amazing. Hilarious.

Franny Choi: Did y’all see that Jerrod Carmichael special?

Danez Smith: I did..

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Yes.

Danez Smith: Even the editing on that was, like, totally dope.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Wyatt Cenac? Is that his name? Wyatt Cenac.

Danez Smith: Yeah. We know you’re a poet, what are some other genres that you think you’ll play around with. You think you’ll ever reach towards the essay?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I would love, love, love to do essays. Right now, it’s mostly just poetry and, like, articles for… I work for Black Nerd Problems. Shout-out to my nerds. I’ve only written one lyric essay, which is probably one of my favorite things I've ever written, still. Fatimah Asghar was… she heard the poem and she was, like, this is an essay. It’s not a poem, like, do the work.

Danez Smith: Fati’s always trying to push the lyrical essay.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: She is, she is. But she was correct. (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: But I would, like, reading Samantha…. I will always come back to that bitch. I love that bitch. I, like, truly, like, the first time…. When a bunch of people found out me and Samantha didn’t know each other, it was, like, how. And then we met each other, and it was, like, oh my god. You are literally me in the future. I cannot wait to be you, tattooed bitch. I love you.

Franny Choi: So nice to meet a you from the future. Like, I’m possible!

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: She’s dope. She has tattoos. She loves talking about dick, it’s great.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: My bitch. But I would love to, like, em…

Danez Smith: Mom?

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I would love to do essays. And I think the next thing I want to work towards is, like..

Danez Smith: But you already have essays. With, like, Black Nerd Problems.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Sort of. Sort of, not, not… I wouldn’t call them essays. These are mostly reviews. It’s on the…

Danez Smith: Prose.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Oh yes, I’m writing prose. I wanna do an anthology around black folks that, like, were involved or engaged in rock culture. Like, what did that look like in high school? Because I was a serious metalhead. But I also would, like, go back and hang out with gangbangers on my block, and… the duality of that life. And so, after I'm done with this book, I want to write a series of essays around, like…. When people ask, like, how I, like, fucked with metal and it’s usually, like, black people. I've always felt safe in, like, metal shows, like, if you're in a mosh pit and you fall down, folks pick you up. At a rap show, dudes grab my ass. And so, like, there was a place where I felt secure in my body as a little, awkward, fat, chubby girl where I didn't feel, like, anything was a focus besides, like, just getting out whatever the fuck you were having. So, like, I think there's a bunch of essays around, like, the suicide of Chester from Linkin Park, like, that, like, really hit home in a very strange way, because Linkin Park truly saved my life. If it wasn't for them, I probably would not be here. And so, like, what do these, like, cultures that black people are not supposed to be in that we technically created. So, like, what does that experience look like? And so, like, in my head I've just been writing these essays on it and that started after Chester's suicide, because it made me revisit a lot of, like, really, really positive but also, like, really, really difficult times when I was in high school.

Franny Choi: That sort of safety that's maybe not expected… not just as a black person but as, like, a black, queer woman, right, in that space, that, like, space of rock and metal. And also, like you said earlier in, like, nerd culture... Yeah, I was wondering if we could, kind of, come back to that. How you find safety and home in that culture. In that community.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I always knew I was a nerd. I never really felt like I could call myself a nerd, because, like, I don't like anime. And I shouldn't say... I don't watch anime, it's not that I don't like anime. But there's, like, what people call nerds was, like, anime or videogames and those aren't my things. I like wizards and elves and dragons and shit. I love magic.

Danez Smith: Oh, your ass is a nerd. (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: If you’re here saying “I love magic,” you’re a nerd. (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Yes. So when I found Black Nerd Problems and they were, like, hey, you're allowed to, like, be hood as fuck and still be a nerd... And I always felt very strange, like, I just was sitting on the outside of all of these communities because I was engaged with so much. I played sports. I was also really into Harry Potter, and I did poems, and I also hung out with gangbangers. And so, like, I've never talked or sounded like any of the cultures and subcultures that I belong to, so it was just always uncomfortable and it never really felt like I belonged. And so, like, Black Nerd Problems is just black and hood and hilarious and nerdy as fuck. And I… even then I, like, am still battling myself, because I'm really, really bad at comparing myself to the people that I love and so, like, sometimes I'm, like, man, fuck, like, they all are so knowledgeable about these things and maybe I shouldn't be part of this workspace because I'm not as knowledgeable as them and everybody's always, like, or you could just cut that shit out and write about the things you like. Like I get to talk about Harry Potter and I get to talk about my, like, serious love for, like, movies and TV shows about serial killers and, like, drafting my own reality-TV zombie-apocalypse team, and I get to just all of these, like, weird niches that I'm really interested in. And also talk about shit that isn't, like… pain. Which I feel like poetry is always, like, no matter what is still funny, it's still, like, hurtful.

Danez Smith: Poetry, yeah. Poetry offers itself up to pain really easily.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: And Black Nerd Problems is, like, hey, there's this shit you love. Let's just talk about the shit that you love. And that feels good, that my writing, like, doesn't have to serve anybody. And I stay away from, like, major things. I'm not talking about Star Wars, I’m not talking about Black Panther, I’m not talking about anything where, like, 90 000 people are going to show up…

Danez Smith: Well...

Britteney Black Rose Kapri:  Yes, but not in a way where, like 2000 people are gonna show up in my mentions and tell me I'm a bad person.

Danez Smith: That's true.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I realized I never really wanted to be famous, once I watched Franny battle white people on Twitter, like, it literally was a battle, and I was, like, oh my god, no. I do not want people to actually have access. I want, like…

Franny Choi: My brief terrible fame.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: …these 3000 people that are following me? Cool.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Franny, I was, like, I would watch you battle people on Twitter, and I’d be, like, no, no, no, no.

Franny Choi: There was a time when there was a photo of me saying things about white people on the internet. Not even about white people, about whiteness on the internet, and people get upset. Their feelings get hurt. And then they call me gook and  chink and threatened to rape me. So, you know, you gotta deal with that when that happens I suppose. (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Like, that was, like, a very clear... I was, like, oh man, I really want to be famous. And then when I saw that, I was, like, oh my god. No!!

Franny Choi: Yeah.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: No, no, no, no. Because my favorite thing in the world is to tell white people—and not whiteness, and not white structures—to tell white people, I like to call them ones and threes and Caspers, and they be really hurt.

Danez Smith: They do. They do.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: And it's one of the titles in a book is a list of things to call white men who call you Nubian queen.

Danez Smith: Oooh.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: And it is wild....

Franny Choi: Wait, so has a white man called you Nubian queen?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Oh. My. God. Girl….

Franny Choi: Really?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Tinder!? (SIGHING) Tinder…

Franny Choi: Ooooooh…..

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I’ve never been with a black girl, oh my Nubian queen…

Franny Choi: I feel like I just forgot about the internet for a second. I’m sorry.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: You don’t even know what Nubian is. They can’t spell Nubian.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Also—I am light-skinned as hell.

Danez Smith: Yes, you are.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: And a bitch is not a queen. I’m a ho.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: Queens can be hoes too.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Yes, but I’m not a queen, I’m a ho.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: OK. You recognize your place in the court.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Exactly. I don’t got no time for that.


Danez Smith: It seems like one of your life's projects, or one of the things that are a strand through your work is this inability to be one thing. Thinking about how to section the book, thinking about, like, all these different groups that you're a part of, I’m really, I don’t know, I think it’s gonna be part of your Saturn’s return.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: I wonder, we have young folks that listen to this show. What would you say to anybody that feels like that pressure… cause I dealt with that too and I didn’t know what to do with that, for a lot of years, about how to feel comfort in the discomfort of not, you know, just being the this or that, but being A through F. And a little bit of K too.

Franny Choi: I feel like you look at the world and say, like, oh, I don't see me. I guess I'm a fictional character. I guess I don't actually exist.

Danez Smith: Yeah. Like, what gave you access to, like, being able to be all yourselves.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: So I think about this all the time. So whenever I say, like, I'm into sports, some dude pops up, like, do you know this statistic about, like, this player from 1989.

Danez Smith: Oh my God…

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Like, n***, no but I can tell you that the Bears just lost. (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I didn’t say I was a sports anchor. I didn’t say I went to college, like…

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: And so most of my life has been people in these cultures trying to call me out, because I, like, I love all of these things that, like, all of these high school movies tell you you're only supposed to be one of. Whenever I, like… I, like, love The Breakfast Club. I would not be any of them, because they're all too limited. I just always felt so uncomfortable because I always felt like people in these cultures were always telling me that I didn't belong and I was, like, but I did watch the game. I also, like, did read this book. I also did listen to this album. I also can change my own tire. I really like to play sports, but I do have three-inch nails. That has nothing to do with my ability to catch a football, motherfucker, like, I can. It was really, really hard for me when I was younger, because I just always felt like an impostor. But, like, I knew that I truly love these things. And then I just started tattooing the shit I love to me. I have Harry Potter tattoos. I have sports related tattoos. I have poem tattoos. I have music tattoos. I have cartoons, like, these are the things I love and people don't get to take them away from me, especially if they're on my body.

Danez Smith: I love that, tattoos as a kind of ownership.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Yeah. Especially, I've been a baseball fan my entire life, I've been a Cubs fan my entire life, throughout that a ridiculous amount of pain… And then when the Cubs won, I was super excited and, like, hell, literally, hella dudes flooded my mentions, like, you don't give a fuck, you're just a Bear some-some-some women…. And I was, like, well, I have a Cubs tattoo. I've also lived in this neighborhood, like, I live in walking distance, like, I can show you the jersey that I've had since I was 14. And so I, like, just started committing the things I love to my body. Just for myself but also, like, if you want to say something crazy to me, like, here, look at this Harry Potter tattoo. I don't really need to prove to you past this moment. You can see it. I'm gone. Because everyone always has, like, a pop quiz. I felt so alone, but I was always surrounded by people. Because also, like, I would be in groups of people and, like, hang with my nerd friends and then, like, oh the Bears lost, and I would get, like, really in my feelings, and I couldn't talk to these people, because they were so... We only talk about this. We only care about this. And, like, that's fucking weird. There's so much shit out here to be engaged with, and I don't understand, like, oh well, I hate sports and, like, okay but why. There's no why? OK whatever.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: And now I'm just, like, I am all of these things, I'm allowed to be all these things. And Twitter, offering up the word intersectionality to me, has really saved my life. Because mostly we talk about intersectionality around, like, activism and feminism. And, like, making sure we’re incorporated. But, like, for me, it solidified, like, that I can say that I am a sports-loving video game-playing nerd that, like, is also a writer and all of these things, and I don't have to actually say anything past that. Like, I don't have to prove anything. I don't have to do your fucking pop quiz. I don’t have to do anything after that. No one was there to tell me that in high school. So I always felt like an impostor. And, like, folks always, like, try to, like, call me out and shit. But I also was, like, mad violent so, like, people would try and call me out, and I was, like, oh, well, I don’t have an answer for you, so let's fight.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I can't answer about this so let's just fight, is how I handled everything. Now I'm just, like, fuck you, dude. That's all I got to say, is fuck you, dude.

Danez Smith: Also, like, the mute option on Twitter is really beautiful.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: My god… 

Danez Smith: Cause you can mouth off and just not hear back. I love it.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: That's what I do with racists, like, I, like, tweeted something that was, like, hey, maybe, like, homophobia is wrong, and then of course straight people were like, aaaaaargh, but faggots! So I like….

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I just love sending GIFs. The fact that I can just GIF respond to your ignorance… And that people really be having conversations with me, and you're just going to get every love and hip hop GIF I can find.

Danez Smith: Yep. My thing is calling people stupid, because then they just continue to prove how they're stupid and be, like, that was dumb and then they’ll be, like,..... . But-but-but-but I think it is….

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: But Fox News.

Danez Smith: But Fox News. Fuck Fox News. I want to be on Fox News, I can have a show on Fox News.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I wanna be one of those things that go viral…

Franny Choi: Would you really?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I kinda want a show on Fox News, like…

Franny Choi: H-h-h-w-w-w-why? Who? How? What?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I want to be interviewed on Fox News just so somebody can give me eye rolling at some white men.

Franny Choi: That would be a great GIF.

Danez Smith: Yeah.

Franny Choi: Speaking of great GIFs.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: That’s what I want. I want to eye roll somebody on Fox News. I’m not gonna answer any questions.

Danez Smith: I just wanna see if I’m a good enough actor to, like, trick white people into, like, thinking I'm the black guy who's on their side and actually convince them to be liberal.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: You wanna Don Lemon some folks?

Danez Smith: Yeah, but, like, more like Don Lime. You know… (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Well.

Franny Choi: Well. (LAUGHING) Well, well, well.

Danez Smith: Yep. But it will let me be free. (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING) So even though poet is one of those things in this, like, big constellation of things that you are, of people that you are, is poetry a space in which you feel like you can be those multiple people, those multiple selves?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Yes. Without a doubt. I think, the biggest umbrella is, like, mentor. Because most of everything I do always comes back to my students. I'm very, very open about a lot of shit on my social media and that's because, like, no one ever told me about this shit, and then I, like, got to college and I put myself in a lot of harmful, fucked up situations. Because no one was ever, like, yo, these are the shits that I went through. And then poet is the second biggest umbrella. And, like, everything else falls under that. I have poems about all of these topics that I love and the reason I love poetry so much is because I can. I can write a poem about sports, or I can write a poem about, like, one of the things that me and my stepfather share, is a love for baseball. And so, like, all the people that want to, like, call me out on baseball…. my favorite memory of my dad is being at a game. And it means so much to me. Poetry is where I can just be, like, one, fuck you all these other cities. Cause I'm for Chicago so hard. But also, here's why this means….

Danez Smith: (SIGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: You knew I was gonna go there, don’t be heavy sighing, we are in Chicago, Chicago all day, let's go. Northside, Uptown. I'm not playing. You knew... you knew what you was doing when you brought me…

Franny Choi: Danez is making an exaggerated yawning gesture…

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Are you mad… are you upset cause the Vikings just got their ass….

Danez Smith: You mad cause we made it to the play-offs?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: No, I knew the Bears sucked. I've always been honest about where my team…

Danez Smith: As long as you know.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I stay honest.

Danez Smith: Look, OK.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Anywayzzzz.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: But, like, it’s a place for me to offer up my humor, and almost all of the things I'm interested in have some type of tie to a family member. They are almost all emotional connections to, like, who introduced me to this, my mother, my dad, my uncles, my grandma. I don't like soft shit, I don't like telling people nice things, and I can do that in poetry and I can leave it there and walk away. I'm not very comfortable with, like, shared emotions unless I'm really close to you. And also I just... I'm so different from my family. I walked into Thanksgiving and my uncles, like, this your cousin Britteney, she's…. the artistic one.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Artistic means strange… 

Danez Smith: Yes.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: It means problematic. It means she's going to talk about Columbus.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: He was, like, that’s not what I meant. I was, like, n***, yes it is. Umm. And I don't communicate with my family very well, because we just... we just don't speak the same language. But I can give them these poems.

Franny Choi: Hmm.

Danez Smith: Damn. That hit me right in the feels. (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: Same. Same.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: (GASPING) But this whole book is about sex shit so I can't wait for my grandma to read these poems!

Franny Choi: Woo!

Danez Smith: Hey, hey, hey. She made a generation, y’all, she knows.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING) “She made a generation…”

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: (LAUGHING) That’s actually the best. You know, one of my grandmas… my mom’s mom, and my mom, them some hoes, they was some hoes, they always encouraged hoedom, they’ve engrained the hoedom into my life, my dad’s mom… go to church, got a whole liquor cabinet she pretend that we don’t see. So I can’t wait for that side of my family to read these poems.

Franny Choi: Hmm. How do I say this—what is “ho poetics”? (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: OK, so I think about this all the time, because I write about, like, sex all the time, but I don't write erotica. I think erotica is, like, the most disgusting shit in the world.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: Yo, I never heard...

Franny Choi: Like, in general? Or just in poetry?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: This dude was, like…

Danez Smith: Erotic poems are often trash.

Franny Choi: Sure.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: This dude was on an open mic, and he was reading this erotic poem, and he was, like, when we have sex, it sounds like somebody stirring macaroni and cheese.

Danez Smith: Eeeew….

Franny Choi: Oh! Oh! Oh!

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: And it was the most disgusting thing I've ever heard. But also, like, I thought about the sound and I was, like, maybe that's what sex sounds like.

Danez Smith: It does sound like sex...

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: But I don’t want to hear that.

Danez Smith: I want to eat my cheddar and my dick separate. Cause dick cheese ain’t never been good for nobody. (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: But ho poetics…

Franny Choi: That’s a quotable, right there.

Danez Smith: Tweet it.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I can’t stand y’all.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Hmm… women are supposed to be these, like, things for dudes, like by the time they decide to settle down and marry you, you should be the best fuck possible. Cause they’re only gonna fuck you. But the idea that you had to learn to have sex with all these other dudes is, like, oh, I can't believe you fucked somebody else. But also I really like this thing that you learned by this person.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: Everybody wants the slutty virgin, yeah.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Everybody wants the slutty virgin. And it’s, like, n***, you like that thing I do? Well, some n*** taught me. Mmmmmm, sorry.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: And so, like, ho poetics, like, I talk about pussy all the time. And I talk about dick all the time. I love sex, I love sexual freedom and really, no one taught me the difference between sexual freedom and sexual exploitation. And so, when I was younger, I thought I was being sexually free and I was having sex with all these people, and they were using me. And not to say that I'm not.... I still may encounter somebody using me, but now I can be, like, mmmm,  you're using me and I'm okay with it. Or you're using me and I'll use you too. And before I was, like, no, I'm sexually free. I fucked all these people and I don't care what they call me. But I really fucking cared. And ho poetics doesn’t mean, it doesn’t just mean sex. Like, anybody that knows me, knows I'm the biggest advocate for nudes. I have “take more nudes, trust less people” tattooed to my back. It is by far one of the most important things, especially to, like, my students and, like, the young women that I work with, and it's, like, yo, like, if you find love in your body with a picture. That's great. If you want to send it to your friends that's great, but know that you can trust them and that they will actually.. that they actually care about you. And, like, you have to be, like, honest about the world that we live in and, like…. Ho poetics is, like, I have always been a little round girl. A little hairy round girl. And I hated my fucking body, like, just... And tattoos is truly what made me love my body. Once I tattooed my leg I was, like, well, I guess I gotta wear shorts because I spent 300 dollars on this shit.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING) Yes!

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I, like, dressed like a little boy forever. And then I was, like, well, I got my arms tattooed so, guess people gonna get these fat-ass arms. Cause that shit cost 200 dollars. And then I started taking nudes and I think nudes are, like, a serious art form. I probably would teach a class. I, like, I color edit my nudes, like…

Danez Smith: You do. They’re great.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING )

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I’ll show you after the show.

Franny Choi: Please.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: But I take nudes very seriously, and I give myself photo shoots, like, I have props, I have lights, I have colors, because, like, I learned to truly love my body by taking pictures of it. And then, like, how do I translate the love of this picture into words. This, like, love of my body that I'm not supposed to have, you know, that I'm supposed to be ashamed of, that I'm supposed to be…. Like, I'm not... like, I said I have a personal trainer. Everybody in the gym is, like, what do you want to do. And I was, like, I just wanna be able to walk up the stairs and breathe. Like, I don't care if I’m skinny. I’m not trying to be thin, I'm not... look, I just want to be healthy. And healthy does not mean I have to be small. I have friends that are ace and so, like, I, like, call one of my good friends, Lauren, ho, all the time. At first when we became friends, she would, like, correct me, and I’d be, like, yo, I don’t mean you’re having sex. Like, that’s not what I’m talking about. Ho means, like, you my down-ass bitch. You my real-ass friend. You care about me. This word that I’m supposed to be ashamed of, for this thing that I may or may not be doing, like… you don't fuck somebody? You're called a ho. You fuck somebody? You're called a ho. It doesn't matter, like, you are called a ho just because you exist, and so, like, okay, then I'll be that. I'm just not gonna be it for you.

Danez Smith: Hmm.

Franny Choi: Hmm.

Danez Smith: C’mon now. The ho as ownership. Ho as homie. Ho as all these things. Oh, I love you.

Franny Choi: Can’t spell homie without ho.

Danez Smith: Yeah, pfew! Wow.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: Hmm. I had a whole-ass question. Ummm…. I was gonna ask about…. oh! I was gonna ask about mentorship. You know, there’s a lot of shit teachers out there. We’re talking about, like, burn-out teachers, there’s a lot of great teachers too, shout-out to great teachers.

Franny Choi: Shout-out to great teachers.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Shout-out to Raych Jackson, best teacher in the world.

Danez Smith: Yeah, shout-out to Rachel Jackson, y’all, Season 1, what sup. What keeps you coming back, both, like, in your students and selfishly, you know, what do you get out of it?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: The students that I develop real connections with, like, I love them. The first time someone asked me to write a college recommendation, I was, like, hell why. Why me. And then I sat and wrote the letter and I realized I had so much to say about them. And then they got into their first choice and I felt so proud and I was, like, this is actually, like, the best thing. One of my mentees, Kaena, who is a beast-ass artist and, like, I taught her in high school. Twenty-two-year-old woman in the start of her career and it's been amazing to watch the growth that she's had. Like I said, when I was writing, I was terrible, I had a lot of people that were mentors, but a lot of them were mentors that weren't actually calling me out for my shit and just letting me, like, regurgitate this bad behavior. And me my friends regurgitated a bunch of bad behavior and a bunch of bad art. The relationships I have with my students is, like, I engage with hundreds of students at any given time but there's, like, 20 and they call me their absentee father…

Danez Smith: (CHUCKLING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri:  … and I meet their parents and I'm introduced as their absentee father. And I have my... I have my babies. And I love them and their growth and when I cross the line, like, they call me out on it. And, like, that's how I know we're close. That they feel comfortable enough to do that. You know, a lot of kids are terrified of me as they should be. But the ones I mentor, like, I track their lives, I stay involved with them throughout college, I care about your well-being, and that doesn't mean that I'm going to look at every poem you send me. You don't get to send me 200 poems a day, like, that's not what this is. But I'm here for advice. I'm here for work with your poetry. And, you know, we have hard talks. We have talks about sexuality, about poems, about college, about, you know, sometimes it's, like, yo, like, I try and be, like, the angel on their shoulder. Everything in life is always the devil on their shoulder. And telling them what they have to do and it's, like, yo, I just want what's best for you. And I want what's going to make you happiest. And so, you know, like, it feels good also to have people that, like…. They love me. They love me and they love me so hard. And I'm not going to pretend, like, that doesn't feel good, like, it does. But I also love them with my heart. My mom is an 8th-grade teacher and she's, like, wild rude. Anybody that's ever met Brenda, like, she's crazy. She, like, steals their milk. My mom walks in the lunchroom, the kids will, like, shield their lunch. Cause she just steals from them. But she's also, like, the most loved teacher. My mom taught me that, like, I don't have to be soft. I don't have to placates. I don't have to coddle. I don't have to infantilize them, even I call them babies. I talk to y’all n*** the way I talk to my n***, like, y'all my n***. Okay cool. That was some bullshit. That was some dope shit. That was some beautiful shit. I, like, pull up in my car, like, if y’all don’t get your little n*** asses off the street, take your ass home, and they are the homies. I realized, like, being a teaching artist means as much to me, if not more to me, than generating my art.

Danez Smith: Hmm.

Franny Choi: Hmm.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: And it took me years to, like, think that was OK, cause I was, like, well, you know, am I really a poet if I didn't get published? Am I really a poet if I don't put out a book? Am I really a poet if I don't have shows? And it was, like, when students started writing like me; I was, like, oh. One, we have to stop this shit.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: But two, like, I wrote like Patricia Smith, who I think is godlike. And I don't want to be anybody's God. I just want to be somebody’s homie.

Franny Choi: Hmmm!

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: How do we find your voice. And the fact that they're willing to, like, let me be a guide or a friend along that path is dope. Because it's also, like, it's a shared thing, like, they have to love me the way I love them. And that feels good.


Franny Choi: On every episode of VS we, of course, ask our incredibly talented guest to read a poem of theirs for us. Britteney, do you have a poem that you’d like to share with our listeners at home?

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I do. I do have a poem.

Franny Choi: This is from the…

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: This is from the book.

Franny Choi: Yes!!!

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: To every dude I ever yelled out

this pussy is yours too

you welcome.


Welcome to this prestigious club

N*** who I lied to

n*** whose numbers I never saved

n*** who I love so fervently

I was willing to give them what others took without asking.

Do you call each other?

Have special handshakes?

Take turns reminiscing

when you were lucky enough

to be face first in this moist cavern of greatness?


Hope you didn't think I meant

it was yours yours. Like, just yours.

It's more like a timeshare where you're

only allowed to come

over between 1 and 6 a.m.

Only speak to tell me how much

you missed being here.


One day I might retire.

Might let someone's daddy

or auntie put a ring on it.

Lock me down until

their retirement plan dries out.

But then again, who am I

to deny this safe haven to the masses.

Sorry I haven't called in a while,

haven't answered your texts,

DMs, emails, tweets, smoke signals.

I've just been so busy being too busy

for you. But it's cool. Absence

makes the pussy taste sweeter.


Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: Oh. My. God. (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I told you it was ratchet.

Danez Smith: It is ratchet. (LAUGHING)


Danez Smith: OK, so now, it's time for another lit-ass section. So because we’re called VS, right, we’re violent. So we like to… we are, we are. But only in the heart.

Franny Choi: Violent-hearted.

Danez Smith: Violent-hearted, you know, just fight imagery.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: I’m just violent.

Danez Smith: And so one thing we like to do, is we like to ask our guests what knocked them out. Something that has KO’d you recently. So, Britteney, can you please tell us one thing, art, poem, song, tap dance, whatever it may be that has knocked you out recently?

Franny Choi: And it doesn't have to be…

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: What is the last time you have seen a tap dance?

Danez Smith: Ha? I been Googling Savion Glover sometimes.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: No one Googles Savion Glover.

Danez Smith: I…. kinda like tap dancing?....

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: My partner thinks child tap dancers turn into serial killers.

Danez Smith: I feel like you’re telling me that I can’t be a nerd right now and I’m being offended. So, I’m going ahead and like tap dance, and be my whole black queer ho self, OK.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: Talk about your little thing…. (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: We talked a lot about my mentorship, and actually one of my students, Melody Matty, dropped a song today and I literally have not played anything besides this song. I heard her do it at our open mic last week before. It's called “On Purpose.” All women of color, all queer folks just need to hear it and, like, the chorus is, like, Life's too short, don't give it away. Fix your face. Have a good day on purpose today.

Danez Smith: Hmmm.

Franny Choi: Hmmm.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: And I'm, like, that, like, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. That is something I would tattoo to myself. I need that some place where I can see that everyday, like, intentionally choose yourself. Intentionally choose yourself.

Danez Smith: Amen.

Franny Choi: Hell yeah.


Franny Choi: On VS we like to play a little game, called This vs. That, where we pit two things, people, concepts, pieces of art, types of fruit, whatever, against each other, and ask you to say who would win in a fight. This or that.

Danez Smith: For today’s This vs. That, who would win in a fight, in this corner we have bros, and in this corner we have… hoes.


Franny Choi: Ooooh.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Hoes are strong. Hoes are strong. First of all, like, do you know how tiring being a ho is?

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Wearing heels, looking cute, like, riding a dick… That’s a lot of work. That’s a strong bitch.

Danez Smith: Yeah.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: You a ho, you got some strong-ass thighs.

Danez Smith: That’s true.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Crush a n*** with your thighs.

Danez Smith: Hmmm, hmmm. You heard it here first, y’all, hoes win by thigh knock-out.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: By thigh knock-out.

Danez Smith: By thigh knock-out.

Daniel Kisslinger: T.K.O.

Danez Smith: T.K.O. says producer Daniel from off mic, what the fuck! (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: Oh my god.

Danez Smith: Alright, Britteney, we’d like to thank you so much for coming on the show, for being so generous with us and our listeners.

Franny Choi: Yes, so generous.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Thank you. I had a lot of fun. You coined the term ho poetics.

Franny Choi: Oh, I also like hoetics.

Britteney Black Rose Kapri: Hoetics, hoetics…

Franny Choi: Ooooh!

Danez Smith: Everybody get your hoetics on.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)


Danez Smith: Yo, that interview really did it for my spirit. Can I just say that?

Franny Choi: It was so great. I was so great to talk to Britteney.

Danez Smith: It was. And she just said so many cool things. One of the cool moments I think I'm gonna hold on for a very long time, was the way she talked about her tattoos.

Franny Choi: Right.

Danez Smith: You know. That was a really powerful moment of, like, talking about ownership and identity, not, like, I got this cool ink, bro. Franny, what’s your next tattoo?

Franny Choi: Well, there’s a few on my mind, but I think the one that I really wanna get next is… it’s based on something that the poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil said at Kundiman…

Danez Smith: Bitch, we are kindred… OK, keep going.

Franny Choi: Wait, what!?

Danez Smith: Go, keep going.

Franny Choi: You were thinking about getting an Aimee tattoo? Oh, girl! (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: It just got a little too… OK, OK. (WHISPERING) Keep it together, Frances.

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: Alright. But I think the next tattoo I’m gonna get is something based off of something that she said during the Kundiman retreat, which is a retreat for Asian-American writers. She just said, “and I want you, while you’re writing this, to just allow yourself to soften.” And I was just, like, totally wrecked by that directive. Because even though I consider myself, like, quite a vulnerable bitch…

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: Like, I wasn't allowing myself to soften, like, in my writing. And in a space like that where vulnerability was so central and so important and okay. I asked my younger sibling, Brigid, to write out the words “soften” in a few different ways and I would like to get it tattooed on my body in their handwriting.

Danez Smith: Word.

Franny Choi: A reminder to myself to be soft.

Danez Smith: Amen.

Franny Choi: What about you, what’s your next tattoo?

Danez Smith: OK, this is how I know that we are fucking sisters, bitch....

Franny Choi: (GASPING) Girl…

Danez Smith: ...cause my next tattoo is also from Aimee Nezhukumatathil….(LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: Noooo! How is that possible!?

Danez Smith: Because we’re the same bitch. Ummm, so she has this chapbook with Ross Gay, which I really really love, and there is this line in there that is “I would drink the red and blue stars if I thought my thin throat / could handle it.” And she's referencing two different flowers there, so I want to get the two flowers on my neck. But, like, with, like, you know, like, starlight sort of, like, radiating around them, like.

Franny Choi: God!!!

Danez Smith: So yes, I told myself I can't get a neck tattoo until I win, like, something that will, like, make me impossible to fire one day.

Franny Choi: Completely un-fuck-with-able.

Danez Smith: Yes. So as soon as I get, like, an un-fuck-with-able thing, then I'm gonna run and get this Aimee Nezhukumatathil tattoo.

Franny Choi: Wow. I'm still so blown away by the cosmic intersection of our tattoo aspirations.

Danez Smith: Girl, you are the Korean me, I am the black you. Let’s just…

Franny Choi: It’s true.

Danez Smith: Race was never real, we’re the same bitch.

Franny Choi: Sometimes I forget which race each of us is.

Danez Smith: Yo. (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING) Well… that’s a lie, I had to say it for effect.

Danez Smith: Yeah, girl, we not white, we see race. (LAUGHING)

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: So anyways, let’s do some thank yous and get on out of here. Franny, who you gotta thank this week.

Franny Choi: On that note, I would like to thank black Asian friendships everywhere.

Danez Smith: Hey! Yeah!

Franny Choi: You know, Aimee and Ross. You and me.

Danez Smith: Yeah. Yeah!

Franny Choi: Yeah! What about you?

Danez Smith: (LAUGHING) Um. I would like to thank… Asian and black friendships everywhere.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING)

Danez Smith: Let’s just go ahead, switch it on.

Franny Choi: We’re the same, we’re the same, we’re the same.

Danez Smith: We also would like to thank the Poetry Foundation, especially our partner in crime, Ydalmi Noriega. We’d like to thank Postloudness, all the folks there, and we’d like to thank especially our producer, Daniel Kisslinger!

Franny Choi: Hey, keep up with all the things that VS is doing @VSThePodcast on all social media. You can find all of the episodes from this season and from Season 1 on Soundcloud, iTunes, the Poetry Foundation website at or wherever else you get the things that you like to have in your ears.

Danez Smith: Yeah! And until then, hopefully, you know, we'll be back in your ears again soon, y’all.

Franny Choi: Yeah.

Danez Smith: Have a good one, be safe, don't do nothing stupid and don't … yeah, just don’t. And do.

Franny Choi: Yeah.

Danez Smith: Take those directives however you feel.

Franny Choi: (LAUGHING) Don’t and do.

Danez Smith: And bye. Bye! (LAUGHING)






Britteney Black Rose Kapri joins Danez and Franny for a hoot of a podcast, in which the squad breaks down Hoe Poetics, the joys and challenges of mentorship, and much, much more. Britteney’s upcoming book Black Queer Hoe, featuring a foreword by Danez, is dropping September 4th, and is available for preorder now.

More Episodes from VS
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  9. Tuesday, February 20, 2018

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