DeWitt Brinson: Do you believe you can change or are you only able to redefine yourself and why?

Jennifer Tamayo: I went digging through my inbox for this question & I found nothing.

DB: What is a song's relation to the person hearing it?

JT: the tongue comes out of genitals to lick. Or not lick.

DB: Do you ever feel lesser because of something you wrote?

JT: I feel less and less every time I write, like my body is getting thinned out. And the words, like a superfluous force, hollow. 

DB: Who are you when you've been alone for too long? Is that someone you ever need to be?

JT: Being alone is difficult these days. There is certainly distance between things but I don’t think I’m ever far enough away to feel thoroughly alone. I used to think of that as a problem. Like, do I have too many boyfriends? Is that a problem? Even if I was sitting here writing this alone, there would still be the person on the street outside my window. & my two dogs. & the sounds from my upstairs neighbors. & there’d be you. & these questions. So, yes, it’s hard for me to think of alone.

I want to say being alone is therapeutic but that doesn’t sound like something I actually believe.

DB: Pick an object close to you and give it a proper name.



DB: How has your idea of family changed since the last time you changed your ideas of things?


JT: The series YOU DA ONE is inspired by my father who I’ll meet in July for the first time. Anticipation for this meeting has fueled my work.  What is a daddy? How does one act like the daughter?  What does blood mean? As a social category, I find definitions and implications of what it means to be family challenging and frustrating.  These feelings have hurt a few people. i.e. my family. Currently, I’m working hard to make space in my imagination for the magic of blood lineage. If there’s a connection between me and the moon on nights when it’s full then I can certainly feel the same way about bodies. Though, there’s deep resistance in my heart and I want to interrogate it. 

DB: What is a boy and what is a girl? How does the difference change the impact of what they can say to a reader?

JT: Boyhood and girlhood is in large part about fashioning. It’s about pants and it’s about skirts. It’s also about skorts—one of my favorite articles of clothing.

Yes- body parts change the impact the work has on a reader—especially depending on how those body parts are read, interpreted, written on, and performed. I play my vagina like a horn sectioning! 

To be more didactic, I’ll say that I’ve been interested in violence and sentimentality and power. I am interested in those themes in great part because of my gender and because of my transnational ethnic identity.  I also live in America so I can make those interests overt in my writing often to the point of oversaturation.  Often to the point that the word “exploitation” gushes out of me. As a woman and a brown, I like exploiting/exploding these categories—it’s like our special bonus. I will admit there’s discomfort around this. I think this is so gross, why am I being so gross. And then I remember that I’m making art and I feel a little better.

DB: Are you happy now and if so when is the last time you weren't?

JT: I have a lot of feelings and I like to express all of them—often at the same time. So yes, I’m happy now—especially happy for these thoughtful questions and happy thinking of that time, DeWitt, when we kissed at the bar when I asked if we were “friend-friends” and it was one of the best friendship kisses ever. I am also happy because my lover is out getting me cake. 

I was last unhappy on Thursday April 26 after having said something hurtful to a friend—we were discussing our differing opinions on the role of competition in art-making— my words were shitty.

DB: If you had been born isolated from any society, what parts of you would be the same if any?

JT: The butt parts.

DB: Have you ever pretended to be a boy in public?

JT: Full boy, probably not. Though I am really interested in being a brother. Today I saw two brothers roughhousing at the park, cursing and pushing each other and I thought, wow—that looks so nice. Young boy brothers. 

DB: Have you ever pretended to not be a poet in public?

JT: No way. I like to milk this poet thing constantly. It’s good milk.

DB: What is an immigrant?

JT:    A person who thinks about milk.

A person who has had a narrative stuck to them forever.

A person with future power.




interviewed by the tender, young, virile writer

DeWitt Brinson

Jennifer Tamayo is a writer and artist. Her poems, videos, and criticism have appeared in DIAGRAMAction, Yes!Smoking Glue GunThe Poetry Project NewsletterJacket 2, and Delirious Hem, among others.Her collection of poems and art work, Red Missed Aches Read Missed Aches Red Mistakes Read Mistakes was selected by Cathy Park Hong as the 2010 winner of the Gatewood Prize and published by Switchback books in 2011. JT serves as the Managing Editor at Futurepoem. She lives in Harlem.

I am going to wear this pancho while I answer these questions so as to better reflect the light.