When you deal with a person who's experiencing dementia, you can see where they're struggling with knowledge. You can see what they forget completely, what they forget but they know what they once knew. You can tell how they're trying to remember.
We live in capitalism, and capitalism is defined by the production line, and the production line is defined by specificity. If you see yourself as an artist, which I do, then you can't be limited by that. You can't let somebody tell you, 'Well, you can only draw this kind of picture or write that kind of book.'
Poetry teaches us music, metaphor, condensation and specificity.
My father always taught by telling stories about his experiences. His lessons were about morality and art and what insects and birds and human beings had in common. He told me what it meant to be a man and to be a Black man. He taught me about love and responsibility, about beauty, and how to make gumbo.
I would have been completely brainwashed by this lopsided and racist view of the world if it weren't for my father. He was a deep thinker and an irrepressible problem solver. He was a Black Socrates, asking why and then spoiling ready-made replies.