Photo credited to Michael Everett Crawford

Photo credited to Michael Everett Crawford


What is the best advice your mother ever gave you?

No one will ever remember how clean I kept my toilets; use your time for something else.


What is the best advice your father ever gave you?

Act like a man, just not a white man.

Later I would ask him, “What did you mean by that?” He will tell me,

I don’t know.


What is the best advice your brother ever gave you?

Men don’t like you ‘cause you’re always calling them out on their shit; this is why I love you.


What is the best advice your son ever gave you?

I know you love me more than poetry, but sometimes it feels like you love poetry more than me. Be with me more than poetry.


What is the best advice your aunt ever gave you?

At the end of your life it will be the ‘who’ not the ‘what’ that matters to you.


What is the best advice a male author ever gave you?

If you want to make it as a women writer you have to sleep with a lot of old men, or just don’t give a fuck.

A fuck about what, I asked him.

A fuck about anything.


What is the best advice a female author ever gave you?

Why care about what other people think of you; no one is thinking about you. You’re invisible; invisibility can be a super power.


What is the best advice a teacher ever gave you?

Sometimes life is bigger than poetry; I hope this for you.


What is the closest you’ve ever come to having a University job?

She tells me, “Maybe we could use something a little dirty, a little gritty, on campus. I’ll have to think about that.”


What is the best advice a dead poet ever gave you?

That if Poetry comes not as naturally as the Leaves to a tree it had better not come at all.


What is the best advice a living poet ever gave you?

Don’t be fooled. Poetry is difficult. This shit takes a chunk out of your soul. Every time. A big bloody mouthful.


How does all this advice make you feel?

Loved and broken. Broken and loved. Broken love. Love broken. Broken. Loved. Loved into broken. Broken into love. Opened.



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NICELLE DAVIS is a California poet, collaborator, and performance artist who walks the desert with her son J.J. in search of owl pellets and rattlesnake skins. Her most recent collection, The Walled Wife, is available from Red Hen Press. In the Circus of You is available from Rose Metal Press. The author of two other books of poetry, Becoming Judas is available from Red Hen Press and her first book, Circe, is available from Lowbrow Press. Her poetry film collaborations with Cheryl Gross have been shown across the world. She currently teaches at Paraclete High School.

2 responses to “Nicelle Davis: The TNB Self-Interview”

  1. Great interview with/by the always-fabulous Nicelle Davis. Brava!

  2. Dear Alexis,

    Thank you. You give so much to the arts; you turn art into community. You make our community art.

    Best to you always.

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