Spotlight: Deavihan Scott

Conversation with Deavihan Scott

Q: What does your creative process look like when approaching a piece? What part of the process comes first?

A: When approaching a piece, I find that I don’t have a particular path that I take in my writing. While it should be cathartic, I’ve come to realize that when I tried to put myself in a certain mood or create a particular routine to approach my work, it felt a bit too stifling which made the piece feel awkward. Thus, my creative process usually shifts depending on the time, season, or current mood at hand. Many of my pieces have come to life because I find myself stuck on a single phrase or word as well. An idea for a piece of poetry was at once first tangentially birthed because I was reminiscing on warm days basking in the sun eating seafood. Stuck on that one phrase and feeling, when I felt the urge to create my mind wandered to that moment which then developed into a more expansive piece. More often than not, when I first feel the spark of inspiration to write is when I find myself in a place alone. It’s in moments where I’m sitting with myself and my thoughts where I often begin the process. In these first, unfiltered moments I’m latching onto words that have clung to me for some reason and then have the joy of seeing where they lead me.

Q: Is there a place—whether physical, cultural or otherwise—where you think of your writing/art as coming from?

I draw a lot of inspiration for my writing from my environment in many forms. Much of my writing comes from experiences in my life in the places I’ve lived, people I’ve been surrounded by, and love and pain that I’ve encountered. I like to draw from my environment because it’s ever changing – New Jersey to Jamaica to Spain to Massachusetts – and I think it helps my work develop as well. It’s so interesting to go back to my work and from the subject matter, phrasing, and tone, be able to get a sense of where I was at that moment in my life. And because a large part of my poetry is about my life, I think a lot of my writing has largely been shaped by my family and our Jamaican heritage. From eating cornmeal porridge in my grandmother’s Brooklyn apartment to singing along to reggae songs Sunday mornings with my mom, a lot of the visceral and sensory images in my work come from the vibrancy that I’ve always associated with my culture.

Q: What community has been nourishing your growth and your work? In what ways?

My family, friends, and mentors have been nourishing my growth, for which I am always thankful. Sometimes my creativity can feel like an overflowing well, but at other times it can often feel like it’s run dry. It’s in these moments when I’m feeling discouraged in my work and myself that I’m reminded of the support of my community. I feel like my community supports me in many ways: lending an ear when I want to read work aloud to hear it’s flow to sending me a picture of my work with confetti emojis when published in a literary magazine. They always remind me in little ways that I have people in my corner, and it pushes me to look not only towards ways I can grow as a writer but be proud of my achievements thus far. A community that also nourishes my growth is the Black women and non-binary writers who have both come before and are writing now. It’s a special thing to be able to look to amazing writers who look like you and see the remarkable impact their work has had not just on me but many others. I still remember reading Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison my sophomore year of high school and being struck once again by the power words have to evoke strong feelings and bring communities together. Looking at their work inspires me to look at my work and find spaces where I can grow further.

Artist’s work

The Meteor
By Deavihan Scott

You say
a meteor crashed a long time ago
in the space
between your teeth
and left a crater
which explains
so much and so little
about why there’s stardust
in between your gums
and flecks of rock
behind your molars
Created a pit in the gap
where we spew spit
like geysers
to get a laugh
out of one another
that settles
like ash and falls flat
in the silence
But it didn’t just hit you
No
It took the dinosaurs
and the cavemen
and the little seeds of grass
that you were planting
to grow
for me
for me
That’s why you couldn’t give them
to me
You were too
burned up
because you were there
at the dawn
of time

(You don’t believe me?)
(I want to believe you.)

Oh, but it has been so long since
I stared up
and longed to see
a streak burning through the sky
to crash and shatter
in your smile

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