An interview with Shawnon Corprew, author of Where the Color Purple Grows: The Intersection of Loving and Fearing Black (Queer) Bodies, a book of poetry and prose.
1. Tell me a little more about your writing experience and background.
I am 30 years old and I reside in Virginia Beach. I have a BA in English Arts from Hampton University. I am also a part of the Hampton U student collective, The Left Side Poets Present: Strange Fruit, which was released in 2011. I released my solo project, Where the Color Purple Grows Collection I, in June of this year. I've been writing poetry since I was 12 years old.
2. What inspired you to write this book?
I've always wanted to write a book, but I didn't have the confidence until last year. My colleague and friend, Patton, who also was in the Strange Fruit collection, wanted me to do a project with him. We both share the identities of black and queer, but we both have our own stories painted by our unique life experiences. We decided to start the Where the Color Purple Grows series (he released Collection II in June).
3. How do the different intersections of your identity influence your writing?
Identity is everything. It can be hard being queer in pretty much any background, but the identity seems more frowned upon in communities of color. I came from a religious background, where I wasn't given positive affirmations of queerness. I was only told of what the church believed was wrong. When I started coming into my identity, I didn't think anything was wrong with me. However, I decided to hide it from my parents. I came out to them last year, and some of the feelings that stemmed from it went into this book. Writing is my way of speaking and affirming my identity as a black and queer woman.
4. Do you have plans for future books?
I will definitely be writing more books in the future. I'm excited to see the Where the Color Purple Grows series take on a new life over the years. I am always writing, and looking forward to sharing more of myself with the world.
5. If someone wants to purchase your book, where can they do so?
The book can be purchased from Amazon here.
I also share my work at various open mics and events, and you can follow me on Instagram by searching the username @lovescrescendo.
6. Do you have anything else you'd like to say about the book or your writing?
This book has taught me about the importance of visibility. I've realized that I have a story to tell and that my experiences are valid. This isn't just a book about being black and queer. It is about the human experience. We all go through adversity, and we all know the importance of having healthy love in our lives. I speak to anyone who's been afraid. Anyone who's ever been in love. Anyone who defends their heart. I am very appreciative of this journey and I am looking forward to what happens next!