"I see my students when they’re hurting, I see my students when they’re joyful, so I have to be there with them, be present with them... I can’t try to pretend that what’s happening in the world isn’t happening. I can’t try to remove myself, or pretend that I exist in a vacuum. I have to really consider my work as a person and then how my work as a poet lives in community with all these people that I really care about."
"So I guess my answer is: I don’t change how the fuck I talk in poems. That’s just how I talk. Like, verbatim; it’s the same lexicon I use, the same rhythm a lot of the time, and the content remains the same. And I think that allows a presence, and a tenderness in my poems. My friends, my dad, my landlord—whoever the fuck—belong in my poems because they know me, and if you know me, you know my poems."
World Before Page: A Conversation With National Book Award Finalist Jamel Brinkley, The Adroit Journal
"And even if my work doesn’t shy away from sadness, tragedy, and flawed humanity, ultimately I write out of love for my community. That’s why it’s equally important for me to try to get pleasure, humor, joy, strength, and striving onto the page. Telling the entirety of the story, out of love and a desire to tell the truth, is sustaining for me."
"My motivation was to really bring to the screen the kinds of black women I had known my whole life."