19 Y/O Poet Interview with Xavier Yeldell!
This is Xavier Yeldell. He’s a 19-year-old college freshman from South Florida. He’s been writing poetry and other works of literature since he was 17, and aspires to share his story with others. His passions include writing, reading, music, dancing, and gaming. He always encourages others to create, to use the world around them as their own canvas.
Interview by Aleena Kumandan
Sure thing. My name is Xavier Yeldell, I’m 19 years old from South Florida. I’ve been writing poetry since 2017, but have recently been getting serious with it for the past year.
I’m a resident writer/creator for two independent media outlets here on Instagram as well.
How did you get into writing poetry?
In the beginning of my junior year of high school, I had a falling out with a girl I was involved with. Being overwhelmed with emotion I tried searching for a medium to transfer those emotions to. One day, while resting by a tree on a beautiful day, I opened up my notepad and began to write down what I felt. From there, my writing continued to grow.
Another inspiration came from the thought of wanting to share my life story with others. I was feeling very nostalgic about my childhood during that time, so constantly thinking and analyzing my memories also drove me to write them down.
Your most recent work entitled "AmeriKKKa" seems to be a major departure from the works you're describing. Could you elaborate on your creative process when you were writing it?
Absolutely. So “AmeriKKKa” is essentially a piece in relation to the current unrest and the BLM movement. My process for writing it was about my frustration and anger towards the United States. Witnessing the reality of the situation (clips of protests + police brutality) motivated me to write about the situation from my eyes, from my perspective.
“AmeriKKKa” is an entry that’s also included in a book I’m in the process of developing.
As a person of color, I felt it was necessary to release the piece for others to read and learn about.
Have you been actively involved in the protesting at all?
Unfortunately no. I’ve only been able to share information, send letters to my representatives, and sign/donate to petitions. Though I’d love to participate, and I’m hoping too soon, I’m in a situation where I have to look after my family because of COVID-19.
I live with an older relative.
You mentioned that you are involved as a writer for two other zines. How do you feel about the role of smaller media outlets such as zines during these times?
I’m in full support of their actions and determinations. They’re able to highlight even smaller writers and creators who work hard on their projects, as well as expressing support for the marginalized communities that engage in the creative fields. Overall it’s an immense pleasure to work with zines, especially when also considering how most of the teams behind them are my peers, or are part of generation Z.
What inspires you to keep on writing and learning about these tough topics?
My inspiration remains the same: sharing my life story, but also expanding upon my experiences to embellish further in storytelling. Educating myself and others about these topics is just something that needs to be done. If not, we might as well live in ignorance and pretend none it affects us, when in reality it does. I myself especially need to understand how deep-rooted systematic racism goes to, and find applicable solutions to reform it.
When did it first really hit you that there is something very wrong with the world around us and the way people of color are treated by society?
It would say since I’ve been exposed to clips of police brutality back in 2015. However, even when I was aware of the problem, I did little to contribute to change. In a way, I felt numb to all of the rampant unfairness to people of color because of how much I was exposed to. I felt as if those actions were expected. It took me until this year to truly understand and comprehend the injustice that spreads across the world against people of color, and how our system was intentionally created to oppress minorities. As we speak I’m still learning and processing new information about the issues.
The events that ensued this year have been a wake up call for many. What are effective ways for people to be involved in trying to create change without breaking quarantine?
Educating themselves about the issues involved with systemic racism and how to educate others about it is a very good step. Also sharing said information, signing and donating to petitions, contacting their representatives, and keeping up the momentum online are good steps to take when in a circumstantial situation like quarantining.
What makes someone an activist?
Someone who is passionate about demonstrating their feelings on specific issues in the world. They actively participate in motivating an audience that change needs to happen, and their determination never ceases, even if it means that everyone else has either moved on or have chosen to ignore it.
Do you have any advice for teens looking to start writing poetry or working with zines?
Keep writing. To become a better writer, it takes practice. Reading and learning new phrases, words, sentence structures, and figurative language strategies help with perfecting your writing. For working with zines, it’s important to be involved in them: learn who your team is, build mutual relationships and friendships that can help build your confidence in writing, and gain inspiration from the world around you. Endless inspiration equals endless stories.
Any advice for teenagers in general?
Adolescence is a frustrating and challenging process. But for those who are just beginning to find their identity or passion, go forth with it. In high school, the system of popularity is delusional. When you focus on something, nothing can stop you. Keep learning, keep creating.
That's amazing and incredibly relevant advice. Any final thoughts?
Only that I’m going to continue to inspire others to create. Art is a fantastic outlet for us all to express ourselves, and the more we create, the more we show the world what we make of it in our image.
Thank you for a wonderful and insightful interview! Good luck with your self published poetry book.
Thank you for the opportunity! I appreciate you taking the time to interview me, and thank you!