Detroit-based poet jessica Care moore [who spells her name with only one capital letter] first gained national attention for her poetry performances when she won five weeks in a row on “Showtime at the Apollo.” Today she wears many hats.
She publishes poetry with Moore Black Press. She’s responsible for the Black Women Rock events that showcase brown female musicians and poets. She’s released an album featuring poetry and music on Talib Kweli’s label. And she even has a quote on the QLine: “Detroit is the starting line of the world’s imagination.” And… she’s a mother.
Her 10-year-old son, King Thomas Moore, is a poet in his own right. He’s opened up for Dave Chappelle and performed in Shanghai. He’s also received a Knight Art Challenge award to host a series of Super Cool Poetry open mic events for kids 12 and under.
This excerpt from their interview is an intimate look at their relationship. They discuss hardship, love, growing up, and they also talk a little bit about poetry.
Click on the player at the top of this page to hear the interview. You can hear a longer version by downloading the second episode of the StoryCorps Detroit podcast here or wherever you listen. You can also explore more StoryCorps Detroit stories online here.
Scroll down to read a poem called “I’m what’s next” written by King as well as “The 1979 Bat mobile” written by his mother. A clip of moore explaining the story behind her poem is included at the bottom of this post.
I’m what’s next
By King Thomas Moore
I’m made of cotton
I’m made of freedom
I’m made of Mlk and his dream of peace
I’m made of Malcolm and his fiery heart
I’m made of Harriet and her railroad from pain to freedom
I’m made of the UAW and workers rights
I’m made of sunlight
I’m made of stained glass
I’m made of glory
I’m made of resistance
And that feeling that made Rosa Parks
Sit in the front of the bus
walk in the footsteps of Joann Watson and the resilient
Words of Reverend Anthony
I’m made of the blues and rock and roll
I’m young gifted and black like Aretha Franklin
I’m a King, birthed from the Queen of Poems
I’m a child from Detroit
And I’m what’s next!
The 1979 Bat mobile
By jessica Care moore
I was too busy worshipping my daddy
To take in every tear you swallowed.
I didn’t fully process your long wait
At the bus stop in front of Michigan Bell Phone Company.
You, armed with your 13th grade Canadian Diploma
and four children to consider.
You weren’t English or Canadian
You were a Detroiter.
A British born woman who could cook
my dear hunting daddy’s deer and
A pot of collard greens like a southern
raised black woman.
It’s 11:05 and we are up late in the middle
Of summer negotiating who will sit in
the front seat of the Cadillac.
I usually win. My little/taller sister would
kick the back of the passenger seat and
complain for the first few minutes of
We were late this night. We usually came early.
Sat at The Tigers Restaurant
downtown across from your job.
The house phone rang hard on 8059 Ward. Your
voice steady. A calm that made my daddy nervous.
That feminine silence that brews afternoon tea and cooks
Slow and purposeful meals.
Pressure cooker silence.
Your patient purse snatched off your arm.
Your stockings torn.
Knees scratched and cut from being pulled down. .
My daddy said calmly as we flew up Michigan
Avenue. Past my future house
across from the old Tigers Stadium
This purse snatching became my mother’s liberation
I don’t think I noticed much about my mother
while my daddy was alive. At 10, I didn’t know that it was strange that she didn’t drive.
When my daddy’s convertibles came in colors.
A week later the shiny bat mobile quietly and courageously
Rolled into our driveway my daddy laid with his own cement trucks.
We, my brothers, and my younger sister who to this day
doesn’t remember any of this…
Because some memories stay missing when you lose them
& sometimes they come back when you don’t want them in anymore.
We were afraid.
Filled up with excitement
She was planning it in secret
Applying for the drivers license
Talking to my lanky yellow brothers finally
Standing up to our disciplinarian daddy
Who they loved and feared.
The black Oldsmobile we called The Batmobile
Was a future get-a-way car
Allowing my mother to simply drive
Herself home from work
And one day
far, far away
from my daddy.
During their StoryCorps interview King asked his mother what the above poem is about. Click here to listen to her response.
The StoryCorps Detroit music is by Sam Beaubien.