We had the good fortune of connecting with Bridgette Bianca and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Bridgette, what inspires you?
As a poet and professor, I am inspired by the persistence of the people around me. I am inspired by my grandmother, a black single mother who raised her two children in South Central Los Angeles, miles away from her home after the Second Great Migration. I am inspired by my community college students, who tell me, “Miss, I’m not good at English” but sometimes ride buses for hours to get to my class (now, of course, they prop their cell phones up to Zoom while delivering food or working in a warehouse). I am inspired by my community as it fights to hold on to the little cultural capital we have while juggling low wages, high rent, and impending gentrification. I am inspired by my people, who have taken to the streets every night for the past couple of months to demand justice for our fallen. They all inform what I write and what I teach. I do this for them.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
To be honest, I had no intention of pursuing poetry professionally because I didn’t know I could. That is to say, I didn’t realize that I was allowed to pick something that seemed so risky and undetermined. That has always been my greatest challenge – choosing art. Folks don’t often tell kids where I’m from to pursue art-making as a career. We are encouraged to pick something solid, like teaching, which I chose (and love). During my senior year at Howard University, while filling out English Ph.D. applications, I stumbled upon acclaimed writer, E. Ethelbert Miller. Or rather, he stumbled over me as I was sitting on the floor, legs and books probably sprawled everywhere, outside of his office and the African American Resource Center on Howard’s campus. He invited me to sit in the Center, and we quickly struck up a conversation. Of course, this eventually led to poetry, and with just three letters, he changed my life’s path – M.F.A. I didn’t even know such a degree existed for Creative Writing. I went home, shoved those doctoral apps into a drawer, and set my sights on the M.F.A. And from there, the rest is history.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
As an introvert, everyone knows I am the best trip planner! Well, maybe not, but I will always find the food, books, conversation, and lots of sun! I would take them to Sunday brunch at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles (on Pico or Manchester) or pick-up Peach Cobbler French Toast from The Flavor Table on Florence Avenue. Once we were full enough to pop, we’d shop a bit at the Crenshaw-Baldwin Hills Mall or the Fox Hills Mall (now Westfield Culver City, but nobody calls it that!). We’d cut over to Public School 310 or Kay’n’Daves in Culver City for lunch, then cruise down Crenshaw and check out Eso Won Books or Art + Practice in Leimert Park to end the day with a little culture. If it’s a Sunday, they’ll get a chance to experience the drum circle and the vendors at the Park, and if it’s a Wednesday evening, I’ll drag them with me to The World Stage for the Anansi Writers Workshop. We’d do the beach, of course, Venice for the people watching, and Santa Monica for the Pier and the Promenade. Before they left, we would have to hit Fairfax at least twice – once for the Ethiopian food and a second time for Sweet Chick. We’d talk for hours at Hilltop Café until our coffee or tea got cold, then we’d wander Inglewood for a while, checking out the new bookstore, The Salt Eaters, and maybe stay for a little old school music at The Savoy. Afterward, of course, we’d need to stop at a Taco truck on Western or Manchester, maybe even head out to Avenue 50 Studio to view the galleries and grab fresh churros in front of the market. On the way back to LAX, we’d stop at Randy’s Donuts for a sweet treat on the way out and then In & Out Burger, if they’ve heard too much about animal style fries and can’t resist.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I must shoutout Chiwan Choi and my Writ Large Press/The Accomplices family for being pillars in the LA Lit community and publishing my debut collection, be/trouble, this year. Natashia Deon for her mentorship and incredible work, including her novel, Grace, and the Dirty Laundry Lit Reading Series. Jessica “Yellawoman” Gallion, (Can’t No Woman, Woman Like Me), Camari Carter-Hawkins (Write Back to You), Natalie J. Graham (Begin with a Failed Body), and Rocio Carlos (the other house) for their incredible literary citizenship and sisterhood. And last but not least, The Anansi Writers Workshop at The World Stage, led by the legendary V. Kali, for creating a space for Black writers to commune and create.