Words by Diego Medina • Photography by Anissa Amalia
Mike Davis has a voice that resonates through space just a little differently. Mike speaks with a timbre that is both gentle and empowered. There is a cadence and melody to everything they say and the intention and emotion behind each word is always apparent. Their voice challenges the contrast between what it means to be soft and what it means to be hard and proves that when both coexist any words can be poetry. Also known as Hood Profet, Mike is a 22 year old queer afro-indigenous poet, activist, and organizer. Although Mike shows up in spaces as a poet, everything they do is an extension of their deep-rooted passion for community healing. “Everything that I do is an expression of what I am feeling or doing for fighting for,” says Mike as they explain how there is no separation between physical body, poetry, and spirit for them. Mike lives as poetry and lives for healing, with no boundaries in how they express themselves authentically in their art, fashion, or activism.
Known for poems that hold nothing back emotionally and spoken word pieces that aren’t afraid to be vulnerably political, Mike says that poetry was very intentionally and strategically placed in their life as a way of coping, navigating, and interpreting life events. It was Mike’s mother that first introduced them to poetry. “My mom said ‘here’s a notebook!’ and I would write down all my thoughts. I remember coming home and my mom gave me a tape recorder to tell my stories. My mom was the first person that gave me poetry. I didn’t find poetry it was very much given to me. Something I grew up with.” For mike, poetry began as something intrapersonal. A way to unpack feelings and explore emotions.
When Mike was 13, their father passed away in an incident involving the police and Mike began connecting with organizations and becoming politically educated in order to be an activist and a voice for their community. At this point poetry and art moved through Mike differently, it was no longer just for themselves, it became a tool for resistance: to unify and organize and educate and reach people in a way they couldn’t reach people before. But Mike soon realize that this shift to making art for others, trying to find what line people would snap too, it got to a point where Mike was no longer making work for themselves and for healing themselves. “I had to get back into a space of writing for myself unapologetically. Creating with no intention of sharing.” So Mike worked towards drawing back into themselves, in further exploring themselves to find their most authentic expression, and working for themselves so they can better serve their community as a living example of what it means to be an authentic voice.
All of Mike’s creating is done so in isolation. “I can’t write if there’s other people in the room. I think poetry is when you’re like crying in your room in the dark. Those real moments are where the best poetry comes from. I find the most inspiration in solitude” Mike says. It is in this raw solitude that Mike is able to cultivate the power to be the best community educator and healer they can be. “My poetry is something that I have to process alone. I tap into something that allows me to release this or that, to release emotions from deep inside, that allows me to process and keep up. I tap into something other than myself but a piece of it is always me talking to myself, whether I’m always cognizant of it or not.” Mike’s poetry channels an inner voice that as much for themselves as it is for others.
When it comes to fashion Mike treats it the same way they treat poetry: as a way to heal. “I remember being really young and I had a coloring book and it revolved around two characters and one was boy and one was a girl and I remember only coloring the little girl and she had this triangle dress and bob and I remember that this was what I wanted to wear and be and I remember not having the dialogue to tell my parents that I was as a queer person. Queerness always threaded through my life. I have always been interested in how to exist authentically without giving myself boundaries. And at the same time trying to find ways to mask myself and that is always a complicated thing to navigate... When my dad passed away I spiraled and started dressing like him as a means to preserve him and paying homage to my father and the community I was raised in. And then through that grieving process coming back into my queerness and being able to represent that in my fashion. I can radically walk into a space and not be bound by any means. Fashion is a way to heal ourselves.
We forget the relation of how we clothe ourselves to spirit and to emotion.” Mike speaks of fashion very much like it is a relationship that takes effort and balance, and most importantly commitment. “I hope my fashion continues to evolve with me. I’ve gone through a lot of phases and am not been afraid to continue to go through them and to explore. Sometimes I’m masc sometimes I’m femme, sometimes I’m living my young punk emo life when I couldn’t.” And as a queer afro-indigenous person fashion can sometimes be lonely and isolating, especially when visibility becomes something that causes fear.
But when it comes to the relationship between fashion and loneliness, Mike says that loneliness gives them the space to examine themselves enough to know how they want to show up. Authenticity requires that fear of showing up queer to know that you need to face it and it requires loneliness to know that you always have yourself and there’s no need to waste that by not being authentic. “Authenticity requires not being afraid to challenge yourself, society, family, or whatever boxes or boundaries are placed on you. So that you can authentically exist and express yourself. And it’s important to find spaces that will hold you. When existing or trying to love yourself its really hard to do if you don’t have a community. Loving yourself in solitude is sometimes really scary. But it’s important.
Having a supportive community gets you ready to go back into the world.” These words that Mike speaks remind us all to treat loneliness as a friend you bring with you into your community, a friend you aren’t ashamed to embrace and introduce to those that will hold you and support you and keep you afloat. And as Mike moves forward as themselves, as a poet, activist, community organizer and healer and educator and afro-indigenous queer person they will continue to live in authenticity and poetry with whatever they do, and be sure to bring their community along with them through their journey. Mike knows that poetry is how they resist, and they know that their poetry will always be with them even when they aren’t writing. Mike knows their role in the movement: to be unbound. Thank you Hood Profet.