Annik Adey-Babinski, snowbird laureate
Annik Adey-Babinski contributed her poem, “On MC Hammer’s Birthday” to The Puritan Issue 28. The Town Crier asked Adey-Babinski several questions about her poem, and she answers them here.
Town Crier: Does your poem or story have an interesting origin story/compositional history you’d like to share?
Annik Adey-Babinski: At the time I wrote the poem, I was living in Miami Beach and having a very wild time being single with my friend, Kelsie. We would spend our weekends romping around the beach and sharing stories of near-loves as we recovered on the beach the next day. Miami Beach is a transient place, so it can be difficult to meet people who are there to stay. Our greatest romance that summer was with each other. Soon after that summer she moved to Hawaii, and Miami hasn’t been the same since she left.
Town Crier: What was it influenced by? (i.e., were you listening to/watching something when you began to write? Were you in a meeting or class at the time? Was it after a film, art show, concert?)
Annik Adey-Babinski: My poem started as an exercise for class. I had to write a Frank O’Hara imitation poem and I really liked his “On Rachmaninoff’s Birthday.” I was driving to buy a wedding present for my friend at the Harley Store in North Miami and MC Hammer came on. I thought that “Can’t Touch This” is probably as much of a classic to us today as Rachmaninoff might have been to O’Hara in the late ’50s, maybe even more of a classic.
Town Crier: Because we are running various blog posts on music, we have a question on song lyrics. Did music lyrics have anything to do with the piece we’re publishing? Were any particular lyrics important to you in your development as a writer? Is there any recent lyricist you’ve been digging, and why? Is there any piece of writing, by you or someone else, that you would like see turned into a song? Why?
Annik Adey-Babinski: Music lyrics don’t have anything to do with this poem, but the title uses a musician’s name. I do pay attention to the lyrics in songs, and when they are handled well, I find them motivating—especially in pop and hip hop. Taylor Swift has some great slant rhymes in “Blank Space”—she rhymes “torture” and “warn ya,” but Li’l Wayne’s verse on “Truffle Butter” is my favorite thing right now—“LOL to the bank.” I drive a lot and haven’t set up any kind of aux system, I just channel surf the entire commute and listen to top-40s. I wonder what it’s doing to my poems.
Town Crier: What is happening in Miami with Poetry?
Annik Adey-Babinski: Right now, Miami is a really exciting place to be as a poet. The O, Miami Poetry Festival happens every April, and I’ve been able to participate for the last three years as a volunteer and project manager. The festival aims to have every resident of Miami-Dade County encounter a poem in the month of April, National Poetry Month. I have been able to bring typewriters to sports games and museums and offer people a chance to write their own poem about the game, or about the exhibition. Last year I made karaoke videos with poetry, and we had a Poetry Karaoke party. It was a sweaty, messy blast! There is an example of what we played with on YouTube. P. Scott Cunningham and Melody Santiago-Cummings do a fantastic job with the festival and this kind of grassroots programming makes poetry relevant for people who might not think to pick up a book of poems. If you have a chance, come down to Miami in April and take in a few of O, Miami’s events. There is something going on every day in April.
Annik Adey-Babinski is a Canadian studying for her MFA in poetry at Florida International University. Her poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2014, Jai Alai Magazine, Sink Review, Hobart, and elsewhere. Find her online at her blog.