This March, when many college students will be in Florida or Mexico on spring break, Kameisha Hodge ’11 will be hanging out at Borders Bookstore in Washington, D.C. She won’t be browsing the latest best sellers or sipping mocha lattes in the café. Rather, she’ll be signing copies of her first book of poetry, Atlas of Consciousness, a shout-out to the struggles and complexities of urban life and the “predictable” futures of African American youth.
“I wrote this in hopes that young people realize that they have value in a society that tells them otherwise,” she says. “I wrote this especially to voice my opinions in a way that will hopefully spark dialogue, whether people like it or not. Our society’s afraid to speak out against anything. I’m not. I have a lot to say.”
A regular at poetry slams and open mic nights on campus, Hodge is an outspoken supporter of her generation. “I am more than my society tells me I am and so are we,” she writes in her book, which she self published. “We are rebellious youth, but we are not insubordinate or unruly. We are angry, but have reasons in a society that constantly tells us that we’re not worth investments (i.e. a decent educational system, music that uplifts rather than … oppresses, sending people to prison without proper rehabilitation). We think about more than money, sex, and drugs. This is the atlas of our consciousness.”
It seems Hodge has always been a bit precocious. A bio on her web site says she learned to read and write at age 3 and soon began consuming books at a rapid pace. In high school, she graduated at the top of her class and received a scholarship to Lafayette through the Posse Foundation, which identifies, recruits, and nurtures student leaders from high schools to form multicultural teams. These teams, or posses, then attend college together.
But Hodge has never been one to follow the crowd. When she first arrived on campus four years ago, she decided to join the College’s step team. Just one thing — Lafayette didn’t have one. Not to worry. She started her own and the Precision Step Team won the campus-wide ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ competition two years in a row and perhaps more importantly, performed the Haters Step Back Competition, which earned the team an Aaron O. Hoff Award for Program of the Year. The best part, Hodge says, is that it brought together communities that otherwise wouldn’t have merged.
Although dancing is an important form of self-expression for Hodge, her first love is poetry and her prose is as gritty and raw as the D.C. neighborhood where she grew up.
have you ever just laid there and watched the street twinkle?
headlights, streetlights, business signs… these are mine.
they aren’t overbearing like the stars in the sky; when you’re in the countryside, it’s
almost as if they consume you -
grabbing your soul and pulling the oxygen straight from your lungs…
Despite her young age, the accolades are piling up. She published in the Georgetown Journal of Law and Modern Critical Race Perspectives (2009), as well as winning the Poems and Poets of the Year Award (2008).
She spent a summer interning for The-N, one of MTV’s teen-based channels in New York City, where she was one of the live audience members during a taping of TRL and appeared on a pilot episode of the prospective show Dance or Drop. She still can’t believe she was actually paid to watch unreleased films that just hit box offices. Amid all the opportunities at MTV, one thing she didn’t do much of was writing.
The fiery English major has been making up for lost time ever since.