Kara Jackson: National Youth Poet Laureate

Kara Jackson was recently named the Youth Poet Laureate of The United States. Outside of her new position, Kara Jackson is a poet, musician, songwriter, singer, and all-around performing artist. A graduate of Oak Park River Forest High School, Kara Jackson has performed frequently alongside OPRF's Spoken Word Club, as well as performing at Louder Than A Bomb as part of the spoken word group Bomb Squad. Kara also works closely with programming and facilitation efforts with Young Chicago Authors. Prior to her being named the National Youth Poet Laureate, Kara Jackson was named Youth Poet Laureate of Chicago.

Just as often as Kara focuses on the particular items and nameable moments of our day-to-day lives, the forces of white supremacy, of misogyny and white male exceptionalism are found in the cross-hairs of Kara Jackson's poetry.

Kara's work is concerned with a violent world that refuses to restore justice to the people it has hurt, and to that end, she delivers accountability where it is often stripped. Her poems are powerful in their address and impact. As we read through the poems, we learn how Kara is able to isolate an image, a beer can, a wet lip, a dance move, a tampon, and personify it, flesh it out fully, give the image so much of a body that it stands up as human, full of complications and strength. 

While handling the image, Kara works tirelessly to maintain focus on issues of privilege, racism, colorism, misogyny, and misogynoir, while outside the poem someone says loudly "All Lives Matter," another grand jury releases a police officer from accountability, a new rap song becomes co-opted, and cycle of racial and gendered violence goes unstopped. Maybe this is why her punctuation only breaks, but rarely ends, a sentence

We learn how to make sense of the world and how to heal in our own way. For Kara, maybe the poem hurts as much as it heals. By delineating the space between poem and life, Kara also marks the fact that the world isn't getting better fast. So, at times, the poem invents its own future: one where we can be safe and acknowledge our survival. 

Presented here are some selections of Kara Jackson’s poetry, shared with Callosum Magazine in 2017. Kara has a chapbook due to release from Haymarket Books the summer of 2019.