Introducing Author Kesau’c N. Hill
Kesau’c N. Hill is an ex-gang member who, at the age of sixteen, was convicted of murder and sentenced to serve 15-years to Life in the California Department of Corrections. Fighting became a lifestyle that would accompany the gang world deathstyle. However, he would soon be mentored by an English teacher named John Murphy who saw past his tough guy exterior into something explosively creative.
He introduced him to the art of poetry and the power of the spoken word. He’d use that power to his advantage when his life serving Life became too difficult to bear. By defiantly writing poetry all over his prison cell walls “meaning” and “Passion” was discovered, hope and a sound vision was realized. Quite literally, poetry saved his life.
Interview – Book: Serngeti Noise
Creative Talents Unleashed: Hi Kesau’c, thank you for agreeing to this interview.
Kesau’c: It’s an honor
Creative Talents Unleashed: Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Kesau’c: I grew up in the home with three mothers; my mom, my grandmother and my great-grandmother, all in one household. I was the oldest boy so I had to grow up quick. I share this because of the Jewels I have taken from each one of them which becomes evident in the poetry I write. Also evident is what would shape me and it was the gang death style I’d live at night. By the age of 16, I would be convicted of murder and sentenced to serve 15 years to life in the California State Prison and I would not see free Society again until I was 43 years old. As the years would go by filled with harsh lessons each struggle would paint me into the Poet I am today.
Creative Talents Unleashed: So when did you fall in love with poetry or writing in general, when did you decide this life was for you? Tell us a bit about that discovery process.
Kesau’c: Though I was tried as an adult, due to my age, I was to be housed in the California Youth Authority until the age of 25. These were impressionable years for me the “gang deathstyle” is what identified me, so I wanted to be the best gang member that I could be.
So Troublesome was I as a youth that no teacher would allow me into their classrooms except for an old Irish English teacher named John Murphy. Despite our worlds of differences, he found a way of reaching me and the tool he used was the art of poetry. A gift that was exposed to me. However, it wouldn’t be until years later while serving 14 weeks of solitary confinement in the prison SHU (the hole) that I would become a poet.
Creative Talents Unleashed: Why do you write, what is it that you’re trying to communicate through your work?
Kesau’c: I wrote to save my life. While serving a life sentence in prison the thing that I feared more than death itself was losing my mind. So I would use the Art of writing Poetry as a form of therapy and weaponry in the way that a soldier of battle would keep a journal.
Actually, I never intended to share a single poem but that leads me to the answer to the fourth question.
Creative Talents Unleashed: Where does your inspiration come from, what might inspire you at any moment to write a story or poem?
Kesau’c: I’d found my purpose in youth mentoring I wanted to do all that I could to be sure that not one single Youth would have to go through what I’ve gone through if I could help it. If I can open one eye to the truths of what gangs and Society have in store for them I will and if to save one Life by whatever creative means I have at my exposure I’ll use it and I’ve found that POETRY is the most Powerful tool of all.
Creative Talents Unleashed: What was the hardest thing about writing your book?
Kesau’c: The most difficult part about writing the book was saying enough without saying too much. I have a lot going on in my head and a lot of emotions in my heart.
Creative Talents Unleashed: What was the easiest thing about writing your book?
Kesau’c: The easiest thing was coming up with the title of the book, LoL.
Creative Talents Unleashed: There are many authors who say that in the process of writing a book you learn things about yourself. Did you learn anything in your book writing process about yourself, if so what?
Kesau’c: That’s one of the beauties of poetry. Every time you read it, even the Arthur, find there’s something new to learn. As I’ve said before, “Poetry is therapy for me”. When I write I’m expressing what I hold deeply therefore, I’m forced to wrestle with IT (whatever the poem expresses) emotionally, intellectually and artistically, before you even consider it a poem.
Creative Talents Unleashed: What in your view is the role or responsibility of a writer or poet, if there is any?
Kesau’c: Every poet has a responsibility. Consider this? When you study anthropology, you find that every Civilization that considers itself civilized has always had its Poets and/or storytellers to teach, guide and decorate the culture. There’s an old proverb that says: “The Tyrant fears most the Poet.” Change is revolutionary and the spirit of every revolution is determined by the HEART of its People and Poetry is the language that Speaks to the Heart of the People. There is Power in the Spoken Word and where there is power there is Responsibility. So every poet is responsible for what they say and fails to say.
Creative Talents Unleashed: What are your ambitions as a writer, where do you hope to see yourself in say 5 years?
Kesau’c: My Ambitions as a writer is to leave behind a voice that echoes when I’m gone. If it’s beneficial then that’s what God loves. If it’s HIS Will I’d like to put out a book a year.
Creative Talents Unleashed: Who is your favorite writer or poet? Perhaps you have a favorite quote from them that you would like to share.
Kesau’c: My two favorite Poet/Authors are Zora Neale Hurston and Gil Scott-Heron. But I can’t forget Langston Hughes, Amiri Baraka and Maya Angelou.
Creative Talents Unleashed: What advice would you give to aspiring writers who have dreams of publishing or making writing a career choice?
Kesau’c: My advice to upcoming writers?
Never be afraid of your own voice and as a friend once told me, “Don’t just write what you feel, feel what you write.”
About the Book: Serengeti Noise
‘Serengeti Noise’ is the story of the birthing of a man. Prison can make a boy believe that he is as the penal system has defined him. In this case, prison was the place where a boy fought to find the man within him; allowing himself to be touched by the goodness of three outstretched branches that were handed to him. He used the branches, to slowly beat the anger out of himself; while everyone around him remained as the system had defined them.
This is a book about truth, where the author’s frenzied prison wall poetry saved his life, his words bringing awareness to his need to be something more. This is a book about the power of the inner sanctum. The author’s depth of recognition of his innate goodness, snatching the powerful lessons from his mentors and the strong women in his life; which became the foundation in which this amazing man/poet was birthed.
“First there was the word, and the word became flesh and the word was truth.” I use this as a metaphor for the words that Kesau’c N. Hill has written within these pages. ‘Serengeti Noise’ is an astounding book of prose which left me with a sense of melancholy and hope, which I can’t quite shake or dismiss.
– Brenda-Lee Ranta, author of Myriad of Perceptions
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Categories: Creative Talents Unleashed