Zuri McWhorter’s writing is like your everyday morning coffee, it goes smoothly down your soul, the taste of every rhythmic line leaving you gluttonous. And as you give into your glutton and swipe through her Instagram you start to see a painted picture form, twisting art into words. There’s a fresh edge to her prose, the thoughts of a 23 year old woman’s unapologetic view’s on love, experiences and life.
A Detroit native Zuri spent most of her childhood using her imagination dabbling in different hobbies such as dancing, painting, martial arts and sports. Then once her senior year of high school rolled around, so did her love for writing. Soon all the other hobbies took a back seat and writing became the center focus. Her passion for the art came when she studied abroad in Ireland at NUI and Trinity College with one of the best MSU professors she’s ever had. After her program finished, she couldn’t find a teacher that could keep her attention the same way. So she took a huge leap and dropped out. Making literature her full time job. Thus her imprint on social media began.
When did your passion for writing and literature start?
I knew I had a hobby of writing for a while, since I was probably 4 years old, but my passion didn’t start until college. I took a few English Lit courses and studied abroad in Ireland at NUI and Trinity College in Dublin with a phenomenal MSU professor. After that, I could never find another teacher who could keep my attention. Which lead me to drop out. Literature became a job, not an art.
Where do you draw your inspiration from when writing?
I use everything: my emotions, the environment I’m in, the colors I see. My favorite device is personification. I love to describe objects and feelings with as much beauty or malice as I can because they represent people. They deserve personality just as human characters do.
I know Detroit is known for its art scene, how has living in Detroit influenced you as an artist?
When I left college and entered “the scene” about three years ago, I immediately felt a disconnection. I knew there would be an audience for my type of expression, but there were no other literary artists. I had no comrades, no competition. Feeling as though I was the only one is inspiration itself. And by no means do I wish to remain the only literary contender of “the scene”! I hope that publicizing my writing will bring out the writers, if not make new ones.
Some writer’s write from a certain emotion, whether its pain or happiness, what’s yours?
I’m sure with time, my writing will become more emotionally expansive, but for now, pain is my forte. I can’t seem to write when I’m happy, I’m too busy basking in it. Though, my love poetry stems from some sort of pain too.
Tell me about your book you have coming out in November?
“Woes of a Well-Lit City” is a collection of prose, blackout poetry, with a short story at the end. Detroit (the well-lit city) inspires an artful love, a love can falter abruptly, but I always look for it. The book is self-published through Meta Lark Press.
Who are some of your favorite writers?
Toni Morrison, for her candor. Edgar Allen Poe, for his gloom. Shel Silverstein for his lessons. Zora Neale Hurston, for vivid love stories. Amy Winehouse, though not known as a literary figure, for her very personal, metaphorical story telling.
What are your top 5 favorite books?
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, Where the Sidewalk Ends/The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, The Vagabond by Colette, Holes by Louis Sachar.
What are some words of inspiration for writers afraid to put their work on social platforms?
Honestly if you’re afraid to put out your writing, you aren’t a writer yet. A writer must be ready for critique, because nowadays, everyone believes their opinion is warranted. I used my words as therapy for most of my life, only sharing them with a few people. I wasn’t ready until I was ready. I could never tell another person when to start sharing their work. You can’t tell someone when to lose their innocence. But if it meant to be your passion you will let it flow free and have no qualms.
How important do you think diversity in writing is, because you don’t see a lot of it?
I don’t believe that there is a lack of diversity in writing as a whole, just in the mainstream: the bestsellers lists, signed with the big time publishers. As a POC, it seems you are limited to writing about your color, your struggle, your movement through society. I have been over that tone for a while. I know I’m not the only Black woman writing about something other than being Black!
What mark do you want to leave on the world?
A fellow artist and friend of mine told me, “I just want to leave as much art in the world before I die.” Since then, I couldn’t think of another way to live life. I don’t know if I’ll be remembered for my poetry, because I plan to do much more. Though, as long as I can be a beacon of expression, that would be fine.