Someone asked why Billie is my muse

1949 photo by Carl Van Vechten

Why look to such a tragic figure for inspiration?  Well, she’s my home-girl–not born, but raised in Baltimore. She dug the blues and her life was a poem. One need not descend into misery or succumb to suffering to dig Billie. Hardship incubated her inimitable voice. And her blues transcended poverty and pain.
Anyhow, I didn’t choose her as my muse. I believe she chose me. She made cameos in several of my poems and children’s books even before I sensed her hand at work. Then she enlisted me to write Becoming Billie Holiday. How could I refuse?

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