Illustration by Shane Tolentino

Kierra Wooden, also known as Ho3micide, is a storyteller and multidisciplinary artist from the South Side of Chicago. She does 3D design and animations, creative code, graphic design, and she writes poetry. She’s released two self-published books, her latest being To The Angel in The Room.

What’s your journey as a writer?

I’ve been writing for about thirteen years. I started writing when I was in 6th grade. I used to get on a computer and write little short stories. Or I used to get those little spiral notebooks and write short stories and I used to give them to my classmates to entertain them. I used to make funny, creepy stories and stuff like that. And then I progressed over to poetry in like 7th grade after experiencing my first ever emotional heartbreak.

Does where you’re from inform your work?

I grew up in Jeffery Manor, South Shore and Avalon Park. I feel like I’m growing up and seeing the things that I wrote as a kid, the short stories, I feel like I was influenced by the things that was happening in my neighborhood. It would usually be little remixes or parodies of things, but it would be some real life thing that’s happening. Like, when I was twelve years old, I got followed home by a man in my neighborhood–in the neighborhood he was flagged as a rapist, and he was on the loose. And I used to like looking back and looking at the stories I used to write and see how that influenced some of the things that I was writing as a child. I feel like definitely the things that I experienced growing up inspire most of my writing and some of the tones of why I’m writing, and what I’m trying to tell or how to tell it. 

What do you find yourself writing about the most?

As of lately, I feel like my writing, especially since I wrote my book, has basically been the evolution of me becoming a young woman from a teenager, a child into an adult woman. It’s like that transition, growing up and learning and experiencing lost friendships, relationships, the things that I’m experiencing in my own unique life. I feel like that’s where most of my writing has been stemming from, writing about my life lessons and the things that I’m still struggling with. The book is called To The Angel In The Room.

Where did the inspiration for the title of your book come from?

I took a Woman’s Literature course in college and there were things that I was reading about and not too many people really explore the spirituality of things, it’s still kind of a taboo. So I felt like when I used the title, at first, it was inspired by a moment that I had when I was younger. My uncle passed when he was twenty-two, he was killed, and there was a moment when I woke up in the middle of the night, and I saw him. And because we moved into his room and stuff like that, because we were moving, it was me and my sister, my cousins, we had the bunk beds and stuff, it happened fifteen, sixteen years ago. And I woke up and I saw him and I know that I saw him. And I tried to wake my sister up and when I looked back he was gone. Basically, how that transpired to this—as I got older, I go to therapy, and I tell my therapists sometimes I feel like I’m just looking at myself. I’m so aware of my actions and my decisions, and sometimes I don’t feel in control. So I kind of felt like the title just came from me spectating my life, and telling my story, watching myself and those moments where it’s really hard, and those moments where I’m really happy. That angel is me, I’m my own savior, and my uncle gave me that glimpse. That’s something that I’ll always remember. That’s where I got the title from.

How did you figure out what you needed to do in order to publish a book?

When I wrote the first book that was my lesson on how to go about publishing. I didn’t have any resources because I didn’t have anyone in my life that I knew that published a book, or where to go to. I wrote the book starting 2016 and then it was published in 2018. Honestly I didn’t really get into my creativity, like embracing it and embodying it, until I got to college. So I didn’t have any creative resources around. I used social media; there was an author that I followed and he was just giving out resources and also offering up services to help other authors. So I had put all my poems together, and he helped me format everything and told me where to go, how to self publish as well, what resources there is out there, what websites that’s available that’s free and affordable for indie book writers. That’s how I published the first one—he edited my book, and he formatted it the right way. One of my friends from Columbia did the book cover. 

I didn’t think I was gonna write a second book or anything, but I did get more connected with other authors. I was also published, the same year, in another book by this author named H.D Hunter from Atlanta, Georgia. I was kind of just networking [and] branching out. From there, I learned how to do it on my own, and if I do want to go through an actual publishing company, I know what to do. 

What are you excited for, within any of your crafts?

Right now, I am working on a personal project. I went to college for game design and programming, I was more so on the technical side of the programming aspect. I never knew I could do design. I never knew I had that ability until less than a year ago, so I’ve been practicing and learning and putting out my own personal projects and still taking commissions. Right now I’m working on a little short film, because again, overall, I am a storyteller, and I wanted to create something like a little short story of something that’s unique to me, something beautiful. I’m starting the production on that with the whole rigging animating. I do produce beats as well. So I’m working on the music and everything for it so that’s like what I’m excited about. Getting that animation done and also getting the other required materials that I need to make it one of my best projects. 

What is a tale-tell sign that you’re from Out South?

I feel like on the South Side we’re more guarded. I feel like we can come off as “we’re not so easy to talk to.” Because we have to be on our P’s and Q’s all the time. I feel like certain words and how we pronounce certain words definitely like you can tell. What part of the city you from have different dialects. I just started this job at the National Museum of Public Housing, it’s more like oral history and painting history from people that’s in public housing. You know, hearing how they talk and the conversations that are had you can tell like someone is from the South Side based off how they say certain words like “community” they’ll say “ker-munity.” They’ll add a random “r” or take the “r” off of something else, like “cah” (car). That’s how you know someone is from the South Side. 

What place makes you feel most nostalgic on the South Side?

There’s actually two places: La Rabida Beachfront, which is right by my house on 67th, and then when I got to Jefferey Manor that’s where I feel most nostalgic because that’s where I went to school, I was aware of growing up there. I started 1st grade [in] Jefferey Manor and I left there when I was in 5th grade, so most of my friends are still over there. And we’re all still very close so whenever I’m around there, I just think about all the things that I used to do as a kid and I love just being in the neighborhood. 

Who is your audience?

When I’m writing, my audience is always geared towards Black community, Black queers, Black women. Also people who deal with mental health issues because I have an anger problem. So I feel like those are my audience. But when I used to post my stuff a lot on social media, I was very shocked at the audience that I was actually grabbing as well; I was writing more so for the feminine experience and stuff like that. And I actually was grabbing such a huge male audience. I wasn’t expecting that these were the dominant people in my audience. 

Sometimes men do lack self-awareness when it comes to other people outside of themselves. When they see things, it’s not like it’s in a tone of “I hate these people” or anything, I’m just expressing how I feel as an individual and what I went through because of that experience. I feel like it opens up their eyes a little bit, because I’m not attacking them. I’m just talking about what’s happening, my feelings. I’ll have conversations on Twitter and in my DMs, and sometimes we will have that conversation and it’s like, “I’ve never really thought about that.” I do feel like that opens up that different perspective for my male audience, which I’m very grateful for, even though they’re not my intended audience.

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Chima Ikoro is the Community Organizing section editor for The Weekly.


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