3 Questions with Creative/Critical PhD Student Mia T. Boykin

Mia Boykin Photo


Hello everyone! My name is Mia, but I also go by Mimi. Mimi Tempestt is my stage/pen name that I was given in 2013, when I was a queer baby coming up in the underground art and party scene in Downtown Los Angeles. I moved to Oakland about three years ago, and I’m absolutely thrilled to be in the Bay. It feels like an extension of my home. If you look at my picture, you’ll see that I’m behind a frame. I’m currently obsessed with this frame. It hangs in my backyard and I plan on adorning it and using it in so many odd capacities. I’ve been thinking a lot about how systems/structures/audiences like to frame Black artists. How does that framing cater to the expectation and comfortability of white audiences? What is the spectacle of the Black artist; especially in this tense political climate? And I wondered, what would happen if the Black artist could reclaim that space to gander back at their audience? What would that reclaiming feel/be/act like? It’s a weird question that’s twirling about in my mind right now, and I’m interested to see how this frame turns out.

Other than buying old frames from art depots and hanging them in my garden, I make music. I have two EPs (The Ego Trip & Radio Imagination) and one album (Rough Diamond) under my belt. I love making visuals and music videos and doing make-up and performing and playing dress-up and directing and acting and using my mind to touch untapped possibilities. I have always been the kind of kid that plays with every toy in the toy box, and I dislike the idea of perimeters and expectations. 

Most importantly, my debut collection of poems, the monumental misrememberings (Co-Conspirator Press) is coming out on Friday, November the 13th 2020. The presale began today, and I’ve felt so grateful. I’m beyond excited, and proud of this work. I’m really looking forward to the journey this book will take me on, and looking forward to experiencing how folks will respond to it. It’s an exciting time in my life right now.


3 Questions: 

How would you describe your work in three words or phrases? 

  confrontational, bold, experimental


What is your favorite line from your work? 

  they can’t wait to pay for 12 year old Black pussy with tubmans, from the poem “reparations" 


Tell us 1) the most fragrant location (the fragrance can be lovely or putrid, of course) that you’ve ever had the chance to write in, 2) the noisiest site you’ve ever written in, and 3) the softest place you’ve ever written in (can be metaphorical or literal).

I tend to stay away from places with aggressive smells, and I can’t write in noisy places either. My writing space has to be very silent and still, so I usually write very early in the morning (before everyone wakes up) or very late at night (after everyone is asleep). I currently have a creative fellowship at The Ruby in San Francisco, and I utilize that space a lot these days. Due to COVID, not many people come to the building, sometimes I have the entire space to myself and that has been so beautiful. It’s not the most magical space I've ever written in, but it’s the space that is most precious to me right now.