An Essay “We the People” by Troy Jackson (from Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020)

 “We the People” is the opening phrase of the Constitution of the United States of America. “We the People” was chosen by the ‘Founding Fathers’ of the nation as the opening phrase of the Constitution because it would serve as a reminder to lawmakers and citizens alike that the power and responsibilities of the newly founded nation resided in “We the People”. The phrase “We the People” signified that the voting rights of the people would serve as the paramount political act in this newly formed land of various states, laws, and peoples.

Not included in “We the People” at the founding of the nation were women, native Indians, and slaves. Slaves who had been brought into the land as early as 1609 had no rights. Slaves who were the ancestors of a people we today collectively call African-Americans. My family and I are the descendants of those slaves. Slaves were granted no voting rights and considered only 2/3 of persons in the official census of the time.

On the centennial of the Emancipation Proclamation “We the People” gathered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to culminate ‘The March on Washington’.  The ‘March on Washington’ attracted over an estimated 250,000 Americans.  The march was organized by A. Philip Randolph, Walter Reuther, and other notable American citizens.

‘The March on Washington’ was organized to advocate for the economic and civil rights of African-Americans and to call for an end to police brutality.  Scheduled speakers included John ‘Good Trouble’ Lewis, Roy Wilkins, A. Philip Randolph, and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Performers included Mahalia Jackson, Marian Anderson, Joan Baez, and the now famous Bob Dylan.

Notable voices that day included Roy Wilkins who announced that W.E.B. Du Bios had passed the previous evening. Speaking of Du Bois, Wilkins said ” Regardless of the fact in his later years Dr. Du Bois chose another path, it seems incontrovertible that at the dawning of the twentieth century his was the voice that was calling you to gather here today in this cause. If you want to read something that applies to 1963 go back and get a volume of ‘The Souls of Black Folk’ by Du Bois, published in 1903.”

Also speaking that day was the late John ‘Good Trouble’ Lewis. Who would later go on to become the long-term congressman for Georgia’s 5th congressional district. John Lewis told protesters ” My friends let us not forget that we are involved in a serious social revolution.”

Walter Reuther made a call to the conscious of the nation that day when he stated, “American democracy is on trial in the eyes of the world…We cannot successfully preach democracy in the world unless we first practice it at home.” He went on to say, ” We must take adequate steps to bridge the moral gap between American democracy’s noble promises and its ugly practices in the field of civil rights.”

 Last to speak at the ‘March on Washington’ was the honorable Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who was to deliver the keynote address. In his now iconic ‘ I have a Dream’ speech Dr. King urged America to become a nation where in which “my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

 “We the People” spoke at ‘The March on Washington’ to forge a more perfect union, to demand economic and civil rights for all its citizens, and to end racism.  The people that day also called for an end to the police brutality that many protesters faced in the pursuit of the same democratic ideals inherent in the Constitution of these United States of America. 

The ‘March on Washington’ is highly regarded as the catalyst for the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965. I think that many scholars of democracy overlook the deleterious effects of the immigration policies of the era.  American democracy as we know it today owes much of its potency to the tireless work of Senator Philip A. Hart who was called the “conscious of the Senate”. 

Fifty-seven years later, “We the People” are here again in Washington at the Lincoln Memorial protesting racial profiling, police brutality, and systematic racism. The ‘March on Washington 2020’ was themed ‘Get your knee of our necks’ and was a call to the nation and lawmakers to end police brutality and systematic racism. This march was spearheaded by the Black Lives Matter Movement which had galvanized after the murder of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The ‘George Floyd’ protests as they are now known were held in big cities and small towns nationally and globally. It is estimated that as many as 25 million people have participated in these protests worldwide. Which has led to the forceful removal of monuments that many see as racist. The state of Mississippi a historical bastion of “White Supremacy” was even pressured to change its flag due to its symbolism of the Confederacy. “We the People” are speaking again… Washington please listen. 

  These protests have occurred during a global pandemic which has halted life as we know it. The Covid19 crisis has infected over 26 million people worldwide and killed over 850,000 according to the World Health Organization (WHO). While, here in the United States Covid19 has infected over 6 million people and killed over 190,000 people. It has also left as many as 50 million people jobless and with little or no health coverage. Many of whom voted against affordable health care just a mere four years ago.  Living during a global pandemic and facing systematic and structural racism is another barrier to the pursuit of happiness for many of today’s black and marginalized communities. Many of today’s voters are saying ” enough is enough” and it’s time for Medicare for all. Drastic times call for drastic measures the voices seem to echo.

Covid19 has caused the closing of schools, businesses, and government offices. The cancellation of many sporting events, entertainment venues, and live shows for musicians and performers. The NBA, MLB, CFA have all been impacted by Covid19. I’ve even had to suspend my attendance at my beloved University of Memphis Football games. Many people now see how vulnerable ‘Our Democracy’ really is to the winds of change, the climate crisis and other realities of life in the 21st century. America… young voices matter! America… black voices matter!

 Qualified Immunity and the Blue Code of Silence are widely regarded as obstacles to the end of police brutality here in the United States. Qualified Immunity makes it almost impossible for police to be held accountable for their actions. The rate of black deaths at the hands of police is three times that of white citizens. No wonder the popularity of organizations like Black Lives Matter.

Among Democratic voters 90 percent see police brutality as a “serious problem”. On the other hand, only 14 percent of Republican voters see police brutality as a ” serious problem”, as reported by a Gallop poll. Only 30 percent of African- Americans trust the police. With all these killings caught on video who can blame them? No amount of money can bring a love one back, even if anyone is ever held accountable. “Why turn your body cameras off” many people are saying?  Why aren’t they being convicted? Systematic racism is the most logical conclusion.


 ‘The Ending Qualified Immunity Act’ is a Police Reform bill proposed by Congressman Justin Amash of the the Libertarian Party that seeks to abolish Qualified Immunity for police personnel. Rep. Amash has so eloquently stated that ” The brutal killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police is merely the latest in a long line of egregious incidents of police misconduct. This pattern continues because police are legally, politically, and culturally insulated from the consequences for violating the rights of the people they have been sworn to serve. That must change so that these incidents of brutality must stop happening.”

  “We the People” must vote to end police brutality! George Floyds death must not be in vain! Tamir Rice’s death must not be in vain!  Breonna Taylor’s death must not be in vain! The death of untold numbers of victims of police brutality must not be in vain!!! In this November’s election the choice is clear. It’s time for “We the People” to be heard!!!  

This work was inspired by the dedication and sacrifice of United States lawmakers John ’Good Trouble’ Lewis, and Philip ‘conscious of the Senate’ Hart.

Troy Jackson is a literacy advocate and writer based in Memphis. You can support him by purchasing a copy of his current work. Life: A book of Poems available on Amazon. 

https://www.amazon.com/Life-Book-Poems-Troy-Jackson-ebook/dp/B07Q1X

Feature image is from Unseen Histories on Unsplash.com

Re-post:Poetry by Neel Trivedi from Fevers of the Mind Press Anthologies

Why the Hate?

I ask a stranger how s/he was born?

From a mother’s womb they say.

Just like I once was.

So why the hate?

I ask a baby what religion is.

To the best of my ability to decipher baby talk,

s/he appears not to know.

Just like when I was a baby,

blissfully unaware of grown-up talk.

So why the hate?

I ask a stranger how s/he communicates?

With a tongue just like mine, they say.

The birthplace of every language, I think.

So why the hate?

I once spilled paint on my arm.

A palette of various colors made habitats on my skin

before leaving during my next shower.

Yet my heart, personality & identity

remained the same throughout.

So why the hate?

I try to form a collective hypothesis of my conversations:

We’re all born the same way & die someday.

Skin color & religion prove to be highly incompetent

to help a heartbeat, lungs breathe & brain cells grow.

So why the hate?

Beauty: A New Definition

For generations the wise ones have said

That beauty is in the eye of the beholder

But time passes, generations evolve

Some simple, some a lot bolder

Some proverbs die

Some new are born

Left to all to choose

Which are progress, which are scorn

Perhaps a similar time has come

To give beauty a new definition

Leaving the beholder out & say

beauty is in the heart of the pious one!

Beyond the Obvious

How the naive think

What abuse means

Perhaps some blue bruises

And a shattered spleen

Such evidence & signs

Are no doubt a fear

But is there no value

Of an isolated tear?

Everyone sees the obvious

Without a look inside

Curse this bloody flesh that makes

The wounded heart hide!

The Invisible Aura

Step into the vortex of my soul

To decode the language

I often speak to myself

Every night when I peel off my mirage

That the sea of gazes around me

surmises to be nonchalance

This is my universe where:

Depression is not a mere mood swing

It’s an actual chemical imbalance

My facial expressions are not always

Gateways to the feelings of my heart

Sometimes they are merely decor

My silence is not a symbol

Of any kind of equanimity

Listen to the aura who’s decibels

Don’t roar like a lion

But squeal like a mouse

Observe the aura that’s the

shy one in the corner

Acknowledge the unfelt emotions

For you may not feel them

But just a moment of your cognizance

Could determine their fate for eons

Soul Whisperer

I come with no ostentation

No glory or cavalcade

For I creep upon this junction

Not to arouse a racket

But to dismember the status quo

I make no proclamations to be

Your knight in shining armor

Or to dry your tears

But to bequeath equity of them

To feast on the salt with thee

I come not to sheath your malformations

But to stand in their gallery

And be a zealot for ages

Of what my heart senses to be

Not wounds but victors of endurance

Think not of me as a paladin

In a quaint fable

But a commoner just to proclaim :

I once bore what you did

 

And hearken the language of your soul

That others have stained as an enigma!

 

The Midas Scratch

 

Lay your fingers on the canvas of my flesh

And scratch till what you carve

Becomes the cynosure attire of my body

Never to be removed

Till the mind in its entirety

Is severed from the bones

Take no heed of any provisional brood

Or waterfalls of blood

For the blemishes will eventually mitigate

But the fable your fingers nurture with love

Will give me an immortal prevalence

To any and all around me!

Playing Along 

After Leonard Cohen’s “Waiting for the Miracle”

When the heart drowns in total despair

I soothe it by telling tall tales

Of an intoxication known as hope

A miracle is coming, says the heart

The mind just plays along

I dance in the name off faith

Even when my feet are numb

Lest I reveal the inner abyss

A miracle is coming, says the soul

The body just plays along

Stay in the slaughterhouse

So, my wounds can blend in

Lie in the rain so tears seem small

A miracle is coming, say the tears

The eyes just play along

So far not a sign

Not even a mere shadow

Or the calm before the storm

A miracle is coming, I say

The miracle just plays along

Neel photo(c) Neel Trivedi

Neel Trivedi is a freelance journalist & in the advertising business in Dallas, TX. He writes poetry & fiction. His work has been featured in Rhythm & Bones Magazine, Drabblez Magazine, Paragraph Planet, Dodging The Rain, Mojave Heart Review, Elephants Never, Chronos Anthology, Rising From The Ashes Anthology and Purpose Magazine. As well as Dailywisdomwords.com  He can be reached on Twitter @Neelt2001   

Poetry: Tomatoes by David L O’Nan (from the Cartoon Diaries)

We were in silent prayer in the garden
Feeling second-hand and lazy
With nice heirloom tomatoes growing
Around us
Let us lead them from the stomping –
And all those tobacco viruses
Our family needs the well.

For years we’ve slept in the same room
The children and us smack away the mites
On nights the thunder broke our bodies
And we became shy to the windy shadows

We consume the juices of the fruits
Kill the poverty from our heads
Separate us from the worms
We shouldn’t run away

When the man wants his money
All the hospitals want to own us
And hear them knocking down our doors
They garnish my wages
Force me to bankrupt depressions

Watch the money fall from dark clouds
In the many miles barely in our view

Damn it!

It makes me feel psychotic
I want to dissolve in this fertile dirt
Continually,
Crash me to the vines
When bruised and stabbed
I will just stink in the swarming heat
In the well,
Lay all my scriptures


photo from unsplash.com

Fevers of the Mind Feature: Catrice Greer

*The following interview & poetry was published in Fevers of the Mind Press Presents the Poets of 2020 Anthology*

*Catrice Greer is a Spotlight Poet in the Anthology*

Interview with Catrice Greer

 1) Please describe your latest book, what about your book will intrigue the readers the most, and what is the theme, mood?

Catrice: I am working on my first chapbook publication. I expect this to be a selection across topics. I have several books planned. The books planned beyond that one are specifically themed. Themes I write about are a broad span of Spirituality, transcendence, trauma, consent, disability, healing,mental health, love, the environment, human nature, the cosmos, ancestral topics, cultural traditions, identity, dialect, food & culture, Orishas, and music I often weave my love of the sciences, math, astronomy, astral travel, biblical spiritual references, and futurism into my work.

2) What frame of mind and ideas lead to you writing your current book?

Catrice: My first chapbook would be my introduction to the literary world in print and encapsulates many ideas from over the years. Although I have written for several decades, I did not choose to publish a book. I chose to focus on refining my voice and craft. In the last few years, in service to the work I am creating, I felt there was a purpose, an audience and space that would be a good fit for the work to speak for itself. My choice to publish now is solely in service to the work itself. It feels like the right timing. I get a sense the work will live best published now versus earlier.

3) How old were you when you first have become serious about your writing, do you feel your work is always adapting?

Catrice: I began writing early somewhere around ages 8,9,10. At 10, I began to be compelled to write. Ages11/12, I experimented. By age 14, it was clear for me that it was a necessity. I was mentored one to one by a high school teacher. I wrote for academic publications in high-school and was editor and editor in chief of a creative journal. While in my senior year of high school, I also began writing as a Features writer intern for a local historic newspaper at age 17. I went on to intern, associate produce (credit) and write scripts as an intern for a local tv station in my college years. I continued a smattering of explorative involvement in media in various forms off and on through my twenties. My own private writings of poetry simultaneously continued to grow and refine. My declared major in college was English Literature. During that time, I began to perform spoken word and recite poetry. Mainly I did this at events via another mentor in college who felt it was a good avenue for me to learn to conquer my shyness. I’ve continued to write privately since then, until now.

To your second question, yes, to some extent my work is always growing and adapting. It adapts as I grow and as my vision of the world and of myself grows. As my perception refines and my craft refines, so does my work and approach to the work. At this time, I am clear that I write in service to bringing work forward in its divine nature.

4) What authors, poets, musicians have helped shape your work, or who do you find yourself being drawn to the most?

Catrice: That’s a complex question. I’ve read so many poets and writers. Off the top of my head, I can say Toni Morrison, Alice Walker, Octavia Butler, Laini Mataka, Sonia Sanchez, Ntozake Shange, Audre Lorde, Kalamu Ya Salaam, Pablo Neruda, Wislawa Symborska, Jean Auel, Deepak Chopra, Zitkala-Sa, Ivan Van Sertima, T. S. Eliot, Milton, Lacan, Saussure, Descartes, Jung, some Freud, Kafka, Andrew Marvell, Shakespeare, and many, many more.

My love of music is vast. I love opera, R&B, alt rock, alt classical rock, gospel, jazz, alt Christian music,Hymns, African-American classic hymns, some folk music, the list goes on. Those influences show up in my work time and time again. It runs through my soul. I write through the music I feel as emotion and the words for me are music.

5) What other activities do you enjoy doing creatively, or recreationally outside of being a writer, and do you find any of these outside writing activities merge into your mind and often become parts of a poem?

Catrice: I am a former photographer, former dancer, former dessert caterer and entrepreneur. I still like to cook. I enjoy nutrition, and herbology. I garden sometimes. I keep a small personal healing apothecary. I enjoy fermenting foods for health. No longer in a home, but now an apartment, I keep a modest plant system and a fledgling kratky garden. I sketch a little, use various creative mediums sometimes. I enjoy singing with a community choir. I like creating songs lyrics to express some type of emotion. I listen to music for hours and hours. I used to be active in athletic pursuits for several decades. I am healing from something that creates an impairment and disability for me at this time, so being that active is abbreviated for the moment. But at heart, I am athletic. Currently, I enjoy walking, light hiking, yoga, weights. I love films. I like science and enjoy learning about various sciences in my spare time. I enjoy learning languages.

I am a Christian. I am of Catholic faith. And I am human. The combination of those elements as well as my own broad curiosity, acceptance of spirituality in general factors into my work. I see and channel much through a very spiritual lens with an understanding and respect that we are all connected and that the universe is vast. All the activities I noted above show up from time to time in my work or in how I come to the work itself and process life. The more fully and vibrantly I live, the richer the work.

6) Tell us a little about your process with writing. Is it more a controlled, or a spontaneous freewriting style?

Catrice: It depends. I mainly channel my work. I feel it is given. It is then my responsibility to refine the bulk of what was given to be sure it expresses clearly and serves the message of the work. The craft I have honed over the years and continue to hone is a skill. Those literary skills for editing then come into play. But often while I am writing, what I am channeling my mind is working very fast to edit at the same time. I allow my mind to simply speak what needs to be said. Sometimes I receive a lot. And other times, a phrase, a word, an idea, a partial Stanza. All of it eventually, shows up later in layers that are building to create something new. I feel that my job as a poet is to be present, listen intently to myself, be a witness, and scribe.

7) Are there any other people/environments/hometowns/vacations that has helped influence your writing?

Catrice: There is nothing singular for me to point to. My writing is influenced by the totality of life experiences, education, observation, perceptions, spiritual faith, heritages, connection and spiritual receptiveness. It is a reflection of an acceptance of my fellow man as I observe, receive and process enormous amounts of information.

8) What is the most rewarding part of the writing process, and in turn the most frustrating part of the writing process?

Catrice: Most frustrating — sometimes the poems come channeling through so fast and it may be an inopportune time for me to write it down. Or the lines are coming in so quickly that I am not fast enough to write it down verbatim as I am receiving the lines. I end up sometimes writing an approximation and that is often not quite on target.

Most rewarding — is the fact that I am allowed to channel through and write down these beautiful, divine, words and sentiments. The fact that I am a part of this divine process, I often feel very humbled and grateful to be a writer. The process for me is filled with music, emotion, colors, rhythms, visions, that somehow translate into words. That process even for me is well beyond me. Yes, I am an academically trained writer. But I didn’t start out that way. I was quite young when I started. For me, my process is unique as well as it has a foot in classic approaches.

I am grateful when anyone feels organically connected to the work when it is healing or creates healthy dialogue that can foster positive change. If a heart is touched, if someone feels seen or heard by my work, then I know I have been of service to my greater community and that when I was called by said poem to write it into existence, I was correct in answering that call. It served a soul. To me, that level of service is a high honor.

I did not get to be the doctor/writer I had hoped to become like William Carlos Williams. I wanted to be a psychiatrist. But, in this way, I am taking part in helping with vastness of unity and oneness of healing, speaking truths for my fellow man as well as for myself. For me, to be allowed to be part of that divine miracle, even as a scribe and a witness, is humbling and rewarding.

9) How has this past year impacted you emotionally, how has it impacted you creatively if it all?

Catrice: For me, I have a long personal story. Too long for this interview. For a number of personal reasons, disability as healing, being one, I was already living sequestered and very alone prior to the pandemic. When this began, emotionally I was already on a path to find ways to reach out to connect even though I could not physically reach others as well. This year, not due to Covid-19, but two of my close friends died. I was already mourning so much for so many loved ones that passed away. Emotionally, I needed to connect with other humans and live again. Feel alive. I did not wish to impose my will on changing the situation. I felt and prayed that I would like to walk through this with my fellow humans and somehow live as much as possible and authentically as possible. Emotionally, that meant managing any anxiety, or depression, any last hurts that can show up when we have time to think. Allow myself to clear and let go of all things no longer needed and to even now commit to honoring my solitude, my need for connection, interdependence, joy, love, need for healthy intimacy with self and others, and healthy boundaries.

All of these things have some contingency on voice and its authenticity.

Being honest with self about what I truly feel, what and who makes me feel uncomfortable, knowing what I truly need and want, desire, and voicing that clearly is a healthy evolution in my state of being. This also includes me being able to take action with healthy boundaries and not be crushed under the weight of dissension, intimidation, silence, lack of connection or understanding or respect from others. In this space, I learned to honor my voice unapologetically in the healthiest way. I also learned to embrace my deepest needs and desires. By doing all of that, I am like most humans a continual work in progress, my work reflects this authenticity and growth.

The more I see and accept my self, the higher divine self, the shadow self, the unspoken, the traumatized self, the unloved self, the unseen self, the healing self, the transcendent soul, the imperfect self, the creative self, the unbound spiritual self, the grounded self, the bold, the loving self — all of the parts as integrated parts without judgement, then I have been more adept in my poetic work to speak clearly in the service of the work. It seems that humanity resonates for other people who feel connected to the work and the voice I have to offer to our community of humans. This moment in time is one for which I share in collective mourning and also appreciate our collective unity, transformation, and healing. Emotionally, this year has shown me a great deal about myself and others.

Creatively, I have become even more in tune and immensely prolific. All for which I am deeply grateful.

Thank you for this interview. Be well.

Yearning Through the Fog by Catrice Greer

It’s a busy time
the car exhausts, the fires breathing smoke over the twilight
pollution laying across the horizon as if on a chaise, lounging
overstuffed dumpsters, overflowing with wrappers,
peels, discarded boxes, and stench
trees half bare dangling windblown bags at their tips
trying to take a stand, hold back the school of loop-winged
billowed-bottomed plastics flying by
the grass sparse, dirt scratched patches,
concrete overtaking the landscape
We miss the deer and their morning hellos
We miss the murder of crows and their caw caws
We miss the foxes leaping over and under the brush playing hide and go seek
We have not seen enough rabbits before dawn

Cortical Cartography by Catrice Greer

I give thanks for you bravely doing this again
traveling synapse by synapse
trails of electric pulses
jumping blackhole gaps
that used to remember
holding the dead space
a new soma body
birthing from bleating darkness
show us the nucleus
the middles
of what we were made of
Axons spread
like kamikaze flying squirrel bodies
with arms akimbo
reaching
dendrites touching
Grateful for even
this axon potential
sometimes on
sometimes off
Praise for brave
synaptic
dives and jumps
Grateful for re-birthed
myelin insulating
protecting
making sure that we traffic on
our way by the quickest route
charged
in this dark matter
discovery-space
This astronomy
building anew,
wrinkled city of light,
crevices, crannies,
gyri and sulci,
ridges and valleys
jellied,
crinkled mass
sectioned by lobes
all speaking trillions
simultaneous
synaptic voices
prayerfully all at once
this chatter mines
the neuronal network
and we build

a whole new world

Catrice Greer @cgreer_greer is a poet and writer who resides in Baltimore, Maryland. She is a 2020, Pushcart Prize Nominee. In November 2020, Catrice served as a Cheltenham Poetry Festival, Poet in Residence.  Catrice’s poetic work explores a range of topics about the human condition. She currently performs as a featured poetic artist or via poetry artist collectives in international virtual open mics. Her recent poems were published in Icefloe Press, the historic Afro-American Newspaper, a Phenomenal Womxn Anthology, Baltimore Health Behavioral Services art gallery, and local newsletters. She is currently working on publishing her first chapbook. She has recently read at the Cheltenham Poetry Festival with Damien Donnelly

Social Media:

Twitter: @cgreer_cgreer

Instagram: @gcatrice

Links to published poetry:

IceFloe Press:

AFRO-American Newspaper:

“The Heights”  https://www.afro.com/the-heights/

“Presence and Absence” https://www.afro.com/presence-absence/

“I Am Home” https://www.afro.com/i-am-home/

Behavioral Health System Baltimore:

“Your Path is Your Own Virtual Art Gallery”

Soundcloud: (Audio)

Spotlight on the Poetry Question & Chris Margolin

If you’re a poet or writer, you need exposure.  Especially, if you’re an independent writer, or work or run a small press.  Luckily, for us, there is a website that has been expanding exponentially the last few years giving us more exposure to the best independent poets and writers out there today.   The Poetry Question provides the concept of asking “How will you Poetry today?”  The man behind the beginnings of the Poetry Question is Chris Margolin.

He shares a passion for visualizing the future of poetry and giving a voice to poets.  Whether it would be the unique interview in which you answer the poetry questions on influences, favorite books, authors, influences.  Detailed info on why these works or writers have deemed such an influence on a writer. The site has been excellent and expanding their team on reviewing Poetry Chapbooks and novels & novellas.  

Within the last year, Chris has worked hard on adding a small press to give another avenue for writers to put out chapbooks.    So, with that introduction, we shall ask a few questions to Chris Margolin of “the Poetry Question”   http://thepoetryquestion.com

Hi Chris, thanks for giving us at Fevers of the Mind the opportunity to learn more about The Poetry Question and the exciting future of the site.

Thank you for having me! I’m a fan of Fevers of the Mind, so this is an exciting opportunity for me. I’m honored.

  1.  First off Chris, when did you come up with the idea of the Poetry Question? The original concept?  When was the moment that hit you and said “Hey I need to help small press poets and self-published poets”?

I’ve written a lot about the foundation of The Poetry Question, but I appreciate that your question focuses on Small Press Poetry and Self-Published Poetry. The site went through so many different iterations. It was an educational site – I’ve taught for almost 20 years – in the early days. Then it was a music review site. Then it was a general book review site. Then I started going to The Portland Poetry Slam in Portland, Oregon. My first night there was like finding a new religion. My introduction couldn’t have been more epic: Clementine von Radics, Alex Dang, Brenna Twohey, and the legendary Andrea Gibson. I bought every book on the table that night. That was it. These were stapled together like the zines I used to buy in high school. They were beautiful. And they needed to be seen. There wasn’t much of a choice at that point. Voices needed to be heard, and I couldn’t find a website that focused solely on small press or self-published poetry. So, it seemed like the obvious choice and direction.

  •  I know that you have decided to put out a few chapbooks, how has that experience been like that for you? What about going into the Press business has been rewarding, and what has been more challenging?

This is one of the most rewarding, important, and scary accomplishments in my life. I have no idea what I’m doing. I’ve always just been on the review side of things. I had dreamt about putting out other people’s poetry, but never thought it made sense until last year. Our daily readership went up faster than I could have ever imagined, and it just felt right. Holding a submission period, and knowing that people – without the use of Submittable – were actually sending me their words was jaw-dropping. I never expected to get submissions. I had over 75 in a month. It was such a validation of what I’d been working toward, and so humbling to know that so many would trust us with their manuscripts. We are just a few weeks from the release date (Jan 15) for both Jennifer Roche and Van G. Garrett’s respective books, The Synonym Tables, and SCRAP. They have been so kind as I stumble through this process. Can’t wait to see what happens!          

  •  I’d like to know more about the Power of Poetry section of the site. What about this section really has been a huge help with especially younger writers to understand how to be an effective writer, and how you can work at your craft to expand even when it seems the writing world is against you?

Isn’t the writing world always against us? Look, the reality is that we a lot of us started as bedroom poets and writers. We wrote middle school novels and song lyrics and poetry and tried to either hide it from everyone or share it with the world. But those words meant everything to us. They were our therapy. Fortunately, it is still our therapy. But that looks so different for everyone, and I wanted to hear their stories. I wanted everyone to hear their stories. I don’t really know if there’s an “effective writer.” I think there is an effectiveness in everything we put down on paper. It might not resonate with everyone, but it may change someone’s life.

  •  This has been a challenging year for everyone, and I’m sure for you this hasn’t been an exception. During such a year of darkness, where have you found the small beams of light that has given you a creative uplift for your ideas with TPQ?

This is a softball question. I sign into my twitter account every day, and I get to read the works of hundreds of poets each week. I get to ask “How will you Poetry today” and hope that maybe that will remind someone to write or submit or edit or read or share or whatever they can do to spread the word of Small Press Poetry. I get to be the bullhorn for poets who might not have an outlet to share their work. That’s one hell of a beam of light.

  •  Please give us more info on how to reach your site, your social media, what one needs to do to submit to the Poetry Question for a review of their new book & more. Also, when do you expect your first chapbooks to be released, any hints on what to expect from these?

Everyone can find us at thepoetryquestion.com. If you’re interested in submitting a book for review, there is a link provided on the site. We don’t get through everything that comes our way, but we work hard to review all that we can. The first two chapbooks will be released on January 15th, 2021. Jennifer Roche’s The Synonym Tables tackles the changing of language over the last 75 years. With a deep focus on our current world issues, this one feels more poignant now more than ever. Van G. Garrett’s SCRAP takes you round by round through perseverance and the art of survival. He is a legend, and I am blown away that he was ever interested in submitting to TPQ.

  • Any shout outs you’d like to give to any poets, small press, co-workers with TPQ?

This is a tricky one for me as there are so many poets and presses I’d love to shout out. Here are a few poets to keep in your sights: Chris Butler, Taylor Byas, Beth Gordon, Danielle Rose, and Jason Crawford are all beyond inspiring right now.

Chris Margolin is the founder and EiC of The Poetry Question, the only site in the world to focus solely on small press and self-published poetry reviews. Beyond his work in poetry he has taught high school and middle school English for almost 20 years. He lives in Vancouver,Washington with his wife, daughter, two dogs, and seven chickens