Asha: JUST SPEAKING MY MIND, Spoken Word Poetry vol. 1. What made you want to create a compilation of poems that touched on subjects very personal to yourself to share with others?
AW: God has blessed me with the gift of sharing my deepest feelings and passion through poetic stories which has become a blessing to many readers of “JUST SPEAKING MY MIND.” I wanted to allow the readers to look inside the mind of a very loving, passionate, caring and intellectual black male. We have too many negative images which are not true about black men in America repeated in the media daily and I wanted to let the world see that we are not those images many want us and our young men to become. Many of the poetic stories in my book are dealing with situations happening in many family homes today, but we are afraid to address these subjects. We as a people are dealing with so many issues that we tend to sweep under the rug, but we really need to bring them to the forefront so we can heal and move forward. By me sharing some of my personal stories with readers I want them to be mentally stimulated into dealing with the issues they may have suppressed over the years and begin to move forward with their lives.
Asha: At what point in your life did you begin to take writing seriously in the sense that you could create words to inspire, motivate, or even empower someone into making a personal, professional, or social change?
AW: I remember writing a poem in 1990 during my first year at Texas Southern University; the poem was entitled “You Were Never There.” This poem was a story about a young lady going through life from birth into her adulthood without her father ever being a part of her life and she ends up dying after becoming a victim of domestic violence. This story was read by a few female friends and they all shared tears after reading it. At this point I realized words can be written in such a form that they can embrace the person reading them by bringing feelings of comfort, love, inspiration, empowerment and help add closure to subjects they may have been afraid to face.
Asha: Rhyme and prose are staple characteristics of poetry writing. In reading your poetry you poetically flirt with love, intimacy, family and injustice. Was there a sense of freedom you experienced in expressing what was actually on your mind?
AW: Well, as you know from my poem “Poetic Love Making” that I’m a very passionate man and I equate my passion for writing poetry to the art of love making. Intimacy is very important to me and is very important to the relationship between a man and a woman which I speak on in the poem “Satisfies Me.” Family and faith was always the strength of us as a people since the beginning of time and readers will notice that I speak of the love of family throughout the book. We also need to embrace and learn our history, because it will give us the strength and wisdom to help us beat this corrupt system of injustice we live in today. Every time I put my pen to my pad it gives me a great sense of freedom knowing that I can create from experiences that may be able to liberate a readers mind from the pain, sadness, or motivate them to go on and accomplish the great things God has planned for them.
Asha: “Open Your Eyes”, dedicated to the Hurricane Katrina survivors. You are a New Orleans native. Did you feel an obliged duty to write this piece or did you write for purposes of expressing the injustice that was happening in your hometown? What do you wish to see happen from “social awareness” poetry that you write?
AW: I was very angry when I saw how this government treated our beautiful people from New Orleans. During the storm I had 10 relatives living with me and we were very upset at the lack of immediate response to this terrible tragedy. I knew that the government had a lack of concern for us, but it really opened many eyes to the extent of it during Katrina. I wrote this poem to give awareness, hope, and faith and also to give a reality check to show that we need to take control of our lives and not leave it in the hands of others. Many of our beautiful kids have relocated to other big cities such as Houston, Texas. I want to take this time to say to all the kids who have survived this tragedy that the events in life you experience can be used to make you stronger for future endeavors. Strive to be nothing short of greatness, because God has created you to be great! I want our people to realize that Faith, Knowledge of Our History and Strong Family Values are the keys which will make us complete and get us back on track to becoming owners instead of consumers.
Asha: You grew up in a single-parent household. What influence did your mother have on you becoming a writer?
AW: My mother had a very big influence on my success in life just as so many other black mothers of black men today. I have a poem dedicated to her in JUST SPEAKING MY MIND entitled “Reflection in the Mirror.” It speaks on her strength, love and determination for working hard and doing the best she could to provide for her son.
Growing up in a single parent household and as an only child has helped me learn a lot about myself through writing. I wrote a lot as a child because I was alone and it gave me a way to express my feelings and become creative at the same time.
Asha: We always hear that “Words hold so much power” whether good or bad. Writers are like painters who create their works for both graphic and storytelling intent. Paint your picture through your literary creations. What story do you want to convey to the readers who know your works and to those that are being introduced to you for the first time?
AW: I want readers to understand that I’m a poet/writer who writes straight from my heart and I appreciate all the feedback I receive from readers, because they are helping me grow more each day as a writer and I hope that my words have inspired them in such a way that empowers them in their lives. God is truly using me and the gift he has bestowed upon me to bless others and I realize that and will never take His gift for granted.
Asha: I enjoyed reading all of your poems but there was one in particular that hit close to home for me, “Different Last Names.” My mother met my step-father when my twin sister and I were 3 years-old. They married when we were five and soon after had my youngest sister. My step-father, mother and little sister all shared the same last name. There were conversations in which they discussed changing my twin sister and I last name to that of my step-fathers’, though it never happened.
In reading your poem, I sensed the incomplete feeling your daughter through marriage experienced by not sharing the same name as the other family members. Many may think something as little as a name could not have an impact on a person but to me a name is a connection, a sense of belonging…an identity.
What has been the overall response to this particular piece? I ask this because we live in a society where the family structure consists of more blended families than natural households which include the biological Father, Mother, Brother and or Sister.
AW: “Different Last Names” was actually part of a conversation I had with my oldest daughter explaining to her why her last name was different and we did eventually change her last name which gave her a better since of belonging. When I perform this poem I still get choked up at times because I can still see the images of hurt in her face when she reached the age where she realized her last name was different from the rest of the family. This poem gets a very big reaction when I perform it live and also from readers who comment about this poem on facebook. I have even had mothers who were afraid to face this subject with their children inbox me on facebook telling me that “Different Last Names” gave them the courage to contact me and ask me about all the steps it took to get my daughters last name changed and legal adoption so that their children can have the same last name and feel complete. This poem really shows how powerful words can be!
Asha: Author Avery Washington; please tell our readers something that we have not already read about you through your bio?
AW: I came up in New Orleans during the time “bounce music” was the in thing, so every now and then I throw in some of that hype crazy music and act a fool at times. Many people find it weird that me being from New Orleans I don’t really eat seafood! I love listening to Jazz & R & B and enjoy living life to the fullest! Happie Publishing, LLC is the name of my publishing company and the “Happie” is my nickname! That’s what I get for being silly!
Asha: Last but certainly not least in importance; please tell our readers where they can purchase your book.
AW: I want to say thank you so much to Beautifully Said for allowing me a platform to express my views and allow readers to learn a little more about me!!! May you continue to be blessed in all your endeavors!!!
My New book which is an Affirmation of Self Love & Respect for Young Women will be out in December 2010!!!
Autographed copies are available at my author site: http://averywashington.com (Also upcoming events are listed on author site)
Books are also available on Barnes & Noble site:
Barnes & Noble also has great book reviews for JUST SPEAKING MY MIND which also has a 5 star rating!