An Interview with Christopher Poindexter
Liz Newman: In your collection Old Soul Love, I was so moved by what a beautiful tribute it was to your grandma and grandpa. Can you tell the readers a little bit more about them and how they inspired your work?
Christopher Poindexter: Of course! Growing up, they were always around. Every single day. My father was very mentally absent in our lives and so I think I really latched onto the presence of my grandfather. He came to all my baseball games. Which was my first true dance with romanticism. The smell of that grass, the leather- everything. His appreciation for it became mine. Their love together was gritty, tender, raw, and unconditional. I watched it like the little observer I am and I was fond of how real it was. They weren’t trying to fool anyone. My grandpa got sick and my grandmother took care of him for Ten years in a wheelchair. She refused to put him in a home. I watched her hug him, her body wrapped around his on his hospital bed the entire night after the doctors told us he might not make it through the night. I remember her gasping and declaring as he took his last one. To me, this is love. It is the portrait and the poem.
LN: I love how bravely you write about self-love and acceptance. What has your personal journey with self-love looked like, and what advice do you give others who are embarking on the journey as well?
CP: It’s been an everyday climb and dance. It’s been falling more times than I can count and still falling to this day. Honestly, it’s not something I have defeated yet. I am not sure if we ever truly do. I just keep telling myself every day is a new day and that I am more than this shell I live in. That I am earth and eden and cosmos. We all are.
LN: When did you first start writing poetry and how has it impacted the person you are today?
CP: I started on a trip to California when I was 18. It’s made me feel like I belong to certain people and things. It’s made me feel weak and lonely and lifted and strong. I wouldn’t trade being a poet for anything. I have always been sensitive. Poetry forces me to be relentless with tenderness.
LN: How has your love for jazz and art influenced your poetic works?
CP: It’s absolutely everything. When I was going through a very dark time after my grandfather died I was finding it hard to be okay with life altogether, with art, with self. I honestly didn’t want to be here anymore and I thought about that daily. Then one day I heard a solo saxophone on my mother’s radio when I was a few too many glasses of wine deep. Haha. I remember closing my eyes and crying and thinking to myself, “ this is it. whatever I am missing. This is it.” I think it really shows in my latest jazz work. It’s an ever-evolving thing. But jazz, yes, it is kind of my everything at the moment. An extension of myself.
LN: What is your personal favorite poem from your new collection Old Soul Love?
CP: Probably the poem that ends with the line, “ Seeing the best in people, the bruised, mosaic light stretching for a way out of the cracks, is the greatest, most burdensome art I have ever known.”
LN: What has been one of the most rewarding experiences you have had in your writing career thus far?
CP: Getting to write an album with an award-winning Jazz pianist in Australia. I hope to do more of these types of things in the future. Again, JAZZ. haha.
LN: Who or what inspires you the most to keep writing and keep pursuing your dreams?
CP: The human condition always. To explain how God is the bum and the bum is God and to color every layer as best as I can in-between. To marry the metaphor and hope to bring along as many people with me. 🙂