Note: Just for the fun of it, I was interviewed by a college student (?) before a writers workshop in Pomona, California back in 2005. I hope you enjoy what you’re about to read and find out a few more facts about this poet.
Charles L. Chatmon, aka ‘chat’, 39 years old, Los Angeles, CA and my relation to this student is that she showed up at the Pomona Library while my writers group planned to hold a writers workshop. I plead the fifth on anything other past that 🙂
Well, I can say I have a website, http://www.charleslchatmon.com to verify my existence 🙂
How hard is it to come up with new poems?
It’s a constant challenge to find a theme or a message to weave into my poetry. I don’t want two poems to read or sound the same so I always try to find something new, fresh from a different angle.
How often do you use similes and metaphors in your writing?
I use them whenever I can. Otherwise, I just use examples from history to prove my argument.
What do you find harder? Having a deadline for a poem about anything, or having to write about a particular topic, but given all the time you needed?
The deadline. Poetry is a free flowing genre. The things you feel in your heart can’t be rushed.
How much time do you usually spend writing a poem?
It depends on the topic or subject of the poem. It either takes minutes or years to come up with a great poem I like.
What do you like about being a poet?
I share my words with the public and hear their reactions when I speak in a crowd.
What do you dislike?
The fact that when I read a finished poem, (published) that I find either it was a stanza too long or that I should have left the poem as is without any changes.
Which poet influenced you the most? (if any influence)
Shakespeare and Langston Hughes to name a few.
How hard is it to work with publishers?
It’s been a joy for me to work with a publisher who lets me create my book the way I want.
What skill do you find to be most important in becoming a poet?
Learning to capture the imagination of the readers or audience by using metaphors, similes, and clear imagery of what you’re writing about to share with the public.
What do you think would be a weakness in becoming a poet?
Not being clear in your thoughts, not pouring out your soul on paper.
How long does it usually take for a book of your poems to be ready for publication?
About a year, sometimes shorter if everything goes as planned.
What do you think of the publication process? Was it hard or easy for you to get a work published?
Through networking with other authors/ poets, I was able to find a publisher and a well known one at that, to work with. I think the publication process is a good one if you can find a reliable publisher who is interested in helping you achieve your dream rather than your hard earned money.
What was your story of becoming a poet?
I started writing short stories when I was younger. Then I decided to ‘expand’ so I began writing poetry soon thereafter. It’s been great because I can express myself directly as in writing a short story, my characters speak for me.
How “privileged” were you growing up? How did this affect your poetry?
Not too privileged. Whenever I could find time to write, I did. I think the many quiet times I’ve spent helped me develop as a poet.
How often are you asked to make an appearance in public?
Whenever there is an event for me to sell my books, such as a book expo, but now that I’m doing these writers workshops with my group, I’m in the public eye quite often. Not including spoken word venues here in town.
How much do you receive in the way of a “salary”
I have a regular job, so I’ll never go hungry (whew). Selling the books I wrote also provides extra income for me too.
What do you suggest as a good, helpful part-time job for this job?
I would suggest find a job with a skill you do the best and stay with it as long as you can.
How much money do you spend (if any) on materials?
I spend a lot for promotional materials such as signs, banners and flyers.
Who inspired you to continue along this path?
The many authors and poets who walked this journey before me.
Who supported you in this choice of a career?
My loving parents!
Was there anyone who didn’t support you in this?
A few people, but you learn to move on without them. It’s your dream, not theirs.
Did you ever feel restricted by your parents in trying out things to better your chances in this career path?
No, but I was advised to ‘fall back’ on something in case it didn’t work out.
What do you think are 5 qualities that a good poet should have?
They should have imagery, articulation, expression, ambition, and perseverance.
Have you ever found out that a poem of yours sounded similar to someone else’s?
No, I haven’t (whew!)
What are your favorite types of poems to write?
Love poems are my favorite!