By nature, I’m what you consider to be a conscious writer. Of course, that word has been overused over the years by prominent artists, I can see why folks are confused by speakers who utter a lot of words, but nothing connects on an intellectual level. Don’t get me wrong; in no way do I compare myself with ‘the greats’ and if somehow I reach that level with the poems and articles Iâve written so far then the reading public will be the judge as it should be.
What I do finally puzzling is a lack of these artists to use their talents to elevate the masses,using them in order to push forward a political agenda which a true conscious artist should never do.
Aesop created his fables persuading us to reflect on the human condition through the use of animals as the main characters, Shakespeare wrote plays dealing with complex characters faced with choices that either creates success or ruin, Bradbury and those who followed him scripted tales causing us to consider the pleasures we enjoy now could mean our downfall later. (A Fahrenheit 451 reference for you). English was my major so I spent my youth devouring every morsel of thought from a variety of writers who encouraged me to follow their footsteps. Their written words persuaded a young Black man from South (Central) Los Angeles to be a âconsciousâ writer. The payoff I will say has paid off very well.
So what is this ‘conscious’ writing you speak of Chatmon? You reader may ask. At the age of 17, I had my first whiff of the influence of conscious writing at a YMCA campfire in the San Bernardino mountains pouring out through verse my thoughts of romance, the world around us including my neighborhood. One counselor told me she enjoyed my poems because it made her think.
Made her think.
In a poetry reading on a college campus nine years later, a young woman approached me urging me to read my poetry to a group because in her words, ‘you have something to say.’ Five years after that, a group of Black women on an internet site praised ‘A Message to Black Women’ because of its uplifting, positive message. You see, a conscious writer doesn’t always have to ring the warning bell in the cases of social injustice; he or she can use their talent to inspire the best within us, all of us. They make us think.
Today’s conscious literary and musical artists are fixated on how many likes they will get, how many followers they can obtain by expressing the most outlandish, baffling stance or comment. They know you will click on that website just to hear what they have to say. Do they ever make sense? It depends on whether the listener or reader agrees. I would wager most of us donât take the time to research the issue they speak of or even challenge them on their point. They choose to hear or read it from a second hand source.
A conscious writer shouldnât be swayed by public opinion. They should always resist the allure of the multitude who tells them to ‘change that storyline’, ‘delete that poem’, ‘don’t use that gender pronoun’, etc. How can one be conscious if he or she allows the people dictate to them what, how and when to write? A conscious writer is always, always, always going to offend someone. Their objective is not to make them happy for the sake of social convenience but to present a clear and honest picture for all to see.
Ever since my high school days, I consider myself a conscious writer. My words are meant to inspire, encourage, uplift. I cannot nor will not write to promote a political cause for this generation only. The goal is to encourage each and every generation after mine to read my words and think. If you donât have those goals in mind and consider yourself a conscious writer, that is for the readers to judge, not I.
To all the conscious writers who clearly have their task at hand in this generation and the next, much success to you. Never give up, never give in. Always make people think even if they feel offended.
Charles L. Chatmon