CHARLES PETERS has his priorities in order. After years of pursuing his love of words as a poet, musician and author, the San Antonio native is going back to school to become an educator. LuxuryAwaits.com recently caught up with the featured performer on Verses & Flow Episode Three, to discuss his many talents, why words are so powerful, and the meaning behind his book title, The Last Poem on The Last Day.
LA: Your love for spoken word runs deep. So much so that you founded a movement in San Antonio called Free Verse Fridays. Was that prompted from what you perceived as the need for spoken word there? Also, tell us about the process of starting a movement from the ground up.
CP: To be direct, yes, there was a great need in the city for a consistent, unique, soulful, spoken word home. I think all movements are born out of necessity and passion. But, it wasn't just me: the Free Verse Friday movement was successful because poets like Kinton and Gloria Armmer, Andrea Sanderson, Michael Dees, Ron Horne, T.S. Alex, Mike B, Darrell Pittman, and so many others took ownership and treated it as their own. Hair salons and barber shops [started] coming through the door, 10, 12 [people] at a time. And most importantly, Faye, the owner of Continental Cafe, the venue where it started and still continues to thrive (as 2nd Verse), was and is committed to the movement. When you’re building a poetry scene, the priority for everyone involved has to be the art and the community. A movement has to move, so it was a matter of all of us moving in the same direction at the same time. We have all reaped the reward of seeing a city find its voice.
You're also a musician. What can people expect when they come out to hear your band, MoJoe?
MoJoe is a complete musical experience. We use a live band so we can transition from soul to blues to jazz to rock to hip-hop throughout our show. We use rap as a tool and instrument to add to the experience. And the other member of the group, Treson Scipio, has such a soulful and weathered voice; so we weave his melodies and singing into the music. Our last album came out digitally in 2009. We’ve both been busy working on other projects, but we recently started working on new MoJoe music. We’re excited about the catalogue and future of the band.
And in addition to all of that, you're also an author, with your latest work being The Last Poem on the Last Day. What's the meaning behind the title? What message are you sending with the book?
I chose that title for two reasons. Nikki Giovanni has a poem that includes the line ‘the last poem will be a love poem’. That line is profound and it means so much to me as a husband and poet. For all the great poems that have been and will be written, LOVE will always be the greatest poem. I also chose that title because I want this to be the last poem I have to write about how my decisions and indiscretions put my relationship at stake. I went through a season where I behaved very selfishly and irresponsibly, and it affected so many people I love. I know I’ve grown since then, but this book is my reminder to keep growing, keep learning, and keep writing. I hope it inspires others to do the same.
What was the Verses & Flow experience like for you?
It was a highlight of my young career. I know these kinds of opportunities are rare for spoken word artists. Right when Def Poetry Jam was jumping off, I was slowing down with my spoken word work and digging into music, and I missed that movement. It’s a miracle that I got a chance to be a part of this new movement. I’ve been falling back in love with poetry and spoken word this year. I never lost love, but distance makes the heart grow fonder. The Verses & Flow experience has given me so much energy and focus. A blessing is the best way I can describe it.
Everyone wants to leave a legacy behind of which they'd be proud. With all that you've accomplished and continue to do--when all is said and done, what would you like your legacy to be?
I'm about to embark on one of the most important journeys of my life--I’m pursuing a degree in education. Every legendary poet I look up to became an educator at some point. And now that I know my true calling, I can see why. Words are powerful, and the same way the U.S. military trains soldiers on how to use their weapons properly, our youth need to be instructed on how beautiful (or destructive) words can be. As a community, we dropped that ball along the way. A poet's job is not to impress other poets at open mic readings; our job is to educate and hip the world to the power of words. I can't imagine how many lives, relationships, marriages, families, neighborhoods, cities, states, and countries could have been saved or changed if we all understood the real POWER our words hold.
for more interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, and web-exclusive videos from the
talented poets of "Verses & Flow" in the coming weeks.