When DuEwa Frazier asked me to be the editor for her collection of poems, Goddess Under the Bridge, I was overwhelmed (look at her extensive biography below!), then honored, then floored by the sheer genius of her poetic voice. DuEwa is not a poet to be taken lightly. She can be heard reading her poems at some of the most prestigious events in the country, and then, you just as easily might find her teaching form and structure to a small group of young burgeoning poets who are striving to find their voices. She does it all, but most important, DuEwa is a kind-hearted spirit who I am happy to consider a friend. Please join me in welcoming DuEwa to my blog.
DuEwa Frazier is an award nominated poet, educator, literacy advocate and author of the forthcoming young adult novel, Deanne in the Middle. DuEwa is the author of Goddess Under the Bridge (2013), Ten Marbles and a Bag to Put Them In: Poems for Children (2010), Stardust Tracks on a Road (2005), and Shedding Light From My Journeys (2002). She is the editor and publisher of the NAACP Image Award nominated (in Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry) anthology, Check the Rhyme: An Anthology of Female Poets & Emcees (July 2006), featuring the work of fifty internationally/nationally known women poets.
Check the Rhyme also received nominations from Writers Digest Publishing Award and African American Literary Award Show. She founded Lit Noire Publishing in 2002 and has produced numerous literary and performance events featuring poets, novelists and musicians across New York City and in other locations.
DuEwa has been called a “gifted and conscious performing poet.” Her poetry has been published in Essence Magazine, Reverie Journal, Kweli Journal, Tidal Basin Review, Poetry In Performance, Drumvoices Revue, Black Arts Quarterly, X Magazine and other publications. In 2005 she featured in the documentary film “Rhyme and Reason.” DuEwa has also been featured on WE TV’s “Cinematherapy,” Oxygen Network, CBS’ “The Good Wife,” Manhattan Cable Network, and in the short sci-fi film “Passengers of 7D.”
She has been a featured poet, author and speaker at arts venues, conferences, schools and colleges. DuEwa has been profiled in numerous literary outlets and as a journalist, her editorials, arts profiles and interviews have been featured in Mosaic Literary Magazine, Aalbc.com, Allhiphop.com, DaveyD.com, Mahogany Butterfly Online, EzineArticles and others.
As an educator she has taught English and Theater Arts for secondary students, facilitated parent and professional development workshops, written education articles and created writing curriculum for public schools and non-profit organizations. DuEwa earned the B.A. degree in English at Hampton University, the M.Ed. degree in Curriculum and Teaching at Fordham University and the M.F.A. degree in Creative Writing at The New School. She is a 2013 candidate for the Ed.M. degree in Educational Leadership at Columbia University in New York City.
When did you first start writing? Do you remember your first poem or story, and if so, what was it about?
I first started keeping a journal when I was around nine years old. I kept notes about my life, drawings and maybe the beginnings of what I thought were poems. As a college student at Hampton University, I wrote poems and I joined the student literary society. I was shy then and didn't share my work. I was also a staff writer for our student newspaper. I considered myself a budding writer and I hoped to one day have my writing published after college.
Thematically, what types of poems do you find yourself writing about most?
My recent collection, Goddess Under the Bridge, features poems that pay homage to jazz harpist and organist Alice Coltrane, also Lucille Clifton, Pearl Cleage and Suzan Lori Parks. I write about history and places such as St. Louis where I grew up. I write about the experiences and struggles of others, and sometimes I write after reading something in the news that really bothers me. There is a poem I wrote titled "The Winner," that I ended up feeling was about Whitney Houston, even though I wrote it before she passed.
How do your poems “reveal” themselves to you?
Life and what is happening all around us informs my work. I read poetry, but history, music, and current events also inspire my poems. Conversations inspire my work, also new things that I learn in everyday interactions. My poems come in strings of words that I have to write down and then over time, in revision they are formed or revealed.
Who are some of your poetic influences – those literary giants whose shoulders you stand on?
I'm going to start from the beginning. First, Sonia Sanchez, because my mother played her recordings for me when I was a child and I met her for the first time when I was seven years old at Washington University in St. Louis. I've been influenced by many other writers, not just poets including: Zora Neale Hurston, Nikki Giovanni, Alice Walker, Lucille Clifton, James Baldwin, Khalil Gibran, Rumi, Joy Harjo, J. California Cooper, Flannery O' Connor and others. My poetry and writing is equally influenced by music. Jazz influences such as Alice and John Coltrane and rock/funk influences such as Prince and Sly and the Family Stone have been great inspirations.
Who are some new, up-and-coming poets you think we should be on the lookout for?
I don't know who is "up-and-coming" but there are quite a few poets who have been around for a while and who I admire including: Natasha Trethewey (Poet Laureate), Monica Hand, Truth Thomas and Thomas Sayers Ellis, among others.
You are the author of 4 books of poetry; you’ve edited an anthology…besides all of those wonderful and amazing things, what are some of your other passions?
Education and supporting our youth in their growth and achievement is extremely important to me. I enjoy speaking to groups and facilitating workshops. Music and performing my poetry is also a passion of mine.
Tell us about your recent book of poetry, Goddess Under the Bridge? What motivated you to write that book?
Goddess Under the Bridge features poems that pay homage to legendary and notable women artists and writers. “Goddess Under the Bridge” is a title of one of the poems and the overarching voice or narrator in the work. When we think of the word Goddess, we think of what is spiritual, magical, or other-worldly. Here in the way that I use it, I reveal the theme of the Goddess through the gritty, dark and painful parts of life – what is ugly and often hidden, not necessarily magical. There is a saying: "The devil is in the details." Well, the goddess is in the details, and the dirt too in these poems. The poems tell a story, different locations and images. Some of the poems are from current events; others are from the past and deal with more historical connections. I was motivated to tell a story, but not in the conventional sense. I think readers will have revelation of that fact when they read Goddess Under the Bridge.
I know asking a poet to identify his/her favorite poem is like asking a mother to identify her favorite child; however, I am going to ask the question anyway. Is there one poem you’ve written over the years that makes you say, “Wow. I wrote that.”
I'm going to say that one of my favorite poems is "Sun of My Son" a poem that is featured in my first book of poetry titled Shedding Light From My Journeys. The poem was first published in Essence Magazine in 1999, so it was my very first published poem. (Click here to hear DuEwa read “Sun of My Son.”)
What is next, DuEwa?
I have a few things in the works, but I hope that readers will check out my new book Goddess Under the Bridge which is now available in paperback and the Kindle edition at Amazon.com. Click here to order on Amazon. Visit my website at www.duewaworld.com and connect with me via Twitter @DuEwaWorld.
Thank you DuEwa. It has been a pleasure chatting with you!
If you would like a chance to win a copy of DuEwa's latest book, Goddess Under the Bridge, leave a comment below and you will be entered into a drawing for an autographed copy of this amazing book. The winner will be announced here, so stay tuned. If you want to make sure you get all updates on my blog, please register to receive blog updates by clicking on the box to your right of this entry! Thanks and have a wonderful day.