Get to know Charlotte Lewis, a Scranton based poet who will be performing an original piece at the fringe artist mixer and fundraiser this Wednesday at the POSH at the Scranton Club. The fundraiser is open to the public and will feature an open bar from 5 to 7 pm.
Tell us a little about you. What is your poetry background?
My inspiration to write comes from other writers. This is especially true with poetry—being able to witness other poets perform. Other poets, authors, journalists, zine or blog writers help me be more courageous via their own bravery, challenge social or creative conventions by their own unconventionality, help me to peel away layers to my own voice by sharing their own unique voices. In general I am inspired by “famous” people, yes—but more so by people without huge recognition though I would like them to be read by many, published or awarded, of course!
Many of the marginally recognized writers, poets, activists, etc. continue to do their work despite not raking in social/economic rewards and thus with a pure intent to create art, social change, or share their perception. Most importantly–I find them much more tangible to relate to (“Hey, I can do this too!”).
What inspires you?
One of my major influences in poetry is d.a. levy. He lived in Cleveland, Ohio his whole life and had this fathomless spiritual perception of his city and society as a whole. He was a humble, tangible person who, despite his esoteric poetry (mainly ala Tibetan Buddhism) did not hide his impeachable characteristics, didn’t have this absolutist perspective that dilutes reality. His voice wasn’t an antiseptic, but the herald for reality as it is. He didn’t believe in copyright and published his works as well as other writers on a mimeograph machine. An example is the series “3rd Class Buddhist Junkmail Oracle.”
Also, the science fiction author Ursula K. Leguin is a huge influence, as well as the writer for many comic book/graphic novel series, Grant Morrison. I can’t say you might pick up on these influences in my own stuff, but they are definitely inspiring!
Why is fringe poetry important?
Fringe poetry is important because it empowers people.
It empowers the poets writing and/or performing, and it empowers their audience to express themselves too. One of my favorite things about running a poetry reading is having people read for the first time. It is a very brave thing to do—it’s just your voice and the audience. Poetry is this relatively concise and powerful solute and the audience is the solvent—you don’t know what kind of reaction you will get in the concentration. It’s a really raw form of expression. I still shake when I read poetry in front of people.
Can you give us a teaser of what you will be performing on Wednesday at the fundraiser?
Ever since I’ve been invited to perform, I have been working on a piece in honor of the Scranton Fringe Festival. Hopefully ya’ll will feel honored, haha!
You perform monthly in Scranton, can you provide some details on that?
I run an open voice poetry reading, every last Friday of the month, called “Kick Out the Bottom”. This takes place on the 2nd floor of AFA Artists for Art Gallery (514 Lackawanna Avenue, Scranton). The next installation will be on Friday, February 27th. It’s always from 7 until 9 p.m. I say it is “open voice” because there are no featured readers, but 13 open slots for writers to come sign up to perform.Also, you do not have to read poetry, but short fiction, essays, prose, performance art, freestyle/rap, etc..is cool too. You can share your (or other writers) work for 3-5 minutes.
This month’s reading will mark the 14th Kick Out the Bottom. It is a free event. The title is from a d.a. levy poem, “Tombstone as a Lonely Charm, Pt. 3”.
Come meet Charlotte this Wednesday at 5:00 pm – 7:00 pm at the POSH at the Scranton Club. Donations of $15 get you access to an open bar, appetizers, additional entertainment, and the opportunity to meet fellow Scranton artists!