Brooklyn Poetry Slams at BRIC House feature an inter-generational roster of Brooklyn-based poets who respond to city culture, national issues, and the exhibitions on view the gallery, as well as an open mic portion where the public may sign up to share their words. Hosted by the extraordinary Mahogany L. Browne, with music by DJ Jive Poetic, these slams take place regularly on the BRIC House stoop. Here, Mahogany interviews the winner of our December 2, 2015 Brooklyn Poetry Slam, Anthony McPherson.
How did you get your start writing poetry? A friend of mine (Malcolm Hines) thought I'd be good at it, so he literally locked in my dorm and wouldn't let me out until I came out with a poem. He was bigger'n me, so I had no choice. Turns out, the poem was pretty good. It landed me a spot on the Urban Word '08 team.
Who inspires you to continue writing? Recently, I started writing with biracial folk in mind. I have mixed people coming up to me all the time now, thanking me for putting words to thoughts and internal issues they didn't know they'd burried. When an elderly biracial man comes up to you crying, asking "Why didn't you write this sooner?" ...you tend not to want to make that mistake again. I also write at the bigots: misogynists, racists, etc. They inspire me a lot.
How has Brooklyn informed your writing? I was born in Oklahoma City. When I moved to Manhattan in 2007, I learned the word 'Gentrification' from a Brooklynite. My childhood memories are Lake Hefner, and chasing grasshoppers, and stickfighting near the creek, and white folk calling me a good boy. NYC isn't my home, so when I heard Brooklyn and Harlem aren't how they used to be, that had no weight on my past. Even though I'm not white*, I had to realize that my moving to NY might have been a gentri-fucked up move. Is it wrong to move to another city, though? Isn't 'moving to the big city' part of NY culture? Is this my white half justifying its colonizing self? These are questions I have to examine in my biracial writing. But if I stayed my ass in Oklahoma, I would've been white washed and died in some capacity. And I never would've met Brooklyn-based writers like Mahogany, Jive Poetic, Falu and the many others who have pushed me at the very bottom of my soul to step my game all the effing way up. Even if moving to NY was an act of white-ness, It was a moved that helped me find my blackness.
Where is your favorite place in Brooklyn? It used to be a friend's house, but she moved away. I don't know now, but I'll prolly move to BK someday when I get my money right.
What is your next step for your art? Ever since I lost my job last year (for taking a poetry gig), I've been living off of poems. Barely. My next step is improving my livelihood without double-backing to a job that isn't my art. To me, that entails getting a new book of poems published, submitting the poems that don't fit into the book to publications, and (please gawd) getting into the college performance circuit. I create fairly often, but I need to create a damn career! It's time.
About Anthony McPherson: Anthony McPherson (aka Tony Fearnone) hails from Oklahoma by way of Harlem. A biracial poet, his pieces on race and love have earned him the rank of 13th on earth (IWPS 2015), and garnered the attention of Button Poetry, The Huffington Post and Upworthy. You can see him perform in an upcoming Lions Gate film, title to be announced. He is a Nuyorican Grand Slam poet (3rd at NPS 2012), and an Urban Word alum (2nd at BNV '08). Mr. Fearnone represents those who left home far behind to make it, and those who will go far enough to find themselves - their best selves.