What does Marcus Amaker, The Golden girls, and Prince have in common? They all bring people together through the careful and thoughtful selection of words. Marcus is known for his poetry in Charleston, in fact, he’s the first Poet Laureate in his city. This unique and honorable position was created by the government as an initiative to expand literary arts in schools and the city. What makes Marcus even more special is how he is way more than just music, he’s also immensely passionate about his music and his graphic design, especially the work he does for a national magazine entitled No Depression which focuses on roots music. We had the pleasure of sitting down with Marcus to learn about his illustrious position and passion.
From a young age, Marcus has been involved and inspired by other musicians and disciplines within the creative space. “The first time I heard Prince was when I was 10 years old. Seeing his Vinyl inspired me at a young age because I wanted to write like that, I wanted my artwork to look like that. So, I started making music, drawing, and singing songs when I was really young; it was always sort of a package deal.”
Being Charleston’s first Poet Laureate means having the opportunity to be a voice, not only for poets but for all types of artists. It’s important that artists, especially sort of funky type of artists, are at the table when decisions are being made and have a hand in seeing how things work. That is really important but also it’s his life’s work to be in schools and for kids to see that you can be a ‘rockstar’ (at least for them it feels that way). To him, it feels really great because he believes they need more kids to write and express themselves – especially boys, but men too. It’s been really cool for him to be able to show kids that it’s cool to cry and to express themselves through honesty in poetry.
Last year, Marcus began Charleston’s first poetry festival: Free Verse. His favorite thing about the festival is the “Poetry as Public Art” projects. Poems are displayed on windows and murals around town as well as flyers called “lost poems.” When a tag is pulled, a local phone number is revealed and people can call to hear a poem. He’s excited for people to interact with poetry even though they might not know the festival is going on.
In 5 years, Marcus sees a dedicated space where Charleson’s poetry community can live in rather than constantly trying to find a place to fit in. He’s very blessed to be able to work with many venues but having a poetry house would be really cool.