By Natalie GeldWhyAreWeWhispering.com
“I should have called instead of updating my status on social
network sites, no I am not well, yes I am struggling…
Gone are they, the days of coming by with chicken noodle
Now I would rather send you an e-cauldron of broth via face book…
But I give you my poetic word that I’m dying to live again. and just be.”
(excerpts from Humanity by Azure Antoinette)
Natalie: You have a sensual vitality at hello, a powerful feminine presence that I’ve admired - your work expresses this in various ways. Why?
Azure: We aren’t walking around as brain stems. I would say sensuality plays a huge part in who I am as a person, who I am as a writer, definitely who I am as a poet. For women, it’s important to cultivate their sensuality – because it’s a vital part of what creates us, of who we are.
Our mind is not separate from our body, our sexuality not separate from our heart and spirit – it’s all combined, unified.
Natalie: Many of us are still banging around in the dark about our sexuality, who’s your greatest influence? Sounds like they’ve imparted a healthy sense of sexuality and a consciousness of your own emotional life that you can harness.
Azure: My mother – she’s breathtaking, and adopted both my sister and I, raised us as a single parent. She taught us subtlety, was very competent and danced with cockiness, but never quite stepped over the line. I have always seen my mother cry for exactly the right reasons, never reckless with her emotions just because she’s a woman or whatever the hell that means.
Watching her interact with the opposite sex and people of her demographic, whether in her corporate structure or society, has been very pivotal for me as a young woman growing up, transitioning into each phase of my life. I found men really respond to a woman that knows what she wants, yet isn’t crass about it.
Natalie: What catalyzed your decision to become an artist and Spoken Word poet?
Azure: I don’t know if it was a conscious decision on my part - it seems it was designed and destined for me.
My mom was heavily into literature and the arts while I was growing up. I started reading Maya Angelou around at 8 or 9, segued into Edgar Allan Poe and then into Shakespeare. Def Poetry Jam was the first time I’d ever seen Spoken Word, (which is performance poetry), and Chicago poet, Marty McConnell, the first poet I’d seen perform. She did this poem called Instructions For a Body, an amazing piece about doing your part. At any rate, I was hooked. In that particular moment, I thought ‘I want to do this.’ I had seen Maya Angelou read before and she is not what I would call Spoken Word. She would be classified there, but you know she can read a cereal box and it would be profound for me because she just carries a vibration about her as a person.
Natalie: You’re a dynamo - spreading your creativity and vision generously... what else are you involved in?
Natalie: Is that how your poem ‘Humanity’ came about?
Azure: Yeah…she noticed at the register of a convenience store that day there were 8 or 9 energy drinks ready to pick up. She felt it’d kind of taken over - people’s ability to stave off sleep, because they're so inundated with what they consider to be important; when in essence, you know, saying ‘hello’ and sticking around for the end of ‘how are you’ is really what we need to focus on. She asked me how I felt about that, and I realized I’d been struggling with that myself. My mom taught us about the art of writing a thank-you note, and how we don’t practice the simplicities of person-to-person interaction anymore because it is all e-mails and text. And I am so attached to all my electronic devices! I can’t even function if something goes dead or I forget my Blackberry, or I don‘t have my laptop ... I am like, oh my gosh, I could have capitalized on this time, I can’t believe that I left my computer at home today… instead of just taking it all in or saying hello, or grabbing a cup of tea --
Natalie: The art of simple gratitude and just being in the moment... right?
Azure: Just existing, without juggling 7 tasks in 7 different cities with the touch of Send, you know. Seems we’ve all but forgotten about time prior technology.
Natalie: Are you intimating that our communication is being numbed by electronics and that if we’re no longer interacting personally, intimacy is somehow stunted and our humanity drained?
Azure: Yeah, I think it’s being diluted. Communication’s so e-mail and chat-driven... how can you possibly get the meat and potatoes of a conversation when you are preoccupied doing 6 different things at once via some sort of electronic screen, all the while having a “heart to heart” with your best friend?
Natalie: Being in overdrive constantly…with little rest, or regard for restorative space.
Natalie: You just mentioned a catharthis, can you elaborate on that a little bit?
Azure: Yeah sure, sure. You know when I think about it, poetry really fills my life... What I have really enjoyed about becoming a poet, and then being a student of language is how to communicate effectively. You experience the beauty of using verbal imagery and have poetic license to do what you will, you know. And so as long as you stay true to the craft, it really allows you to describe sense.
Natalie: Sense…can you give me an example?
Azure: You may never have smelled despair before, but in poetry you can really talk about that and people understand - they know exactly what you mean - they know what despair smells like, it’s a familiar scent.
So I have really enjoyed getting to know myself in that respect, to have a relief from emotional storms as opposed to a hollow - 'hey, how are you doing, ’oh, I’m good' - knowing damn well it means, 'I couldn’t be any worse.' Just to write and get the darkness out. Once it’s out and on the page, it’s not lurking in my subconscious anymore, it’s not shrouding my conscious mind, it’s just out, it’s gone.
Natalie: Is writing a good tool for women to ‘get it down and out’ for themselves?
There is no joke in that, because when you reread something and you thought it sounded really good when you wrote it, you find yourself realizing, ‘I don’t even know what I said right there.’ It's very therapeutic, because you may realize you sound ridiculous or want something completely unattainable.
Natalie: Or, it's not what you really meant, or you’re riffing off of old triggers.
Azure: Right. Or what you think should be important, may not really matter to you at all. You know right away when you hear it. So say it.
Natalie: ’Bittersweet,’ your new book of poetry, is beautiful work Azure – is there a message, an underlying theme?
Azure: Love. However you want to look at it, whether it's bitter or sweet, all love comes from that premise. I couldn’t find another word that explained the emotion of love better. Because it's not all good, it's not a honeymoon all the time. When you love, you can’t be reckless and it's got to have some mobility to it too, it's got to have a bit of reverse - some reciprocity.
And it’s cool that there’s no gender bias to Bittersweet, because I tend to write from male and female perspectives.
Natalie: How have you evolved from your work?
Azure: I have learned to be more pliable with my own beliefs of what is relevant. To really see those you love for who they are, and like and share in what brings them joy, to just take blessing and pleasure in knowing that you are one of the things that they love. And, to be more forthcoming really, to speak out.
Natalie: Another poem of yours that strikes a chord is ’Take It Sweetly,’ which seems to be an expression of the value of a woman - of her power, fragility, humility and simplicity, even sensuality.
Azure: We women are quite the conundrum, although we’re simpler than men give us credit for. Also, if men and women would operate from a humane perspective and a point of decency, we would get along so much better - as people and in relationships. http://www.azureantoinette.com/