When a poet like Andrew Boyd comes along, I just have to ask myself one important question: Can I get him onto ‘Novel Ideas’? I asked and Andrew said yes! What can I tell you about the talented Mr Boyd? He has just released his first volume of poetry– it’s called WORDPLAY and is currently doing just fine for him. Andrew is a resident of Philly and enjoys spending time with his family. He gives poetry recitals… Wait, why am I telling you all this? Let’s ask Andrew…
Q) Okay, Andrew– I have to ask! How does it feel to finally be published?
A) There is a saying that Dr. Phil uses: “It’s time to get Excited about your life!” That quote perfectly sums up how I feel. It is a VERY exciting time for me! To see all of the hard work, emotions, and life experiences go into an art as intriguing as poetry, and then have it published is truly an amazing, humbling, and surreal feeling.
Q) I bet! I guess this is a time of huge change for you then?
A) Absolutely!! Every day is a change, no matter how big or small. Seeing myself in this light was something that I NEVER thought could or would happen. When I saw all of the poetry that I wrote and the times that I performed spoken word, I received a great deal of positive feedback. Seeing that, as well as encouragement from my family and friends, it was only a matter of time before the proverbial ‘publishing trigger’ was pulled.
Q) Now, one of the big questions I always have for poets is this: how do you find the inspiration for your work?
A) Inspiration-wise, I draw my poetic energy from my emotions, surroundings, and life experiences. Those key components help me write what is called “Relatable Poetry;” that is, poetry where I believe that if someone reads it, they can relate to what I was saying, causing a sense of “I am not alone in this situation.”
Q) That’s one of the things that drew me to you, Andrew. I can relate to your work and to you as a person. How did you get into writing poetry? What was the catalyst for you?
A) I started writing in the 10th Grade, actually. There was a writing assignment for English class, and I was instructed by my teacher Mrs. Gibson to NOT use profanity. Somehow, that bit of information slipped my mind, and I wrote a string of profanity-laced conversation that portrayed an argument between my brother and myself. I went to hand it in, and she said, “You forgot that I said no profanity, didn’t you?” Imagine my embarrassment! She gave me a C+, noting that if I did not use so much profanity, I would have gotten an A+ for creativity and substance. As soon as I heard her say that, I knew that there was something brewing within me that was unique. I wrote a few more stories (profanity free), and I had my teachers laughing due to my active imagination– I got A’s for those! While attending Beaver College (now Arcadia University), poetry struck me when I learned an important lesson in trust. This lesson birthed “D.T.A.” (Don’t Trust Anybody; inspired by “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s catchphrase). From there, I honed my emotions, transferred them to poetry, and four more poems came out from there. I took a fourteen year hiatus to concentrate on getting my life together (working, relationships, health, etc.); was and still am doing pretty well. Then fate struck again!
I was invited to NYC by my friend and fellow poet Joy Baker to hear her perform her poetry the weekend of March 20, 2010. While listening to her do her poetry Friday night and then Saturday evening, SOMETHING stirred deep within me. I pulled out my cell phone and started typing in my notes. By the time I was done, “Transforming Us” was born. I looked at the poem, then sent it to Joy. She loved it!!
At that point, something that I thought I had lost has returned, resurfaced, and made its presence known.
Q) That’s an incredible journey! You’ve been fighting some health problems too, right? How are you feeling now, health-wise?
A) I am doing great health-wise! My doctors cannot be happier, and my blood work shows no signs of rejection of my second kidney transplant. It’ll be four years September 29 this year having my “Young Lady.” I call her my “Young Lady” because my donor was female.
Q) That’s great to hear, Andrew! So tell me more about WORDPLAY— your brand new book. Have you done any public readings?
A) I have performed spoken word in NYC, and I have done it as much as possible here in Philadelphia.
My great friends Jade Williams and Larry Freeman (introduced to me by my high school classmate and dear friend Baeednah Anderson) had a showcase called “Woosah Wednesday.” They had shows every Wednesday where they featured independent artists from all walks of life. While in NYC, my dear friends Caprice Starbrite and Chante Ramsey are known as “Synchronized Rhythm,” where they feature independent artists as well. I made my return to spoken word with them as an opening poet for my dear friend N’Tirzah Al Rephaim’s show in June of 2010. From then on, the response from my spoken word performances have been nothing short of awesome!
Q) That is fantastic to hear! You are building quite a name for yourself and a great reputation. I’ve always wondered– how do poets choose which poems they want to recite in public?
A) I am trying to build a name for myself! (Laughs)
Some of my friends believe that I was long overdue. I tell them that I am right on time.
The poems that I choose to recite are based on faith in my abilities (looking at my list of poems and picking instinctively) and friendly advice from Caprice Starbrite. She knows my poetry like the back of her hand and follows my writing closely. She and I have written several poems together, each one much more intense than the last one. And who better than someone who knows your poetry, right?
Q) Okay, now I have a challenge for you! Can you recite a poem right now for this interview?
A) I can do that for you! Give me a topic, and I can give you one.
Q) Let’s try… Inner city crime.
A) Good One!
Safe neighborhoods threatened by a negative change,
I look at my surroundings; fearing the things to come.
Vehicular Homicides, Drive-Bys,
Burglaries, Muggings, Robberies,
Even people walking up on others and killing them
In the name of satisfying what ever quirk
Is living and residing deep within their soul.
I have never seen anything like this up close
And I am thankful for that,
Yet I cannot help but feel Compassion and Sadness
For those that have lost loved ones to Crime and Violence.
Friends losing Friends, and Families losing Family,
I can only Hope and Pray that it slows down at the least.
If not, “Hell on Earth” will continue,
Until all is lost to this nonsense.
Q) That’s fantastic! When did you write that one?
A) Fun Fact: I JUST thought this up– nothing was in my poetry on this topic. I might need to publish this one!
Q) Well… I bow down to your genius, brother! All kudos to you! You know, reading that, I have only just realised how close poetry is to rap music. Have you ever noticed that?
A) Yes, it is! When you really think about it, every song is poetry, the only difference is that it is spoken and/or sung with music. I actually wrote a little rap back in the early 2000s. My dad heard a song that I wrote, and he said that it was pretty good. I haven’t written anything rap-wise in years; I may revisit it, yet my poetry is my heart.
Q) Man, all that talent. So let’s get back on track. How did you choose which poems to include in WORDPLAY?
A) The poems were not difficult to choose; I trusted Caprice with the task. I gave her a screenshot of the poems, and she selected thirty of them. I wanted a total of thirty-five for my book, and I chose the remaining five.
The title of my book WORDPLAY: Poetry for The Soul needed poems that embodied the title. The poems that were chosen fit the title perfectly. The order of the poems was done by my hand; the titles tell a story in themselves, and if read a certain way, the titles form a poem.
Q) You’ve obviously thought a lot about your work. How have your family taken to it? I know you are really close to them.
A) When my family heard that I was publishing, they were extremely proud of me! Their positivity, criticisms, and never ending support spoke volumes. My parents Jay and Deborah Thompson heard me perform about two years ago, and they knew that I had something special. They were there when I wrote and constructed my book and saw every step firsthand. When the proof came to the house from CreateSpace, I was NERVOUS to open the package. I just stared for ten minutes, then opened it. My dad thought I was going to cry! (laughs)
I looked it over and showed it to my Great Uncle Daniel Boyd. He was and is VERY proud to see me live my dream. My brother looked at it and thumbed through the book with a huge smile. I told my sister Latoya and her husband Marvin Richardson, and they are very proud of me, also. My parents were, and still are proud of me; they brag to their friends about my accomplishment!
Q) I guess I should ask you this, Andrew. You are one fantastically positive dude. Has being the recipient of a kidney donor made you appreciate life more? Has it changed the way you think about life?
A) It certainly has!
I have learned a lot about trust, hope, faith, and support from family and friends during the last twenty-seven years. My illness started in 1986, and it was an interesting road that was traveled: doctor appointments, two dialysis stints (1993 and 2009), and two kidney transplants (December 9, 1993, and September 29, 2009).
While speaking with my parents on one of our countless occasions, they saw that I look at life with a strong sense of clarity of how the world is, and being someone who can inspire others with my trips to hell and back.
Seeing that I am still standing after all that has occurred, my mom lovingly calls me “Her Walking Miracle.”
I am now living life to the fullest: traveling, having fun with friends and family, and I am with someone who makes me smile more than usual; and THAT is a beautiful thing to have in my life!
Q) I agree with you totally on that one. The beautiful things in life are not to be taken for granted at all. Thank you for your time, Andrew.
A) Thank you for having me! I Greatly appreciate you interviewing me!
Andrew is a marvel. He has survived two transplants, a world of health worries and look at him. He still stands strong… I think with the drive and ambition he has already shown, it would be a safe bet to say that he will be a successful poet for many years to come. WORDPLAY: Poetry for The Soul is available now! You can connect with Andrew on Facebook and be sure to visit his Author Page on Amazon.