April Glasgow, 26, is a co-founder of the Callaloo Poets
and a former organiser of the annual Microphone Messenjahs poetry reading. A public information officer in the Premier’s Office, the mother of one helps host the Callaloo Poets’ monthly Open Mic Night every third Friday or Saturday at Mellow Moods Café in Road Town.
Do you remember your first poem?
Yes: I was 6 or 7. It was “Butterfly: Flutter sweetly — my, my, my.” I think it was the National Parks Trust’s annual poetry competition. I think I got an honorable mention. That was my very first one. It was like a writing assignment. I was always good in writing. I didn’t think much of it. But apparently at that time they thought I was good. My teacher thought my write-up was the best she read. So that was how I got started.
How did you develop the art since then?
From that age, I would doodle here and there: Mother’s Day, Valentine’s, Father’s Day, sister’s birthday — I would write something and they would appreciate it. I started to read. I didn’t get to read other persons’ poems till my teenage years, when I got close with my sister Sonjah, who introduced me to other poets. I kind of branched out to other poets and random things that I could absorb as poetry.
Do you consider yourself a spoken-word poet?
I wouldn’t consider myself that yet. I think a spoken-word artist is someone who makes impact — someone who addresses an issue in a way that everyone would feel it and take away a message. My style has always been poetry to read. Just read it, enjoy and appreciate. I’ve only recently tried to develop the performance part of my poetry.
How often do you write poems?
I have pieces that I started in February, March, and I’m still working on them. It’s just building up on pieces. I don’t really write every day, per se. Some people sit down and say, “I got to write a piece about this.” For me, it doesn’t work like that.
You’re a member of the Callaloo Poets. Tell me more about that?
It is an understood gathering of people. The open mics began in 2004. Sonjah, who I would say is a spoken-word artist, has a knack for organising. We used to hang out at Mellow Moods every now and again, and one day she said she would speak with Art [Christopher, the Mellow Moods owner,] about having us use the space. Poetry is so integral to your soul; it is what we do. Poetry releases negative energy.
Has the group grown since then?
It hasn’t grown much. The major side of development I’ve been pushing for is Microphone Messenjahs. Other than that particular show, people have moved on and new faces have joined the group. We are hearing new voices and new pieces. I like the readings because the faces change — and the poems too.
Are you seeing more people open up to poetry in the territory?
There is a small change. I would like to see it grow further to a point where we get paid. Some of our poets are mega-talented that they should be able to pull a crowd. I am tired of seeing where people call poets just to fill up space in their events. Instead of just acting as fillers, I would like to see that poets are more respected. Poetry is something that you really need to absorb; you don’t need distraction. You need to be able to pay attention.
When you write your poems, where does the inspiration come from?
From life, from love and almost everything — speaking with people and my own personal experiences. It could be another poem or even a song. Just anything. And, of course, my child.
Do you have any favourite poets?
I don’t have a favourite anything, you know. I don’t keep favourites. This has been me for a long time. But I have a thing for the colour green. Though I don’t wear much green. But for poets, I would say I like most [HBO] Def Jam poets. There is this guy called Black Ice. Locally, poets like Sonjah Smith and Nana Ama [Felicia Bempong] — I see now she is expressing herself better. I love the language in her pieces. They paint a picture.
What is your idea of fun?
My significant other told me the other day I need some friends. Since becoming a mother, I would say I’ve had the mother complex. Not that that is bad, but it’s almost like you lose yourself. I’ve been trying to get back into poetry and getting the group back in order. Outside poetry, I’m an outdoor person. I love the beach and I love going for walks. I like spending time with my family. I like being around good people: chilling out, talking and watching a good movie. That’s it for me: That’s all I need.
Interview conducted, condensed and edited by Ngovou Gyang.