Charles L. Chatmon

Charles L. Chatmon

Interviewed by: Lauretta Pierce
February 11, 2007

Q.    What inspired you to write THE VOICES OF SOUTH CENTRAL?

A.    The last few poems in The Depths of My Soul had a few poems talking about the neighborhood. I thought about it for weeks and I found that I had a few poems titled 'The South Central poems' from my days in college so I managed to put them, along with other new poems I had finished and made another book out of them.

Q.    How did you come the title?

A.    There is a poem in the book called The Voices of South Central and I came up with that title years ago from the top of my head but also from listening to different talk shows where residents of the area spoke their mind and expressing what they want to see changed in the community.

Q.    How long did it take you to write THE VOICES OF SOUTH CENTRAL?

A.    Over a period of years because I wrote the poems at different times; college, while I taught school, and my new job. After I chose the selected poems for the book, it took about a year to get published.

Q.    What methods are your using to promote your poetry?

A.    A number of things right now; the internet, cards, flyers, networking, going out to poetry readings in local independent bookstores, the radio show I co-host with Chandra Adams, "Mixed Matters" (, and now that I have a new position heading up the 2007 L.A. Black Book Expo, that gives me more exposure to my works, including the Voices.

Q.    Do you participate in any events that that allow you to read your poetry to an audience?

A.    Yes, recently I read poetry in a new bookstore in the L.A. area called Jaed's Bookstore and I'm always attending spoken word events, online and offline interviews where I read in front of thousands of people, anywhere I can find my audience.

Q.    Have you finished A Question of Truth: Poems from a man's heart ?

A.    I can honestly tell you it was a task to find the proper title for the third book. At first I wanted to call it 'What is Truth? but found there were over 20 titles with the same name, then for about a year I was comfortable with Question, but then I just didn't feel right about it. I've gone back to my roots so to speak and have officially (and finally) come up with a title I'm comfortable with: Poetry From a Man's Heart. The poems themselves were finished ahead of time, but because I took so long with the title, clearing other important business with the network of authors I associate with, The California Writers Collective and personal matters, that I had to finally sit down and focus on getting this new volume out, which will be out by September 2007.

Q.    Which poem from THE VOICES OF SOUTH CENTRAL is your favorite?

A.    The more I read it, the more I like "Take A Minute and Pause". It's a poem with a character, I.B. Plain who in my mind is the Jess B Simple of my generation, but a different individual altogether. He just talks about the problems we as Black folk have in our generation and remembers us to pause and remember our past, which involves slavery. He reminds us that we came a long way and that not only should we be thankful, but make our ancestors proud.

Q.    Will you be venturing into writing genres other than poetry?

A.    Whew, you ready? As I'm speaking with you, I'm doing my finishing edits on my anthology of short stories and novellas I've written back as early as high school and some parts college. I don't have a title for it yet, but so far it looks like I'll get that out late 2007 as well. Then I'm continuing my first novel, "It's All About Fate" and it's an urban crime drama I wrote back in college. It involves a major drug dealer with a vendetta against a police detective who he feels is responsible for his, let's just say, facial impediment, lol. It's a simple tale of revenge, redemption and love. I think the readers will enjoy it because the elements of action and drama come into play here. Then I have so many future prose works in my 'pipeline' right now that Poetry From A Man's Heart will be my last set, for now.

Then I'm coordinating writers workshops for the Collective as well as setting up the LABBE in this new, fun, but challenging role. I think the LABBE as well as the new Leimert Park Village Book Festival will not only benefit Authors from all over, but many readers who are looking for a diverse number of stories and tales won't be shorthanded either. The Expo's website is

Q.    What type of responses are your receiving from readers when they read your poetry?

A.    It's been positive and I enjoy that because I always do my best to write entertaining poems, but to make people think. That's always the first goal of a writer, poet, etc. You want to keep their interest for as long as possible, but you also try to import a bit of wisdom or knowledge from your experience as best you can. Since the Voices has been out, people love it and I hope they enjoy Poetry From a Man's Heart as well.

Q.    What advice do you have for other poets who are interested in publishing their poetry?

A.    Take a chance and share your words with the world at large. Someone else might like what you read, but they'll never know if you don't take that risk so go for it!