Interview with Marcus Amaker, Charleston’s Inaugural Poet Laureate

MarcusAmaker
Charleston is well known for its blossoming culture and arts scene; from its well-preserved historic architecture, unique but approachable dining experiences, live music in cozy bars like the Thoroughbred Club, or the countless art galleries lining our historic streets, Charleston’s creativity resonates throughout the city. One art form in particular has come to the forefront of much of this creative spirit, and it is mostly due to Marcus Amaker, a creative who has spent his life dedicated to the arts and music. We reached out to Marcus Amaker, Charleston’s Inaugural Poet Laureate, to hear a little bit about what inspires him and some tips on how you can experience Charleston’s creativity.

How and when did you first get into poetry?
Vinyl. I first got into poetry the second that I heard music, as a child. My parents were very aware of giving me experiences with art and music. There was always vinyl around our house, and we were always going to concerts. Vinyl packaging was essential to my love of the written word, because lyrics were printed on all of my favorite album sleeves.

You are currently the City of Charleston’s Inaugural Poet Laureate. Why was this position created and what does it entail?
This position was created to promote literacy in our schools and to be an advocate of the arts. I am so honored to have the title. I’m now at the table for important decisions involving our arts scene. I’m asked to write poems for events and do a lot of workshops in schools. Connecting with students has been the most rewarding part.

You have had so many artistic endeavors over the course of your career. What inspires you to be constantly creating? 
Everything goes back to music. Listening to it, creating it, seeing it live. Music is the key to everything I do. The poems I write are songs without instrumentation. The graphic design that I creative has visual keys and rhythm. I’m totally plugged into sound and song.

You have produced poetry books, videos, workshops of all kids, what do you have in the works currently?
I’m currently working on a few new albums and producing our city’s first poetry festival. The albums are experimental electronic works, using analogue machines. The poetry festival will be in the fall of this year and will involve workshops and public displays of poetry plus events for all ages.

How does Charleston inspire your creative process?
Once settled in Charleston, it was impossible to not be inspired by this city. I feel the stories of our ancestors every time I walk down the street. I am in touch with the ghosts of our past and aware that we have to keep history alive, while moving forward. I can thank Charleston for an awakening that I would not have had in any other city

How can visitors get involved in the art scene?
There are so many entry points to our art scene. I love Redux Contemporary Art Center. They are putting on progressive shows using all kinds of mediums. The Halsey Institute is also an amazing spot for anyone looking to check out the visual arts.

What is your favorite spot in the Charleston area right now and what would you suggest for visitors to do while they are here?
My favorite spot in Charleston is the Upper Deck Tavern. The best dive bar in town. I’d love for visitors to visit the upper peninsula and go to Hampton Park. It’s the most beautiful park in the city, and there’s a wealth of history there. The Denmark Vessey statue is remarkable.

Do you have a poem you would like to share with our readers?
“the last word”

one day, 
someone will write
the last poem about injustice
and it will become 
our new national anthem. 
only history books
will hold the memory of hatred
and museums will be built
for the artifacts
of our awakening

one day,
someone will have
the last conversation about politics
because we realized 
there were problems 
that our politicians couldn’t fix. 
policies not built
to cure our addiction to division, 
no governing body
that compared to the bodies 
of the enlightened.

one day,
this poem won’t be
a manifesto for dreamers. 
we will wake up from nightmares
of our own making
and reject our attraction 
to darkness;
our love affair
with conflict.

You can stay up-to-date on Amaker’s upcoming events and and projects at his website.

man

Pictured above: The second edition of Mantra featuring new graphic design, poetry and artwork. Among the new poems in the book is “Reimagining History” – written with Marjory Wentworth, Poet Laureate of South Carolina. “Reimagining History” was commissioned by Charleston, SC Mayor John Tecklenburg for his inauguration.

0 CommentsLeave a comment

Join the Charleston Art Walk

Four times a year, more than 40 art galleries in the French Quarter neighborhood of Charleston welcome art lovers into their spaces after hours. From the galleries dotting Broad Street, the growing presence on Upper King Street and the tucked away galleries in between, Charleston’s art scene is truly thriving. The next Art Walk happens Friday, December 2nd from 5-8pm. If you can’t make the sip and stroll, take a glimpse at our guide to contemporary and fine art in Charleston for your next visit.

The Corrigan Gallery on Queen Street features a wonderful array of representational and abstract art that molds the traditional charm of old Charleston with a contemporary flair.

Dog & Horse Fine Art

Dog & Horse Fine Art

Established by Sotheby’s-educated curator Jayne Milligan Spector, the Dog & Horse Fine Art gallery features three centuries of dog and horse fine art from top quality artists across the Americas and Europe.

Since 2004, the Helena Fox Fine Art gallery has exhibited fine contemporary representational art. The nationally and internationally recognized works include impressionistic landscapes, realistic still lifes, as well as wildlife sculptures and handcrafted jewelry.

Located in one of Charleston’s most famous historic buildings, the magnificent space of the Martin Gallery boasts a variety of works from numerous mediums, including oils, acrylics, bronzes, marbles, terra-cottas and glass.

Robert Lange Studios

Robert Lange Studios

Voted the best art gallery in Charleston for the last four years by Charleston City Paper, Robert Lange Studios features award-winning visual artists. Its focus on individuals and subjective style has set it apart as one of the city’s finest.

For more than 30 years, the John C. Doyle Art Gallery has been featuring works by one of Charleston’s first and finest gallery artists. The gallery showcases Doyle’s original oils, sketches and photography. It is the exclusive gallery of Charleston’s renown Margaret Petterson and impressionist Danielle Cather Cohen.

Don’t miss out on this incredible aesthetic experience. With Charleston’s art scene continuing to expand, the exciting blend of contemporary and fine art is certain to captivate visitors. See our concierge for more recommendations.

0 CommentsLeave a comment

Downtown Discovered: The French Quarter

IMG_8818 (1)

Downtown Charleston, also known as the Historic District, offers a host of smaller neighborhoods within the city center, each with a unique personality and experience for visitors. Our previous post in this series had us exploring picturesque South of Broad and now the French Quarter, also known as the Art District, beckons.

Location:
Named the French Quarter in 1873, the area is roughly bordered by Market Street to the north, Broad Street to the south and extends from the Cooper River westward to Meeting Street. Most of the French Quarter is located within the area that comprised the original colonial walled city of Charles Town, the only walled city built by the English in North America.

Concierge Tip: The only above-ground portion of the city’s earliest defenses still visible is located on the site of the Old Powder Magazine, Located on Cumberland Street, this National Historic Landmark was completed in 1713 and housed the community’s store of gunpowder. Open Monday-Saturday for tours.

History:
The name “French Quarter” was derived in the 1800s when preservation efforts began to protect warehouse buildings on the Lodge Alley block, largely occupied by French Merchants. Local vendors also sold their wares, including meat, vegetables and fish, at the city market. Built between 1804 and 1830, the land was ceded to the city by Charles Cotesworth Pinckney for the express use that it remain as a public market for perpetuity. The current Market Hall was erected in 1841, after the previous building was destroyed by fire. Recognized as one of the oldest in the country, the Charleston City Market is a beloved institution for locals and visitors, especially since it’s home to more than 50 sweetgrass basket weavers who carry on this Lowcountry tradition.

hiddenCharleston_BrennaBlogPost-frenchquarter

Concierge Tip: Following a $5.5 million makeover, the City Market now houses vendors and food purveyors. Grab lunch and then make your way down Church Street. One of the most photographed spots in the city, St. Philips Episcopal Church is home to the oldest congregation in the state of South Carolina. Notice the church’s foundation in the middle of Church Street. Locals say that the church was built this way so that even if you were not a believer, when you rode down Church Street you had to acknowledge the presence of God. Also worth a visit are the Circular Congregational Church and the French Huguenot Church, the only such congregation in the United States, both located on Meeting Street.

Places of Interest:
While the historic French Quarter is small, art and culture abound. The first building in the country designed for theatrical use, the Dock Street Theater, is located on Church Street. First opened in 1736, the theater still produces performances every year. The area is also home to numerous art galleries. Spend the afternoon browsing Gallery Row, located on Broad Street before visiting those located on Church and State Streets. Currently closed while it undergoes a multimillion dollar renovation, the Gibbes Museum of Art is slated to reopen in the spring of 2016 with a renewed focus on American Southern art.

IMG_7163

Concierge Tip: Our restaurants, The Palmetto Cafe and Charleston Grill, are filled with art by local artists, included notable painter Robert Lange. Lange’s studio is open daily, and private tours can be arranged here and at a variety of other studios. If you find yourself here on the first Friday of March, May, October or December, enjoy the French Quarter Art Walk which is free and open to the public. Galleries open their doors for patrons to mingle with artists over refreshments. Stroll among gas lit lanterns and discover the works of more than 500 artists of various styles and mediums.

0 CommentsLeave a comment