An Interview with the Author Part II February 2014
Who are the men that you would say shaped your life? Your perspective?
My father - first and foremost. My brothers as well, both the older and younger , but then they of course were raised by him. I have some dear male friends whose attitudes and free thinking are helpful. You would not recognize their names, but they know exactly who they are.
I do think it is important to add my affection and respect for the great noble men of the past: Jesus, Gandhi, Chavez, John Brown, Martin, Malcolm- and many others.
As you know February begins Black History month. What does this celebration mean to you?
Wow... much, and not much. It is absurd to me, to pick a month - any month, to celebrate a people - any people. But that there is a perceived and a real necessity to do so is sad testimony to the great country we are, that is founded on the notion of equality. And what are we celebrating? Simply being present for a twisted and still separate history that is called black? And written by whom? Read by whom? And to what purpose? Is the celebration about survival? If so, then I would remind you, that very entitlement is in jeopardy. Is it about achievement of some kind? There are many worthy achievements to be sure. But while we celebrate achievements of the past, we must take a closer look at the history we are creating today. We cannot allow our most stunning achievement to be recorded as having brought our children and ourselves to the brink of extinction. There is much work to be done here. I could go on about this, and I will. I am stacking the essays on this subject. I hope you will read them.
What is the single most important problem we face today as a people? As a nation?
There is real competition here between nationalism, religion, apathy and convenience. This is true of the people and the nation, which for the purposes of my response are the same. You did not ask for a solution, but there is something to be said for 'doing unto others as you would have them do unto you.' This of course appears to be asking too much of a species plagued with the problem I mention above.
Looking back in 2013, what was the happiest moment of the year, and the most disappointing?
It was a troubling year. I lost people who were dear to me, my older brother among them. He was “Frankie” in the novel. In that way, the year was very disappointing - back to our ongoing confusion around death. However, the love remains with me and I am happy to have memorialized him through my writing. I do miss him, deeply.
But on a more positive note, my book was published and it is getting good reviews, so that is, if not a happy moment, certainly a very satisfying one.
We all make resolutions and set new goals for the coming year. Can you share some of yours?
Well, . . . that is not something I do. I have a constant resolve to be kinder and fairer, less judgmental, and more inclusive of others. Take a look at the poem called “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann and you will know what I'm talking about. There you will find my goals, not just for the new year, but for my life.
What can we expect to see from you in the way of future projects over the next two years?
I have much on my plate, so many things I want to say. I have a book of romantic poems coming out soon. They too come from years of longing and wondering. But there is a wonderful surprise in putting it together because of a love that came recently and set up some stunning possibilities. Everything I do or write about comes from a belief in the power of love, and relatedly, that we can be better than we are. I am writing, actually I have written a play called, "Right Before Our Eyes" which takes a candid look at the state of the Black community. I am also doing an essay about the same. My third book, which willbe released in the fall will be a collection of essays on various topics.
I also intend to write (I'm doing some research on the subject) an afro-based fantasy. There are certainly enough legends and enough mythology in the grand history of Africa to do something wonderful, provocative, and satisfying.
Do you have any upcoming events?
Yes, I do. Among them, on Feb 8th- a book event at The Next Chapter Bookstore in Northville; February 16th, I am doing a book discussion and signing at Marygrove College. On the 21st of the same month, I am doing a story telling event with the wonderful Satori Shakoor and her ‘Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers' at the Charles Wright Museum.
I also have some private readings and signings at the homes of friends and associates in the Detroit area. I put it that way because I have a wonderful friend, Sandy Ward, in Grand Rapids, MI who has also coordinated many readings and events as well. The most significant of those is to be at Schuler's Book Store on 28th street, and an interview with the Grand Rapids Times-hosted by it's editor, Pat Pulliam whose support, advice, encouragement, and kindness has been immeasurable.
You’ve announced a poetry book to be released in the spring of 2014, can you tell us something about it?
I am actually very excited about this new piece of work. It showcases diversity in my art and I certainly hope, my love of literature, all kinds. When I speak of possibilities, along with my team, including the publisher, I hope we have assembled something uniquely beautiful in combining visual imagery with my writings, and I have tried to compliment the romantic poetry with just a hint of love letters and a graceful dash of “tales”. We’ll see what the reaction is. It should be “on the shelves” by Spring of this year.
What are your hobbies?
Hobbies? What a question. And interesting take on what do you do when you are not doing what you do? Well I'm a carpenter, so I build things , making things beautiful from wood. I doubt that anything I do these days qualifies as a hobby, but I love games, all kinds of them...the old board games especially, backgammon, chess, card games. My interests vary widely, but I do not have enough time to satisfy them. You know how it is -
one must work for a living.
If you could say something to your followers, what would you tell them?
(Laughing) Followers? I'm afraid I do not have any followers. This is not a question I understand. I would say to anyone willing to listen, essentially what I said earlier: be kind to others, read Mr. Ehrmann's poem and try to be real to it. I wish I had written that poem.
What do you think of your book as a movie and who would you like to see play a young Dwight Stackhouse?
I have been told that the story has all of the makings of a good cinematic experience. The usual fair is present with high dramatic possibilities. I think the director and screen writer are probably more significant, at least in the early going. I'd have a good and talented group to pick from: Lee Daniels, Tyler Perry, Steve McQueen, and Spike Lee, to mention only a few. I should also mention the brave and gifted Shonda Rhimes. But to your question: If I am picking and doing so without knowing, interviewing or auditioning an actor to play "Jesse" (the central character), I would pick Taye Diggs, but someone would also have to play him as a young boy. However, I am not very informed on 30-40 year old black skinned actors.
. . . And what about the role of your mother?
As for my mother and given the fact that Olivia Cole (one of the most talented actresses I have ever seen) is probably much older now than the character, I can see the beautiful Angela Bassett, Gabriel Union, or Sanaa Lathan, playing her role, but again I am not very informed. These are very satisfying speculations.
One final question, What does the G in Dwight G. Stackhouse stand for?
(He smiles.) Gerard. My mother and my sisters occasionally call me by that name. I am not fond of the name, but there is great pleasure in hearing them say it.
Article/Interview Published January,2014 ©All Rights Reserved C.J Greenfield Public Relations Specialist