I first met Angelo when friend and fellow poet, Joy Colter, suggested him as a Feature Reader for the monthly reading and open mike I help organize and emcee. Angelo is a spoken word poet and he blew us away. A year or so later I had another chance to hear him at a poetry slam. This time Hubby- who is more into numbers than poetry – was with me. As we left the theater he couldn’t stop talking about the performances and Angelo in particular.
In 2019 I had the distinct honor and privilege of being a member of the Poet Laureate Selection Committee for Rock Hill SC’s inaugural poet laureate. Every applicant was a gifted poet and would have made an outstanding representative for Rock Hill, making the choice a difficult one.
Angelo was ultimately selected not only for his poetic voice, but also his enthusiasm for the role and the broad scope of specific projects he planned to undertake. Within days of being installed, he implemented the groundwork for his ideas, and within weeks was a guest at several civic organization meetings. Even a pandemic hasn’t slowed him down, he’s just made adjustments. In the last two years he’s laid a strong foundation for future Rock Hill Poet Laureates.
This bio is from Angelo’s website: Over the course of his career, Angelo has amassed several accolades. He currently serves as the Poet Laureate of Rock Hill, SC, and a 2020 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow. Geter is also a 2019 All-America city winner, 2018 National Poetry Slam champion, Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam finalist, Southern Fried Regional Poetry Slam finalist and has performed and competed in several venues across the country. His work has appeared on All Def Poetry, Charleston Currents, and the Academy of American Poets “Poem a Day” series.
And he’s a sweet, genuine guy. I look forward to watching him continue making his presence felt in the world of poetry beyond Rock Hill.
So here’s Angelo!
1. Do you remember the very first poem you wrote? How old were you? What was the topic?
The first poem I wrote was a poem about a butterfly. I don’t recall all the details but I do recall comparing the butterfly to myself and wanting to fly everywhere without any boundaries. I wrote this is sixth grade from an assignment my teacher gave the class. That’s when I began to really enjoy writing poetry and it meant something to me. Writing made me feel like my words mattered and that I was free to express myself without any hindrances or barriers.
2. If you could raise a glass of wine or sweet tea with any poet, living or deceased, whom would it be?
I’d definitely raise a glass with Langston Hughes. He’s my favorite poet of all-time. I would want to know about his backstory and the little moments that contributed to who he became and learn what it was like during the Harlem Renaissance.
3. How do you see your role as Poet Laureate?
I believe that my role as Poet Laureate is to help the community see and recognize the necessity of poetry in a new and different light. We often think of poetry and literacy as a niche or siloed artform, but in really it’s just about the access and introduction you have to it. I believe it’s my responsibility to help poetry live and exist in the city by putting it in places you don’t normally think of, using it as a form of community service and exposing the community (especially youth) to the power of what words can do.
4. What has been the greatest experience so far in your position? (I’m sure there have been many so you can include more than one!)
There have been a lot of great experiences so far so it’s hard to pick one. The greatest joy I get is when I visit a school/class and see their eyes and world open up as soon as I talk about poetry and read poems to them. We have some amazing kids in Rock Hill, and being able to foster their interest and love for poetry is an honor and privilege. I’ve particularly enjoyed receiving the Academy of American Poets Laureate fellowship and connecting with other Poets Laureate across the country to build network and community. Lastly, one of the things I’ve really enjoyed is hosting the “Poetry In Motion” event in February 2020 right before the pandemic where I read and performed poems on the MyRide bus. It was packed and full of lots of love and energy. (Kim’s note here – the Poetry In Motion event was so popular that day, they had to add more sessions.)
Since Angelo’s book hasn’t been published yet, I’ve attached some links so you can hear and see this talented poet. With each link there’s an option for listening to Angelo recite his poem – I highly recommend you do.