Friday, April 15, 2011
April Mahoney: Using Her Gift To Reach Out and Touch
by Cyrus Webb
As a poet, author and performer, California native April Mahoney is not only multi-talented but multi-dimensional as well. It's impossible to put her in a box, and when you talk with her, it seems as though she is able to be all things to all people.
There in lies her amazing gift. When I was first introduced to her, it felt as though we had known each other for years, and when she talks about her work, it's impossible not to feel the level of excitement that comes out of her.
In this conversation she talks about getting to the point where she knows who she is, how her gifts impact others and what's next for the woman who is entering rooms all over the world and making herself known.
April, this interview with us has been a long time coming. There is so much going on with you that I want us to really start at what I feel is the beginning. You have what can only be described as a gift when it comes to words. When did you discover it?
Around age 8 my parents and I detected that I had a reading challenge. Not only was this learning challenge but I became very frustrated causing me to lose interest in reading and become easily distracted in class. My parents would direct me to the dictionary when I had a problem with my homework but what we did not discover until later was that I could not completely hear the sounds that the letters were making. Then and now schools have moved more towards teaching memorization instead of syllabication and phonics. My father is a true word smith. Words rolled off of his tongue like crushed blue velvet, regal and smooth. I love that. Every woman can appreciate a man that has a way with words. Daddy introduced me to Dr. Seuss, from there I started to rhyme, write and find my voice. I also discovered a love for journaling in my diary. In those journals I would write about how one day I would write a book of poems and to my delight here I am interviewing with you 3 books later.
There are so many people who are uplifted and inspired by your dedication to the craft. How has it been for you to know that something you enjoy is appreciated by so many?
Humbling, I consider sharing my poetry a labor of love. Folks come up to me after a gig to say how they were moved and motivated by the poetry but I like the word you choose inspired. Writing, producing and performing is always a joyous time for me. I love to shake it up and push people beyond their comfort zone. If I can offer options to solving a problem, or suggestion toward making a positive change, promote love, happiness and hope then I feel I have something to offer. But, what is even better is when my experience with an audience or group comes full circle bringing me new inspiration and experiences to write about.
This issue of Conversations Magazine is celebrating the power of the written word in all of its forms. With your gift of poetry, though, also comes the ability to deliver your words to an audience. Has there ever been a time when you felt as though your talent was more about helping others than yourself?
Yes I do, all the time. I have written poems for fundraisers, wedding/funerals, to educate inter-city youth on stem cell research and on the environment from a bird’s eye view. Opening myself up by self publishing my second book of 100 personal poems was the game changer for me. I was nervous but I learned to channel myself into becoming that voice of reason on stage by speaking for the underserved and overlooked. In my book Utter Magic you will find numerous poems dedicated to victims of cancer, drug addition, sexual abuse and homelessness. My work gives these causes an additional platform, another medium to an audience that may not have been engaged and yet will gravitate to the cause because of the way the message was delivered.
April, let's talk about social issues. You delve into them in your poetry and when just telling a story. Do you see that as a responsibility of yours when you have the attention of those reading your words?
Absolutely, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. I have to siege the moment and leave an imprint whenever I get the chance to capture someone’s undivided attention. Folks have short attention spans and even less patience.
Social networking has become a necessity for so many of us when it comes to reaching new audiences and maintaining relationships. What about for you? Honestly, I am not a big social media fan. I use to be until I found that social networking isn’t really networking at all. I will admit that it is a monster and has many pluses but there again I began to notice people becoming so self- absorbed, distracted, reactive and exposed to the” Look at me Syndrome” or utilizing it in a cowardly way to put somebody on blast. I believe in boundaries and I select my friendship carefully. I feel that we should protect our privacy whenever and where ever we can, choose our friends wisely and not collect them like tokens. For me there is nothing more intriguing than a human interaction, the sound of your voice on the phone, a hug, a card or letter via snail mail. These acts of love and kindness take time, energy and effort. It tells me that you care. It makes a person feel extra special. On my website is where I prefer to share information, photos, philanthropic news, contest and events.
Tell us what's coming up next for you?
I am in the process of penning my second young adults’ novel due out later this year. Currently, I am working on a behind the scene music documentary in concert with some East coast spoken word appearances scheduled for the spring and summer. Also, I have been asked to keynote at a few conferences, workshops seminars and motivational speaking engagements.
Any advice you have, April, for those reading this and wondering how to use their own gifts?
I don’t like to offer advice it seems so matter of fact and I don’t have all the answers. I will however share 3 mottos and suggestions that I live by be “Big Brained and Not Small Minded”, “Nothing surpasses a failure but a try”, and “Feel the fear and do it anyway”.
Thanks for your time. We will be checking back in with you soon. How can our readers stay in touch with you?
For the monthly calendar of events, contest or request for presentations and performances please visit me at www.Agoodperson.biz or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also purchase a copy of Small statements that mean a lot, Utter Magic, Rico the Seagull, book cards and coffee mugs by visiting my website.