Well, my loyal blog followers, you’re in for a treat today because I asked my good friend and Chicago poet Clyde Aidoo to come shoot the breeze with me about his Art of Mind Trilogy. Known as Original Clyde Aidoo, the Philosopoet of the Inner and Outer Spaces, he’s been one of my strongest supporters since before I typed my first sentence. PS–I promise to keep my over-the-top love of the Chi-Town to a minimum.
Gen: A little bit about you first, OC. Have you always lived in Chicago?
Clyde: I have. I’m originally from the Southside in the Englewood area. Then I moved to the South Suburbs of Chicago at 13 and have stayed there since. But it’s funny you ask that, G, because actually, and I’m sure this will be very disappointing for you to hear, but I will be relocating to Las Vegas, Nevada this year. So goodbye, Windy City, hello Desert Sun.
Gen: Argh! How could you betray my mud town like that, OC?! Naw, I kid. I’m a little heartbroken though, since I didn’t get to see you the last time I was there. But, speaking of Chicago, is there a particular place or setting where you get your best writing ideas?
Clyde: I would definitely have to say downtown Chicago. I feel that when I am around people and naturally observing people and my surroundings, I am usually hit with ideas. That is one of the many reasons why I am moving to Vegas. In many ways, Vegas is the epicenter of the world. Year round, seven days a week, there are people from all 50 states and hundreds of countries getting a taste of Sin City. Any place that brings so many different people together in their most primal, uninhibited and natural state, is a place where I want to be….and the Showgirls don’t hurt, either…
Gen: HA! Actually, I have been to Vegas a number of times and the fact it is 24/7 on, on, on, makes it a place I would never want to be. But, on the other hand, as a fellow people-watching fanatic, I hear you there. And I can see how it would inspire you. One of the things I think makes your writing unique is the way you pair it with art. Are there songs that also get your poetic juices flowing?
Clyde: Yes, absolutely. My creative inspiration really can be sparked at any moment. I could be watching a movie that makes me think about a larger theme or issue outside of the film that I have either experienced first-hand, or that I am fascinated by. I am hypersensitive to the devices of everyday life. I am never actively searching for ideas, but I always remain open and ready for them. And with music, sometimes I’ll hear a song and I’ll get this creative volt just CHARGE through me. There may not be a concrete idea for me to write about, but it just inspires me to the point where I’m like, “Man, I may not have any ideas right this moment, but when I write again, I want to write like THIS!” And that’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted people to feel how I feel listening to a great song whenever they read my poems. That is why I am so obsessed with rhythm. I am a tenant of rhythm. And there are so many songs that have got my juices flowing and a great many of the artists have been referenced at one point or another in the trilogy, including a few specific song tributes. Like “Supermassive Black Hole Ablaze” in Art of Mind III. Whenever I hear “Supermassive Black Hole” by Muse I become possessed.
Gen: I loved all your books but there was definitely something about this last one, an energy to it that really jazzed me. I can tell you poured a lot of your heart and soul into it.
When did you first start writing?
Clyde: I was either 9 or 10. I used to sort of have my own WWE magazine. I swear I was the most meticulous 10-year-old child with my action figures. I took it more seriously than most would say a child should. I had weekly programs that started at a precise time, I had backstage interviews as well as matches, and I had my own magazine where I’d write 50 pages every other month or so about the happenings in my fantasy world. Hell, I even had a record book of every single match that I did with the results. Yeah, I was pretty OCD.
Gen: I’m sorry, but that’s super adorable. I know guys hate it when I call them adorable, but, it doesn’t count when it’s in reference to Young Clyde, right?
Clyde: I think that is a question better answered by Young Clyde. And unfortunately, Young Clyde cannot come to the phone right now. He’s out playing somewhere far, far away.
Gen: Ha! So, what made you write the first Art of Mind?
Clyde: Wow, many things, G. You know it was just a point in my life where I had all this pent up…STUFF in my mind and soul and I had no outlet. I had nowhere to put it. And in reading someone like Emily Dickinson, who is one of the biggest pioneers for “going all in,” I decided that I should lay out some of my demons on the page, too, and see what happens. From there, I was sparked by the influence of music, everyday life, and other muses. I wanted to write about things that no other poet would dare write about in a way that they wouldn’t dare write it. Subjects that most would feel are not worthy of being written about in language that was unfiltered and unpretentious. I wanted to celebrate art…all the different kinds of art, as well as the art that we take for granted the most, the art of our thoughts. And every satirical, whimsical, or poignant piece that I’ve written was a thought that I had and held, and found art in, and I found fit to include in my museum of ideas.
Gen: What would you say is the biggest difference between Art of Mind I and Art of Mind II?
Clyde: I think Art of Mind I carried more torment. I was in a darker place with Art of Mind I, I’d say, and I think that out of all three volumes of Art of Mind, Art of Mind I addressed themes like loneliness and isolation the most. I feel that Art of Mind II branched out more to where it was more evenly distributed between matters concerning my struggles and objective philosopoems to the world. It wasn’t until Art of Mind III where I feel there was a perfect balance between discussing my own personal journeys and struggles while also commenting on…well, anything and everything else. The little things that go unnoticed as well as the big issues, like mortality. Art of Mind I is probably the rawest of all the three volumes. It really was like a journal. A man and a page with no restraint and no regard. In Art of Mind II, I mellowed out and had more peaceful verse but with the same bravado I became known for my by readers in the first volume.
Gen: Yes! Actually one of the poems in Art of Mind II you reference a soap opera we both used to love, General Hospital, and how wouldn’t it be nice if we could all just serendipitously meet on the docks when we’re meant to like in a Soap? I loved how you managed to take something so Pop-Culture and weave a universal human desire so seamlessly.
Clyde: Thanks, G. I feel that Pop-Culture influences us all in so many ways…I know how much it influences me. And something that I’m proud of is that I don’t limit myself to the Pop-Culture that everyone knows or that people think I “should” be referencing. When I gave that poem the green light into Volume 2, I could picture a lot of eyes rolling, like, “This guy just wrote a poem about a soap opera.” But hey, I feel there is a connection between ALL forms of art with everyday life. There are connections to be found in often disregarded platforms such as soap operas to our lives just like a big-budget motion picture or a primetime television program. I feel that as artists, we have to be open and honest to anything and everything that inspires us, even if there will be some eye rolls that come with it.
Gen: I absolutely agree! My dear blog followers, you can get Art of Mind I & II at Amazon and other major online retailers.
Clyde: I’d also like to take this moment to point out that while both Art of Mind I and Art of Mind II have the parental advisory sticker on them, both books are perfectly safe to read for virtually all readers. I just felt, “Why should the bands and musicians get to use the cool sticker and we authors don’t?” Especially those musicians who say like two curse words in the whole album! When I saw that Gwen Stefani had the sticker on one of her CDs, I knew right then that I was justified in having it on my book covers. Plus, it goes along with the heavy music theme for the series. But yeah…you should try it, too, G. The Downey Trilogy goes wayyyy harder than any of these rappers and musicians! Just read a James and Kiki love scene. Geez…
Gen: Hahaaaa! Yeah, there’s language, death, violence, sex–actually the sex in First, I Love You is blink and you miss it compared to my shorts and hot shots! But then, I do have a parental advisory on my hotshots…
BUT, rambling aside, back to the reason you’re here: Art of Mind III. Tell us a little more about the recently released Art of Mind III, and where it’s available.
Clyde: Art of Mind III is about growth. It’s about my growth not only as a person, but as an artist. It’s about the love that is out there in the world all around us. It is about withstanding life’s struggles and running another lap. It’s truly a book that came straight from the heart and touches on a wide variety of themes and subjects, as is the case with the previous two volumes. But it’s not just my story; I honestly believe there is a little bit of everyone’s story in this one. I know that is a large claim, but in my heart that is how I feel about the book.
Art of Mind III is available at all online retail outlets.
Gen: So, my friend, do you already have an idea for your next book?
Clyde: Let me tell you, G. Words cannot express how excited I am about the project I am working on right now! I am hoping and projecting it to be released around the summer of 2015. It is a brand new series and is taking my career in a brand new, extremely exciting direction. It is still poetry, but it is a drastic change from the Art of Mind series. And I am also simultaneously working on chapbooks that may be released alongside this new series or beforehand in 2014. Originally, I didn’t know if I was going to retire from poetry after Art of Mind III, but I feel that I have so much more to say, and I cannot wait for this new series to take off. When I look at one of my heroes, Sam Cooke, who was taken from us too soon at the peak of his career, I know that I owe it to myself to write until I can’t write anymore and to carry on to my full potential, whatever that may be. Which is why every book I put out, there is a growth. A constant evolution. And with this new series, I assure you, you will see another giant leap. I want to be someone where, if I should be taken from this world before my time like Sam, the world will have no doubt about whether or not I would have continued writing or if I had more to say. They would already know that I would have continued, and like Sam, I would have only got better.
Gen: Outstanding! Now Clyde, I know I warned you, maybe you didn’t believe me, but I like to round out my interviews with some ‘just because’ sort of questions.
If you could pick a dessert to describe yourself what would it be?
Clyde: Apple Pie á la Mode. I’m hot and cold.
Gen: Oh my cheese. You are, at that. Haha! If you could live anywhere on the planet (regardless of cost or practicality) where would it be?
Gen: Twist the knife, OC, twist it. If you were a superstar what would be the biggest cause you would champion?
Gen: Nice! If I came to Chicago for a day where would you take me?
Clyde: Vegas. Oh, wait, you meant in Chicago…um…probably over to Gibson’s Steakhouse on Rush Street or the House of Chicken and Waffles on the Southside. Then for a stroll down Michigan Avenue. I tell you what, I may be moving but I’ll always be back in Chicago…because there aren’t many cities on this planet that can hold a candle to summertime in the Chi. As, of course, you know, G.
Gen: I do know, Fall’s not too shabby either. And the way they turn the river green for St. Paddy’s in Spring, and Winter…yeah, no, Winter in Chicago sucks balls. But, I’ll try and not think you just said that so I’ll stop shooting eye-daggers your way. Well, Mr. Original Clyde Aidoo, thank you for visiting my blog! Please come back, don’t be shy.
That’s all for today, folks! I’d normally provide you all with Social Media Links but as of yet us friends of Clyde have not managed to get him on to Twitter or a fan page on Facebook or anywhere else, but never fear, we’ll keep working on him! *wink*
BUY links for Clyde’s poetry:
Art of Mind
Art of Mind II
Art of Mind III
At Barnes & Noble:
Art of Mind III