National Poetry Month’s Feature: Poet Catrice Greer
Poet’s Bio: Catrice Greer is a Baltimore-based writer and a 2021 Pushcart Prize Nominee. In November 2020, she served as a Poet-In-Residence for Cheltenham Poetry Festival (UK). Her poetic work explores a range of topics about the human condition including mental health wellness, trauma, healing, sciences, nature, astronomy, transcendence, spirituality, identity, heritage, and cultural ancestry.
She is published in local publications, online journals, and international anthologies. Currently, Catrice is Co-Editor of Lapidus Magazine, (Lapidus International, UK), Guest Editor for IceFloe Press (Canada), and a Guest Poetry reviewer for Fevers of the Mind (USA).
Deliah Lawrence: What inspired you to be a poet?
Catrice Greer: I started exploring writing poetry in childhood around the age of 8 or 9. Words intrigued me. Music intrigued me as well. I wanted to write music and lyrics, but could not figure out how to notate the musical sounds in my mind onto paper. I tried to create a system but could not figure out how to create consistency for various notes and changes. Learning music formally was not available to me and what I knew of it did not resonate as a system of language I could fully relate to.
So with no progression in that area, I decided to focus on what I could achieve on my own as a kid — the words, the music inside of the words, and their stories. Children’s stories, lullabies, poems & rhymes in my ChildCraft series of books, and the Best-Loved Classics series of books (Treasury of Poems, Pride and Prejudice, The House of Seven Gables, Gulliver’s Travels, Robinson Crusoe, Alice and Wonderland, Selected Essays etc.) that came with it, completely captivated me.
Learning to read from the Best-Loved Classics series, all on my own, at such a young age, was a task. It admittedly took a few years of trying to read and understand the stories and vocabulary. My full comprehension of those texts was not there yet at such a young age, but I was taken by the density of the language. The formal writings had advanced poetic overtones on the page in prose, and lyrical density in the poetry. I wondered how that worked, how to get there. My parents had several bookcases filled with books. I wanted to read all of the words and understand them. I wanted to write my thoughts too. I started the journey with poetry.
DL: If you were hosting a dinner party which poets would be your dream guests and why?
CG: Right now, the two poets that I’d like to sit down with are Toni Morrison and Zitkála-Šá. Toni Morrison, although she is not known for her poetry directly, she wrote lyrics for a song cycle, “Honey and Rue” sung by soprano Kathleen Battle and conducted by the composer, André Previn. I’d like to talk with her about her lyrics, and her thoughts on composing her song cycle. It would be an honor to talk to her about the poetic voice and lyricism in her prose. Zitkála-Ša is someone I’d like to speak with about the spirituality, mystical qualities, tradition, and lyricism in her poetry.
DL: In celebration of National Poetry Month, can you share with us a few of your poems?
CG: Sure, here you go:
“Come Home” (a poem for George Floyd, June 7, 2020) https://feversofthemind.com/2022/03/28/poetry-by-catrice-greer-come-home/
These wombs, sacred,
we build placenta worlds of blood and bone
cord by cord, cells churning with life
a zygotic landscape
s .. a .. f .. e
safe from gunshots, lethal force, blue bias, blows
safe from bent-tongued accusations, chokeholds, Grief
tears and pain light-years away
the amniotic sac aglow
you hear only my voice
I walked with you, my love, my sun
floating close to my own heartbeat
tethered in the mitochondrial house
we are one
my peace, your peace
my child, to lose you to this world
that does not know you
never carried you
is not the deep-rooted tree of life I birthed
a premature exit is not the afterbirth of my labor
Call my name
when the end is near
I will come again for you
I will come again for you, my angel
you will reside here with me, rest in peace.
- “Cortical Cartography”, “I Am Home”, “The Gathering” https://www.iambapoet.com/wave-eight/catrice-greer?fbclid=IwAR2vtkFF1Co6K6VydyQJJS3txk1NpAEQUxQ8AmViOFeC96HdEkv4g5QrQXE
- “MommaMendsUs” (2021 Pushcart Prize Nominated poem) https://icefloepress.net/2020/11/04/mommamendus-a-poem-by-catrice-greer/
DL: What new projects are you currently working on?
CG: I was recently accepted into a writing residency with Yellow Arrow Publishing. During that residency, I am looking forward to continuing to work on my manuscript for my first poetry collection.
I am a Co-Editor for Lapidus Magazine, a publication of Lapidus International, UK, writing for wellness and well-being community. Lapidus Magazine is a members-only publication that highlights the process and purpose of writing for well-being.
I am also an entrepreneur, an emerging teaching artist, lyricist, and narrator. I spend my time learning how to grow in those areas.
DL: Where can readers learn more about you and your poetry?
CG: They can find out more about me and my work here:
- Website: www.catricegreer.com
- Instagram: @gcatrice
- Twitter: @cgreer_greer
DL: Thanks so much for being here with us today. I know my readers will enjoy getting to know you and your work.
CG: Thank you for generously offering this interview.