Meet John S. Poiter, author of Mangoes in the Summertime

What inspires you to write? 

As cliche as it might sound, love is what inspires me to write. The love that I feel from God, my family, friends, myself, and the world around me…fuels me, in a way. It gives me hope and drives me to overcome any mountains that I might encounter when I am writing. Love just makes me feel as if I can do anything or write any story that I happen to think about. 

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

I first considered myself a writer, when I wrote my first poem “The Rose.” Of course, it was not very good (at least, in my opinion), but I loved it anyway. I feel like that one poem bridged me to an even greater future, filled with the magic and happiness of being an author. However, I did not consider my work good enough to be published on an international level.

Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

Because poetry is awesome! In what other genre, can you write your bare thoughts and have them viewed in an artistic light? In addition to this, we can rhyme and mix words together, to tell stories in the most unorthodox ways. Furthermore, I am a very emotional person and I need a medium to channel my feelings into, without it being too convoluted. Poetry does that for me.  

What have you written so far?

So far, I have written my debut book Mangoes in the Summertime, and numerous other independent poetry projects. In addition to this, I also have a few other books and poetry collections that I am currently writing. I can not say much about them now, but I am quite excited for people to read them!

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Sometimes, you have to ignore the criticism. Do not let anyone tell you that your ideas are too intricate or too simple. In order for your work to flourish, you must create a world in which you are entirely comfortable and able to tell your story, without the restrictions of outside opinions. So yes, constructive criticism can be helpful, but you must learn to follow your heart when you are writing.

What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?

The hardest thing about writing my latest book was being so honest with myself and having to share parts of myself with other people. I wrote many things that I thought would only stay in my personal journals(i.e: mental health struggles, personal opinions, etc) and not in the book. Also, having everyone that I know read about me and my experiences in poetry form…was a bit overwhelming. 

Who is your favorite fictional character and why?

If I had to choose my favorite character, it would be Celie from The Color Purple. She is a literary testament to the trials and tribulations that black women have faced and continue to face in many parts of the world. I have always found her story inspiring and a reminder that, of all the subgroups in the world, black women are the most disregarded, disrespected, and ignored. Despite this, they continue to rise above stereotypes and harmful stigmas that would prove debilitating to anyone else. She inspires me to seek a change, not only for the women in my family but internationally. 

What one person from history would you like to meet and why? 

Definitely, Queen Hadassah, otherwise known as Queen Esther. Undoubtedly, she is one of the most inspirational figures in history. Being born from basically nothing and rising to the position of the Queen of Persia, she thwarted a genocidal plot and saved the lives of her people. As far as historical figures go, she is one of my heroes. 

What is one great lesson you have learned as a writer?

The most important thing that you can do, as a writer, is to create a legacy. Create something that people will look back on and say “This person changed my life.” Create something that you can be proud of.

Want to learn more about John S. Poitier?

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