Writing, Community, and Empowerment: A Conversation with Poet & Entrepreneur Cynthia Good – curated by Kristina Marie Darling

Cynthia Good is an award-winning poet, author, journalist and former TV news anchor. She has written six books and launched two magazines, Atlanta Woman and the nationally distributed PINK magazine for women in business. Her poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in dozens of journals including Awakenings, Book of Matches, Brickplight, Cutthroat, Free State Review, Full Bleed, Green Hills Literary Lantern, Hole in the Head Review, Main Street Rag, among others. Cynthia’s new chapbook from Finishing Line Press will be published in August 2022.

Kristina Marie Darling:  Your debut poetry collection, WHAT WE DO WITH OUR HANDS, will soon be launched by Finishing Line Press.  What would you like readers to know before they delve into the work itself? 

Cynthia Good: Sometimes people are surprised by the intensity and directness of the poems so maybe there should be some disclaimer; for adult audiences only! Many of the poems focus on loss, loss of a loved one, grief from ending a long marriage and the difficult and also miraculous transitions that take place in the speaker’s world. This is not meant to be a book of answers or motivational quotes, or a salve for dealing with difficult times, but instead, I hope an honest look at the speaker’s experience reflected in imagery, language and what burns beneath the surface.

KMD:  I have to say, the title you’ve chosen is fabulous.  It’s so multifaceted, simultaneously evoking expertness of work, sensuality, and anxiety.  What advice do you have for writers who struggle to choose a title for their book-length collection?

CG: I’ve been thinking a lot about titles lately. So many titles were considered for this collection. I like that there is some mystery to it and you’re right, I think it refers to many things. What we do with our hands says something about where we are and what is happening in a life, whether it’s pruning a garden, taking someone’s hand or protecting yourself from falling rocks which correlates with the cover photo as well as some of the poems. In considering what to call the book, I looked at poem titles and individual lines throughout the Chapbook to see what resonated and also hinted at themes woven throughout. 

KMD:  I admire your book’s deft and visually arresting formal shifts.  What are the artistic advantages of telling part of a story through shifts in form, and how the work unfolds on the printed page, in addition to utilizing the tools of narrative?  

CG: I love the way a poem looks on the page and how much the visual component, sentence length and form can impact the experience the writer and reader can have with the poem.

KMD:  In addition to your achievements as a poet, you are also an entrepreneur and C.E.O. of your own company.  What has your experience as an entrepreneur taught you about the business of writing and publicizing one’s own work? 

CG: So many media outlets are looking for content. Sharing the work, whether it’s a collection of poems or blogs or articles, is a great way to support publications looking for meaningful content while enjoying broader exposure for the author or expert. With my company PINK, aka LittlePinkBook.com we try to be strategic in order to really push out the message. We have a event coming up in May featuring some of America’s top women business leaders. It’s great to talk about that and promote it via social media, outreach to other publications, a full page ad in one of the magazines. With poetry I’m reluctant to push so hard. I’d love for awareness to be more organic as I view the poems themselves, since this is not something I do for exposure or sales—yet of course it helps to have a businesswoman’s mind about it because I do love the idea of sharing the work and getting it out there. For me poetry is sacred and I didn’t want to be as strategic as we are in business. For me it is one thing in my life that is pure. Still of course it’s exciting to share these poems with the world.

KMD:  Your company, Little Pink Book, champions and mentors women entrepreneurs.  That commitment to feminism shines through in your poetry.  Could you say more about how you conceive of social justice in the context of your business, your writing, and in the larger arts community?  

CG: I think social justice is a core focus for PINK as we showcase women business leaders to show what’s possible for individual women and organizations that continue to grapple with how to support and advance their women into leadership roles. When I set out to earn my MFA in poetry I was offered a scholarship to focus on exactly this—women and social justice. I opted to study at NYU instead and part of that decision was in the interest of keeping the poetry more personal and separate in the sense that this has not been a means toward a particular end or goal for me, but instead the honest expression of the craft which feeds me in so many ways. Some have said my poetry too is empowering for women. While this has not been my intent, I’m happy to hear if anyone has been inspired or felt supported by these poems.

I do think about the larger arts community and the huge, positive impact of art on creating a beautiful career and a beautiful life. At the upcoming Pink event we’re featuring the work of a woman artist in all our materials and making sure people know about her and what she’s doing. At a recent events we featured Mahogany Brown and her stunning presentation of her poem Black Girl Magic. We’ve featured dancers and musicians too to help them gain exposure and fully engage those attending and a different and meaningful way.  I think we need to be shaken up sometimes and get out of our comfort zone to see things differently—so in this context art is a powerful vehicle. 

KMD:  What else are you working on?  What can readers look forward to?  

I’m continuing to write most days and hopefully the work is evolving in different ways. Currently I’m working on getting another collection of poems out there. It’s called In The Thaw of Day. I’m also working with my editor to review other groups of poems as themes emerge for new collections.