CRYSTAL GOOD: “Poetry is about being yourself”

February 6, 2008 by Vic Burkhammer


Wednesday I talked with Charleston poet Crystal Good, just in from New York City. Second year in a row, she had attended an Association of Writers & Writing Programs Conference. Among the extraordinary writers there was Haitian-born Edwidge Danticat, author of many books including “Brother, I’m Dying.”

Danticat wrote the foreward to Tram Nguyen‘s book, “We Are All Suspects Now: Untold Stories from Immigrant Communities after 9/11.”

On stage in the big city at The Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Good read her new work about West Virginia’s hometown hero/New England Patriots star Randy Moss, the town of Rand, W.Va., and quantum physics. One poem she read was her “Rand Poem.”

5:39 minutes


“It’s very interesting,” she said, “reading poems about Randy Moss in New York right before Moss plays them [the Giants] in the Super Bowl.”



living in a time warp.
stuck between an 18k gold dome and a pot hole.
river water breeding champions like rabid packs of dogs.
unincorporated, person, place or thing.
Rand, Dub Vee.


people wave and call it a community sending charcoal smoke signals
we are here!


it’s the safest and scariest place you’ll ever know.
poor they say, but you’ll never go hungry,
paper plates servn the best food you’ll ever eat.

life is simple.

you’re expected to visit your momma,
to wash and wax your car, keep it real and survive.

Rand, Dub Vee
where time stands still……
just long enough for the sheriff to pass.

and the mountains so high you can’t help but look to God.
this is an outsider’s village, inside the segregation zone.
no one can ever really leave church street,
it’s a place you call home, even if it’s collect.


where baby Jesus walks everywhere
saying, “hello, hello have a nice day!”
as the sirens sound, and the good people
shelter in place, with fishing poles and a rolls of duck tape
beneath the sign that reads home of

She was in New York with her “Affrilachian Poets family” and talked with literary giants including Sonia Sanchez and Amira Baraka. Good said Sanchez is always encouraging. Baraka, with his intense gaze, emphasized that a poet needs to have a published book, that “poets have to be able to whip their books out like a gun.”

The ambient sound you hear in the background is the lunchtime noise of the Inta Juice store on Summers Street in downtown Charleston. Instead of trying to find an ultra quiet place to talk, I decided to glory in all the sound. It was liberating. I plan to start interviewing people just about anywhere, anytime. The mp3 accompanying this MountainWord ends with Good reciting a Randy Moss poem off the top of her head. Our conversation was edited to 5 minutes from close to a half-hour.

2 Responses to “CRYSTAL GOOD: “Poetry is about being yourself””

  1. Jodi Murthy says:

    Loved your poem Crystal and you know how I love Randy too!!

  2. Luke Fleshman says:

    Crystal, I wish you the best in all that you do and may God lead and direct you in all your endeavors, oh and what a prodigious poem.

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