Amanda Furdge: Infinite Gratitude
Amanda Furdge is the epitome of an orator. In addition to ten solid years and counting as a nationally and internationally known spoken word poet, Furdge is known for possessing a wide array of talents, as well as being highly respected as a mother, community leader, writer and cultural/social influencer. Recently we had a conversation with the artist about writing, motherhood, her work in the community and much more. The conversation we had is transcribed below and has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Flowered Concrete: How did you get into writing? What was the inspiration that led you to start?
Amanda Furdge: I started writing at a very young age as a way to express myself. I grew up Southern & Baptist within a family full of educators, nurses and ministers of the “gospel”. I used writing as a retreat- inspired by good and bad times. Moods. Sense of place etc. I have been writing for as long as I can remember and about whatever I can/could remember.
Flowered Concrete: As a kid growing up did you enjoy reading literature at all?
Amanda Furdge: I loved reading growing up. I still do. Once I realized I could escape into a book or magazine article, I devoured things to read. I love(d) stories and story tellers no matter the form. I have always loved the way it feels/felt to be transported into other spaces, times, universes through storytelling.
Flowered Concrete: What was it like publishing your book, From a Brown Paper Bag: A Collection of Thoughts, Feelings and Ideas?
Amanda Furdge: I self-published FABPB after giving birth to my second son as a way to thrust myself back into intentionally creating again. Ironically, at the time I worked in a print shop, so all materials and knowledge of the ins and outs of publishing were at my disposal. The stories were already written or being written and the poems and thoughts (ideas) just needed to be compiled. It was an arduous task though because nobody is harder on you than yourself, so editing was difficult. Otherwise it was a beautiful process.
Flowered Concrete: You’ve mentioned that you have two sons. And after following you on Instagram, I noticed that your bio says "King Maker" at the top. Is that a form of reverence and/or celebration of your sons?
Amanda Furdge: A parent from my teaching days nicknamed me “King Maker”. At that time, he was acknowledging me specifically as a mother because in the school setting, I worked in, we were a village Over time, I have become known by partners and community to have a very beautiful working relationship with men in general, often being able to inspire and encourage them to be their best selves. Now that I have a husband and THREE sons, it’s definitely about reverence and celebration.
Flowered Concrete: I recently read an article in the Jackson Free Press that featured you called ‘How the Wage Gap Affects Single Mothers.’ Can you expound upon the experience of a single mother raising children in the state of Mississippi?
Amanda Furdge: Despite the fact that most households with children in Mississippi depend on the earnings of women workers—more than one-third of family households are headed by single mothers and more than half of households with children have a breadwinner mother—the earnings of women workers, especially Black and Hispanic women, are even lower than the median for all Mississippi workers. That only speaks to some of the harsh economic inequalities. As an artist, entrepreneur, activist, Mississippi has challenged me to truly instill in my children a holistic approach, understanding and view of the world. Mississippi is a place with a lot of work to do.
Flowered Concrete: In the poem “Infinite Gratitude” you say, “I’m grateful for the black men that build me. That challenge me to stay. That humble me with hugs. That grow me with forgiveness. That swim to the bottom of my sulking and carry me back to the top with tenderness. The black men that tune into the magic before I do.” Often times, the media and mainstream culture paint African-American men in a negative light but in your writing, you shed light on men that empower the black woman. Do you mind unpacking those lines? I thought they were very insightful.
Amanda Furdge: “Infinite Gratitude” is my acknowledgement of the beauty in relating to the (black) men in my life. That piece could be a never-ending inner dialogue, but I live that poem every day. Those lines are for all of the black men from my Grandfather to my own sons to my husband and my brothers and comrades. I’m just thankful.
Flowered Concrete: Why do you think it’s important for there to be writings about black male masculinity. Especially from a woman’s gaze?
Amanda Furdge: I think it’s important for the opposite sex to hear from the opposite sex period. Perspective and truthful discussions about experiences and humanity are the only way we can progress in a healthy way as human beings. However, I do acknowledge the complexities of the relationships between black men and black women and I think the only way we can save ourselves is to save each other – with love.
Flowered Concrete: How did you and Eniola meet? How did your connection or relationship with her lead to you contributing to her project?
Amanda Furdge: I met E at something like a tent revival for the nonprofit organization I work for. I was in a session led by her group about truth and reconciliation and like most secure, dope, fly black women, we gravitated toward one another. After the week was done, we committed to staying in touch. It’s been a pleasure to support whatever her brilliance bakes up. When she told me about her project, I had no doubt that I wanted to do my part to see to its manifestation no matter what.
Flowered Concrete: Are there any projects you have coming up that we the public should be aware of? Any past projects too? Books or visuals?
Amanda Furdge: I’m having another son this month so FABPB is my most recent project. Other than that, I have #30AF available on band camp and SoundCloud. It’s an audio experience of myself. Basically, a time capsule of my first 30 years on Earth produced by an incredible black man and artist named Stephen “5th Child” Brown. From A Brown Paper Bag is available on Amazon.
Flowered Concrete: Amanda, where can the people find you online to follow you and check out more of your work?
Amanda Furdge: I’m the only Amanda Furdge. Google will do it.
Flowered Concrete: Amanda, it was truly a pleasure. Thank you so much for your time.
Amanda Furdge: Thank you & I salute you and all that you do.
Amanda Furdge is known for her wit, charm and kindness. Her warm and inclusive method of storytelling is often compared to that of a young Zora Neal Hurston. This first collection of stories, thoughts and ideas speak directly to the joys and challenges of love, spirituality and motherhood. Honest, simple and well-rounded; Her writings have inspired a devoted following of those who are embracing self-love and self-care around the world.
Connect with her online:
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Kevin Anglade is the founder and publisher of Flowered Concrete. Founded in 2012, he plans to bridge the gap between the African-American communities throughout the nation with hopes of reinvigorating a passion for literature.