Oz Longworth

Age: 30

Location: Houston

Goals: To finally be a published poet, To finish my book, to ensure the survival of John Connor

Talent: Writing, performing poetry

Passions: Comic books, music, movies, traveling,

Achievements: Hosted Liquid Soul poetry for two years, performed at the Nuyorican in New York City, three time Thumb War champion of the thirteen knows galaxies

Why do you think men find it easier to express emotions in writing rather than verbally?   

Honestly, I think it has to do with the fact that, traditionally, we are not encouraged to express ourselves emotionally as children and certainly not later as adults. Therefore, there tends to be a lot of things we don’t say out loud. Writing offers a (mostly) judgment free outlet for us to be emotional and say what we’ve always wanted to say out in the world. Granted, it should be this way for everyone, man or woman alike, but I definitely find this to be the case for men.

Your known for your sense of humor what else do you want to be known for? 

I would like to known as someone who was committed to the betterment of whatever ground is beneath my feet, as someone who believed in something. It would be nice to hear someone say….”Say what you want about Oz, but dude had a code. It’s good to have a code.”

What is Poetry with Purpose and Oz underground? 

Poetry with Purpose is an organization I volunteer my time to every once in a while that encourages bringing young women to poetry because even with what I said about young men needing an outlet to express themselves, everyone, regardless of gender, needs an outlet. The Oz Underground project is sort of an ever-evolving “work in progress” activist media community, but the primary purpose is to educate the general populace on the state of affairs in their world and, hopefully help eradicate social inertia.

What inspired you to create Oz underground? 

Well, honestly, we (and in “we”, I include myself) are really hard on this generation and we talk a big game about how they don’t stand up for anything or fight for anything. I mean, we say “write your congressman” but how many people know actively keep up with their state representatives? Their city officials? Their districts? This isn’t necessarily a judgment, but democracy on benefits when the electorate is well informed. So, I grabbed my camera, booted up the laptop and came up with the project. “Man on the street” style interviews, local stories, fact checking public officials…It’s this project that never really goes away that I just keep coming back to.

How did you get involved with Poetry with Purpose? 

A couple of dear friends started the project up and I’m just sort of around when/if I’m needed. I can’t really comment where the organization is at right now or what they currently have going on, but I’m always around when they need me. I’m so busy on a good day, it seems like being a full time Oz means being a part time everything these days.

Do you think male poets dominate over female poets when it comes to the mic? Why? 

Absolutely not. I think it’s an “apples and oranges” scenario if there has to be a difference at all. Personally, I’ve always found female poets to be every bit as commanding in performance poetry as men. Granted, it’s a very subjective thing because it’s all about the relationship the poet creates with his/her audience, but many of my favorite poets are women. Over the years, I find that I’ve learned a lot about the craft from them. When the right woman gets on that stage and speaks, whether they’re shouting or reciting just above a whisper, there is just something so organic and elemental about it. I could go on waxing poetic about some of these female poets, but yeah….needless to say, I’m a sucker for the work of the opposite sex. 

Many believe that women are drifting to erotic poetry and thinks it’s porno on paper….what are your thoughts? 

For those people to imply that women (or anyone for that matter) are drifting to erotic poetry implies that erotic poetry is a). some new phenomenon and b). that it’s limited to poetry involving sexual innuendo. Erotic language isn’t exclusively for one gender or the other and doesn’t just have to do with sex. It incite passionate feelings depending on the poet delivering it. I’ve heard a poem that I considered immensely erotic that was primarily about a woman finding a text from another women in her man’s phone. I also believe that when America lets go of some of these old fashioned, restrictive notions about sexuality, we’ll find a drastic difference in the things people consider to be pornographic.

If you had control of every radio stations on this planet for one day what would people listening to and why? 

Common, Foreign Exchange, Childish Gambino, Daft Punk….what do these artists have in common? They maintain fun, stylish, digestible sounds for hip hop in the electronic era while still not needing to be hypersexualized and misogynistic and violent (although Common and Gambino have their moments). Mayer Hawthorne’s latest album is dope, too. Very exciting and uptempo while meeting your ears in the middle as far as content. I’d also play Kanye West’s music from the era before he was kidnapped and replaced by space aliens who apparently REALLY like Daft Punk and lyrics about “molly” and cars.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? 

I’ve been writing in one form or another since I was able to hold a pen, so it’s hard to pin down a specific moment, but I do remember writing a short story about a vampire who had just been turned. This is before the era in which all supernatural creatures started sparkling and dating high school students and having all these feelings. A few close friends read and said “Wow…why are you not doing this ALL the time?” I think if I had to pick one moment, that would probably be a big turning point.

How did studying Journalism help you? 

I think everything you learn in every facet of life offers a new dimension to the writer’s journey. That said, I definitely learned a greater appreciation for searching for truth and the power of information. Information is a weapon. Character tells you where to aim it. That’s what I learned from that part of my journey.

If you could showcase any of your work or projects you have worked on with others to our president what would you do and why? 

I did a video package about Occupy Houston for the Oz Underground project. I spent a lot of time with those people, hearing their reasons for being involved, listening to their stories. Ultimately, the movement was a flawed experiment for various reasons, but I think this was a lot of people with their hearts in the right place who wanted to be heard. I would love to show the President the footage I acquired. I would also love to perform a love poem alongside a band for their anniversary dinner. I think they would appreciate that.

What authors inspired you enough to where they made you want to be an inspiration to others? What made them so inspiring? 

Anne Rice is definitely a major inspiration. Interview with the Vampire is probably my favorite book of all time. The language there is so unapologetic in its simple romanticism of everything. Everything. They say Adele could sing the telephone book and it would still be sexy. That’s how I feel about Anne Rice. Sonia Sanchez is so essential to my journey as a poet. There’s something so untamed and honest about her style. I also can’t talk about inspiration without mentioning the work of Nikki Giovanni. So simple yet so refined and poignant and meaningful.

What’s a unknown talent you have people would be surprised to know of? 

I used to moonlight as an exotic dancer named Officer Goodbody. Seriously, though, I have a penchant for photography. Apparently, people want actual currency for the equipment these days, so developing this gift further hasn’t exactly been a financially sound idea for me. But I enjoy taking pictures of cityscapes and parks and old buildings, capturing life in these little instances. It’s fun and odds are I’ll find my way back to it soon.

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