20. Poetry & Social Justice: A Dialogue w/ Poet Enzo Surin


Enzo Surin is a Haitian-born poet​, publisher​, and social advocate, and the author of the chapbook, HIGHER GROUND (Finishing Line Press, 2006). His poetry​ is forthcoming and​ has appeared in publications such as ​The BreakBeat Poets anthology, Ozone Park Journal, sx salon, Tidal Basin Review, Reverie: Midwest African American Literature, The Caribbean Writer, among other literary journals. ​Surin hold an MFA in Creative Writing and currently serves as Assistant Professor of English at Bunker Hill Community College.​ He is also founder and publisher at Central Square Press, a small, independent, literary press that publishes poetry with a commitment to African-American, Caribbean and Caribbean-American communities. (25:53)

Visit Enzo’s Website

Follow Enzo on Twitter @enzothepoet

REMINDER: The deadline for The Postmasters Podcast Short Story Contest is 14 February! The prize is $100 and a chance to read the winning story as part of our April episode. No entry fee! Submit today!


To kick off the episode, Enzo reads a new WIP poem for us, titled Trace Commodity, inspired in part by the recent controversial events in Ferguson, Missouri and “cities like it.”

On his inspiration for a given poem…

“The piece I just read to you… there’s always endless news cycles about violence happening in different states, and I always consider what’s happening to the folks after what I call the trauma of the violence. When the news are gone, when the protests are gone, when the trials are done, whether or not the person is found guilty or not guilty, people are still dealing with the trauma and the effects of the situation. I focus more on the individual, the aftermath of everything else.”

On the artist’s responsibility to social justice…

“For me, social justice is not simply identifying where the needs are; it’s about putting your hands in and helping to change and meeting some of those needs.”

“I didn’t want to release books that are simply intellectual exercises. I actually want it to be a physical exercise where it either moves you to do something or moves you to write more about it so that eventually you can inspire others to do something. Either way, I want the artist to be fully engaged in, not just the art itself, but the people who the art affects, and the people who the art is really about.”

On how fatherhood has impacted him as a writer…

“Oh, it’s changed me so much…”

“For the first time in my life, I felt responsible… I never felt more free, watching him being born, because it meant that, as much as I love poetry… there was something much bigger in the world now that needed my attention.”

On working with the PEN New England Prison Writing Program…

“It brought the term freedom to a different level for me.”

“For the first time in a very long time, I was surrounded by writers who weren’t concerned about publication credits who weren’t concerned about publishing for tenure or name recognition. It was genuine love and appreciation for the art.”

On choosing Lesley University’s Low Residency program for his MFA…

“I wanted to still eat and to be able to pay my rent.”

Who’s Who

Central Square Press Mission Statement

Afaa Michael Weaver, author of A Hard Summation, published by Central Square Press

The Art Institute of Chicago, MFA

Closing Quote

Don’t characterize loners as aloof or crowd seekers as arrogant. They may be living out their story.
Max Lucado, Cure for the Common Life

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