Charleston’s Poet Laureate Marcus Amaker reveals ternary project, ’empath’

‏Marcus Amaker, Charleston’s first Poet Laureate, has unleashed his latest project to the public. empath is a 185-page poetry book, a custom journal and a poetry and jazz album with Grammy-nominated local musician/producer Quentin E. Baxter.

(left to right) Marcus Amaker and Quentin E. Baxter (Photo by Will Benrubi)

‏“empath is a project about connection and conversation. It’s about the empathy I feel for others on a small and large scale. These poems are inspired by the classrooms I’ve visited and the students who continue to spark me. There’s an abundance of love energy in this work – inspired by my wife, my cat and my family. And, of course, it’s about my deep love of Charleston,” he said. ‏Preorders for empath are currently available at

Amaker started writing the empath poems last year. The poems cover a wide range of topics: Charleston bars, lynchings, social justice, social media, love, Prince, family and feminism. empath also features all of the poems he was commissioned to write as Poet Laureate. Inspired by his workshops at local schools, Amaker designed a custom journal to accompany empath. The journal is meant to inspire kids of all ages to write poetry. The journal and book will be released on January 1, 2018.

‏empath, the album, is the sophomore release from Amaker and Baxter. Baxter’s drumming provides the perfect backdrop for Amaker’s words. The full-length release features spoken word and jazz interpretations of the poems from the new book. CD available in February. Vinyl will be available in April, which is also Poetry and Jazz Month.


January 13, noon
Hosting the Youth Speak Out Poetry Slam, in collaboration with YWCA Charleston
‏Calhoun Street Library
‏Charleston, SC

‏January 24, 5:30pm
Book Release Party, with DJ Sista Misses, For the Scribes and Gina Mocha
‏Gibbes Museum of Art
‏Charleston, SC

‏February 1, TBD
Book signing
‏Buxton Books
‏Charleston, SC

‏February 3, 8pm
Groundhog Day VI benefit concert
‏Charleston Music Hall
‏Charleston, SC

‏February 7, 8pm
Solo poetry reading for Mind Gravy Poetry
‏Cool Beans Coffee
‏Columbia, SC

‏February 22, 5pm
Book release party, with students from Burke High School
‏Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art
‏Charleston, SC

‏March 3
Deckle Edge Literary Festival
‏Columbia, SC

‏March 18, 7:30pm
‏Solo poetry reading for Wits End Poetry
‏Coffee Underground
‏Greenville, SC

‏April 26, 4:30pm
Master class at the Greenville Peace Center
‏Peace Center
‏Greenville, SC

‏April 26, 6:30pm
‏Poetic Conversation with Cheryl Boyce Taylor
‏Peace Center
‏Greenville, SC

Marcus Amaker (Photo by Alice Keeney)

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