Gerry Lafemina is known in and around the Frostburg State University campus as The Poetry Teacher, but he is clearly more than that. He is a father, a musician, a poet, an editor, but most importantly Mr. Lafemina is an activist in the education system fighting for students to strive to become better artist themselves. For years he has pushed his students to grow and to write far better than most others. He has won awards from the University System of Maryland Board of Regents and the Bordighera Foundation as well as a Pushcart Prize. Robert Hingham sat down with Gerry to find out more about his poetry and investment in the Frostburg community.
Robert Hingham: How do you feel about Bitter Sweet magazine as a whole?
Gerry Lafemina: I think it’s great, you know. I worked on and was published in the Center Laurence Magazine when I was a Center Laurence student, and I think it’s great. I wish it were bigger and I wish more students participated in it, I wish they could have more fiction, longer fiction. I think it’s important to have a literary magazine for the students. I think it’s great what J has continued to do with the magazine which was to think of it as a brand and something that could get students interested and not just something that’s just put together.
Our staff contributor Lisa Romero sat down with Kaelan Keller, Double K to get some incite into his music making process. Check out his music here.
Lisa Romero: What inspired you to start?
Double K: I guess what inspired me to start is the fact that I wanted to get my voice out there. I wanted to be heard. I was the kid that was quiet in class, the one that was overlooked often. I guess I had this innate sense of wanted to make a difference somehow, and that’s honestly what drove me to started writing poetry. I felt like I could finally say how I feel – no limits, no boundaries. And that was inspiring, and motivating. From there it evolved from poetry to rap, and eventually to recording my songs.
LR: What keeps your motivated?
DK: The thing that mainly keeps me motivated is the fact I have people that appreciate my music. I have people that keep pushing me – challenge me to go outside of my mold. I have people that hit me up and are like “yo man, I see you’ve been evolving hella hard” and that really motivates me to go 1000x harder on my next project. It’s just hearing that – you know from time to time I listen to my old songs and I’m like man this is trash. But I keep them on soundcloud as a reminder of where I came from, and where I’m heading.
LR: What’s your favorite thing about your music career? Least favorite thing? And why?
DK: My favorite thing about my music career is the ability to just connect with other rappers across the world, and somehow come together and put some great vibes. Like I just linked up with a rapper from Japan – that’s so wild its in own regard. Being able to work with a variety of artists and incorporate their own values and culture into one of my own songs is awe-inspiring.
I’d have the say the least favorite thing would probably be that there’s too many rappers out there rapping about stuff they’ve never done. Or rappers you meet who will be fake to you, won’t collab with you, when you know deep down we all started from somewhere. I had people switch up on me just because my music wasn’t good – who is honestly amazing at the start? It’s just that fact, and the era we live in now every rapper feels like they have to put out a tracking sayin they’re the best out there and that just gets old and repetitive.