"When I grow up, I want to be a rock star like Prince." - (me, at 10 years old.)

photos by Diana Deaver


Marcus Amaker (he/him) is a husband, a dad, a son, a music nerd, and a Star Wars obsessive. He served as the first Poet Laureate of Charleston, South Carolina, from 2016—22.

In 2021, he became an Academy of American Poets fellow. He’s also a prolific performer, the award-winning graphic designer of a national music journal (No Depression), a musician, an opera librettist, the creator of a poetry festival, a teaching artist, and an advocate for youth poets.

His poetry has been recognized by The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Washington Post, The Kennedy Center, American Poets Magazine, The Washington National Opera, The Portland Opera, Button Poetry, NPR,  The Chicago Tribune, Edutopia, Departures Magazine, People’s WorldPBS Newshour, SC Public Radio, Charleston Magazine, Charleston City Paper, North Dakota Quarterly, Post and Courier, Garden & Gun, Charleston Scene and several other publications.

In 2019, he won a Governor’s Arts award in South Carolina, and was named the artist-in-residence of the Gaillard Center, a world-renowned performance and education venue.

His poetry was used by the Washington National Opera for its Presidential Inauguration Day Concert in 2021, and has been studied in classrooms around the country. One of his poems is on two Grammy-nominated albums, and Marcus has recorded three albums with Grammy Award winning drummer and producer Quentin E. Baxter.

His original opera with composer Gillian Rae Perry, The Weight of Light, will premiere at the Chicago Opera Theater in 2024.

June 3, 2021, was named “Marcus Amaker Day” by John Tecklenburg, mayor of Charleston, SC. He lives in North Charleston, SC, with his wife, their daughter, and a cat named after Wu-Tang Clan. 

His tenth book is Hold What Makes You Whole, from Free Verse Press. His 40th album, a machine & its threads, will be released in 2024 by an electronic music label based in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

photo by Diana Deaver

The hard questions.

Q. What music are you listening to now?
A. Binaural Beats, Matthew Halsall, Makaya McCraven, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Skee Mask, Bjork, Florist, Danger Moue & Black Thought, Thee Oh Sees, Russian Circles, Wu-Lu, Denzel Curry, Godspeed You! Black Emperor

Q. What’s the two best albums of the last 10 years?
A. Flying Lotus – You’re Dead and Low – Double Negative.

Q. What is your favorite Prince album?
A. Sign ‘O’ The Times is probably his best album. But I also think LotusFlow3r is a masterpiece.The Love Symbol Album is one of the many underrated gems in his discography. And Lovesexy. And ARTOFFICIALAGE. And Parade. And …

Q. What is your favorite Star Wars movie?
A. Revenge of the Sith. So much happens in that movie that is important for Star Wars lore (the rise of Vader, the reason the Stormtroopers are bad, Yoda going into exile, the beginnings of the Empire, the birth of Luke and Leia, etc.)  I also love The Force Awakens and Rogue One. A lot.

Q. What artists have inspired you the most?
A. Ani Di Franco. Joni Mitchell (Hejira is a master work). Prince. PJ Harvey. Alice Coltrane. A Tribe Called Quest. Kate Bush. Nine Inch Nails. De La Soul. Mogwai.

Q. Name three albums that are underrated.
A. Julie Doiron & The Wooden Stars. The Love Movement. To the Faithful Departed.

Q. Name a few things you can’t resist …
A. Good headphones. Drum machines. Journals. Talking about Prince. The San Antonio Spurs. Biking. Anything made by Teenage Engineering.

Q. What are you most passionate about?
A. Being a dad. Making music.

photo by Alice Keeney

photo by by Sean Money and Elizabeth Fey Photography