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Local Dental Professional Turns Full Time Poet

 

Thomas hosts one of his workshops: Writing to Wellness. (Photo courtesy of C. Thomas)

Alexandria, VA – “I started writing poetry at age 13 as an outlet for abuse as a child. Putting into words how I was really feeling turned into something bigger even before I knew what it was.”

For Christopher Thomas, that something bigger was an entirely new life. From journaling poetry at age 13, performing spoken word at age 18, publishing his first book at age 24, to being a full-time poet and artist today, C. Thomas’s journey has been anything but linear.

Growing up in Prince George’s County, Thomas was not far removed from the artistic magic of Alexandria that lay just across the state line, for he had his own magic that he would eventually bring across the river.

Thomas taught himself the craft by journaling, watching, and reading other poets, but his art comes from a truly raw place. “I’m my own person, and I always have been when it has come to poetry,” he explains. “I have no formal training because I believe the rawness of it all is more organic. I want that work out there to come from a place of genuine authenticity.”

Christopher Thomas is a local poet and performer. (Photo courtesy of C. Thomas)

Eventually, Thomas came to perform poetry, teach workshops, and publish four of his own works, with a fifth on the way. When he finally made the move to this city in 2017, Alexandria Poet Laureate KaNikki Jakarta took him to an open mic night at Del Ray Café. “It has been a very rewarding thing, performing,” he says. “[The audience] loves to hear my stories, and the validation of it all is a beautiful thing.”

Thomas was no stranger to performing when he moved to Alexandria, but he was not a full-time performer. Working as a dental professional at an oral surgery office, Thomas was split between two worlds: the world of his dreams and the world of social construct.

“What I did for so long was listen to other people say, ‘You need a 9-5, a college degree, money, this, that…’ I did that and it wasn’t fulfilling,” says Thomas. So earlier this year, he quit his dental career.

“I was driving into work one day and just had this thought that I can’t do this anymore. I had to peel myself from the bed that morning but didn’t know why I was feeling so sluggish or antsy. I cried when I got to Telegraph Road and almost had an anxiety attack. I turned around, went home, and sent an email saying I quit. Then I panicked, but I felt better because I took a leap. I walked away happy because I got tired of sitting behind the desk of someone else’s dream.”

Thomas (third right) at The Athenaeum with Alexandria Poet Laureate KaNikki Jakarta (fourth right). (Photo courtesy of C. Thomas)

Thomas moved out of Alexandria during the pandemic, but now that he is pursuing poetry full time, he plans to move back to properly take advantage of the arts scene here. “I should’ve never left in the first place,” he says.

Next year, you can expect to see him at The Athenaeum, where he will showcase two poetry performances: “His Story” and “Her Story,” poetry illuminating African American stories through the black male and female points of view. He also hosts “Writing To Wellness,” a discussion-based workshop for writers to use poetry as a tool for healing when navigating trauma. It meets every second and fourth Monday of the month.

“When I perform on stage, I am in the spotlight, which is different from me leading a conversation or public speaking,” says Thomas. Reflecting on the trauma that sparked his poetic journey, he says, “I am cutting myself back open. It is an artist’s job to rewound themselves to heal the scars of those listening.”

Throughout the years, Thomas has performed at venues ranging from colleges in Texas to popular D.C. restaurants to small café stages in Del Ray. He has published four books, with another on the way. He has led workshops, and he has led others to believe in themselves.

Looking back at his poetic opus, Thomas notes that now, “I am becoming more of a voice or beacon for others, letting them know ‘your pain may know you, but it doesn’t have to pile up over you.’ My voice has gotten deeper, stronger, bolder, more confident—and I’m shocked to be honest with you.”

For more information on C. Thomas’s events, visit his website, www.iamcthomas.net.

ICYMI: What’s Inside the Alexandria Athenaeum in Old Town?

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