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Cleo Childs discusses her spoken word album ‘Moving With’

Cleo Childs chatted about her debut spoken word project “Moving With,” and the inspiration behind it.

Cleo Childs
Cleo Childs. Photo Courtesy of PLA Media.
Cleo Childs. Photo Courtesy of PLA Media.

Cleo Childs chatted about her debut spoken word project “Moving With,” and the inspiration behind it.

Explain the title “Moving With” and what insights you have learned. 

“Moving With” came from a poem I wrote in grief which became my mantra to myself. “There is no moving on, there is just moving with.” I learned I would never move on from losing Mom. I think about her daily and mourn the moments in my life I won’t be able to share with her.

I miss her constantly, but I’ve learned to see signs she’s still with me. She is still with me, just not in the way I knew her before. I consciously open myself to connect with her in new ways. I am my mother’s daughter, and she lives through me now.

As I wrote in one of the poems “During her passing, she molded me, shaping me into her earthly vessel. I am her legacy. The incarnation of her life’s work. Her representative to life.”

You worked on 14 poems for this project…why poems? Did you write before?

I hear the words and I record them. The words come to me in poems and the poems seem to come from my subconscious to the paper. Also, poetry requires preciseness with words.

In my writing process, I subconsciously choose my words carefully because I need to be sure that everything I’m putting down on paper is true. It is important to me that the words capture how it feels to be in my body in that given moment.

I never wrote creatively, but I learned over the course of four years in business school with the help of my amazing grandmother editor, how to write a mean research paper. 

How did you choose Jim Reilly and Mary Gauthier to collaborate with? 

Mom chose them for me. I was in the right place at the right time to work with the exact right people. Mom died at the end of October in 2021. I was deeply depressed, and I isolated myself from the world for six months after her passing. During this time of isolation, I wrote nonstop.

Then, after six months, I put down my pencil and reentered the world. Almost a year and a half later I started writing again, in December of 2023, and wanted to learn about songwriting.

I was inspired not by poets like I was before but by songwriters like Bob Dylan, The Counting Crows, and Don McLean. I wanted to learn and better myself so I searched for mentors and found Jim and Mary after hours of Google searches. 

How did you decide to make your project  public?

 I wish I could tell you that I put a lot of thought into my decision, but in a conversation with Jim, he said he would produce me and I gratefully accepted just like that. I couldn’t see turning down this great opportunity because I was scared of people lambasting my work or not understanding it.

Candidly, I’m terrified of releasing it as it means opening myself up to criticism and being misunderstood. However, I’ve come to my own conclusion that I can’t control what people think. I just hope it is meaningful to people who do think it is for them.

What was it like having your mom be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at only 60?

I didn’t understand my life was going to be changed forever with Mom’s diagnosis. Everyone around me understood, but in the beginning everything about the disease was abstract for me. I didn’t emotionally understand what was going to happen.

Once she started to lose her memory, shock set in. The best way to describe what losing her was like is to imagine the soul of a person you love as grains of sand and to feel those grains of sand slip through your fingers every day. It’s horrifying. I learned very quickly that I was on borrowed time with Mom.

I learned to live with her in the present and to spend as much time as I possibly could with her. I started saving her voicemails because I knew there would be a day when that would be the only way I could hear her say my name.  

June is Memory Care and Alzheimer’s Longest Day, what do you hope to accomplish?

I hope my experience can bring hope and understanding and the beginning of acceptance to the process of losing someone with Alzheimer’s. I would like to be an example and ease the pain for someone who is going through the process now.

I didn’t have a person to look or turn to when I was grieving, and I desperately craved comfort. I want to be a person who can metaphorically sit with someone in the form of my album and say “You’re not alone,” “I understand,” and “I found peace and acceptance. It is possible. In time it can be possible for you, too.”

How does it feel to be a part of the digital age? (Now with streaming, technology and social media being so prevalent) 

I’m a marketer by trade, studied marketing at University, and worked as a marketer for ten years. I’m intimately familiar with the digital age we live in. I choose to do everything I can to limit my time being in the digital realm.

Rather, I choose to be present in the physical world. I play board games with my friends three times a week, I’m a Game Master and run three different systems for my friends and their kids.

I love to host parties to connect with my friends and family. I try my best to be present in the here and now and I find that incredibly hard to do when mindlessly scrolling on the internet. 

How do you feel about AI… Are you concerned? Do you ever use it?

Balance and moderation are very important. AI is an incredibly powerful tool, but we don’t know how to wield it, yet. Given the size AI is projected to be in the future, I’m reminded when we as people first created fire. It can be a great help to us, but it can also burn us.

We learned to respect fire quickly because of its potential for harm. I hope we can do the same with AI. I personally don’t use AI. I don’t know how long I’ll have the choice, but I’m making the choice not to use it as long as I have the ability to do so. 

What do your plans for the future include? Do you plan to continue working as a writer?

I’m working on figuring out what my third album will be. I have the title and now I have to write the rest of it. I’ve already written my second album, and it is in the process of being edited. It will be a completely different album; I’m proud of it and look forward to its future release.

What about other forms… a book or short stories?

Regarding other forms, I have to see what forms the words I hear take. I plan to continue to learn and grow as a person, be a good friend, family member, and wife, enjoy my life, and live out my mother’s legacy of kindness by being kind to myself, to others, and to the world. 

“Moving With” is available on the digital platforms by clicking here.

Markos Papadatos
Written By

Markos Papadatos is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for Music News. Papadatos is a Greek-American journalist and educator that has authored over 21,000 original articles over the past 18 years. He has interviewed some of the biggest names in music, entertainment, lifestyle, magic, and sports. He is a 16-time "Best of Long Island" winner, where for three consecutive years (2020, 2021, and 2022), he was honored as the "Best Long Island Personality" in Arts & Entertainment, an honor that has gone to Billy Joel six times.

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