Friday, March 28, 2008

Poetry In Review

I recently came across this review, from a couple of years ago, of a book of poems that I self-published a few years back. I wasn't aware of the review when it came out and so was pleasantly surprised when I was doing a search online and going through old emails and stumbled on it. Thank God, it was a positive review, though sometimes a negative review can be telling. But it juices me up when someone, other than family or close friends, sees some good in what I put out into the world. And, so I share this with you. If any of you out there in cyberland, who are reading this and are interested in getting a copy of this book, of which I have several and am more than willing to unleash from my stash, let me know, either by leaving a comment or shooting me an email. "Nuff said.


"Mofo' Risin' " by Joseph Powell
17 Poems
PO Box 10024, Burbank CA 91510
jobypoet@yahoo. com

Review by L.B. Sedlacek

One of the dedications that begins "Mofo' Risin' "
is from Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise" -- "You may
shoot me with your words, / you may cut me with
your eyes, / you may kill me with your hatefulness, /
But still, like air, I'll rise." Powell's own dedication
reads, "Dedicated to all the mofos still tryin' to
rise!!" Having briefly studied poetry with Angelou
and remembering what a powerful force she is
(especially when speaking of her childhood
experiences that inspired many of her most memorable
works), I expected nothing less from Powell's
own poems. I was not disappointed. Each
poem stands on its on with clear crisp meaning,
i.e. anyone can read them and get it. And that's
quite an accomplishment.

His poems are powerful and relatable even
though I must admit that I've lived in the
"Bible Belt" (south) so long I had to sit and
think for a minute to realize what a "mofo"
really is! But, that's the point. I imagine
if I met Mr. Powell in person -- other than the fact
that we're both poets, we'd probably have
nothing in common; yet I and anyone else
could find something inherent in their own
lives in this particular body of work.

From "The Death of Cupid" --
"I will shed no more tears / Will not celebrate
another love song / or write another love
poem; / I will take my heart from my sleeve /
and put it back in my pocket, / where it
belongs, ..."

From "Gratis" --
"You are / the poem / I haven't / written/
yet. // Your words / have shown / me /
how free / I am / to be / me. ..."

From "Def Poet" --
If I were a slam poet / and, I'm not, by
the way, / I'd breathe similes /
into your nostrils / and give you life; /
(w) rap metaphors / around your ears /
like the garland wrapped / in Billie
Holiday's hair; / I would not lull you /
to sleep, ...."

Powell's verse is fresh and provocative
and sticks in your head. "Mofo' Risin' "
is a refreshing entry into human
observation and the mind of a poet.

Joseph Powell's work has appeared in
"Circle Magazine." He is the author
of "Blood on the Page" (2002) and
"With Unveiled Faces" (1998).

Thursday, March 27, 2008

More Quotable Quotes

I did a blog entry a few years ago wherein I posted some quotes from other writers and the like, which I have found inspirational and enlightening. Periodically, in this blog, I would like to continue that trend, in the hopes that whoever is reading this, will also find inspiration and enlightenment as well, starting with the quotes you will find below. Enjoy!

"Just remembering how careful you have to be with words, how much we're obliged to be poets as screenwriters, is energising."

--Anthony Minghella, writer-director(The English Patient, Cold Mountain, The Talented Mr. Ripley), who died last week.

There's always something left to love

Tony Campolo writes: 'Some years ago I saw Lorraine Hansberry's play, A Raisin in the Sun, and heard a passage that still haunts me. In it an African-American family inherits $10,000 from their father's insurance. The mother sees the chance to escape ghetto life. The brilliant daughter sees a chance to go to medical school. But the older brother begs for the money so that he and his friend can go into business together, and make things good for the rest of them. The mother gives in. Well, the 'friend' skips town with the money, and the desolate son has to break the news to the family. Immediately his sister lashes him with ugly words. Her contempt has no limits. Suddenly the mother interrupts her, "I thought I taught you to love him." The daughter answers, "Love him? There's nothing left to love." The mother responds: "There's always something left to love. And if you ain't learned that, you isn't learned nuthin! Have you cried for that boy today? I don't mean for yourself and the family. I mean for him: for what he's been through and what it done to him. Child, when do you think is the time to love somebody the most? When they done good? Well then you isn't through learning, because that isn't the time at all. It's when he's at his lowest and can't believe in himself 'cause the world has done whipped him so. When you starts measuring somebody, measure him right, child, measure him right. Make sure you've taken into account what hills and valleys he's done come through before he got to wherever he is".

"Life often has a way of making people feel small and unimportant. But if you find a way to express yourself through writing, to put your ideas and stories on paper, you'll feel more consequential. No one should pass through time without writing their thoughts and experiences down for others to learn from. Even if only one person, a family member, reads something you wrote long after you're gone, you live on. So writing gives you power. Writing gives you immortality."

--Antwone Fisher

"Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."

–- C.S. Lewis

(On the terrible stutter he suffered from as a young man]: "One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can't utter."

--James Earl Jones

"Put me in a room with a pad and a pencil and set me up against a hundred people with a hundred computers -- I'll outcreate every goddamn sonofabitch in the room."

"You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you."

–-Ray Bradbury

"And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you
have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise.
The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt."

--Sylvia Plath

"Fear of rejection, give that up. See, all fear, you have to give up. All hope, you have to give up. Because there's no such thing as hope in Hollywood. There either is doing it or not doing it."

–-James Coburn, May 22, 1992, "A Day in the Life of Hollywood"

"Don't worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you'll have to ram them down people's throats."

–-Howard Aiken

"You must keep sending work out; you must never let a manuscript do nothing but eat its head off in a drawer. You send that work out again and again, while you're working on another one. If you have talent, you will receive some measure of success -- but only if you persist."

–-Isaac Asimov

"Being a real writer means being able to do the work on a bad day."

-- Norman Mailer

"Life is not a support system for art. It's the other way around."

–-Stephen King

"Of all the arts in which the wise excel, nature's chief
masterpiece is writing well."

--Andre Breton (French Writer)

"Never confuse a single defeat with a final defeat."

--F. Scott Fitzgerald

"Words - so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them."

–-Nathaniel Hawthorne

"Some of us are timid. We think we have something to lose so we don't try for the next hill."

--Maya Angelou, Writer

'Nuff said for now!

Monday, March 10, 2008

We Are The Ones--Another Obama Video by will-i-am

When I watch something like this, I feel encouraged by what is possible. Like what people felt about John and Bobby Kennedy; about Martin Luther King, Jr.; the way I felt when Harold Washington ran to become, and then became, the first black mayor of Chicago; even what I felt when Hillary's husband ran for the presidency in '92. What is possible. When a dream can become a reality. I believe that Obama represents that change is possible and that he will be a president of the people and the face of this nation that the world needs to see. As always, just my thoughts. Enjoy the video and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

A Reluctant Eulogy

It was a year ago this past weekend that I lost one of the closest friends I have or ever will know--Michael Edmonds. He was my "partner in crime", my brother, compadre, my laugh meter. We shared as many commonalities(both children of the Christian faith; both divorced; both desiring to be writers; lovers of good comedy and strong drama; able to break the other up with a good joke or funny line; co-workers in the field of animation preproduction) as we did differences(he from the deep South, I from the upper Midwest; he white, myself black; he of the conservative Republican persuasion, myself a progressive Democrat), which made for a unique friendship and those are rare indeed. Hardly a day goes by since his passing that I don't think of my friend. There have been scores of jokes and movies that I would love to call him up and chat and laugh about; I would love to hear his thoughts on the current presidential race, even if we probably wouldn't agree on a candidate; and he would have been an integral part of my wedding last October. My life has not been the same now that he's gone and memories, however vivid or not, do not nearly suffice. And talking to the departed seems to work best in movies and on tv. Even the following poem, written for a memorial service that some of his friends here in southern California had for him last year, barely scratches the surface of honoring who he was and meant(still means) to me. All I can say is that I hope whoever read this blog entry will be blessed, as I feel I have been, to know a friend like my friend Michael. "Nuff said"!!

(for Michael)

by Joseph Powell

This is for my fallen comrade,
for my brother-in-arms
for my partner in crime.

I am crying copious tears that
I never expected to shed---
So soon, too soon.

I am not asking God to answer me why
He took my friend,
for I don’t expect Him to tell me;

but I am asking Him to turn back the sun
for at least one time,
for one more day to hear his laugh,
for one more day to see that mischievous twinkle in his eye,
for one more day to see that “shit-eating grin”.

But I don’t expect Him to do that either.

But in time, I hope He will strengthen my fragile memories,
let me hear his laughter in my head,
let me turn those tears into twinkles in my own eyes,
let me wear that “shit-eating grin” that he loved so much,
as I remember the bond we shared
as comrades in the struggle,
as brothers-in-arms,
as partners in crime.

In closing, I will ask of God one thing I expect He will grant—

that I not forget.

© 2007 Joseph Powell