Selma Revisited: from Violent Racism to Reflective Compassion (part 1)

3 Producers of the film
Left to right, Producers of the Golen Globe Award-nominated film Selma:
Dede Gardner, Oprah Winfrey, and director Ava DuVernay. (photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for AFI)

 The movie Selma, directed and executive produced by Ava DuVernay, opened on Christmas Day 2014 and rang in the New Year 2015 with domestic sales estimated at $1, 204,000 according to Box Office Mojo. Whereas there have been any number of films about the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. produced for television, Selma is the first major feature film on the great civil rights leader made for theatrical release.

The movie’s box office performance at the beginning of the year placed it at number 23 on Fandango’s list of “Top Box Office Movies,” and it currently stands at number 22. Both positions place it far behind “The Hobbit: the Battle of the Five Armies” ruling at the time at number 1, and “Unbroken” at number 2.

However, Selma played during the first week of its release in only 19 select theaters. It is set to screen nation-wide on January 9, just in time for the 86th anniversary of Dr. King’s birth on January 15. In honor of the fact that the movie would not have been made without the definitive role played by the people of Selma, Alabama, in the past as well as in the present, Paramount Studios announced that residents will be allowed to view it for free until the end of January.

DuVernay has already won the Los Angeles Film Critics Association New Generation Award for the film and it has earned 4 African-American Film Critics Association Awards. It has also received 4 Golden Globe Award Nominations. In addition to DuVernay, the line-up of producers includes Hollywood heavyweights Brad Pitt and Oprah Winfrey, who also performs in a supporting role as Annie Lee Cooper. Paul Webb provided the screenplay and among the exceptional cast that brings it to life are David Oyelowo (as Martin Luther King Jr.), Carmen Ejogo (as Coretta Scott King), Cuba Gooding Jr., Giovanni Ribisi, Common, Tim Roth, and Allesandro Nivola.

Technology and the Struggle for Human Rights

The story of the historic march from Selma to Montgomery is now a well-known one for many important reasons. It is obviously vital for the place it holds in the story of African-Americans’ ongoing struggle for social and political equality in the United States, as it is for the place it occupies in America’s attempts in general to refine its practice of the concept of democracy. In addition, it dramatically demonstrates the role which the evolution of technology has played in struggles for human rights in the modern era.

For the full article by Aberjhani please click this link:
Selma revisited: from violent racism to reflective compassion (part 1 of 5) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

‘Tis the Season for the Magic of Poetry: Black Gold | Aberjhani Author-Poet-Literary-Consultant | LinkedIn

'Tis the Season for the Magic of Poetry: Black Gold | Aberjhani Author-Poet-Literary-Consultant | LinkedIn
Cover of new anthology: Black Gold, edited by Ja A. Jahannes.

When contemplating such issues as the current protests against the trend of white policemen killing unarmed black men (or boys in the case of 12-year-old Tamir Rice) and the unceasing escalation of war and terrorism across the globe, some might consider poetry an insignificant subject to address as the year 2015 approaches. Others, however, might contend that just like black lives in the past, present, and future–– poetry matters, enough in fact to be placed among Big Ideas 2015 .

One important reason poetry matters is because it often helps to expand humanity’s capacity for putting brutal and sublime experiences alike into usable, meaningful, contexts. What may be the oldest known Christmas poem, A Visit from Saint Nicholas (often referred to as “Twas the Night Before Christmas”) was first published anonymously on December 23, 1823, and later attributed to Clement Clark Moore. The year was a relatively peaceful one compared to the year before and that which followed. The poem, then, in addition to celebrating the holiday spirit of giving, could have been the poet’s way of affirming grace in a world too often overrun by grief.

Black Gold

The forthcoming poetry anthology entitled Black Gold, edited by playwright and composer Ja A. Jahannes, is not a collection of holiday verse. But it does offer a powerful counterbalance to the current mainstream images documenting what it does or does not mean to be a person of African or Latin descent in these still-early years of the 21st century.

With its mixture of multigenerational, gender inclusive, and intercontinental voices, Black Gold in some ways accomplishes through poetry what various government, educational, and community institutions have not. That is to say it successfully replicates the principle of unity, or Umoja, which many celebrate on the first day of Kwanzaa (December) and then generally ignore throughout the rest of the year. This should not be taken to mean the poets presented in the book are without their own brand of diversity.

To check out the full post with video and quotes please click the link:

‘Tis the Season for the Magic of Poetry: Black Gold | Aberjhani Author-Poet-Literary-Consultant | LinkedIn.

How Creativity and Social Responsibility Inspired 5 Memorable Moments | Aberjhani Author-Poet-Literary-Consultant | LinkedIn


Rainbows introduce us to reflections
of different beautiful possibilities
so we never forget that pain and grief
are not the final options in life.

Aberjhani

Measuring the success of a given year by the percentage of profits gained or lost is a sensible enough practice for many individuals and an essential one for various organizations. However, I decided going into 2014 that I wanted to commit time throughout the year to finding ways that creatively honored the concept of mutually-empowering and life-enhancing partnerships. The goal was to combine as much as possible measures of social responsibility with different types of creative endeavors.

Why such an intensely-focused approach? Because the still-straggling uncertainty of the economy, the domestic gun violence that broke America’s collectively-beating heart nearly every other week, and rising waves of conflict on the global front made it far too easy to succumb to such dispositions as cynicism, nihilism, and actions motivated by anything other than an ethical perspective.

Since partnerships, or relationships, by definition require interaction with more than just oneself, not every effort was as successful as I might have hoped. Certainly not all would top a list of favorite #My2014Moments even when proving what some might describe as “profitable.” Still, others resulted in beneficial reconnections with previous colleagues and some produced thrilling adventures in formerly unexplored territories.

5 Memorable Moments

1. Taking a Stand for Compassion: Toward the end of the year 2013 I promised to sign the Charter for Compassion on the first day of 2014. That affirmation so far has not impressed groups such as ISIL, Boko Haram, the Taliban, or Al-Qaida to revise their habits of employing guerrilla decontextualization to misrepresent a major religion and justify heinous actions against noncombatant civilians. It did, though, prompt me to write three of my stronger articles in 2014 on the world’s attempts to reconcile chaos with sanity:

To check out the full list please click this link:
How Creativity and Social Responsibility Inspired 5 Memorable Moments in 2014

by Aberjhani

Reflections on Ode to the Good Black Boots that Served My Soul So Well (poem) by Aberjhani

“But why exactly were these shoes so important to Vincent? Why had he carried them with him for so long, beaten and worn as they were?” – Ken Wilber, from the essay A Pair of Worn Shoes (“A Pair of Shoes” painting by Vincent Van Gogh from Southern Review.org)

The story and intent behind my poem, Ode to the Good Black Boots that Served My Soul So Well, is not extremely different from the story and likely intent behind Vincent Van Gogh’s painting, A Pair of Shoes (see image above). In philosopher Ken Wilber’s book, The Eye of the Spirit – An Integral Vision of a World Gone Slightly Mad, the author retells a story first shared by the painter Paul Gauguin (1848–1903) about a pair of “enormous worn out misshapen shoes” painted by his friend Vincent.

The now-iconic Van Gogh (1853–1890) created the image after serving as a caregiver for 40 days and nights to a miner who had been so badly burned that doctors gave him up for dead. Vincent Van Gogh could not accept that prognosis. He had not gone to the mines to paint but had traveled there in well-made boots as a young pastor intent on ministering to whoever might have need of him. 

After laboring with love to nurse the man back to some degree of health, the scars that remained on the miner’s brow and face looked to Van Gogh like scars from a crown made of thorns.

Please enjoy the full post by clicking here:
Reflections on Ode to the Good Black Boots that Served My Soul So Well (poem) by Aberjhani on AuthorsDen.

Dancing with Genius, Dancing with Madness (in Honor of Jalaluddin Rumi)

                                                           (Rumi Visions II CD cover art by  Marvin Mattelson)

I think of Genius and Madness as being very much like a twin brother and sister.  And it doesn’t really matter which one we call the brother, or which we describe as the sister, for one simple reason.  Within the universe of the extraordinary, those qualities we designate to human concepts of gender are often shared, exchanged, or even completely obliterated. Because of this mixture of traits, these twins called Genius and Madness often appear to be the same thing.

They both have a tendency to blur the lines of what we call norms, or established reality.  They both, when we study that grand tapestry known as history and modern-day society, tend to stand out in much bolder relief than other figures. Neither Genius nor Madness ever look upon the world as a finished product. Both tend to view it as a kind of work in progress subject to their peculiarly mesmerizing influence.

Nevertheless: despite their similarities we are talking about twins with pronounced and distinct characteristics. If they at moments appear identical, in the end there’s rarely any difficulty telling them apart. For we recognize True Genius and True Madness most accurately by their legacies. Madness has a fondness for leaving the world filled with confusion and atrocity: such as the assassination of humanitarian leaders; the systematic rape and oppression of women and children; or the deliberate destruction of social and individual harmony. Genius, on the other hand, prefers to reserve its passions for clarity and the joys of intellectual possibility. It bestows upon the world such gifts as the angelic compositions of a Mozart; the enabling spiritual vision of a Martin Luther King, Jr.; the creative brilliance of a Leonardo da Vinci; or the Nobel-winning literary excellence of a Toni Morrison.

To check out the full post by Aberjhani please click the link:
Dancing with Genius, Dancing with Madness in Honor of Rumi article by Aberjhani on AuthorsDen.

Text and Meaning in Elemental The Power of Illuminated Love (part 1 of 3)


Angles of Ascents Anthology featuring the works of contemporary poets. (Cover image features poets Nikki Giovanni and the late Amiri Baraka)

Success for the creatively-inclined individual can be defined in many ways. Certainly there are those who necessarily measure their triumphs in terms of monetary gains. There are others for whom success means the refinement of a process, participation in a unique endeavor, the achievement of a level of personal mastery, or the realization of a rare kind of vision. 

For some, it is all of the above. 

Upon agreeing to work with the artist Luther E. Vann on a book showcasing contemporary art, ekphrastic poems, and short essays in 1991, there was little reason to believe it would ever see publication much less gain recognition as a “success.” It was not the kind of work on which publishers preferred to take chances. Neither the artist nor this author at the time commanded such compelling presences in the marketplace as to make a victorious outcome likely or inevitable in 2008. Whether or not it would have moved the hearts of judges making and breaking aspiring entrepreneurs during Shark Tank Week is debatable. 

Please click the link to check out the full post by Aberjhani:
Text and Meaning in Elemental The Power of Illuminated Love (part 1 of 3) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

Creative Flexibility and Annihilated Lives (essay with poem)

“The systematic looting of language can be recognized by the tendency of its users to forgo its nuanced, complex, mid-wifery properties for menace and subjugation. Oppressive language does more than represent violence; it is violence…”~Toni Morrison, 1993 Nobel Lecture in Literature

(This segment of Creative Flexibility and Annihilated Lives is published in partnership with Voices Compassion Education.)

Like many authors I dive headlong almost every day into a torrential flow of words sparkling with possibilities. I then work to extract from that linguistic flow a collective of sounds, imagery, ideas, and entire compositions capable of offering relevant reflections of the world experienced both inside and outside my own head. Such a mindful exercise in disciplined creative passion tends to focus my thoughts more on striking a balance between the unyielding clarity of prose and the seductive allusiveness of poetry than on the demands of managing a public image.

Because I give myself so wholly to the furious embrace of language on a regular basis, I rarely classify myself as a specific kind of writer. It is usually editors or readers who decide on my behalf whether I am more welcome in their world as an essayist, fiction-writer, historian, poet, or another breed of fever-driven scribbler. They provide the context in which a meeting of our minds may occur and share notes on specific facets of what it means to be in this world.

The differences between the various literary forms are obvious enough but it is not unusual for one genre, during a heated word-session, to flow at will into another. It happens much the way a dancing couple or individual might boogy-bounce nonstop from one song to the next––the rhythm calls and the soul answers.

Please continue reading the essay with poem by Aberjhani by clicking this link:
Creative Flexibility and Annihilated Lives (essay with poem) (article) by Aberjhani on AuthorsDen
.