5 Ways to be Geniuses Together: Celebrating Ja Jahannes

Quote by Ja A. Jahannes with art graphic by Postered Poetics and Aberjhani.
“Unless we learn” quote by Ja A. Jahannes (with art graphic by Postered Poetics)

One self-penned definition of the word genius is: a focused intensification of individual intelligence resulting in works of exemplary creativity, visionary leadership, or uncommon spiritual depth and beauty. This definition is perhaps a fitting one to describe much of the life and legacy of Rev. Dr. Ja A. Jahannes, who was born August 25, 1942. in Baltimore, Maryland, and died in Savannah, Georgia, on July 5, 2015.

As recently as April 28, Jahannes (as he was known to many of his friends) had started a new blog in which he stated his intentions as follows:

“This is the beginning of me putting my thoughts, observations, queries, photos and insights in one place for present, current, and past generations (it could happen…time travel) to read and witness that I made some small, if not minuscule, contribution to Planet Sol-3.”

Unfortunately, battles with illness and the drive to continuously produce creative works did not leave much time or energy for the planned blog entries. That does not, however, mean there was or is anything at all “minuscule” about the contributions Jahannes managed to make to the world community before leaving it. Proof of that statement may be found in the announcement that his latest play, “Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly,” will be performed July 26, 2015, at the Jewish Educational Alliance in Savannah.

Indeed, anyone even vaguely acquainted with his name find themselves astonished when learning about his prodigious output as a veteran of the U.S. Air Force, an educator, minister, proud alumnus of Lincoln University (Pennsylvania), composer, playwright, poet, novelist, essayist, photographer, family man, community leader, publisher, and public intellectual.

Please enjoy the complete article by clicking here:
5 Ways to be geniuses together: Celebrating Ja Jahannes (part 1 of 3: the man) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

Song of the Black Skylark: Poem in the American Literary Halloween Tradition

Song of the Black Skylark (poem) by Aberjhani on AuthorsDen

                    (Black Skylark title art graphic by Postered Poetics for Aberjhani)

Does the enigmatic figure of the Black Skylark referenced in this blog title have anything to do with Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” (1845), with Walt Whitman’s “The Mystic Trumpeter” (1872), or Abram Joseph Ryan’s “Song of the Deathless Voice” (1880)? It shares with Poe’s classic poem the image of a dark mystical bird. On the other hand, the presence of an eerie beguiling melody establishes a strong link to Whitman’s and Ryan’s poems.

Obviously, the poem Song of the Black Skylark is from the book Visions of a Skylark Dressed in Black. It was not until the first edition of the book was about to be published that I began to understand the origins of the Black Skylark. The following is what I noted as my understanding grew deeper:

It dawned on me that the book was actually conceived many many years before…In fact, it began as part of a writing assignment in a class taught by Wendy Parrish at Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, way back in the day before people used the phrase “back in the day”…. That was when I wrote a poem called The Dark Bird, describing a creature that was frightfully heroic in life while being somehow oddly connected to death.

At that time, the word “metaphysics” was unknown to me so I was more driven by a feeling than a concept. The central image that formed around that feeling disappeared for two decades before re-emerging and evolving into the Black Skylark that not only soars through the pages of Visions, but through those of a novel also [now] completed.

The poem is set in the city of Savannah, Georgia, but its themes are universal. Readers are cordially invited to decide for themselves how well it fits into the tradition of the American Halloween poem pioneered by Poe, Whitman, and Ryan:
Song of the Black Skylark (poem) by Aberjhani on AuthorsDen.

by Aberjhani

3 Poems for Poem in Your Pocket Day: Number 1

        (Classic first-edition cover for I Made My Boy Out of Poetry featuring art by Gustave Blache III)

“Dedicated artists, innovators, and stewards of our language, they tell us not only who we are, but also who we can become. They distill our emotions, clarify our thoughts, and renew our spirits with the vigor of their words and the freshness of their perspective.” ––Former President Bill Clinton, from Letter Acknowledging Launch of National Poetry Month, April 1, 1996

Members of the Academy of American Poets had no way of knowing when they established National Poetry Month in 1996 that something called 9/11 would pop up on the radar screen of history just four years later. Although a man-made mass trauma, 9/11 was equal in emotional impact to what came later: the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake that took approximately 225 thousand lives, the 2010 earthquake that brought Haiti to its already weary knees with more than 300 thousand deaths, and the combined tsunami and nuclear disaster that rocked Fukushima in 2011.

Each of these horrors––as well as the epidemic of mass shootings that has plagued the United States since––threatened to unhinge individuals’ sanity in a permanent and unforgiving way. For many, orthodox religions provided some solace but not enough. Individuals often turned to poetry, not only to glean strength and perspective from the words of others, but to give birth to their own poetic voices and hold history accountable for the catastrophes rearranging their lives.

Carry It with You

There have always been those who recognized and valued on some level a relationship with poetry. But it was the Academy of American Poets’ official acknowledgement of it through the establishment of National Poetry Month which validated that value for those other than so-called “lit-geeks.” It made sense that the Academy should have kept the momentum going with the launch of Poem in Your Pocket Day on April 17, 2008. The idea was a simple one: “select a poem you love, carry it with you, and share it with others throughout the day.”

For the full article and to read the poem by Aberjhani please click this link:
3 Poems for Poem in Your Pocket Day: Number 1 – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.