The 2015 Bid for Power and History in Savannah (Georgia, USA) – Bright Skylark Literary Productions

There’s a lot at stake when it comes to casting a vote for the mayor of Georgia’s first city. Candidates not only stand to make history but to shape it some very powerful ways. (photo of Edna B. Jackson courtesy of Diva Magazine)

Journalist Patricia C. Stumb, in a 1999 Connect Savannah news magazine story titled “Peace, love & blessings…,” wrote of how I “found worldly consciousness in the heart of [my] hometown.” Her observation was surprisingly precise because during that period while living in Savannah, Georgia, I had indeed become more aware of my hometown on the global scale of things. I had also become more cognizant of myself as an author whose influences and inspirations tended often to derive from regions far beyond it.

However, expanded consciousness or not, there was no such thing as overlooking the profound thematic shift that occurred in the city’s history when Floyd Adams became its first African-American mayor in 1996. That event prompted the composition of these lines:

By way of an African wind
a letter came today.
It was not scribbled over
Hallmark fantasies or
popcultural postcards;
it was engraved on sweat-dyed scrolls
manufactured by centuries
of anguish, struggle, determination.
––from the poem A Letter Came Today (I Made My Boy Out of Poetry)

The thematic transition grew even more powerful in 2003 with the election of Otis Johnson as mayor of the city and in 2011 when Edna Branch Jackson won the office. Up until this point, too much of the story of African Americans in Savannah had been one of a people continuously oppressed and suppressed by history itself. Different industries (such as film) and individuals benefited economically from that history but Blacks native to the city have rarely done so to any significant degree.

The Re-Historicization of a Narrative

The elections of Adams, Johnson, and Jackson created a thematic evolution that has helped the city prepare for even more dramatic and culturally inclusive demographic shifts already in progress. Call it the re-historicization of a narrative that dates back at least to late 1800s Reconstruction.

Please enjoy the complete essay at this link: Source: The 2015 Bid for Power and History in Savannah (Georgia, USA) – Bright Skylark Literary Productions

When the Lyrical Muse Sings the Creative Pen Dances – Bright Skylark Literary Productions

If you’re a regular reader of my national African-American cultural arts column, you may have noticed that I have not been posting articles as frequently as I once did. The reason is simple enough. Having reached a certain point in the research for my current book-in-progress (at least one of them anyway) I had to reduce as many additional writing obligations as possible to fully concentrate on completion of the work.

For me, this is the part of authorship when the lyrical muse sings and the creative pen dances. The greater bulk of the more rigid tasks of verification and documentation have been satisfied, and imagination may be allowed to take over the processes of narrative construction. The resulting musical flow of image and language stamp the work with its own unique identity. And its own self-defined meanings destined to merge with different readers’ interpretations of the same.

The Writer and the Times

I started the national African-American cultural arts column on July 13, 2009, with a story about the debut of Johnny and Me, Savannah author Miriam K. Center’s play based on her friendship with the late 4-time Academy Award-winning composer Johnny Mercer. That was followed by a profile of acclaimed artist Jerome Meadows.

The next month, August, saw the launch of the controversial series on the trial (and eventual execution) of Troy Anthony Davis, convicted for the murder of Savannah policeman Mark Allen MacPhail.  Not writing about Davis’s trial, to my mind, would have been a case of gross negligence. Doing so was one early indication of what readers would discover over the next few years: basically, I found it impossible to restrict myself (as asked to do) to the subject of “the arts” as pertaining to African Americans.

Please check out the full post by clicking here: When the Lyrical Muse Sings the Creative Pen Dances – Bright Skylark Literary Productions

The Abbreviated Mind Faces ‘The King of Music’ Dilemma (part 1 of 2) – National African-American Art Examiner

Michael Jackson in the studio.

Michael Jackson in the studio. (Postered Poetics enhancement of pr release photo)

For those members of a given demographic made uneasy by the idea of eventually becoming just one more minority in America, an abbreviated mind taking note of the evolving dynamics could react with overwhelming fear. The carnage inflicted by Dylann Roof in Charleston, SC, just last month may be considered one such case. That demonstrated by the Norwegian Anders Behring Breivik in 2011 illustrates how analogous scenarios are playing out across the globe.

The idea and reality of losing previously-held political power and privileged authority based on racial domination could (some would say apparently does) encourage violence against those perceived of as a threat. Certainly the ongoing violence inflicted upon unarmed African-Americans by armed White-American policemen ––the latest most visible cases being that of Sandra Bland in Waller County, Texas, and Sam Dubose in Cincinnati, Ohio, does very little to suggest otherwise.

From the opposite end of the undulating spectrum, populations growing increasingly more powerful and reacting with abbreviated minds may, conceivably, develop a penchant for vindictive behavior. It is in fact wholly possible that the 2014 shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and the choking death of Eric Garner in New York City, later followed by shootings of policemen described as “retaliatory,” are precise examples of the dynamics in question. Such scenarios, however, represent only a fraction of the kind of personal, local community, national, and global chaos that an abbreviated mind, especially when linked to intentional guerrilla decontextualization, can cause.

Periods of shifting demographics, along with the often overwhelming giant crashing waves of sudden historical events themselves, often create odd partnerships and dangerously extreme polarization. Fear of getting lost in the shuffle prompts many to abandon personal ethics for some semblance of security motivated by a heightened sense of raging and yet repressed anxiety.

To read the complete post by Aberjhani please click here
The abbreviated mind faces “The King of Music” dilemma (part 1 of 2) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com
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Michael Jackson One Theater production. Video interview with director Jamie King.

5 Eye-opening Books about Slavery in Savannah (part 1)

Georgia Historical Society marker citing
Georgia Historical Society marker citing “The Weeping Time,” a.k.a. the “Largest Slave Sale in Georgia History” held in Savannah.
(photo courtesy of Waymark)

Two of the most acclaimed movies of the past decade, 12 Years a Slave and Django Unchained, have focused on the degradation, inhumanity, and absurdity associated with slavery as it was once practiced in the United States. Those who are surprised by this film genre’s ability to continue to command the attention of audiences around the world might want to consider the fact that various forms of forced servitude are very real in 2015.

In addition, just as the year 2011 marked the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War, 2015 commemorates the sesquicentennial of the war’s end. It is therefore also the official end of slavery in the United States and reason enough for movies that remind viewers why so many fought against it then and why so many, acknowledged or not, are doing so now. For all intended purposes, the precise date of the end of the Civil War was April 9, 1865, when General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant in Virginia. Some, however, maintain it did not end until Confederal Gen. Edmund K. Smith’s concession on June 2, 1865.

A Functional Metaphor

Slavery as it was known in the past serves as a functional metaphor for the human trafficking that remains to be corrected in the present. Current estimates provided by the Walk Free Foundation place the estimated number of people enslaved across the globe at 35.8 million. The foundation has drawn some heat regarding the accuracy of this figure and how they derived at it. In its own defense, the organization’s website states the following:

“Measuring modern slavery is a very difficult undertaking due to the hidden nature of this crime. Surveys represent the most accurate method for estimating the numbers of people living in modern slavery…. Data from a total of 19 countries were obtained from random sample surveys, including the seven Gallup survey countries.”

Criticisms of methodological precision to the side, even the fact that organization members dispute an exact number of millions of people enslaved in modern-day times is something so incredulous that many prefer to pretend there are no real numbers at all.

For the TedTalks photography video on modern-day slavery and to read the complete essay by Aberjhani please click this link:
5 Eye-opening books about slavery in Savannah (part 1 of 2) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

Notebook on Michael Brown, Kajieme Powell, and W.E.B. Du Bois (part 1 of 2)

“No one seems to think it significant that upon the policemen’s arrival Kajieme Powell possibly had reason to fear for his life and reacted in a manner consistent with his disability.” ––Article excerpt (Aberjhani)

“Democracy is not a gift of power, but a reservoir of knowledge.” –– from The Wisdom of W.E.B. Du Bois

The month of August happens to be one in which a number of notable events in African-American history, relatively recent in historical terms, have occurred. There are the birthdays of such celebrated individuals as author James Baldwin (Aug. 2), President Barack Obama (Aug. 4), and philanthropist and performing artist Michael Jackson (Aug. 29).

From this point forward, people shall also certainly recall August 9, 2014, as the day when 18-year-old’s Michael Brown’s death served to ignite a series of violent night-time protests eerily reminiscent of similar scenes from the 1960s. The chaos also functioned as yet one more reminder of how readily the lives of African-American men are deleted from this world by violence.

With the 2009 killing of 22-year-old Oscar Grant in Oakland, Calif., the 2011 execution of Savannah’s 42-year-old Troy Anthony Davis, the 2012 shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin in Sanford, Florida, and the currently-pending case of 17-year-old Kendrick Johnson found dead in a rolled-up wrestling mat at his school in Lowndes County, Georgia, so fresh in recent memory, such a reminder was hardly necessary.

But there it painfully is. As Jaeah Lee reported in Mother Jones and others have written elsewhere, similar occurrences are far more frequent than many might imagine. This reality is nothing like advantageous diversity that many multiculturalists prefer to believe is possible for the United States. It also says much more about the cost of romanticizing faith in guns and violence than lawmakers and lobbyists seem willing to acknowledge.

To read the full special report article by Aberjhani please click here:
Notebook on Michael Brown, Kajieme Powell, and W.E.B. Du Bois part 1 of 2 – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.

The Saving Grace of an Old School Strategy and Impulse

Salman Rushdie former Red Room banner photo from Internet Archive Wayback Time Machine“What one writer can make in the solitude of one room is something no power can easily destroy.”
Author Salman Rushdie as formerly featured at Red Room
. (photo graphic courtesy of the Internet Archive Wayback Machine)

A lot of hearts passionate about reading, writing, publishing, and literary culture in general were broken July 3 when emails went out informing members of the former online Red Room community that it was going offline on July 8. Canada’s rapidly-growing Wattpad had acquired the San Francisco-based Red Room and elected to dissolve it rather than let it stand as a separate entity the way Amazon did when it acquired Goodreads last year. The July 3 notice gave those who had been having a quiet intense love affair with the online community for just over half a decade less than a week to get their profiles, keyboards, and gigabytes of shared content in order.

Aside from the emotional impact of having to unexpectedly say goodbye to what many considered a genuine “class literary act,” a number of writers realized they had initially composed and posted original works for their blogs and comments sections directly online without bothering to store back-ups anywhere else. Call it a 21st-century side effect of texting and instant messaging which tends to encourage––though not necessarily by any means intentionally–– communicating with minimal reflection on what is said before it is said. That same impulse prompts minimal concern for the preservation of shared texts even when the capacity for such preservation is available.


A Value unto Itself

The dilemma of losing original writings to the sudden departure of a favored website is not something likely to happen to an old school writer for one simple reason. Ever since as long ago as the predigital age of the number-2 pencil and the typewriter, wordsmiths-in-training were repeatedly cautioned to never give up the only copies of their writings to anyone for any reason. Most, in fact, were often told to never relinquish their “originals” period, which is one reason you occasionally hear about “authentic manuscripts” selling at auctions for millions of dollars (hard copies not digital files—at least not yet). Their value is derived from the singular legitimacy endowed by a moment in history and by an experienced crystallization of consciousness that can be described but not duplicated. The results of the moment can be reproduced in the form of copies, published articles, genuine books, or digital files. But it remains a fixed event with a value unto itself.

That same saving grace of old school strategies and impulses seems to have prompted Red Room CEO Ivy Madison and website editors to guard against the total loss of works previously published on the site by partnering with the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to preserve members’ content. According to the posted domain sale notice, “The complete Red Room archive created the week of July 7, 2014 will show up on the July 2014 portion of the Wayback Machine calendar by approximately August 15, 2014.” That’s a far better deal than many others have gotten under similar circumstances.

Former Red Room editor Huntington Sharp maintained the following in response to a Publishers Weekly article on the subject, “No one lost their content: we made a special arrangement with the Internet Archive to make sure every page will be findable on the Wayback Machine. We don’t know of any other platform having taken this step on behalf of customers, but Red Room and Wattpad did.”

NEXT: The Saving Grace of an Old School Strategy and Impulse (part 2 of 2)

by Aberjhani

Maya Angelou, Elliot Rodger, and Getting the Work Done (part 2) – Bright Skylark Literary Productions

New book release: Journey through the Power of the Rainbow, Quotations from a Life Made Out of Poetry, by Aberjhani

“Death wins nothing here,
gnawing wings that amputate––
then spread, lift up, fly.”
–from Journey through the Power of the Rainbow,
Quotations from a Life Made Out of Poetry (Aberjhani)

 Continued from PART 1

Rodger told himself in particular that “women rejected” him and therefore deserved punishment while knowing nothing about these anonymous women’s personal realities. And most damning of all, the mental model on which he relied convinced him that destroying life was the only way to conquer life. The possibility that he might discover joy and live peacefully outside his extremely narrow conceptions seems to have never occurred to him.

I had undertaken the completion of Journey through the Power of the Rainbow in the first place partly to help individuals, in general, construct healthier perspectives for looking at and dealing with existence as we know it in the 21st century. Rodger’s deadly rampage was a vicious reminder––not that anybody required one with the civil disruptions in Ukraine and Syria still disturbing the collective peace–– that humanity itself still needs to “get the work done” when it comes to dismantling belief in violence as a solution to disagreements or disappointments.

For the full post by Aberjhani please click the link:
Maya Angelou, Elliot Rodger, and Getting the Work Done (part 2) – Bright Skylark Literary Productions
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