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.

Rainbow-Song for The Angel of Tao: A Graphic-Art Poem by Aberjhani

Rainbow-Song for the Angel of Tao poetry art panel No. 2 by Aberjhani
(Art panel No. 2 Rainbow-Song for the Angel of Tao copyright by Aberjhani.)

“Rainbow-Song for the Angel of Tao” is not typical so far as poems posted in celebration of National Poetry Month go. The 3 stanzas of the poem are described as verses and each one has a corresponding art panel created by the poet.

The visual panels and the text stanzas are mirror images of each other reflected in different mediums. That means they reveal different aspects of one another, like the light the art panels reflecting the forms behind the words; and the rhythm of the text echoing the harmony of the light. Definitely a National Poetry Month kind of thing: Rainbow-Song: The Angel of Tao. A Graphic Poem by Aberjhani.

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

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.

King of Pop Michael Jackson and the World Community – The Journey and the Rainbow

          Michael Jackson with Spanish translation of quote from article by Aberjhani.
(graphic art poster courtesy of Facebook Group Blues Away)

The book Journey through the Power of the Rainbow, Quotations from a Life Made Out of Poetry, contains a full chapter of quotes on Michael Jackson as well as the short essay which follows. Anyone interested in winning a free copy of the book is encouraged to check out the Goodreads widget at the end of the essay.

At least part of worldwide reading audiences’ growing familiarity with my work has to be attributed to the late “King of Pop” Michael Jackson. Although I started writing about Mr. Jackson’s life and legacy after in his death in 2009, I did not understand just how many people around the world had been taking note of those writings. Then it was brought to my attention that several full articles had turned up on multiple websites in the form of unauthorized translations into German, Italian, French, Spanish, Greek, Portuguese, and other languages. Given the ease with which Internet technology makes it possible to accomplish such linguistic feats––precision of the translation notwithstanding––I told myself it had been inevitable.

Technological ease was only part of the reason. Another very significant part was what I had sensed myself and what author and Minister Barbara Kaufmann had identified as the “spiritual emergency” into which Jackson’s fans around the globe had found themselves plunged upon his death. They had discovered little to no consolation within a mainstream media and sideline tabloid press that continued to employ guerrilla decontextualization to sensationalize and capitalize off distortions of the megastar’s image even as the worldwide community he left behind flailed about in a tsunami of unrelenting grief. 

Please enjoy the full post by Aberjhani at this link:

King of Pop Michael Jackson and the World Community – The Journey and the Rainbow.

The Miracle That Was Gullah Artist Allen Fireall: Poem and Remembrance

 

What would you call it if you heard about an artist who had been declared legally blind and whose heart had lost the greater percentage of its strength but whom somehow continued to produce masterful paintings in brilliantly-colored detail? The word miracle may not be too extreme at all and it certainly should not be ruled out in the case of Gullah artist Allen Franklin Fireall, who passed away in Savannah, Georgia, on March 31, 2014.

Fireall described himself as an “artist historian” who dedicated his talents to preserving the culture and history of his people. In that sense, his work might be described as historical realism. The images he produced support that assessment in bold hues depicting scenes from African-American island and rural life in the Southeast.

Populating his canvases were: men hoeing row crops, women and men working beside each other harvesting collard greens, people gathered at a lake or river to be baptized, couples enjoying leisurely strolls on the beach, solitary brides in rowboats on their way to get married, fishermen making and casting nets, women sewing quilts, and men in barber shops playing checkers.

In his earlier stronger days, Fireall produced 10 to 15 medium and large-sized canvases every month. They found their way into collections across the globe through outlets in downtown Savannah and festivals and exhibitions throughout the Low Country. They were sometimes lyrically humorous and at other times poignantly sad. What made them miraculous in either case during his final years was that he continued to produce work at all after diabetes robbed him of his sight and a failing heart withered his strength.

Please enjoy the full article by Aberjhani by clicking this link:
The miracle that was Gullah artist Allen Fireall: Poem and remembrance – National African-American Art | Examiner.com
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Text and Meaning in T.J. Reddy’s Poems in One-Part Harmony (part 1 of 4)

Cover of poet-artist T.J. Reddy's classic antiracism volume

T.J. Rdddy’s “Poems in One-Part Harmony”: A rediscovered classic by a hidden treasure of American art and literature.

“And the syndrome goes on;
this is only a poem,
wondering when to our senses
we will come home.”
––T.J. Reddy (from A Poem About A Syndrome)

Most of the more celebrated names among African-American authors, poets, and artists are known to the world because of their association with specific cultural arts movements. The recently-deceased  Amiri Baraka has been identified as a hero of both the late 1950s Beat Movement and the 1960s and 1970s Black Arts Movement. Poets such as Gwendolyn Brooks and Sterling Brown remain renowned for their link to the Harlem Renaissance.

One of the more powerful qualities of such movements is that they often inspire more creative genius than the world takes time to recognize. Or sometimes they produce creative thinkers of a type that “others” tend to fear and consequently attempt to destroy. It is possible both these scenarios may be applied to the poet, visual artist, human rights advocate, and educator known as T.J. Reddy.

A Select Catalog Listing

As a painter, Reddy’s work reflects the traditions of the Harlem Renaissance and the colors of the tropics––blazing reds, yellows, oranges and turquoise––assembled to present absorbing visual narratives on the culture and history of people of African descent. As a poet, he occupies a self-constructed space that bridges the aesthetic qualities and cultural concerns of fellow wordsmiths such as Haki Madhubuti, Etheridge Knight, and Henry Dumas. As an advocate for racial and social equality, he holds the uneasy distinction of having been one of “The Charlotte Three.”

His first book of poems, Less Than a Score But a Point, was published by no less than Random House’s Vintage Books imprint in 1974. That singular event literally placed his name in a select catalog listing beside some of literature’s most noted pens. They included those of: Langston Hughes, W.H. Auden, Albert Camus, William Faulkner, Sylvia Plath, Marcel Proust, Jean Paul Sartre, and Quincy Troupe.

To read the complete powerful story by Aberjhani please click this url:
Text and Meaning in T.J. Reddy’s Poems in One-Part Harmony (part 1 of 4) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.