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.

Red Summer: Text and meaning in Claude McKay’s “If We Must Die” (part 1 of 4)

The summer of 2015 marks the 96th anniversary of the publication of Harlem Renaissance poet Claude McKay’s masterful poem, “If We Must Die.” This essay is presented in commemoration of that literary milestone and in remembrance of the extraordinary Red Summer of 1919 that inspired it.

There were many good reasons to believe America had entered––or at least was about to enter––a golden era of post-racialism following the election of Barack Obama in 2008. Among them was the election of the country’s first African-American president itself, an increasingly diverse American population, and a sociopolitical landscape made more democratic (in appearance at least) by the various influences of technological innovation.

Unfortunately, none of those good noble reasons were able to withstand the onslaught of reality as the number of hate groups in the country began to increase almost immediately, even while the Black prison population and Black unemployment rates continued to do the same. In a word, the country was nowhere near “there” yet.

Red Summers of Yesterday and Today

The growing number of cities where protest demonstrations have occurred over the past few years in response to extreme uses of force by policemen against African Americans, and the very oppressive conditions under which many African Americans continue to live, is eerily similar to another riot-filled time in U.S. history. The period which might first come to mind for most people is the 1960s, a decade in which “race riots” flared up every other year in places such as Greensboro, N.C. (1960), Los Angeles (Watts), Calif. (1964), Detroit, Michigan (1967), and Baltimore (1968).

However, the historical moment which possibly resembles the current intense state of racial affairs the most is that of the period leading up to the Red Summer of 1919. As pointed out in Facts on File’s Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance:

To enjoy this complete article by Aberjhani with accompanying video please click below:

Red Summer: Text and meaning in Claude McKay’s “If We Must Die” (part 1 of 4) – 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

Patrick Modiano Edges out Thiong’o and Murakami to Win 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature

                                         (photograph of Patrick Modiano by Reuters and El Pais)

Though presented by the UK-bookmaker Ladbrokes with an odds of only 10 to 1 to win the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature, France’s Patrick Modiano pulled ahead of Kenyan author Ngugi Wa Thiong’o and Japanese novelist Haruki Murakami to do exactly that October 9.

Modiano was not among the contenders depicted in an October 7 Wall Street Journal illustration showing  Thiong’o, Murakami, America’s Joyce Carol Oates, Philip Roth, and Salman Rushdie rushing on race horses toward the Nobel finish line. The “race” was widely considered a toss-up between Thiong’o and Murakami.

In his announcement of the award, Professor Peter Englund, the permanent secretary of the Swedish Academy in Oslo, Norway, said the award went to Modiano, “for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation.”

Modiano is an author of dozens of novels, children’s books, and film scripts. A number of his works have been translated into English, Spanish, German, and Swedish. His novels, the latest of which is “Pour que tu ne te perdes pas dans le quartier” (So That You Do Not Get Lost in the Neighborhood, or So That You Do Not Lose Yourself in the Neighborhood), often blend history, autobiography, and mystery. He has been described as a writer who “plays” with the detective genre to employ it in a way that is both entertaining and thought-provoking.

To read the full article by Aberjhani please click the link:
Modiano edges out Thiong’o and Murakami to win 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature – 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
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Gifts of the Poets: Eugene B. Redmond and Coleman Barks (part 1)

 

Cover of

Cover of Visible Man: The Life of Henry Dumas by Jeffrey B. Leak

Among the greatest gifts that poets bestow upon each other’s lives are those of identity and validation. It is often through the mirror of words, meaning, and soul created by one poet that another begins to recognize the true significance of his or her nature. It is also, sometimes, by virtue of the labors of one poet that the stylized reverberations of another is amplified and takes its rightful place within the larger chorus of such voices.

When considering the last scenario, the following are but two notable examples: the first is that of author, editor, and photographer Eugene Redmond, whose efforts to preserve the literary legacy of poet and fiction writer Henry Dumas made it possible for many to enjoy Dumas’ formidable works after he was shot to death in 1968. The second is Coleman Barks, the well-known educator and author whose translated interpretations of the life and work of Jalalludin Rumi have placed Rumi’s name among the most famous either living or dead.

 

Eugene B. Redmond

Redmond has authored some seven volumes of poetry, most of which were published from 1969 to 1974 during the Black Arts Movement. He has edited many more and in 1976 was named Poet Laureate of East St. Louis, Illinois. His numerous awards and distinctions include a Pushcart Prize, a National Endowment for the Humanities Grant, an American Book Award in 1993 for The Eye in the Ceiling: Selected Poems, and the St. Louis American Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

 

Please click the link to enjoy the full article by Aberjhani: Gifts of the poets: Eugene B. Redmond and Coleman Barks (part 1) – National African-American Art | Examiner.com.