Sunday, May 22, 2011

What I'm Reading Now!

80 Proof Lives by Felicia S.W. Thomas

80 Proof Lives, the first published novel by Felicia S.W. Thomas, is a cleverly written tale of love, lies, and loss of innocence. Set in the 1970s in Quincy, Florida, the story centers on “…Fla, which rhymes with clay” (Thomas 10), a 15-year-old girl whose life is changed abruptly when she must go to work for Miss Lipstick, the local bootlegger and madam. During this time, Fla discovers that things are not always what they appear to be and begins her summer-long journey of self-discovery.

From the start, Felicia compels the reader to want to learn more about this young girl’s life - a life surrounded by alcoholism, drug abuse, and poverty. The smells, sounds, and sights of rural America either entice the reader to reminiscence about their own childhood or to wonder at how much strength it takes to overcome such unfortunate beginnings. The story holds you captive, as you experience (right along with Fla) an assortment of humorous, upsetting, and heartwarming situations that caused me to cry, laugh out loud, or just simmer in anger!

Felicia makes the characters relatable and reminds us that outward appearances sometimes belie a person’s fragile inward emotions. From Miss Lipstick to Mr. Curtis to Momma to Jerome – the supporting cast exhibits the good, bad, and ugly human flaws that are present in us all. Judgment is also an underlying theme in the novel, and even Fla is checked by her boss lady when she judges Miss Lipstick’s clientele: “You know when somebody break a leg, they need crutches for a while to help them get better…All these people, what broke in they lives ain’t better yet…You just see the ones who drink they crutch. Folks hide they pain in many ways” (Thomas 52-53).

Felicia’s ability to make the reader feel through her writing is the sign of a true wordsmith, and her novel teaches us about acceptance, trust, and forgiveness. But to me, the most important lesson learned is that where we start out in life does not determine where we end up!

Peace : )

Friday, May 13, 2011

Kudos to President and First Lady for bringing Poetry to the White House!

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama hosted an evening of poetry on May 11, 2011 at the White House. According to Nancy Benac with the Associated Press, “the White House poetry night is part of a series of arts education events that Mrs. Obama has arranged over the past two years to promote different genres of music, dance and now literature. Most of the events have included afternoon workshops for young people and evening concerts”. Guest poets included Billy Collins, Common, Rita Dove, and Jill Scott.

President Obama, in his welcome speech at the event, said that “the power of poetry is that everybody experiences it differently. There are no rules for what makes a great poem. Understanding it isn’t just about metaphor or meter. Instead, a great poem is one that resonates with us, that challenges us and that teaches us something about ourselves and the world that we live in.”

I must commend the President and First Lady for their continued commitment to arts education and creative expression in a world so consumed with technological gadgets! They are the people’s First Family!

Peace : )

Check out the links below for remarks by the President and First Lady, and poetry performances by Jill Scott and Common.

President Obama’s remarks at The White House Poetry Night:

First Lady Michelle Obama speaks at student poetry workshop:

Jill Scott at the White House Poetry Night:

Common at the White House Poetry Night:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

What I'm Reading Now!

Take it from Me - Cautionary Tales from a Former Fool and Take it from Her – Cautionary Lessons for the Ladies We Love by Tremayne Moore

Tremayne’s poems speak volumes about his commitment to Christ, the community, and the concerns of women, and his words encourage the reader to continue the spiritual healing that must take place in today’s world. I was struck by the powerful message of togetherness and hopefulness in “An Imaginary Conversation (Part 2)”. The dialogue between the men and women is reminiscent of conversations that you or I could have had today, yesterday, or a year ago about past mistakes and future dreams, and this poem should definitely be assigned reading for everyone! Another excellent poem of encouragement is “Seasons Change” which helps us to realize that the hurts, doubts, and “…dry spells won’t last forever” (Moore, 76)!

In his second volume of poetic prose, Tremayne’s ability to articulate the thoughts of the feminine mind assures us that there are men who still value a woman’s worth! He offers an excellent opportunity for ladies to learn from this unique perspective and to grow from his words of wisdom. “A Woman’s Body” should be the anthem for all teenage girls who fail to recognize the beauty and importance of their innocence, and “Skin Deep” challenges women to look beyond the superficial when choosing a man and pay closer attention to his inward qualities.

Tremayne “keeps it real” on what's going on in our homes, at our churches, in our relationships, and on our jobs, and he offers a simple solution to rectifying these issues: acceptance of God’s Love!