Courtney L. Smith

Poetic Liberation behind the Microphone

By Courtney L. Smith

13th Amendment has been liberating microphones in the southern portion of Atlanta,
Georgia and most recently Houston, Texas. The gospel has been poetically dispersed upon
numerous microphones in addition to his artistic styles of lyrical protests against many of the
social injustices commonly observed by our society. He has embedded his voice in the minds of
poetic patrons through his book Beautiful Scars: The Bittersweet Struggle. 13th Amendment
has two compact discs. Both Psalms of Liberation and Street Corner Slaves release vocal
extrications from generational curses, oppressive habits, and environmental ignorance. Sowing
seeds into the adolescents and younger people of his community is a mission that led to his
spoken-word involvement. 13th Amendment is a prominent member of both Tower of Poets
and Christian Poetics, the Houston based organization that he is looking to see a lot of great
things from as they go into the future. He is also a part of Tower of Poets in Atlanta, Georgia,
which is a poetic collective, and they have done some phenomenal things as well. He obtained
his Masters in Divinity from Fuller Theological Seminary on June 18, 2016. These are his words
regarding the length of his activity in poetry: “I would probably say I have been performing a
little bit over twelve years.”
Touching people with his vocal fingertips brings more than simple performances that
are riddled with artistic patterns and poignant expressions. His objectives combine spreading
the gospel and bringing awareness to sex trafficking, racial discrimination, and civil rights. He
invests himself into his art with the passion and determination of an obsessed gambler filing for
bankruptcy before entering the casino, again. Every opportunity to convey the love of God is
engrained into him like a circuit board. 13th Amendment ignites his words in a manner
resembling lit matches and gasoline. This is his account regarding his motivation: “As far as my
motivation for performing poetry, honestly, is just to communicate every aspect of who I am to
the people and giving to them spiritually, socially, and mentally. That is just making sure that I
try to communicate who I am to the audience. In some cases, I would probably even say
communicate the love of God. I know that sounds a bit cliché, but you know, I want every
person that I have an interaction with or engage to know that it’s more than just speaking
words through a microphone. It is, in a sense, getting in touch with who they are in their
essence.”
Fostering relationships bear more significance for 13th Amendment than seeking
awards or plaques for his performances. Encountering countless individuals and affecting their
lives with performances yield more merit for him than grasping plaques and objects of wood,
metal, and plastic covered in metallic paint. Penetrating the hearts and minds of listening ears
with the impact of a flaming meteor disintegrating the surrounding areas fulfills his desires
more than any form of recognition. Having a network of people awaiting communication with
him or others brings 13th Amendment true satisfaction. Here is how he feels about
recognition: “I don’t know. That’s a really good question. I don’t really look for recognition in a
sense. I’ve built a lot of great relationships over the years, and I think those relationships have

mattered more to me than the actual recognition. I have done things where I was not
necessarily trying to be the poet-of-the-year in a sense, but I have done things where I was just
consciously building relationships to get to know people, to build networks and stuff like that.
But I don’t think I have ever done things consciously to say I wanted to gain recognition.”
Having influential people who are known for their activities throughout the city, nation,
and world witnessing his performances tends to fulfill his accomplishments more than most
others with the exception of implementing his messages of God’s love through poetry. No
enthusiasm courses through the poet’s body like rapids within the rivers with achieving fame or
wealth. However, 13th Amendment will clutch a microphone as though a winning lottery
ticket is produced. Competing in poetic competitions such as the slams does not ignite his
passion like having someone being baptized or accepting Jesus Christ as their Lord. Here is
Thirteenth’s perspective on the matter: “One of the highlights is being able to stand before a
lot of prestigious people. I mean people who are quite notable in the community, nationally,
and internationally. You know, being in the presence of those kinds of people who recognize
you in honor of what you do, to me, was way more than any award I would have ever received.
And honestly, that is kind of what I got into poetry for: to interact with people, so I don’t think I
have ever been gung-ho about trying to receive accolades and awards in slams and stuff like
that. Now, the poets do it, but I know that even when I have gotten into poetry slams, my
heart wasn’t really into it. There are slam poets who are phenomenal and dope, and, you know
what I’m saying, they are good at what they do. I think there are a lot of poets who are just
well rounded and whatever. For me, I only want to go where my heart it at, and my heart has
never been into slam poetry.”
The goals upon 13th Amendment’s agenda involve launching Emissary MDM
International and Liberation180 Communications and immersing himself in obtaining his goals
for the future. Having printing presses release another book for later times brings some degree
of contentment for 13 th Amendment prepares for approaching events. His desire to reconcile
the church with the streets fuels his personal movement to unite people with God. Liberation
enthralls the audience upon hearing his voice. His mind is always active in regards to bringing
people, poetry, and the gospel, together. He explains his experience in his own words: “I’ve
gone through a lot of transitions. I used to stay in Atlanta, and one of my reasons for moving to
Houston was because I wanted to pursue a Masters in Divinity to fine tune my theological
perspectives for engaging urban communities, and it is a graduate school with the best
programs. Fuller Theological Seminary is one of the best schools in the country for theological
engagement. As a result of that, I said how can I fuse what I do theologically and poetically? In
the future, I am releasing a book that is going to connect the existence of the church with the
mission of God in the streets. It will help people know what it means to be a follower of Jesus
Christ as well as the mission of the church. This is the reason for Emissary MDM Int. An
emissary is someone who speaks on behalf of another. MBM are the initials of our last names.
I see myself as an ambassador of The Messiah. This whole concept is being able to build and
take different facets of who I am and package it for public consumption.”

No obscure or esoteric desire exists for how 13th Amendment wants to be
remembered. He simply wants his performances, influence, and legacy to characterize his
career with his mission to leave the imprint of Jesus Christ within the hearts of his audiences
throughout the nation. He does not mention having statues erected in his honor or possessing
financial accounts with six or seven digits as a goal. His mission and objective in poetry and life
is making sure social ills are addressed and Jesus Christ is exalted through his performances.
Here is his perception of the matter: “I really want people to remember me as a poet who
really loved poetry, and someone who was not only a great lyricist but was intentional about
practicing what I speak and trying to walk the walk of God. If anyone sees that, this essentially
highlights what I would want anyone to remember about me. In essence, I love both poetry
and people.”
Obtaining his products is as simple as going to Amazon or approaching him, personally.
A CD or mp3 of his performances are only a few electrical impulses away through a few
keystrokes connecting to the Internet. Having the previously mentioned access or obtaining his
email address should permit availability to his products. Knowing how to reach him is as easy
as blinking. Of course, this is how he conveys it: “As I always say, ‘in the back of the trunk of my
car.’ When you see me in the streets, hit me up. My first published called Beautiful Scars: the
Bittersweet Struggle is still available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, other major online retailers.
It’s available there, so they can pick up Beautiful Scars: the Bittersweet Struggle. You call also
go to http://www.christianpoetics.com.
There is no way to list all of the influences affecting 13th Amendment: it is as lengthy as
the U.S. Census. He feels the need to credit many of the poets he has meet and shared the
stage with for influencing him. Urban Light (I cannot forget, is like my other mentor. I talk to
her as often as I ever get a chance to.) and Hank Stewart (who hosts The Love Jones Sunday
venue as well as The Hank Stewart Foundation) are two influences who have exposed 13 th
Amendment to a larger audience. Hearing the appreciation of others within his circles provides
the satisfaction he desires. 13th Amendment communicates this through his response to his
influences: “It’s a collection of a lot of people from Gil Scott Herron (I love his work because he
was able to masterfully fuse politics, love, and social issues.), Umar Bin Hassan of The Last Poets
to Def Poet Black Ice have been a huge influence. Black Ice literally defined how I wanted to
come off in spoken word as well as the ATL poetry culture. I remember a lot of poets from
Atlanta have inspired me. Tommy Bottoms, an Atlanta Def Poet, forced me to think, more
politically. I could talk about Georgia Me, Abyss, Malik Salaam, Cocktails, and the list goes on.”
The story behind 13 th Amendment’s stage name is nearly as intriguing as its origin. The
powerful motivation pushing the agenda associated with his name reflects the purpose of the
poet. Liberation inundates his purpose and name as it saturates poetic venues with
enlightenment and empowerment through his art. The transition of his development from its
initial stages to the present was not completed easily in one day. 13th Amendment expresses
his own growth from his poetic conception into the powerful poet currently having his
following’s familiarity: “It was a very difficult process. When I first become widely recognized,
they knew me as Anonymous Composer and, then, eventually Anonymous. One [name], of

course, was a shortening of the first one. The whole concept of how Anonymous Composer
occurred was typically whenever you read those poems and look for who wrote it at the very
end and see ‘unknown writer’ or ‘author unknown,’ I was thinking ‘here is an anonymous
composer, and I wanted to be that anonymous composer. It did not matter whether or not
people knew me, and I am not too big on people knowing me as a personality. However, I
always wanted people to know that even if they have forgotten me, I wanted whatever I spat
on stage or wrote on paper to stick with them. That is what I wanted. It got to a point that
Anonymous Composer was no longer sufficient in the sense of bringing out the various
dynamics of who I was, poetically. So, I started thinking about another name and came up with
13 th Amendment. The concept of the physical liberation of black people post Civil War as well
as the continual need for spiritual, socio-economic liberation provided pertinence for the name.
This will be a great way to fuse the spiritual with the social issues combine everything in a
gumbo without ever having to sacrifice my identity. So, when people think of 13 th Amendment,
Amendment, some people may think, ‘Oooh! This brother is deep!’ Others may think, ‘What is
the 13th Amendment?” So, when people think of the 13 th Amendment, it gives me an
opportunity to share who our Lord and Savior is from a conversational standpoint.”
The artist’s introduction into the Tower of Poets signifies a major manifestation of his
influence in Atlanta. Wanting to foster other Christian artists and create a platform for them is
part of the brand of Tower of Poets, which initially began with Robert Fields. The following is
the result of 13th Amendment reminiscing about this period: “I am part of Tower of Poets in
Atlanta with fellow friend and poet Rob Fields. There’s a whole host of other poets who
associate with The Tower of Poets brand. Robert Fields is a dynamic artist, and what we
wanted to do was create a core group of Christian poets and really just go anywhere and
preach the gospel through poetry. A lot of the poetry places out there were not necessarily
honed in on proclaiming the gospel. We decided to be one of the few that did. I am also part
of Christian Poetics, which is headed by Sister Monica Matthew-Smith since she is married,
now, and, of course, Courtney L. Smith her husband. They are dynamic poets, as well, who
have a heart for God. Those are definitely two of the cliques that I am part of. I did start a
teenage poetry collective in Atlanta, which has taken another form within itself. It was young
people that I have mentored and encouraged to take poetry to another level formerly under
the brand of Skillful Writers, which was inspired by Psalms 45:1. They went on to form their
own identities.”
The greatest challenge conveyed by 13th Amendment regarding poetry involves some of
the division associated with groups of poets alienating themselves from one another. Another
obstacle within the genre, as he perceives it, is the challenge of transitioning poetry into the
mainstream of entertainment such as singing, dancing, and acting through mediums such as
radio and television. Artists are still exploited through their performances by people and
organizations profiting from them without giving them any portion of the funds produced by
their inclusion. 13th Amendment conveys he has a problem with people charging poets a fee to
perform although they are the main source of income for the venue without sharing the profits
incurred. Here are his words on the issues: “My biggest issue with poetry is, with some cases,
poets have become very controlling and cliquish. Our art form is still growing and trying to

break into different arenas. Another issue that we have is we still have not presented ourselves
as a united front or as a united artistry. We have to get past that if we want poetry to grow if
get to where it needs to be. When I refer to cliques, I am referring to how hip hop artists used
to battle each other, and it was healthy. However, I don’t see poetry having a healthy
understanding of competition other than a slam. There is not a lot of healthiness in the
relationships among poets that I would like to see. Because I think once poets come together in
every city and come together as one, we can become a force to be reckoned with. I know that
there is still a struggle for the mainstream to market poetry. In a sense, we are an art in its
purest form. We do not have a lot of the hype that comes with the traditional radio and the
television format. The third and last issue I would say is there are a lot of venues in which you
have people pimping poets without being poets themselves. They might use the artists to gain
some financial benefit that goes towards them and not necessarily the poets.”

Poetry

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

By E. E. Cummings

E. E. Cummings | Poetry Foundation Edward Estlin (E.E.) Cummings was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He attended the Cambridge Latin High School,…

i carry your heart with me

(i carry it in my heart)

i am never without it

(anywhere i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

                        i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)

i want no world

(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart

(i carry it in my heart)

Edward Estlin (E.E.) Cummings was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He attended the Cambridge Latin High School, where he studied Latin and Greek. Cummings earned both his BA and MA from Harvard, and his earliest poems were published in Eight Harvard Poets (1917). As one of the most innovative poets of his time, Cummings experimented with poetic form and language to create a distinct personal style. A typical Cummings poem is spare and precise, employing a few key words eccentrically placed on the page. Some of these words were invented by Cummings, often by combining two common words into a new synthesis. He also revised grammatical and linguistic rules to suit his own purposes, using such words as “if,” “am,” and “because” as nouns, for example, or assigning his own private meanings to words. Despite their nontraditional form, Cummings’ poems came to be popular with many readers. “No one else,” Randall Jarrell claimed, “has ever made avant-garde, experimental poems so attractive to the general and the special reader.” By the time of his death in 1962 Cummings held a prominent position in 20th-century poetry. John Logan in Modern American Poetry: Essays in Criticism called him “one of the greatest lyric poets in our language.” Stanley Edgar Hyman wrote in Standards: A Chronicle of Books for Our Time: “Cummings has written at least a dozen poems that seem to me matchless. Three are among the great love poems of our time or any time.” Malcolm Cowley admitted in the Yale Review that Cummings “suffers from comparison with those [poets] who built on a larger scale—Eliot, Aiken, Crane, Auden among others—but still he is unsurpassed in his special field, one of the masters.”

Cummings decided to become a poet when he was still a child. Between the ages of eight and twenty-two, he wrote a poem a day, exploring many traditional poetic forms. By the time he was in Harvard in 1916, modern poetry had caught his interest. He began to write avant-garde poems in which conventional punctuation and syntax were ignored in favor of a dynamic use of language. Cummings also experimented with poems as visual objects on the page. In April of 1917, with the First World War raging in Europe and the United States just becoming involved, he volunteered for the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Service in France. Ambulance work was a popular choice with those who, like Cummings, considered themselves to be pacifists. He was soon stationed on the French-German border with fellow American William Slater Brown, and the two young men became fast friends. To relieve the boredom of their assignment, they inserted veiled and provocative comments into their letters back home, trying to outwit and baffle the French censors. They also befriended soldiers in nearby units. Such activities led in September of 1917 to their being held on suspicion of treason and sent to an internment camp in Normandy for questioning. Cummings and Brown were housed in a large, one-room holding area along with other suspicious foreigners. Only outraged protests from his father finally secured Cummings’ release in December of 1917; Brown was not released until April of the following year. In July 1918, Cummings was drafted into the U.S. Army and spent some six months at a training camp in Massachusetts.

Upon leaving the army in January of 1919, Cummings resumed his affair with Elaine Thayer, the wife of his friend Schofield Thayer. Thayer knew and approved of the relationship. In December of 1919 Elaine gave birth to Cummings’ daughter, Nancy, and Thayer gave the child his name. Cummings was not to marry Elaine until 1924, after she and Thayer divorced. He adopted Nancy at this time; she was not to know that Cummings was her real father until 1948. This first marriage did not last long. Two months after their wedding, Elaine left for Europe to settle her late sister’s estate. She met another man during the Atlantic crossing and fell in love with him. She divorced Cummings in 1925.

The early 1920s were an extremely productive time for Cummings. In 1922 he published his first book, The Enormous Room, a fictionalized account of his French captivity. Critical reaction was overwhelmingly positive, although Cummings’ account of his imprisonment was oddly cheerful in tone and freewheeling in style. He depicted his internment camp stay as a period of inner growth. As David E. Smith wrote in Twentieth Century Literature, The Enormous Room’s emphasis “is upon what the initiate has learned from his journey. In this instance, the maimed hero can never again regard the outer world (i.e., ‘civilization’) without irony. But the spiritual lesson he learned from his sojourn with a community of brothers will be repeated in his subsequent writings both as an ironical dismissal of the values of his contemporary world, and as a sensitive, almost mystical celebration of the quality of Christian love.” John Dos Passos, in a review of the book for Dial, claimed that “in a style infinitely swift and crisply flexible, an individual not ashamed of his loves and hates, great or trivial, has expressed a bit of the underside of History with indelible vividness.” Writing of the book in 1938, John Peale Bishop claimed in the Southern Review: “The Enormous Room has the effect of making all but a very few comparable books that came out of the War look shoddy and worn.”

Cummings’ first collection of poems, Tulips and Chimneys, appeared in 1923. His eccentric use of grammar and punctuation are evident in the volume, though many of the poems are written in conventional language. The original manuscript for Tulips and Chimneys was cut down by the publisher. These deleted poems were published in 1925 as &, so titled because Cummings wanted the original book to be titled Tulips & Chimneys but was overruled. Another collection quickly followed: XLI Poems, also in 1925. In a review of XLI Poems for Nation, Mark Van Doren defined Cummings as a poet with “a richly sensuous mind; his verse is distinguished by fluidity and weight; he is equipped to range lustily and long among the major passions.” At the end of 1925 Dial magazine chose Cummings for their annual award of $2,000, a sum equaling a full year’s income for the writer. The following year a new collection, Is 5, was published, for which Cummings wrote an introduction meant to explain his approach to poetry. In the introduction he argued forcefully for poetry as a “process” rather than a “product.”

It was with these collections of the 1920s that Cummings established his reputation as an avant-garde poet conducting daring experiments with language. Speaking of these language experiments, M. L. Rosenthal wrote in The Modern Poets: A Critical Introduction: “The chief effect of Cummings’ jugglery with syntax, grammar, and diction was to blow open otherwise trite and bathetic motifs through a dynamic rediscovery of the energies sealed up in conventional usage…. He succeeded masterfully in splitting the atom of the cute commonplace.” “Cummings,” Richard P. Blackmur wrote in The Double Agent: Essays in Craft and Elucidation, “has a fine talent for using familiar, even almost dead words, in such a context as to make them suddenly impervious to every ordinary sense; they become unable to speak, but with a great air of being bursting with something very important and precise to say.” Bethany K. Dumas wrote in her E. E. Cummings: A Remembrance of Miracles that “more important than the specific devices used by Cummings is the use to which he puts the devices. That is a complex matter; irregular spacing … allows both amplification and retardation. Further, spacing of key words allows puns which would otherwise be impossible. Some devices, such as the use of lowercase letters at the beginnings of lines … allow a kind of distortion that often re-enforces that of the syntax…. All these devices have the effect of jarring the reader, of forcing him to examine experience with fresh eyes.” S. I. Hayakawa also remarked on this quality in Cummings’ poetry. “No modern poet to my knowledge,” Hayakawa wrote in Poetry, “has such a clear, childlike perception as E. E. Cummings—a way of coming smack against things with unaffected delight and wonder. This candor … results in breath-takingly clean vision.” Norman Friedman explained in his E. E. Cummings: The Growth of a Writer that Cummings’ innovations “are best understood as various ways of stripping the film of familiarity from language in order to strip the film of familiarity from the world. Transform the word, he seems to have felt, and you are on the way to transforming the world.”

Other critics focused on the subjects of Cummings’ poetry. Though his poetic language was uniquely his own, Cummings’ poems were unusual because they unabashedly focused on such traditional and somewhat passé poetic themes as love, childhood, and flowers. What Cummings did with such subjects, according to Stephen E. Whicher in Twelve American Poets, was, “by verbal ingenuity, without the irony with which another modern poet would treat such a topic, create a sophisticated modern facsimile of the ‘naive’ lyricism of Campion or Blake.” This resulted in what Whicher termed “the renewal of the cliché.” Jenny Penberthy detected in Cummings a “nineteenth-century romantic reverence for natural order over man-made order, for intuition and imagination over routine-grounded perception. His exalted vision of life and love is served well by his linguistic agility. He was an unabashed lyricist, a modern cavalier love poet. But alongside his lyrical celebrations of nature, love, and the imagination are his satirical denouncements of tawdry, defiling, flat-footed, urban and political life—open terrain for invective and verbal inventiveness.”

This satirical aspect to Cummings’ work drew both praise and criticism. His attacks on the mass mind, conventional patterns of thought, and society’s restrictions on free expression, were born of his strong commitment to the individual. In the “nonlectures” he delivered at Harvard University Cummings explained his position: “So far as I am concerned, poetry and every other art was, is, and forever will be strictly and distinctly a question of individuality.” As Penberthy noted, Cummings’ consistent attitude in all of his work was “condemning mankind while idealizing the individual.” “Cummings’ lifelong belief,” Bernard Dekle stated in Profiles of Modern American Authors, “was a simple faith in the miracle of man’s individuality. Much of his literary effort was directed against what he considered the principal enemies of this individuality—mass thought, group conformity, and commercialism.” For this reason, Cummings satirized what he called “mostpeople,” that is, the herd mentality found in modern society. “At heart,” Logan explained, “the quarrels of Cummings are a resistance to the small minds of every kind, political, scientific, philosophical, and literary, who insist on limiting the real and the true to what they think they know or can respond to. As a preventive to this kind of limitation, Cummings is directly opposed to letting us rest in what we believe we know; and this is the key to the rhetorical function of his famous language.”

Cummings was also ranked among the best love poets of his time. “Love always was … Cummings’ chief subject of interest,” Friedman wrote in his E. E. Cummings: The Art of His Poetry. “The traditional lyric situation, representing the lover speaking of love to his lady, has been given in our time a special flavor and emphasis by Cummings. Not only the lover and his lady, but love itself—its quality, its value, its feel, its meaning—is a subject of continuing concern to our speaker.” Love was, in Cummings’ poems, equated to such other concepts as joy and growth, a relationship which “had its source,” wrote Robert E. Wegner in The Poetry and Prose of E. E. Cummings, “in Cummings’ experience as a child; he grew up in an aura of love…. Love is the propelling force behind a great body of his poetry.” Friedman noted that Cummings was “in the habit of associating love, as a subject, with the landscape, the seasons, the times of day, and with time and death—as poets have always done in the past.”

Cummings’ early love poems were frankly erotic and were meant to shock the Puritanical sensibilities of the 1920s. Penberthy noted that the poet’s first wife, Elaine, inspired “scores of Cummings’s best erotic poems.” But, as Wegner wrote, “In time he came to see love and the dignity of the human being as inseparable.” Maurer also commented on this change in Cummings’ outlook; there was, Maurer wrote, a “fundamental change of attitude which manifested itself in his growing reverence and dedication to lasting love.” Hyatt H. Waggoner, writing in American Poets from the Puritans to the Present, noted that “the love poems are generally, after the 1920s, religious in tone and implication, and the religious poems very often take off from the clue provided by a pair of lovers, so that often the two subjects are hardly, if at all, separable.” Rushworth M. Kidder also noted this development in the love poems, and he traced the evolution of Cummings’ thoughts on the subject. Writing in his E. E. Cummings: An Introduction to the Poetry, Kidder reported that in the early poems, love is depicted as “an echo of popularly romantic notions, and it grows in early volumes to a sometimes amorphous phenomenon seasoned by a not entirely unselfish lust. By [his] last poems, however, it has come to be a purified and radiant idea, unentangled with flesh and worlds, the agent of the highest transcendence. It is not far, as poem after poem has hinted, from the Christian conception of love as God.” Waggoner concluded that Cummings “wrote some of the finest celebrations of sexual love and of the religious experience of awe and natural piety produced in our century, precisely at a time when it was most unfashionable to write such poems.”

In addition to his poetry, Cummings was also known for his play, Him, and for the travel diary, Eimi. Him consisted of a sequence of skits drawing from burlesque, the circus, and the avant-garde, and jumping quickly from tragedy to grotesque comedy. The male character is named Him; the female character is Me. “The play begins,” Harold Clurman wrote in Nation, “as a series of feverish images of a girl undergoing anaesthesia during an abortion. She is ‘me,’ who thinks of her lover as ‘him.’” In the program to the play, staged at the Provincetown Playhouse, Cummings provided a warning to the audience: “Relax and give the play a chance to strut its stuff—relax, stop wondering what it’s all ‘about’—like many strange and familiar things, Life included, this Play isn’t ‘about,’ it simply is. Don’t try to enjoy it, let it try to enjoy you. DON’T TRY TO UNDERSTAND IT, LET IT TRY TO UNDERSTAND YOU.” Clurman believed that “the play’s purest element is contained in duos of love. They are the most sensitive and touching in American playwriting. Their intimacy and passion, conveyed in an odd exquisiteness of writing, are implied rather than declared. We realize that no matter how much ‘him’ wishes to express his closeness to ‘me,’ he is frustrated not only by the fullness of his feeling but by his inability to credit his emotion in a world as obscenely chaotic as the one in which he is lost.”

In 1931 Cummings traveled to the Soviet Union. Like many other writers and artists of the time, he was hopeful that the communist revolution had created a better society. After a short time in the country, however, it became clear to Cummings that the Soviet Union was a dictatorship in which the individual was severely regimented by the state. His diary of the visit, in which he bitterly attacked the Soviet regime for its dehumanizing policies, was published in 1933 as Eimi, the Greek word for “I am.” In it, he described the Soviet Union as an “uncircus of noncreatures.” Lenin’s tomb, in which the late dictator’s preserved body is on display, especially revolted Cummings and inspired him to create the most impassioned writing in the book. “The style which Cummings began in poetry,” Bishop wrote, “reaches its most complete development in the prose of Eimi. Indeed, one might almost say that, without knowing it, Cummings had been acquiring a certain skill over the years, in order that, when occasion arose, he might set down in words the full horror of Lenin’s tomb.” In tracing the course of his 35-day trip through the Soviet Union, Cummings made frequent allusion to Dante’s Inferno and its story of a descent into Hell, equating the two journeys. It is only after crossing back into Europe at book’s end that “it is once more possible for [Cummings] to assume the full responsibility of being a man…,” Bishop wrote. “Now he knows there is but one freedom…, the freedom of the will, responsive and responsible, and that from it all other freedoms take their course.” Kidder called Eimi “a report of the grim inhumanities of the Soviet system, of repression, apathy, priggishness, kitsch, and enervating suspicion.” For some time after publication of Eimi, Kidder reported, Cummings had a difficult time getting his poetry published. The overwhelmingly left-wing publishers of the time refused to accept his work. Cummings had to resort to self-publishing several volumes of his work during the later 1930s.

In 1952, Cummings was invited to give the Charles Eliot Norton lectures in poetry at Harvard University. His lectures, later published as i: six nonlectures, were highly personal accounts of his life and work, “autobiographical rambles,” as Penberthy described them. The first two lectures reminisce about his childhood and parents; the third lecture tells of his schooldays at Harvard, his years in New York, and his stay in Paris during the 1920s. The last three lectures present his own ideas about writing. In his conclusion to the lecture series Cummings summed up his thoughts with these words, quoting his own poetry where appropriate: “I am someone who proudly and humbly affirms that love is the mystery-of-mysteries, and that nothing measurable matters ‘a very good God damn’; that ‘an artist, a man, a failure’ is no mere whenfully accreting mechanism, but a givingly eternal complexity—neither some soulless and heartless ultrapredatory infra-animal nor any understandingly knowing and believing and thinking automaton, but a naturally and miraculously whole human being—a feelingly illimitable individual; whose only happiness is to transcend himself, whose every agony is to grow.”

Critics of Cummings’ work were divided into two camps as to the importance of his career. His detractors called his failure to develop as a writer a major weakness; Cummings’ work changed little from the 1920s to the 1950s. Others saw him as merely clever but with little lasting value beyond a few technical innovations. Still others questioned the ideas in his poetry, or seeming lack of them. George Stade in the New York Times Book Review claimed that “intellectually speaking, Cummings was a case of arrested development. He was a brilliant 20-year-old, but he remained merely precocious to the end of his life. That may be one source of his appeal.” James G. Southworth, writing in Some Modern American Poets, argued that Cummings “is too much out of the stream of life for his work to have significance.” Southworth went on to say that “the reader must not mistake Mr. Cummings for an intellectual poet.”

But Cummings’ supporters acclaimed his achievement. In a 1959 essay reprinted in his collection Babel to Byzantium, James Dickey proclaimed: “I think that Cummings is a daringly original poet, with more vitality and more sheer, uncompromising talent than any other living American writer.” Although admitting that Cummings’ work was not faultless, Dickey stated that he felt “ashamed and even a little guilty in picking out flaws” in the poems, a process he likened to calling attention to “the aesthetic defects in a rose. It is better to say what must finally be said about Cummings: that he has helped to give life to the language.” In similar terms, Rosenthal explained that “Cummings’s great forte is the manipulation of traditional forms and attitudes in an original way. In his best work he has the swift sureness of ear and idiom of a Catullus, and the same way of bringing together a racy colloquialism and the richer tones of high poetic style.” Maurer believed that Cummings’ best work exhibited “a new and delightful sense of linguistic invention, precise and vigorous.” Penberthy concluded that “Cummings’s achievement deserves acclaim. He established the poem as a visual object… he revealed, by his x-ray probings, the faceted possibilities of the single word; and like such prose writers as Vladimir Nabokov and Tom Stoppard, he promoted sheer playfulness with language. Despite a growing abundance of second-rate imitations, his poems continue to amuse, delight, and provoke.”

Poetry

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The Art of Marriage

Happiness in marriage is not something that just happens.

A good marriage must be created.

In the art of marriage the little things don’t just matter 

they are the big things….

It’s never being too old to hold hands.

It is remembering to say “I love you” at least once a day

It’s never going to sleep angry

Making the effort to figure things out.

It is at no time taking the other for granted.

The courtship should never end with the honeymoon

Your life together is the greatest trip you will take together

It is having a mutual sense of value and common objectives.

It is standing together united.

It is forming a circle of love that gathers in the whole family.

It is doing things for each other, not in the mindset of having to but loving to

It is speaking words of appreciation and demonstrating gratitude in thoughtful ways.

It is not looking for perfection in each other but knowing that

with your faults you are perfect for each other.

It is cultivating flexibility, patience, understanding and a sense of humor is a MUST.

It is having the capacity to forgive and forget.

It is giving each other the atmosphere in which each can grow.

It is finding room for individual love to grow in unison.

It is a common search for the good and the beautiful.

It is establishing a relationship in which independence is equal, dependence is

mutual and the obligation is reciprocal.

It is not only marrying the right partner, it is being the right partner

It is discovering what marriage can be, at its best

Marriage is love from two becoming one 

To Be Yours…

To be your dime 
To be your wife
To be your lady
To be your bitch
To be your dick sucking slut on the late night….

Don’t know why nothing would make me more pleased than to bath you &  watch you air dry on my knees….loving you down as we please….
I would rub your manhood with coconut oil
Press almond butter into your upper body….
Taste you
Tease you
Nothing more than to please you..
A little hunny on my clit for when you want something sweet for your lips.
69 in between time & time again we bust nuts on each others chin…..
1.2.3.4 hundred lifetimes before
My ancient future  lover and I
only stop to begin again…

a.brown

Inspirational Quote of the day

Surround yourself with only people

who are only going to lift you higher

-Oprah Winfrey-

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The gratification comes in the doing, not in the results. – James Dean-

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The earth is the Mother of all people, and all people should have equal rights upon it.

-Chef Joseph-

Gems of Freedom By: Sebastian Iturralde

Letting life choose the next step to take, Brooke floated down a white marble hallway, while the falling water from a fountain gave the place a harmonious melody.

She didn’t know what was about to happen, or if she was going to find the angel that summoned her. Brooke wandered the gardens, leaving a trail of light behind her white veil. She—like all the angels who live in the city—wore simple white dresses.

There was no one in the garden. Being invited to a place like this was highly unusual in a city full of angels. Brooke began to fear the unknown solitude, worrying about what might happen to her… when she saw Pauline lying over a white blanket on the lawn.

Pauline was an ordinary angel, like every other one in the city, she also wore a white dress.

Brooke broadened her eyes in surprise. “What are you doing there?”

“I was expecting you,” Pauline said. “Come…sit next to me.”

Brooke stepped over the low fence that surrounds the garden and sat on the white blanket.

Pauline looked in her bag. “Look what I have here.”

Brooke couldn’t believe the brilliant color of the gem in Pauline’s hand.

“What’s that?”

“It’s a gem I found in hell,” Pauline said sincerely.

“What are you talking about!” Brooke asked, flustered with surprise. “It’s impossible to go to hell.”

“We found a way,” Pauline said.

“We could be banished for this,” Brooke said.

“Don’t worry,” Pauline said. “It’s just a shiny rock. Besides, it’s you who wants to find a way to help humans.”

“Yes, but not like this.”

“We are at war with the forces of evil,” Pauline said. “Doing nothing…equals supporting them.”

“But…going down to hell.”

“We discovered that demons manipulate these gems to increase the influence of temptations,” Pauline said. “We are only giving humans a fair chance.

“I thought you would be capable of anything to help them. That’s what you said.”

“Yes, but I didn’t mean this,” said Brooke.

“It’s the only weapon we have against the forces of hell,” Pauline said. “Do you want to help humans or not?”

“Yes…”

“This is your chance to do it,” Pauline said. “Take the gem.”

Brooke opened her hand and received the gem.

“Come with me,” Pauline said , “I have something to show you.”

The two angels floated towards the large wooden gate at the side of the garden. Then Pauline opened it…Brooke noticed that the interior of the church was no longer like she remembered. “What kind of witchcraft is this?” she asked and dropped the gem from her hand.

Immediately, the interior of the church returned to its original shape. Pauline took the gem from the ground. “Here, trust me.”

When they walked through the door, the illusion of the interior of the church became real. It was the first time Brooke had seen the secret rebel headquarters. “What is this place?”

“Here is where we fight to help humans,” Pauline said.

“Are we in hell?”

“No, hell is far worse,” Pauline said. “We are still in the city of angels. Welcome to Elysium, the secret rebel headquarters. From here we face the forces of evil.”

“But how?”

“Easy, we use the power of these gems,” Pauline said, pulling a gem from her bag. Then she placed it on her chest and a cloud of smoke completely surrounded her.

Brooke took a step back, surprised by the transformation Pauline was undergoing. Little by little the smoke vanished, leaving behind a being that stopped looking like an angel. Her white dress fell to the floor and Pauline’s white skin completely changed color.

Brooke couldn’t believe what she was seeing. The appearance of the angel with whom she entered Elysium was demonic. “Get away from me.”

“I’m still in control,” Pauline said. “We learned to use the gems of hell.”

“But your appearance…”

Pauline took the gem off her chest and immediately returned to its natural state. “Transformations are temporary, they allow us to make better use of our celestial powers. Give it a try.”

“What!” Brooke said. “Do you want me to put this on my chest?”

“Give it a try,” Pauline said. “You can always turn back into an angel.”

Brooke opened her hand to see the red gem glow. I can take it off after trying, she thought. Then she placed the gem on her chest and felt a force penetrate her…creating pain and pleasure.

A cloud of smoke covered her as she felt her skin become rough and her muscles tighten. Brooke felt her body grow slightly, as a surprising force supported her spine. Four arms came out from her sides, she immediately had control over them. Then she noticed that the skin on her hands had hardened and her delicate nails were now dark claws.

At the end of her transformation, Brooke looked up to experience what was happening. Pauline had placed the gem back in the middle of her chest, but she was now beautiful. Brooke managed to appreciate the beauty of the gray skin, the black wings, and the gleam of the green gem on Pauline’s chest.

Brooke looked down and found her red gem shining.

“Try using your angelic powers,” Pauline said.

Brooke paused. I’ll try to use prayer to see what happens, she thought. But instead of floating while a white light shone around her, Brooke noticed a red fire begin to grow between her palms. She immediately pushed it away from her and saw the fire crash against a wall. “Amazing.”

“You’re getting used to it,” Pauline said. “Follow me, let’s put your powers to the test.”

Brooke walked through Elysium, appreciating the beauty she could now admire. The place still looked like the inside of the church, only its walls were black and it was decorated with beautiful gems of different colors. The place was full of weapons and tools, all neatly arranged on shelves.

The angels that Brooke was able to observe were also transformed. All the transformations were unique. Each one was more surprising than the last. What powers will they have? Brooke wondered.

“Brooke, I would like you to meet Dindel,” Pauline said as she stopped.

Dindel’s skin was red and a blue light floated over the palm of one of his hands. “It’s my pleasure,” she said with a bow, and the blue fire died away.

“We’d like to use one of your portals,” Pauline said before Brooke could speak.

“Right away,” Dindel said and a flame began to grow in her hands. Then she dropped the blue fire.

Brooke watched the flame grow.

“Come on,” said Pauline, “don’t be afraid.”

Brooke watched Pauline pass through the flame and disappear. Then she stopped to analyse the situation.

“Move, I can’t keep it open for long,” Dindel said.

Brooke closed her eyes and stepped through the portal. Upon entering the temperature changed dramatically. The heat should have been unbearable for an angel, but for some reason she felt good. After a moment she realized that Pauline held two black swords and was fighting against… Brooke couldn’t understand the creature.

The demon was big and full of muscles. Pauline looked small in comparison, yet the fight seemed to unfairly benefit the transformed angel.

“We have to destroy everything in our way,” Pauline said, before slamming her sword into the creature’s chest. “Don’t worry about them. They are immortal beings.”

Brooke saw the demon explode.

“The only way we can deal with them is by using your angelic powers,” Pauline said.

Brooke saw Pauline run and realizing that she had no other choice decided to follow. The rock cave was lit by torches. They ran until reaching a large room with dozens of demons.

Brooke was surprised and turned to look at Pauline, she winked at her and charged.

I have to use my angelic powers, Brooke thought. Then she used meditation and noticed that her concentration was focused on the demons around her. Balls of red fire glowed between the palms of her six hands. She instinctively slammed her hand against one of the demons and felt the fireball explode on impact.

Brooke continued to hit the demons with the fireball in her hands and the explosion knocked them to the ground. She also created fireballs by using prayer. Her angelic powers translate perfectly. She felt natural hiting and destroying the demons in her path.

Pauline was also using her angelic powers, and before long they were done with demons small and large, and continued through the cave.

“Good job,” Pauline said, running past Brooke. “You can use the rest to defend yourself.”

Brooke noted and they continued to destroy everything in their path.

Finally, after a battle that lasted longer than Brooke expected, they came to a large room with an altar. On top of it there was a large glowing purple gem.

Pauline extended her hand out to the side. “Stay here.”

Brooke looked from side to side and couldn’t find any demons. “Is this what we came for?”

“Hush,” Pauline said, and began to approach the gem.

Brooke stood still, watching Pauline approach the altar.

Pauline took the gem and turned… the place began to tremble. An immense creature appeared beside her. Pauline didn’t have time to react, the gem was snatched from her hand. “This belongs to me,” said the demon.

Brooke saw the demon glow, immediately used rest and was surrounded by a red light that protected her from the flames that erupted from the demon’s body.

Pauline couldn’t cover herself in time. The blow caused her to crash against the cave wall.

Brooke launched a fireball. The demon was struck in the chest. Nothing. Brooke took a step back as she formed another fireball in her hand.

“Your powers are useless against me,” the demon said, pointing at Brooke.

The two angels felt the force of the demon pull their gems off their chests. Brooke felt the unbearable heat of hell burn her bare skin. The pain forced her to fall to the ground. Then, she felt her body begin to fade….

…”Wake up,” Brooke heard from a distance. Eventually she was able to open her eyes. “Don’t worry, you’ll be fine.”

Brooke noticed the transformed angels surrounded her. One of them placed a green gem on her chest and her pain began to fade.

Nikki Giovanni

“There’s no life in safety,” said three-time National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Award winner Nikki Giovanni who began her own life on June 7, 1943, in Knoxville, Tennessee. She moved with her mother and sister to a small black suburb of Cincinnati, Ohio, although she traveled back to Knoxville during the summers to live with her grandparents.

In 1960, seventeen-year-old Giovanni entered Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee at the beginning of the student protest movement. She was promptly dismissed from Fisk in her first semester for expressing “attitudes [which] did not fit those of a Fisk woman.” Giovanni returned to Fisk in 1964 and helped restart their chapter of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In 1967, she graduated from the honors program with a bachelor’s degree in history. She then attended the University of Pennsylvania and Columbia College.

Nikki Giovanni was an active member of the Black Arts Movement during the late 1960s. In 1968, she published her first collection of poetry entitled Black Feeling Black Talk. Her second volume was released the following year. Giovanni’s poems encouraged both black solidarity and revolutionary action. In 1969, she gave birth to her only son Thomas Watson Giovanni. The same year the New York Times named Giovanni the “Princess of Black Poetry.” In 1970, she was “Woman of the Year” in Ebony magazine.

Giovanni is best known for her readings and spoken word poetry. Her first album Truth Is On Its Way, released in 1971, was a spoken-word album set to gospel music. It was awarded Best Spoken Word Album by the National Association of Radio and Television Announcers and was a top 100 album in 1971. A second spoken word recording Nikki Giovanni Poetry Collection was nominated for a Grammy in 2003. Giovanni has written 30 books of poetry.

In 1995, Giovanni was diagnosed with lung cancer. She refused to associate with negative outlooks for her future and fired one of her oncologists for setting a date for her death. She underwent surgery and lost a lung but is living, healthy as a cancer survivor.

Ms. Giovanni has also embraced many of the artists of the hip-hop community. She was especially impressed by the late Tupac Shakur and in honor of his life she tattooed “Thug Life” on her arm. Giovanni views hip-hop lyrics as inspiring and reflecting a modern day civil rights movement. She often compares its words to the poetry of the 1960s and the spirituals during slavery. Nikki Giovanni has been on the faculty of Virginia Tech University since 1989.

Subjects:

African American HistoryPeople

Terms:

20th Century (1900-1999)Gender – WomenUnited States – IllinoisUnited States – TennesseeUnited States – PennsylvaniaUnited States – VirginiaUnited States – OhioCivil Rights – SNCCOccupation-Poet

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