where the writers are
Visionary Vibes: Letters from the Soul Number 4
"Broughton Street" a.k.a. "Bebop Street" artwork by Luther E. Vann from ELEMENTAL, The Power of Illuminated Love


Brother Bruce:

Peace, blessings and loads of other good stuff to you and yours.  Very glad to hear that ALL SOULS  made it into your hands.  If the package was opened, someone may have interpreted the title to mean the book was a spiritual one and for that reason felt it a good idea for you to get it.  Something like that happened to me when I joined the Air Force however many years ago.  One of  the first things we had to do upon arrival at basic training was empty our luggage of our personal possessions, including books.  Generally, the only books we were allowed to keep were those of a religious nature, a Bible, Koran, etc.  When the training instructor got to my bunk, he pulled out of my stuff a copy of THE COSMOLOGICAL EYE by Henry Miller.  He didn't have a clue about Miller's varied musings on the nature and politics of creativity in the modern world (and apparently lacked any awareness of him as the famed author of TROPIC OF CANCER) so he believed me when I said the book was important to help me maintain my spiritual sanity -- and actually it was, but just not in the way the training instructor understood spirituality.  With that discovery of the gulf between my cognitive awareness and that of the TI's, I had found my key to surviving 6 years in the military.

I recently saw the movie "The Hurricane", starring Denzel Washington as that great force of humane nature himself: Mr. Rubin "Hurricane" Carter.  Loved the fuck out of that film.  I don't know how many others will be able to perceive it but Carter's story is one of those western hagiographies experienced by any number of African-American men, known and unknown: I am speaking of those who absorbed every cliché of racism, classism and overall oppression this country chose to throw their way, then transcended it by transforming their living experience of sociopolitical agony into both spiritual philosophy and spiritual tactic.  Far fewer succeeded than actually tried.  There will never be a tally of those who died making the attempt because they are so rarely acknowledged by either those who supposedly love them or those who quite earnestly hate them. And their deaths are never understood for what they are: as the casualties in a war for higher consciousness -- they are generally listed as victims of heart attacks, alcoholism, manic depression, stress, etc.  As I said, I loved the fuck out of that film.

Yes, I have heard of PUSH by Sapphire; in fact, she's on the cover of the latest Poets & Writers Magazine.  The interview inside deals with PUSH, her newest novel, and her powerful powerful poem entitled "Wild Thing", which caused such a big shitty stir up in NY that a former NEA chairman lost his job in part for defending it.

Any woman who's "a big James Baldwin fan (especially 'Sonny's Blues')" as you said of CG, has my unwavering respect.   I get misty-eyed and stupid when discussing Baldwin because for me he was the ultimate model of the 20th century literary artist.  He wrote from every side of every line of social demarcation America constructed in the last century: black & white; north & south; male & female; European & American & African; "straight & gay"; rich & poor.  He also performed a number of successful experiments in every literary genre: novels, essays, short stories, theatrical drama.  Supposedly as a given of literary critics, Baldwin was a better essayist than he was a novelist, but that depends on what side of the Atlantic you sat on.  His works in translation were so revered in France that he was awarded that country's equivalent to the Medal of Honor for dedication to both literary excellence and the pursuit of political integrity. I sometimes state in presentations that among my favorite writers, it was Richard Wright who taught me what it meant to be a black man in the south and James Baldwin who taught me what it means to be an individual in the world.  For sheer depth of psychospiritual insight and mastery of literary eloquence, Baldwin had no true peers.  He had a lot of critics and would-be enemies, but no true peers.

Regarding the open mic scene in Savannah as compared to that in "Love Jones":  I actually had never seen the film "Love Jones" so your question gave me a reason to rent the video.  Thanks for the referral.  I really enjoyed it.  There used to be several locations for serious open mic action in Savannah but at present the only consistent location is a coffee shop called the Gallery Espresso.  There's usually a fairly decent turn-out of poets reading their work bur rarely any music involved.  I used to make the trek downtown to participate in it every second Friday because the audience response was so encouraging.  Now it's held once a month and I rarely go because of alternating obligations.  Other open mic spots are pretty much closed off and cliqueish with the college crowds doing their thing on their turf with participation by invitation only. 


I'm outa here dude.  Peace,