Aberjhani (born July 8, 1957, in Savannah, Georgia) is an African-American historian, poet, journalist, essayist, and fiction writer. His Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance is one of the most referenced titles on the 1920s to 1940s cultural movement, and his first book, I Made My Boy Out of Poetry, is often described as a modern underground classic.
I Made My Boy Out of Poetry (1998)Edit
- Entire islands and groves of memory suddenly sprung up and I found myself face to face with a deeper awareness of what I can only describe as numerous versions of my singular self and my solitary destiny, pencil sketches of possibilities in which I saw myself as a clown, a poet, a slave, an orator, a prophet and a beggar and a healer and a warrior.
- (Angels and Shakespeare, p. 114).
- Course you been hurt. You was born to hurt. What make you wanna forget somethin that important? Power that’s worth somethin --real power!--live an’ grow from the hurt you feed it.
- (Elijah's Skin, p. 4).
- You are the man newly arriving
at history’s worm-ravaged door,
the woman whose shadows are salves
upon the bleeding breasts of the earth,
the infant whose heartbeat
floods every harp in Paradise.
- (Self Knowledge in the New Millennium, p. 57).
- Some of the smartest people in the world never talk cause they got more sense than everybody else.
- (I Can Hear Juba Moan, p. 45).
- Beauty will snatch us by the heart
and love us until we are raw with understanding.
- from (Calligraphy of Intimacy, p. 7).
- Whereas it might be erroneous to claim that the literature, art, and music of the Harlem Renaissance revolutionized the practice of democracy in the United States, it would not be an error to point out that the ideas they championed did impact America's understanding, and subsequently its application, of democracy.
- (Author's Note, p. xvii).
- A strategic use of black culture could help generate a more efficient use of American democracy,and democracy more effectively practiced could then produce a genuinely spiritual nation of people.
- (Author's Note, p. xvii).
- Certainly with the enslavement of their parents and grandparents less than seventy years behind them, the odds of successfully utilizing black culture to better refine the application of democracy in America was against them. Yet the planners and participants in this would-be renaissance moved forward with all the faith and visionary certainty of Betsy Ross stitching the American flag or General William T. Sherman blazing a trail of victory through the Civil War South.
- (Author’s Note, p. xvi).
- He W.E.B. Du Bois was at once a scientist in his skillful use of history as a tool for comprehending the present, and a prophet in the application of his gift for analyzing the present as an indicator of the future. Because he lived both firmly entrenched within his time and decades ahead of it, the light of his wisdom, like that of his great love for humanity, is one that never diminishes.
- (introduction, p. xvi).
- The ultimate test on the way to establishing an ideal civilization encouraging ideal human behavior was to look bravely beyond gender, color, ethnic origin, religious difference, and class distinctions to discover and honor the value of each unique individual.
- (Civilization and Human Nature, p. 4).
- American women, like so many others around the world, were trained largely to live as second-class citizens, and living as a second-class citizen meant living as a victim. It was only by empowering them with full social and economic equality that average mothers, wives, and daughters of the world stood a chance of providing for themselves and the offspring they bore.
- (Women, p. 15).
- Art, rightly applied, provided humanity with the symbols, insight, and vicarious experience necessary to help one person place him- or herself in the shoes of another, and by so doing come to appreciate the commonality of human experience.
- (Love, Art, and Culture, p. 23).
- In the face of a world where economic hardships often ground the best of the human spirit into the worst, love provided a pathway into hidden chambers of the spirit where nobility and compassion might be salvaged, resurrected, and made stronger.
- (Love, Art, and Culture, p. 24).
- While the enslavement of African Americans was an unavoidable historical fact, so was the historical record of their courage in the face of mortal danger, their strength before seemingly insurmountable odds, their faith when confronted with conditions that had driven others to faithless despair, and their evocation of beauty and genius under oppressive circumstances that did not encourage either.
- (African Americans, p. 45).
- Without access to the varied forms of education suitable for every individual temperament and every class of worker, the potential for continued growth and securing an authentically functional democracy in the United States decreased considerably. More than a means to a substantial paycheck, both education and satisfying work were the means to a substantial character.
- (Work and Education, p. 59).
- The way out of the maze of whiteness and blackness that led inevitably, repeatedly, to violent conflict was through the simple recognition of and respect for blacks and whites as not two races but one: the human race.
- (Whiteness and Race Relations, p. 82)).
- The first half of the 20th century in the United States and much of the world was an era when racial and ethnic differences determined even the most uncontrived actions. Stepping into a restaurant, boarding a train, engaging in sexual relationships, or running or voting for a public office were all ruled by notions of differences between groups.
- (History and the World, p. 121).
The American Poet Who Went Home Again (2008)Edit
- Peace is not so much a political mandate as it is a shared state of consciousness that remains elevated and intact only to the degree that those who value it volunteer their existence as living examples of the same. It does not end when jetliners are used as bombs to decimate skyscrapers, nor does it end when a father shoots to death his adolescent son and daughter. Peace ends with the unraveling of individual hope and the emergence of the will to worship violence as a healer of private and social dis-ease. It is, after all, not only nations and communities that need peace so desperately but individuals divided against other individuals and within themselves.
- (p. 257, The American Poet Who Went Home Again).
- Life possesses an amazing array of profoundly sad faces.
- (This Mother's Son, p. 10).
- The reality of buried truths raised suddenly into light is like a scalpel driven solely by an intent to slash, irregardless of whether or not a healing follows. And within the dim corridors of such an observation dwells many dangers indeed; chief among them perhaps, the horror of a man glimpsing his image in a shard of truth’s mirror and discovering he is––or at least that some fundamental segment of him remains––as yet, a lost and broken little boy.
- (The Us That Never Was, p. 29).
- In an age when nations and individuals routinely exchange murder for murder, when the healing grace of authentic spirituality is usurped by the divisive politics of religious organization, and when broken hearts bleed pain in darkness without the relief of compassion, the voice of an exceptional poet producing exceptional work is not something the world can afford to dismiss.
- (Visions of the Poets, p. 247)
- The shape of something uncaring and
perversely cold stands up inside a man
and he finds himself completely deceived.
This world’s anguish is no different
from the love we insist on holding back.
- (The Homeless, Psalm 85:10, p. 111).
- Time to be the sun and send forth flesh to heal the bones of time.
- (Time to be the Sun, p. 86).
- History is a hermaphrodite with many distinguished lovers. We are neither mysteries nor strangers but the living breath of revelation made flesh by the unrestrained desires of a free and universal love. Universal me. Universal you.
- (The Past Present and Future are One, p. 22).
- And now we step to the rhythm of miracles.
- (The Light, That Never Dies, p. 122).
- The image titled “The Homeless, Psalm 85:10,” featured on the cover of ELEMENTAL, can evoke multiple levels of response. They may include the spiritual in the form of a studied meditation upon the multidimensional qualities of the painting itself; or an extended contemplation of the scripture in the title, which in the King James Bible reads as follows: “Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.” The painting can also inspire a physical response in the form of tears as it calls to mind its more earth-bound aspects; namely, the very serious plight of those who truly are homeless in this world, whether born into such a condition, or forced into it by poverty or war.
- (The Homeless, Psalm 85:10, p. 111).
- Evil is mostly confusion seeking to evolve itself into love.
- (Fulton Street/The Series, p. 80).
- Silence brings us new names
new feelings and new knowledge.
Dreams dress us carefully
in the colors of power and faith.
- (In a Quiet Place on a Quiet Street, p. 98).
The River of Winged Dreams (2010)Edit
- As goes love so goes life.
- (The Poet Angels Who Came to Dinner, p. 8).
- A river is nearly the ultimate symbol for the very essence of change itself. It flows unceasing from one point of being to another, yet continuously occupies the same bed or pathway, and accommodates life’s endings with the same musical grace with which it accommodates life’s beginnings, along with all the muted and explosive moments that surface between the two extremes.
- (Evolution of a Vision: from Songs of the Angelic Gaze to The River of Winged Dreams, p. 3).
- Only God singing this song of you... makes true light... somehow possible.
- (Angel of Mercy, p. 4).
- It is true that poems and stories generally have only a single name attached to them where authorship is concerned but in many ways they are born of much more than any single individual. They evolve out of meetings of minds, the collective heartbeats of communities, and the shared journeys of similar souls.
- (Acknowledgments, p. 99).
Journey through the Power of the Rainbow: Quotations from a Life Made Out of Poetry (2014)Edit
- Whether naïve on my part or not, it seemed worth taking the time to try to convince others that their lives possessed beauty and meaning worth preserving and honoring.
- (p. xiv).
- Without unleashing the power of life-destroying missiles or forcing obedience to a particular law, rainbows dissolve preoccupation with the predictably ordinary and encourage belief in the extra-ordinary. Such belief, such inspiration, provides much more than passive hopefulness.
- (p. 47, Tao of the Rainbow).
- I think of the French polymath Boris Vian (1920-1959) who burned the candles of his creative genius at every end he could light. And I think of the way Zimbabwean author Dambudzo Marechera (1952-1987) hammered with
furious genius through walls of racial and cultural impediments in the struggle to satisfy his ravenous hunger for freedom and sanity.
- (p. x).
From Articles, Essays, and PoemsEdit
- In the end, it was strength he was reaching for once again to begin his journey anew and do the one thing he did better than anybody else.”
- (from To Walk a Lifetime in Michael Jackson’s Moccasins).
- Because his living presence became such an uncommonly global one, that ministry [Jackson’s individual spiritual concerns] reflected universal ecumenical principles dressed up in ultra-modern dance grooves, love songs to nature, lyrical eulogies in the form of musical elegies, and sermons sung with passionate intensity and suffering eloquence.
- (from Work and Soul in Michael Jackson’s This Is It).
- A horn of plenty
spills from your hands into the
starved lives of millions.
- (haiku from poem Notes for an Elegy in the Key of Michael).
- Summer is the season when the sun reaches its zenith, its peak, when it burns the hottest and shines most golden for the longest days of the year… It embraces everything with its light, spreads a blanket of reassuring warmth, induces fertility and growth and regeneration, and even causes rainstorms to balance its own overwhelming power. Michael Jackson was very much like that with an abundance of creative spiritual energies that enriched, inspired, and empowered the lives of more human beings than anyone can accurately count.
- (from essay Michael Jackson and Summertime from this Point On).
On Guerrilla DecontextualizationEdit
- Guerrilla decontextualization usually involves partial truths made to look complete. It goes beyond simple defamation of character or slander because it sustains an entire culture devoted to manipulating public perception for the sake of financial, political, or social gain.
- (from 2013 essay Putting Text and Meaning to the Guerrilla Decontextualization Test).
- The issues revolve around experiences of truth and fairness but also address the practice of having choices forced upon you as opposed to freely making your own based on true-to-the-moment information instead of calculated misinformation.
- (from 2012 essay Catching Up with Our Humanity).
- Part of the definition of guerrilla decontextualization is the attempt to intentionally misrepresent an individual’s character or intentions for purpose of decreasing any measure of influence or authority they might possess in either public or private circles. Hence: the popularity of such a technique among battling politicians.
- (from 2012 article 47 Percenters and Guerrilla Decontextualization).
- Writing provided me as a teenager, first with a tool to navigate my way through a constantly humming nighttime swamp of inner traumas, and second with a means to comprehend and address the material world of race, poverty, and social backwardness that characterized my hometown at that time. Words, like music, gave themselves to me as companions and have always endowed my existence with a strength and resilience that otherwise I would not have.
- (GCA Interview with Aberjhani).
- I wanted the kind of power of insight and self-command that I experienced in the works of a Jean Paul Sartre, James Baldwin, or Margaret Walker. I wanted to make that kind of music that I heard in the poetry of a Langston Hughes or the stories of James Joyce. That combination of power and beauty more than anything else is probably what made me most want to become a writer. It wasn't until I became a journalist with the U.S. Air Force that I became more objective in my literary outlook and accepted that writing professionally included responsibilities to something other than my personal desires or needs.
- (GCA Interview with Aberjhani).