Creating Art, Music, Poetry, Religion, Love and Living
Dr. August James our topic in my newsletter today. For he is an artist that has lead many lives, but in the last 15 years he has been working on these poetry books for he still feels the need to create. I first met August some 15 years ago when I first came to the Bronx, he likes to be called August and not all those names society has given him like, Doctor, or Professor at a local bar and he was the manager of the building living in a one bedroom apartment. I thought like a hermit. Well, we started to talk and he explained to me he was working on a poetry project and needed some help with some music. He could not find anyone to help him at the University so of course I helped him get started with his music. You see he was trying to notate this music and did not know how to do it. Since, I have worked with all levels of musicians it was no problem for me to understand. I was able to notate his music and get him started on this project and you can see the songs in his book and it comes with a tape too, Aces. My point is that August decided that he was going to spend his last part of his career as a creative writer so I thought he was looking for his inner truth in his poetry. At that time he was writing his first book of poetry called No Bright Shields and then his second book, Aces, and he had a need to write music with this poetry too. I was able to help him and we have been friends on and off ever since.
As far as I know he has written five Books: No Bright Shield, Aces, Night Air Dancing, Sorehead and Rusty and Journey Man.
If you love words these books are for you because August is a master of the English Language, sounds, religious history and words. Yes, he cannot forget about his back-ground in his life in his order and his relationship to God. His writing is not the love sick writings of the fundamentalist, but his writing is about life in relationship to life and all we experience in it. You see, creative art is really to allow us to grow as human beings and become all we can be. Life test us to the ultimate challenge everyday of our life and how one meets this challenge. For me, after reading the first pages of Night Air Dancing here is my reaction to this book. "There is so much wisdom in the world and it is right in front of us, but I see the problem of life in that people do not seek this wisdom for they only search for the materialistic life and money." This is what is brought out in these poems the difference between the known and the unknown in people's minds. How many times have I walked down the street and seen men only count their money like it is God. Let me tell you a lot of times. I have watched this happen just the other day a man counting his money while in his car at a stop light.
An example of some profound words from August, "On a day I was not looking, brighter than any burning bush it came to me that words are really free, there is no cost, you use them, tend them carefully, but words are there, in books, on people's lips, on walls just for the taking, for the making of joy." You see what profound words these are words are our road to our own personal life style and freedom for through words can we reach the truth of life and living. I believe though reading these books you can learn and grow, and having lived at present for 62 years if there is one thing I have learned; is that one must keep learning and growing until the time we meet our maker.
For me poetry is the language of music with words. So if we can master the language of poetry we can dream of the many beautiful things in life like great art, music, novels, films, (Woody Allen) poetry, religious art, beautiful gardens, food, and the joy of creativity is maybe one of the highest joys in life alone with love. You see that August is poking fun at man too and his awful ways so far away from the righteous life. How can he not help write about this for this has been the center of his entire life how to live in a world of injustice, murder, hatred, starvation, selfishnous and man's contempt for real love. I think there are more wars going on right now then any other time in history.
It is interesting how evil people are not even aware of their own crimes against themselves and others and how they use the good works of good men to enhance their lives. When I read the poetry of August for some reason this thought comes to me. His book, No Bright Shield is a book about Christ so one has to know the history of Christian logic and history to enjoy these seven poems. The real truth, Page 33, "Down here, they told him, life is no free lunch, you have to gouge it out of deserts, suck it up from the sea, pluck its fruits from impossible trees--it makes you hard, and dangerous, you wouldn't tell a hungry man, be grateful for the taste of death." Wow, I think this is an example of down to earth writing about one part of life from No Bright Shield.
Aces is a musical and poetic journey of sounds and words. To me it seems like a dreaming poem with some moments of reality, but for the most part I believe the symphony of words and song are brought together in a flood of words. The joy of knowing deep experiences which only deep suffering and joy can bring. This comes out in the artistic process. The book is divided into two sections the first part is with music and the second is straight thought and poetry; hopefully to get the reader to think and enjoy the flowing sounds of the words. Page 45 it says, "His name is Peace, and we are His menagerie." A good book to read and study to appreciate western religious thought.
I have never talked to August about his outlook about these books, but I believe these books are a life time of study and thought and this is the results of August James's Life in thought. These books are books that you keep for your entire life not books you pass on to your friends like a good novel or popular book.
Sorehead and Rustyis a great book for the individual thought process because it is a question answer type situation between Sorehead and Rusty. The words just run into each other and one reads non-stop with the flowing words, thoughts and comparisons between the two types of people, Sorehead or Rusty. It is like having a conversation with yourself between what is right for one or what is wrong for one. A great book for personal introspection I believe. You should read this book over and over again for there are just so many thoughts and ideas in this book. So whatever your personal place in life and if you need non-judgemental time with yourself and need some space for thought this is an excellent book for personal reflection about your life to get you back on the right track whatever that might be.
Journey Man is a book of poems about 33 in all with an introduction by the author. What really was different about this book was the poems were very short so one could read one poem and put the book down and then read another poem. One does not have to read the entire book to get thought and meaning out of it. Plus some of the poems are light and some are very deep in thought. The other books of Poetry all are different and our written in a different style each having their own voice. I find this very interesting from a language point of view. The English Language is not a pretty language like Spanish and has sounds from many different languages and some how makes it difficult for writing poetry. I think. But the author has such a command of words that he puts words and phrases together that you never read before so making the reading a really new experience. You see reading poetry is not like reading this commentary about these five books. It places one into a different dimension of words and ideas. For the words flow into one another like water out of a glass. It is more of an inspiration rather than a well thought out sentence so the reader has to put so much