At the age of 43, I am still amazed at the way wonderful words draw me into an ocean of amazement and intrigue. I sat down last night to begin the novel pictured above. I planned to read a few paragraphs. To get the gist; but the prose – pushed me to turn the pages. The puns played with my imagination. The poetry pulled me into places that I wanted to visit, explore and ponder. I was hooked and ultimately immersed in literacy love. So, saturated with the symphony of lyrical vignettes, I simply read the whole thing! Sigh.
While I’ve had my share of reads that were finished in a few days vs. a few months, they are rare. I find myself so swamped with to-do lists that I don’t always have opportunities to stop the world around me while I dive into the pages of a book. Nevertheless, I loved so many things about this selection! I felt like I was dancing with history. My memories of the star character, Cassius Clay, crossed with recollections of the boxing enthusiasts in my family. I could hear my grandmother’s fondness for him and his charismatic candor. I remembered my uncle’s fascination with his powerful fury and frequent references to his pretty face. I recalled my dad’s amusement with his cocky confidence and cool demeanor.
My dad. My dad…can I dote for a moment?
One of the beautiful things about the lyrics between the lines of reading is that they possess the uncanny magic of helping you to summon the sentiments of the ones you love the most. My father passed away roughly five years ago. I try with all my might to savor as many memories as possible; but, I love how reading can connect me to moments temporarily forgotten.
As I consumed the pages of this text, I remembered that my father was a boxer (among many other talents) who enjoyed narrating his bouts as he retold them. I recalled that one of my brothers was affectionately named with reference to one Sugar Ray Leonard, also named in the text – his favorite boxing icon. I realized why my father loved the sport and felt connected to him in yet another treasurable way. I could see him in my room, smiling with understanding as I relished every word on every page.
Writing has an inexplicable artistry of linking readers to people, places and worlds where face-to-face interaction is neither requisite nor mandated. In its stead is a meeting of minds and words. Words that work like tools, crafting, creating, sculpting, and at times, caressing the soul of the reader by bringing to life the ideas and experiences of people you feel like you know. Reading the work of James Patterson and Kwame Alexander and appreciating the artwork of Dawud Anyabwile, I peered into the life of a young boy whom I had only known as a focal point of media excerpts.
I’d seen him in some documentaries. I recalled him most in his latter years of life, with few words, big smiles and most often connected to his daughter, Laila Ali. Last night, I was invited into his childhood home, where I watched his personality grow larger than life. I was with him in the ring for knockouts handed and received. I heard his private thoughts, his desires to take care of his mom and shared his hopes and dreams. I felt his concern for his friends and his hunger for equality. I embraced his vision to transcend the ugliness of racism. I cringed at his failures and applauded his tenacity to turn obstacles into stepping stones of success.
The illustrative imagery was equally rich. With prose married to poetry, I was in a literacy love affair of my own. I’m enamored with the succinctness of writing that is replete with literary devices. Agonizing analogies, empowering epithets and comical clichés lovingly accent harsh realities and spirited survival. I was reminded of how powerful writing is! It affords us the coveted opportunity to relay motifs that are both ragged and regal. It exposes and uplifts. Writing gives voice to the stories that are otherwise unheard and creates an audience from one to one million in a single sitting. Isn’t that amazing?
I’ve vowed to increase my reading this year – and my writing – because among these realms I find my heart to be overwhelmed with enthusiasm. Not only can I share my thoughts and thunderings, the language of my heart can leap off of a page into the greatest adventures I’ve ever written. I think I have an idea…or a few. Stay tuned!
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