Cassius Clay, Dad Doting & Literacy Love

The literary treasure in which I found myself immersed, reading from cover to cover in one sitting

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.

An excerpt of the prolific poetry found in “Becoming Muhammad Ali”

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.

A picture of Ali’s father, a talented artist, and the types of signs he found himself painting

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.

A remembrance of harsh realities that a young Cassius Clay would never forget

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!

#inmanywayshewasthegreatest #sogladIsawmydadlastnight #historyhasheart #thepowerofprose #prolificpoetry #pageturner #icantwaittowriteagain #ohthepossibilities #mypenismyfriend #iminliteracylove #jamespatterson #kwamealexander #dawudanyabwile #carlamichelle

3 thoughts on “Cassius Clay, Dad Doting & Literacy Love

  1. There is so much to love about your post, Carla. While you take us in with you on your personal thoughts and memories, you bring forth the universal: how we can be connected to those we love through what they love(d), how writing allows us to explore relationships with ourselves, our world and the people in it. My father has passed on as well, and I relish the chance to enjoy things that he enjoyed too. Tomorrow would have been his 90th birthday. I will think on him in your honor. =))

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Dear, Lainie:

      I cannot tell you how elated and humbled I was to read your response. I sent it to my mentor in education who first helped me in my classroom over a decade ago.

      I was initially worried that what I had hoped to convey may not come across to the readers in the way I intended. I wasn’t sure if the message would get lost somewhere in my enthusiasm.

      Nevertheless, knowing that you understood it and related to it made me feel like I had accomplished something great! I can’t tell you how many days I have to remind myself (as I think I’m still working on being convinced) that I am a writer. At least, I want to believe that! (I am a work in progress).

      My favorite part of your response is about your dad’s 90th birthday. Knowing that this post could bring you an even deeper joy for someone who was such an important part of your life is among the most heartfelt sentiments that I could imagine. It makes writing that much more meaningful.

      Thank you so much for sharing this with me. It means more than words can express.

      With Warmest Regards,

      ~Carla Michelle


  2. The world is still an unequal, unfriendly place, but thank God it is not as it was during our parent’s and grand-parent’s day. Progress has been made on many fronts, but many individuals, and countries, continue to face inequalities.
    Consider the fight to control the current pandemic: While the major powers now have an excess of vaccine to inoculate their own populations, they continue to block access to the vaccine by third world countries. I live in one. We MIGHT receive a supply by the summer (perhaps).


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