“My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
“The intellect is good but until it has become the servant of the heart, it is of little avail.”
“Simplicity is the final achievement. After one has played a vast quantity of notes and more notes, it is simplicity that emerges as the crowning reward of art.”
“If music be the food of love, play on…”
“A candlelight wanes in the breeze. In stillness, its strength is replenished.”
Professionally: As a poet and mental health advocate, my interests lie chiefly in the cultivation and nurturing of human creative potential in order to promote emotional healing and wellness, primarily through the exercise and process of writing poetry. To that end, my intent is to become credentialed as a Texas HHS-recognized certified peer specialist (CPS) through Via Hope in October 2018. Eventually, I also plan to become credentialed in the field of poetic medicine as a Poetry Therapy Practitioner (PTP) and a host of other poetry therapy-related certifications. This will assist me greatly as a founding partner and mental health/creative arts therapy specialist for EQ Education, an organization whose purpose is to design and implement comprehensive and self-sustaining training programs in primarily school settings that promote mental/behavioral health through the building and maintaining of healthy relationships and the practice of creative, diplomatic forms of communication.
Additionally, I intend to learn more about/explore various theories of interpersonal/intrapersonal communication, especially in terms of their implications in rhetoric, strategic communication, intelligence analysis, philosophy of language, cognitive psychology, and logic/computer science. I am also a fierce advocate for literacy (especially in children), compassionate communication, and populations with pragmatic communication impairments/social (pragmatic) communication disorders. I am also interested in expanding my network of partnerships with other authors/literary institutions, arts organizations, mental/behavioral health groups, and faith communities in order to learn more about the work they do in the community and to offer my time and support in service of advocacy.
I plan to work with a wide array of populations including, but of course not limited to, veterans, children/teens, LGBT, seniors, and those living with and in the process of recovering from medical challenges. A major part of my mental health advocacy work so far has been to organize and host mental health workshops and movie screenings, to raise money for suicide prevention organizations by attending advocacy walks throughout the city, and to create and facilitate regular spaces for planning, dialogue, volunteering and support for people dealing with mental health/wellness issues (please feel free to visit the Houston Mental Health Support Network Meetup page and/or join the Facebook group of the same name. Also, feel free to check out the story of how I decided to turn the core values I learned while in the United States Coast Guard into the guiding principles informing everything I do in mental health/wellness advocacy, and everything else for that matter.
(Wheeew, now that that’s out of the way!)
Personally: Born humbly in Cleveland, raised humbly in Houston. Emotionally and spiritually-attached to both cities, albeit in different ways.
A habitual fancier of all things rarefied and transcendent, especially in and through various modes of artistic expression, I enjoy being perpetually-swooned by great music and art about as much as I enjoy responding to it in my idiom. Indeed, my creative words are motivated chiefly by the more or less spontaneous experience of great art and music, whether at a gallery showing, museum exhibition, symphony/recital, or even through the filter of the Internet. In a poetry workshop I did several years ago, I found that one of the most effective ways to develop as a writer is to immerse oneself in the habit of writing, allowing creative forces an outlet of expression wherever or whenever they may arise.
Good writers, in my opinion, don’t await and respond to external writing prompts, they create them. And so hence, the birth of this blog (an entry explaining the somewhat comical origins of the blog title will be posted separately). If it is true that music and colors speak where words are silent, then it would seem that we as poets are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to our palette of expression. The challenge, of course, is to find a way to do “justice” to the ineffable.
But I, for one, happen to believe in the power of words to create pathways to hitherto unseen worlds; it is my duty as a writer to harness them. If words cannot express something, I am here to attempt to make sure they do. Of course, the artist never really “gets it right”, but somehow continues to derive some sort of meaning and purpose from successive attempts at approximation. For me at least, art is a process, not a result. When I immerse myself in this process, I accept all the pain, frustration, and euphoria that comes along with it. And I grow as a result. As an artist, and as a person.
As for my other sundry ramblings, well, you can blame the weekend philosopher in me. Can’t help that very much I’m afraid.
I have been a practicing Baha’i for 5 years now and living out its principles in the form of actionable service to humanity has transformed my life in untold ways on multiple levels. An article about how I initially came to the Faith and some of the spiritual and emotional challenges I faced as a Baha’i is forthcoming. (In the meantime, if you’re on Facebook, feel free to learn more about who we are and what we do as Baha’is on our main community page and even become a part of our two main Facebook groups (general and youth/young adult oriented) for real-time updates if you feel so led. All are welcome, irrespective of faith tradition or background.
Music-wise, I’m a big fan of classical, especially anything that involves or features the piano. My favorite composer of all is Frederick Chopin, whom I often refer to as the “Poet Laureate” of the piano. Indeed, one of my major joys in life since February of last year has been to create and share spaces for classical music seekers, musicians/ensemble directors and regular-old aficionados like myself alike in order to consolidate and network effectively within the local classical music community. Please feel free to check out the Houston Classical Music Lovers Meetup page and its affiliated Facebook page and Facebook group of the same name
I’m also keen to jazz, blues, funk, 80’s/90’s R&B, alternative and even some top 40. Religious consumer of public radio. Can’t imagine my world without it. Not a T.V. person, although the odd documentary might catch my glance on occasion. I recently took up bird watching as a hobby, and am really looking forward to learning as much as I can about it and enjoying the process of doing so. Food-wise, I am a big fan of hummus, sushi, salmon, quasi-vegan goods, dark chocolate espresso beans, fruit, (lots of) water, and all kinds of tea. And tea houses.
I like big books (and I cannot lie!) with lots of big words and big ideas. I read the dictionary for fun, find it difficult to part with old textbooks, and am no stranger to the library and bookstores of all stripes. Mostly into non-fiction, but do find my way around a good novel or two on occasion. Never been one to turn away a good poem.
Currently brushing up on some philosophy, poetry theory and some Baha’i literature, especially regarding the pressing movement towards the eradication of all forms of prejudice and racial justice. Big fan of Sartre, Kant, Camus, Locke (Alain and John), Kierkegaard, DuBois, Proust, Bukowski, Ellison, Wright, Kafka. The list goes on. Love His Holiness The Dalai Lama, Pope Francis and other world spiritual leaders and visionaries who are helping to guide us to a more perfect place of peace and compassion. I’m all about consorting with people of all faith backgrounds, ethnic groups, nationalities and so on, learning as much as I possibly can about them and their lives, concerns, interests, etc. with a view towards highlighting commonalities and building strong alliances. I consider myself very fortunate to live in the most diverse and integrated city in America, which makes this really easy to do.
When I am not dawdling away online or in a big book I am usually out for a walk, scavenging the thrift shop, in attendance at an orchestral/chamber/solo concert or recital, at a museum, volunteering with Baha’is and with other social advocacy groups, organizations and communities. Networking, making connections (online and off) and refining my “brand” while simultaneously re-orienting every aspect of my life in accordance with the sacred obligation to serve others has been something of a full-time job for me lately. Oh yeah, and I’m pretty stoked to announce that my debut book of poems, In Search of Moonlit Crevices (2016), is currently getting republished under a cool new independent author collective a good friend of mine just started last year, Dawnbreaker Press. Feel free to check out my author bio as well, which is essentially a masterfully-condensed version of the autobiography you’ve just waded through here. Congrats. You made it. ‘Tis all for now.