Ferocious Jabari

Ferocious Jabari *
By Dorothy Hagan
2019

While explaining to 7th graders the
Ways to combat the haters, the ignorant
And race baiters, I said plan to ignore
And then I implored them to guard their souls as
They invent and present without question their best

So I keep preaching saying you
All keep reaching for you can,
Embrace that geek and
As you continue to seek in
success of the nerds as you slay with the
Words of the Poet inside, who wins in the end.

So my kids, be free to peel off that mask
Grab a whole new forecast, push the past aside,
Celebrate the skins you are in as you freshen
Your lessons with academic questions, your
Futures are told so tell your mouth
Your dreams won’t bleed on the road, forthwith

So my loves, be fearless, ferocious
On occasion be precocious with your lines,
Your teachers got you and will be there to watch you in spite of
Some folks and positions with strong, potent
Dispositions…but just let them…for you are the poet with the pointed poetry.

Dorothy Hagan
December 8, 2019

*I recently had the pleasure to teach the Nikki Grimes poem, Jabari Unmasked. This poem is written using the Golden Shovel form, a fairly new form using words from another poet’s poem to inspire your new one. I searched through my most beloved poets, finding naught, and then lines in Jabari Unmasked reached out and grabbed me, begging me to join in her quest. The bolded end-words come from the last stanza of Jabari Unmasked.

Ms. Grimes, thank you for your words and inspiration, and may my words be a fraction as useful as your own.

 

Tammy Labude: I Think I’ll BE

TammyLabude2

Facebook isn’t always politics and kitty cats. And it wasn’t for me today. It was the mournful media that informed me of a personal loss so heartfelt it is difficult to describe.

How do you describe having known an honest-t0-goodness living, breathing, celestial yet terrestrial…angel…and now she is gone? How do you describe someone who was never supposed to be here on this earth, yet was…how do you describe someone who dropped into your life at the exact moment of necessity, who brightened your days of sorrow and darkness, and touched not just you, but virtually everyone fortunate enough to be found in her presence?

With only two words: Tammy Labude

I met Tammy in 2002 when she was directing a production of Heidi in Garland, Texas. My eight-year-old daughter Abigail was up for the part. She got called back, did a good job and to our utter joy was cast as the lead. Seeing my daughter ecstatic with the joy of a dream come true was the first gift Tammy gave to me.

But soon this joy began to flow to me. I was living in a city away from home, and was profoundly homesick. While waiting for something or someone before rehearsals began, I was blessed to visit with Tammy for more than an hour, just the two of us. An instant friendship was born. We talked, we shared, we laughed, and I went home lighter than I had been for more than a year.

And her blessings to me and my family just multiplied. She always seemed to be there and available the exact moments and days I needed her. Always. Eventually, I moved back home, and so did she. We stayed in touch with occasional phone calls and messages. Every time we talked it was like we had just spoken yesterday.

And now I realize that my daughter and I were but two tiny woven threads on the loving, giving, living tapestry that made up Tammy’s life. Because the gifts she gave to us she gave to everyone who was lucky enough to cross her path. And I believe wholeheartedly that her paths, her every steps were God directed.

How else but Angel might she be called? She was born with frailties that would have taken most away. She bore human challenges most of us have never seen. She was never interested in the grand earthly things. People were her business. Small ones. Tall ones. Old ones. Young ones. All ones. She gave and she gave and she forgave and I will never know why I was so blessed as to have been among those who had the privilege to know her.

I noticed some time back someone on Facebook quoted to her “To be, or not to be?” and Tammy answered, “I think I’ll BE.” And boy, did she.

That I could BE a fraction of her goodness…

God speed, Tammy, and God willing, until we meet again.

 

 

Speak Those Goals

It was the end of a brutal year. I found myself facing a divorce, single-parenthood, a draining job and pretty much the loss of everything I thought life had set out before me. But for the wise advice from a life-altering therapist, there’s no way to predict how things might have turned out.

But alas, that life-altering therapist was there. I sat before her awash in tears, despondent, hopeless. She gently suggested I set out some new goals for myself. I must have looked at her as though she had sprouted confetti from her forehead. The conversation went something like this:

Her: Let’s think about some new goals for you.
Me: Goals? You’ve got to be kidding.
Her: No, I mean it. Not resolutions. Those are never effective. I am talking about goals. Short and long term. Some you will hit, some you won’t hit this year, some you may never hit. But that’s okay. Because they are goals. They are desires that you have and are giving a voice to. So what are some short term goals?
Me: God. Breathing? Not driving my car off an overpass? Not setting my ex and his girlfriend on fire?
Her: Beyond the obvious. What are some things in say, the next six months, that you would like to accomplish?
Me: Well, I need to move out. I need to deal with legal crap. I need to find another place to live. My son and I have to move back in with my mother. In Pasadena. Jesus, save me.
Her: Okay. So what about after that? Longer term. What about a year from now? What about five years from now?

So at this point I had no earthly idea. Or so I thought. Again, with her gentle prodding, I began to move forward in my vision.

Me: Well, someday I would like to own another house. A place of my own. A place of peace and safety…Ah, hell. A house with a neighborhood swimming pool! (Okay, NOW the energetic visions were popping!)
Her: What about relationships?
Me: What do you mean?
Her: Relationships. What about another marriage someday? More children?

I was stunned. In my abyss of grief and loss, the notion of having another life, actually living the life of mother with kids with husband with happiness…could those things possibly even be imaginable?

Her: I want you to go home and write down everything you want to accomplish. Big and little. Great and small. Call it your Goals List. Do you want to travel? Add destinations. Different relationships? Add names. Believe me when I say You have the Power to Speak Things into Being.
Me: Okay.
Her: Times’ up. Leave a check with the receptionist. I’ll see you in a week.

So…that’s now been well over two decades ago. And you know what? I DID accomplish nearly everything I set out on those early goals lists. I DID move out. I DID get another house. I DID remarry. I DID have more children. I HAVE had the Life I dreamed of and thought was lost forever.

For the life of me I cannot remember that therapist’s name. I remember her face and the resolute determination she had to help me. And I thank God for her and for therapists and encouragers like her.

So fellow travelers…Speak your goals. Claim your future. Accept years with little change. (The Lose 30 Pounds goal has yet to be realized. But, hey, I’ll put it on this year’s list again!)

Here’s wishing you the best possible life for 2016 and beyond.

The First Thousand Words…Are on the Page

The first thousand words have given birth to…no…

The first thousand words have been launched into…eh…

The first thousand words have…maybe…taken flight…total bleh…

The first thousand words…are on the page. There we go. That will suffice.

There are few experiences in life as daunting and exciting as beginning a new novel. I know this to be true because this is the beginning of Novel Number Four. (Five if you want to count an uncompleted half novel, which I don’t.) This little announcement will be succinct because I am driven and anxious to get back to the story. The characters are all alive, new ones being born every minute, and they are having conversations in my head so fast it is challenging to get the notes down, before they jump headlong and escape from the creative bowel of alphabet soup.

Many things will be different this go-round. First, I am twenty years older than I was since I began novel writing at thirty-five. A lot of Life happens in twenty years. Likewise, I have already made the hundreds of greenhorn mistakes that a writer simply has to make. There’s no short-cutting the the writing ropes, and I know this now. Finally, being older and wiser (and frankly, a much better writer) I will be pursing this venture with vastly different end goals in mind. Fame and Fortune are still distant sirens, but ones calling from near the bottom of the Lists of Things To Do.

And with that declaration, this indie writer will announce this to the world: it will be my focused and complete intention to submit this fourth novel for traditional publication upon completion of the polished manuscript. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain. I am writing because I love to write. And I will share it because I want to share.

So here we go. The first thousand words…are on the page.

Creative Writing Workshops: Houston, Texas

Come and join us for some informal creative writing workshops this June. These sessions will be Saturday mornings, June 2, 9, 16 and 23, from 9 am to 12 noon. Details below. Come to one workshop or enjoy all four. Each session will include writing activities, assignments and in-class critiques. Sessions promise to be informative, creative and boatloads of fun!

Session One: Are You a Writer and If So, What Kind?

Has the time come to embrace your inner writer?

Is it time to determine if there exists within you a novelist, a playwright, a poet, a biographer or a journalist? How do you get started? What is the process? Can you get published?

 

Session Two: Embracing Your Story

 

How do you begin the process? What’s the secret to writing? What are you going to write?

Do you need to do research? Where can you get information? What’s a copyright?

How many pages? What’s the structure? Should my family read it?

 

Session Three: Honing the Craft for Writing Excellence

 

What is your passion? Fiction? Non-fiction? Poetry? What are some types of each? What is point of view?

How are characters developed? How are settings created? What is denouement? What is a draft? How many revisions are necessary? What are critique partners? What about rejection?

 

Session Four: Can I Get My Work Published?

 

What are the avenues of publication? Do I need an agent? What is a query letter?

What is indie publishing? What is traditional publishing? What is an ebook and POD technology?

What kind of marketing will be involved? What is a serialization?

 

Time: Saturdays 9:00 a.m.-12 noon

Dates: Saturdays, June 2, 9, 16 and 23, 2012

Location: University of Houston-Clear Lake

Bayou Building: Room B1104

Cost: $20.00 per session, materials included

Note: These are non-credit, informal workshops. This program is not endorsed or affiliated with UHCL or the LITR program.     

 

Dorothy Hagan is the author of The Edge of the Grace Period, 2000, and its companion novel, The Offshore Triumphs of Karla Jean, 2012. Hagan earned a BA in the Humanities from the University of Houston-Clear Lake. She has taught Pre-K to 12th grade and is currently teaching GED and ESL classes to adults. To reserve your spot please send an email to: dothagan@aol.com