I considered myself exercising patience and restraint when I resisted paying additional shipping fees to receive my order of Barack Obama’s bestselling book, A Promised Land, just one day after it came out on November 17, 2020. Having opted for the longer arrival time of approximately 2 weeks at the much cheaper cost of “Free Shipping,” I did not expect to receive the book until either the end of November or early December. So imagine my surprise and #gratitude when it showed up November 19, just 2 days after the release date.
There’s no question A Promised Land is one of the most significant, if not THE most significant, memoirs of the modern era. Because of Mr. Obama’s direct involvement with public events which have shaped much of America’s and the world’s history in this first half of the 21st century, it could not have been otherwise.
A Parallel Literary Journey
In the photograph above, I have placed A Promised Land between 2 of my own most recent books: Dreams of the Immortal City Savannah and Greeting Flannery O’Connor at the Back Door of My Mind. The reason is not because I megalomaniacally imagine myself to be as famous or influential as the 44th president of the United States of America, but to commemorate a parallel literary journey through some extraordinary shared history. It is also my way of having a little social distance holiday fun with the great man himself.
Upon his election to the Oval Office 2008, I wrote the first (“There upon A Bough of Hope and Audacity”) of several poems about Barack H. Obama’s historic achievement. During my time as a national cultural arts columnist for AXS Entertainment, I wrote a number of articles documenting responses to Mr. Obama’s first term as president (with now #PresidentElect Joe Biden as his vice president). The proliferation of what we now frequently refer to as disinformation and misinformation prompted me to coin the term guerrilla decontextualization for the extreme nihilism directed against him and his family. Many Americans were not certain he would still be here to write and publish this book. The fact that he did endure to tell his remarkable story in A Promised Land is something totally worthy of celebration and gratitude.
Harlem Renaissance Centennial 2020-2030
A shortage of compelling topics to address via books, blog essays, podcasts, fine art, photography, electronic gaming, and other creative media has not been among the traumatizing events unleashed upon humanity in the year 2020. Painful history-altering occurrences have, however, included the following: a very stubborn and deadly COVID-19 pandemic, the resulting economic crisis, further evidence of climate change in the form of murderous fires in California, riots in cities across America in response to #2ManyLivesGone2Soon, and political unease in the face of an uncertain future.
Incorporating reports on important public happenings into ongoing projects has long been among the better practices at Bright Skylark Literary Productions. It goes back at least as far to the days of my former AXS National African-American Cultural Arts column when I created art graphics for my news stories. Articles sometimes included original poetry to enhance editorial impact. Where the year 2020 is concerned, the following steps have been taken:
Although taking the above steps did not erase the different social, political, and environmental ills currently dogging the world, I like to think they contributed to the process of helping move things in a better healthier direction.
Sometimes in the middle of a pandemic a writer has to make difficult publishing decisions. That sounds a little odd, I know, but this is one of those times for me as I move forward with the global release of Greeting Flannery O’Connor at the Back Door of My Mind, now on its way to online and offline book distributors.
The final stages of releasing Greeting Flannery to the public have not gone as smoothly as preferred but then few things have for most of us since COVID-19 arrived and refused to go away. With that being the case, I had to choose between either continuing to delay release of the book because of stubborn cosmetic problems concerning several pages incorporated to address the impact of coronavirus, or finally give readers access to the literary content I’ve been promising. I opted for the latter choice because the book as it stands, I believe, is a worthy contribution to current dialogues driving strategies to confront serious ongoing issues.
Consider that in addition to coronavirus, we are dealing more aggressively than ever before with: social injustices, correcting cultural biases, ending racial inequality, education versus misinformation, and adapting to a rapidly-changing world.
Quote from Greeting Flannery with art dedicated by Aberjhani to the U.S. West Coast: “With each passing day, I allowed myself to become a little more intoxicated by limitless possibilities which seemed sometimes to roll in with the fog, murmur suggestions that would have made me run yelling from them had I been anywhere [other than San Francisco], then leave me to cope with that special brand of terror bestowed by sweet and sour tastes of freedom.”
Lastly, when weighing the decision whether to publish or further delay release of the book, I was forced to acknowledge the old saying (paraphrasing Proverbs 27:1) that “Tomorrow is not promised us.” Truth of those words has never appeared more self-evident than during this #pandemic. Hopefully, however, the newly-released Greeting Flannery O’Connor at the Back Door of My Mind (ISBN 1-716-68481-1) is only the first in a succession of editions which will improve more and more relevant with each publication . But because this is a first edition and features original art by the author on the front and back covers, plus some rare photographs in its “Antique Photo Album” section, it is a genuine collector’s item. Please remember as well that a collection of corresponding artworks has already been set up with several images on Fine Art America and more will be added throughout the month of September.
I welcome any and all feedback on the book for future editions and hope everyone investing in this one enjoys the read and finds the shared insights useful.
Contemporary award-winning American author of classically-styled works in history, poetry, creative nonfiction, speculative fiction, and journalism.