Prison or Passion

I hadn’t been to Venice Beach in a few months. Before I moved to LA, I would have sworn most my days would be spent at the beach or in the hills. I would find so much inspiration there, only deep in nature did I feel home. Sadly, the security and peace you feel at home wasn’t what I needed these passed months. I needed the anxiety that came in discomfort. I needed to be away from the bosom of mother nature to grow and flourish. Much like when a young boy leaves his home for college, the army, or the workforce and comes back a man. Today was that day. I was back at the beach walking the boardwalk of Venice. Five long months have past and I was finally done writing my poetry book. I was still only on my second round of edits for my fiction novel, but nothing was going to spoil my mood. KjXgDg1KQ3KcbJw7hqX6ig_thumb_8c3c

It was a business meeting technically, but with all the ground work done, this was more a meeting of pleasure than work. My poetry book named, ‘Prison or Passion” was complete and I was meeting with my mentor, lit agent, and publisher Christopher Poindexter to talk about the details and design a cover. I’ve been a fan of Christopher’s for a long time now, being one of his three hundred thousand plus followers, and purchasing all three of his poetry books. I’m still kicking myself for not having them on hand for him to sign, but I have a feeling he’s going to be seeing plenty of me to come. Christopher is a contemporary poet, editor for a magazine, musician, jazz lover, and much more. We walk the boardwalk talking about the poets before us that walked these same paths, stayed in hostels overlooking the beach, musicians we both loved, and our extended families. We just vibe. We are both old southern roots, eclectic music, creative maniacs who just enjoy expression and storytelling in all forms. We both reveal an interest in black and white photography but admit we don’t know much about the field. Like poetry though, we intended to self teach and follow the steps of our influences as much as possible. All and all it felt like I knew Christopher my whole life. yLyCsInGT6y149%5GEtA1Q_thumb_8c3b

I didn’t want to jump the gun but I want to tell the world everything that’s to come, or at least the few that will get this far in my blog. Christopher reached out to me sometime ago about finding new perspectives to poetry and starting his own publishing company with new storytellers. I was fortunate enough to be considered and the writing frenzy began. I won’t give away the name of this new publishing power house because that is not my story to tell. He has a real heart for poetry and the name of the publishing company has a history all its own. What I will say is my book Prison or Passion is my soul submerged in ink. It’s the tale of abandonment, lose, abuse cheating, the politics of football, and toxic masculinity. It starts from my tales as a young boy being left by his father, and then shortly there after losing his step father in a motorcycle accident. I revisit the pain of trying to find myself in toxic relationships, the scars of family abuse, and the confusing of trying to solve all my problems by “manning up”. I think the book is exactly what societies young men need today. As a boy without a father I was told time and time again that I was the man of the house. I had no idea what that looked like. All I knew was that when I cry people told me, “men don’t cry” so I associated that with not being a man. In football culture, heteronormative culture, and black culture, there is a lot of emphasis on being the right type of man with little to no example or a harmful one. Some of best parts of myself I thought had no room in my image of being a man. I don’t believe anyones intention was to stunt my emotional development and force me to repress my expressive sides. Like I said I was just a boy trying to fill big shoes with not many examples of how. I hope my book can be that example. I hope my poetry book will help young boys through the emotional rollercoaster they aren’t able to talk about with other men. Communication of feelings is not taught to young boys but through my words I hope to start the conversation. Even if you read my book and start a conversation with yourself about how you feel and process I will be happy. You are not alone. You are not anymore man or less for having emotions. You deserve the full range of personality that God created within you.

Christopher and I came up with some really cool book covers for Prison or Passion and I really can’t wait to show you all. I  think this will be big for the world today and even if it’s only big for one young person, I will be happy. I hope to throw a book release party in one of my favorite book stores in LA late April, and the book launch will be on my mothers birthday. Feel free to ask me when that is, I love talking about my mother.

Well, my brother and his family just arrived from Colorado and it’s my first time meeting my 4 month old nephew. I will stay in touch but right now I want to give them as much attention as possible. Keep loving, keep fighting, keep writing.

I’m rooting for you,

R.K. Russell

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