Are we lucky or what?? James B. Golden, the NAACP’s Image Award Winner for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry came to
our school, our theatre, and performed his poems for us on Friday, November 30th.
A former student of AP English teacher, Mrs. Birkeland, [other famous former students include: wait for it…Dustin Lance Black], James took time out of a busy book tour to read his poems, answer provocative questions and delight us with stories of his journalistic adventures as a writer from VIBE and Clutch magazines. Check out his blog here. He talks about what being an NAACP Image Award Winner means here.
Gracious and soft-soft spoken, James fielded questions from student poets for two hours while we waited out a huge rainstorm. How do you deal with writer’s block? “Writing is like breathing,” he said. For the “marathon poems,” he recommends moving stanzas around and confessed he also a mile long poem to which he continues to add material. Candidly, though, he admits that he is a very heavy editor. In addition, he signed and gave away books [thank you so much for mine, James!]
He surprised many students by saying how famous Salinas is. Immediately, thought bubble images of Salinas’s rampant gang violence popped up everywhere. Yet James set us straight by reminding us of John Steinbeck. [Of course those smart AP students from Mrs. Birkeland knew right away!]
My big takeaway from Friday was something he said when a student asked about inspiration for material: “I always try to write poems that feed peoples’ souls.” Reading from his recent book, The Inside of an Orange, clearly fed his audience’s on Friday.
So, NSHS, what is your favorite James B. Golden poem?