a cork board


Before I Was Born

I have been quietly working on the biggest art project my little hand has ever attempted. I’ve been pulling late-night shifts hunched over my desk, with pencil, eraser and pen in hand trying to create a face on paper that would somehow manage to come to life. I am very happy to say I feel like I accomplished bringing that girl to life. Her name is Eden, she was created by Dwayne Morgan of Up From The Roots. Our project is a book that celebrates the love a father has for his daughter.

beforeFRONTcover

Dwayne approached me about working on this book in the Fall of last year. My initial reaction?…jump at the opportunity! My secondary reaction?…doubt, fear and worry that I wasn’t capable of pulling it off. I drew a comic character named Shi when I was 14yo, I colored the entire thing in colored pencils and submitted it to Wizard Comic Book Price Guide magazine. But they didn’t publish my artwork. I felt like I failed and convinced myself that working with color was not my forté. As a result, I have predominantly stuck to black and white as an artist. I found my style in doing this, but in the back of my mind I was never content with limiting myself the way I was. So this was a chance I couldn’t pass up. It felt like a door to the world of working artists that I’ve always dreamed of. So I invested in believing in myself. I told myself that I knew I could pull it off. Even as the project pressed on through drafts, character design and finalizing an overall style, Dwayne kept saying to me “I would love to see this in color.”

EdenEvolution

The evolution of Eden`s design.

I worked harder on these 15 drawings than anything I’ve ever done. I am very proud of my work here and sincerely hope that when you look at Eden and her Papa that you can see and feel 2 characters that are real. My constant motivator was my 2yo daughter and 5yo son. I read him the story, showed him all of the sketches every step of the way! I found ways to inject her smile into the artwork. There are little references to our life that they have immediately recognized. It was truly a labor of love for both Dwayne and myself. That love was always a reflection of the love we have for our little girls. We wanted to share that love with everyone.

BIWBPageDraft1 Princess Eden

Some early color drafts

You can pre-order a copy of the book signed by both of us or simply support the project by visiting our Indiegogo at: http://igg.me/at/beforeiwasborn/x/9696057 You can order packages that include tickets to some of Dwayne Morgan’s marquee poetry events taking place this year as well. Please take the time to visit our page and have a look at the project. If you feel inclined to support, donate or pre-order then that is greatly appreciated (more than you know). If not, then I still thank you for taking the time to invest your thoughts and feelings into something that involved so much of our hearts.

We are planning a launch event in Toronto on the weekend of Family Day. I’ll be posting details to that event shortly. Thank you for reading, for your interest and for being awesome. Your support remains humbling.



Why ‘Frozen’ Is Awesome
PMpWed, 12 Feb 2014 14:37:36 +000037Wednesday 1, 2010, 2:37 pm
Filed under: the ether, the sweetst thing | Tags: , , , , ,

Disney’s newest movie ‘Frozen’ is taking the world by storm. I don’t have any figures or statistics to back that up, but believe me, it’s out there. Google or Bing it, it’s all out there. The movie has made almost $900million at the box office and isn’t even done yet. Movie theaters across the country are hosting ‘Frozen’ sing-a-longs on a daily basis and it is still about a month away from DVD release (where it will make a killing). The movie is doing handsomely well. They’re saying this movie (along with ‘Tangled’ and ‘Wreck It Ralph’) is ushering in the dawn of a new golden era over at Disney (the previous being ‘Beauty and the Beast’, ‘ Aladdin’, The Little Mermaid’, etc.). I couldn’t be happier about it. It coincides with me having kids, so hey, I will get to see almost all of them. After watching the world of animation expand and evolve they’ve had to fight for theirs.

My wife and I took our 4yo son to see the movie since those hilarious TV spots got his attention very quickly. He was in awe and he was hooked. The movie sold out and the place was packed wall to wall with parents and droves of little children. Boys and girls alike were in amazement at the wonder of ‘Frozen’. Did I mention us parents were too? Look, ‘Frozen’ is awesome. I’m a 32yo man rockin’ a winter beard and flannel and I’ll admit it, this movie is the bee’s knees. It rocks. You truly experience just about every emotion when watching this movie. So, now that I’ve stated how awesome I think it is, I thought I would list the reasons why ‘Frozen’ is awesome. Here goes.

1. The “true love” foundation to the story is not a princess waiting on her Prince Charming. True love is between sibling, 2 sisters to be exact. The fact that a female lead is not desperately flipping her hair so a man’s attention can give her some self-worth is something to write home about.

2. The female leads in the movie are capable, independent-minded, strong and intelligent women who struggle with finding their place in the world. They’re not completely incapable of surviving without the help of prince charming.

3. The princess does not marry the very first handsome prince that gives her the time of day, though she almost does.

4. There are so many moral victories to be had in this movie: young woman coming of age, meaning of true love, importance of parents/family, sacrifice for the greater good, conquering one’s demons by accepting that negative feelings are okay, a healthy imagination is wondrous and so many more that I cannot think of them.

5. The sequence during the “Do You Wanna Build a Snowman?” song is to ‘Frozen’ what the 2min heart-wrenching sequence was at the beginning of ‘Up’. It will bring a grown man to tears.

6. Oh right, the songs….the songs are not only catchy and heavily sing-a-longable, but they are plot-advancing devices that serve a purpose!

7. They don’t force any modern-day references to make the movie more palatable to current audiences.

8. Lastly, Queen Elsa totally could have been in the X-Men.

That last one can’t leave my mind. In a different time, in a different universe, this entire happenings of this movie would have ended with a visit from Charles Xavier and Magneto. Queen Elsa would be a kick-ass member of the X-Men. Imagine what she could do with her powers at Prof. X’s School for the Gifted. Wow. That’s just awesome. But hey, Disney owns Marvel now right? Maybe they’re ahead of the game here and are really up for crossing their universes and we’ll see an animated Prof. X say he heard some “rumblings from the distant past of a very powerful mutant” or something like that. Wouldn’t that be awesome?! Far fetched, I know. But it certainly has the workings of some serious fan fiction. Look, if they’re gonna send Wolverine into the past in the upcoming ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’ then this is not that far-off of an idea. That being said, with the super-surge in popularity of superheroes maybe Disney thought “hey! Let’s do a story with princess that has superpowers.” Whatever the gamble was, it has paid dividends.

That is why I think ‘Frozen’ is infinitely awesome. If you have been thinking about seeing it but have been putting it off, go and see if while you can experience it in theater. Adults and children alike can find something magical in this movie. I’m not ashamed to say that I love this movie and will be buying it on Blu Ray when it comes out, not just for my son and daughter, but also for my wife and I. And with the way the leading women are represented in this movie I have zero issues with my daughter watching this movie. She has as much to learn from this movie as my son. She’s only 18months but she’ll see it in her time, because we will have it on the shelf. I’m gonna start using a hashtag to show my love for this movie and see if it picks up. In the name of grown men, bearded or burly or bodybuilders, who are not afraid to show their love for ‘Frozen’ I am gonna start using the hashtag #FrozenFanBoys. If this is you, rock it. Good job Disney, way to break the mold that you yourself have created.



NaPoWriMo – Day 3
AMpSat, 06 Apr 2013 08:30:25 +000030Saturday 1, 2010, 8:30 am
Filed under: poems, the sweetst thing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

Little Lessons For Us Both

 

I’m not used to being admirable,

but he looks to me as if I were the sky.

My son sees my daily actions as models

for what he supposed to do.

 

My anger, my joy, my sorrow.

My draped shoulders and dragging feet.

He sees everything as a prime example

for how he should behave.

 

For now, I am his role model.

So I teach him without words

as best as I could.

I make my bed in the morning,

fold my clothes in the evening

and wash my dishes after eating.

 

But most importantly,

I try to pull my anger

back down and ground it

before it elevates into the clouds.

I do my best to bring my voice

back to earth

when I get frustrated.

For I want to teach him to

deal with conflict without anger.

 

For my son,

I am the model of a man.

So I’m trying to exhibit compassion,

understanding, patience

and so many other traits that

make a person adaptable to the world.

 

And I can see his head hang low sometimes.

I see his shoulders fold in as he mopes away.

It is those moments that I sit down with him

and talk him through his feelings.

To help him understand things.

And he wipes his tears,

looks up at me, hugs me tight

and tells me he loves me

before laughing and running off

to grab hold of his favorite toy.



NaPoWriMo – Day 1
PMpTue, 02 Apr 2013 16:53:56 +000053Tuesday 1, 2010, 4:53 pm
Filed under: poems, the ether, the mirror, the sweetst thing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , ,

I haven’t blogged or written a poem in months. Since my daughter was born in July of 2012 I took a voluntary and very intentional step away from writing and performing. I’ve been living miraculous moments and have decided to spend most of my spare time with my family. With that being, lately the page has been calling me back. I’ve been going through a lot where I’m questioning the relevancy of my voice, what I have to say and if it even matters in the world. I know my son looks up to me in ways that are incredible. I know that the 2/3 times he has seen me on stage, there is a sparkle in his eye that uplifts me. So, even if it’s just him that I uplift, I have to write. I used to write to uplift myself, then through poetry slam I tried to uplift the community and the world, then it was my relationship with my wife and now it’s my kids. So, with the page calling me again and my muse ready to make another appearance, I have decided to take on the NaPoWriMo writing challenge once again this year. I tried it last year and I learned a lot about myself, I made it to 22 days (I think). I have no illusions of making it all the way to 30, considering I haven’t written in months. I just want to re-ignite my purpose and my inspiration. I want to kick-start my voice. So, if you’re reading/following, thank you. I have no idea what is going to be coming, but I’m sharing the journey and I hope we can all find something in it that is real and inspired….here is my poem from yesterday.

Day 1/Poem 1

What Matters Most

If I ever let go

of things that lift me up,

I will have to

stand on my own.

 

Without the people

that lift me up

I will have to

stand as a tree.

 

Though I know

self-worth is

embedded in self-love,

I feel I will be amiss

without the community

that holds me up.

 

I fear that I have made

a forest of crutches

from people that I love.

 

When leaves become brittle,

branches left bare

and bones droop

too low to stand strong,

I lean on them.

 

When pressures of

day to day

become overcast skies,

I smile with my children

and hug my wife.

They light up my heart.

 

I look at my family

in amazement.

I wrap my arms

around them.

Thank the Almighty

for all of my blessing.

 

For they hold me together,

whenever I feel broken.



Oh Baby, Here Comes Another Baby
PMpWed, 04 Jul 2012 15:53:52 +000053Wednesday 1, 2010, 3:53 pm
Filed under: the ether, the sweetst thing | Tags: , ,

I remember before our son was born, we went to shop for baby clothes. We started in the Newborn (NB) and 0-3MNTHS section. He wasn’t even born and we were shopping for clothes that were smaller than my forearm. It was surreal. My wife would look at me and say, no that’s too small, and I would just remind her that these little, new lives are oh so tiny. She shook her head in disbelief at how small he/she was going to be.

Well, he was born. And some of those tiny, tiny clothes were actually too big for him. We bought socks that were the size of my pinky finger, hats no bigger than the palm of my hand and onesies that were smaller than my feet. Then time happened. He got bigger and bigger.

As a new parent, you will notice that when you walk into stores they either have the baby clothes in the back or the front. Either way, as your little baby grows into pint-sized toddler material, you begin shopping in different sections of the store. You move to 12MNTHs, then 18MNTHS and finally 24MNTHS. You start to wonder curiously, what does that “T” stand for with the bigger sizes? You learn all of these things as you move along, like there is a difference between 24MNTHS and 2T. Before you know it, you’ve left the baby clothes behind and you’re shopping for a young boy or girl. One of the biggest changes is going to Toys R Us instead of Babies R Us. When that happens, it’s huge (lol).

Right now, we are in the 3T-4T phase. The kid wears a size 8-9 shoe. He’s a big boy. And yet, we are getting ready to start shopping in that baby section again. As of today, my wife is 36 weeks pregnant and due in just 4 weeks. We go and shop for our son, then meander over to the baby section and peruse the NB and 0-3MNTHS rack again. It’s surreal. Of all of the things that are changing and are going to change, this one little detail is sticking with me. How we’ve progressed from the baby section to the toddler, we have literally travelled to another area of the store, and now we’re going back to the infant and newborn section. Life is awesome I tell ya.



Day 18 / Poem 18 – NaPoWriMo
PMpTue, 24 Apr 2012 16:38:56 +000038Tuesday 1, 2010, 4:38 pm
Filed under: poems, the sweetst thing | Tags: , , , , ,

Love

I’d never understood

the real meaning of it

until I met her.

 

It looked like an accident, really.

A sequence of events unfolded

along with a small string of

unconventional decisions that led me there.

That pointed me in her direction.

It had to have been fate though.

 

I had given up on finding anything real.

I wouldn’t say it happened at first sight,

but she had my undivided attention

and would harbor my affection

in ways I never thought possible.

She led me down a whirlwind path

and straight up into the clouds.

 

It took me about a month to tell her.

We were sitting on the stairs

leading to her apartment.

I told her that I felt so happy

just being around her.

That I longed for her when she was gone.

That I worried when she was away.

 

I told her that I knew it was too early

and I knew she had to leave soon.

That I didn’t want to complicate things

more than we already had, but

I think I’ve fallen in love with you.

 

She squeezed my hand and

looked me long in the eye.

She could see that it was true.

She shed a single tear and we embraced.

In the silence I told her

she didn’t have to say it back,

that I understood if she needed more time,

I just needed to get it off my chest.

She just wasn’t ready.

 

After another month

of late-night phone calls and

being attached almost everyday,

we were sitting on the floor in her sister’s living room.

She placed her lips beside my right ear

and whispered the words

I love you too.

 

My breath escaped me,

water swelled in her eyes and

we embraced so long and so immense

our breath became one.

 

That was almost 14yrs ago.

Love is not an easy thing.

It is joyous.

It is liberating.

Most of all, it is comforting

to know that when you fall asleep at night

there is a spirit to share your dreams with.

 

Love is learning to surrender

in the moments where you feel the most vulnerable.

It is not giving up when you know

that the payoff for any treacherous journey

covered by dark clouds will be

a thousand folds more than you can imagine.

 

It is knowing that you are worthy

of everything you desire.

It is having the confidence to be yourself.

Love is something that you

have to learn through experience,

not through books or

even lessons from your grandfather.

 

When she spoke those words to me

I started to believe that I was worth more.

That cannot be measured by anything

except for the pumping of blood

through an organ that rests between your lungs.

 

We have grown and we have changed

as people over the years.

But we always knew that

we were meant to be,

so we put in the work.

We elevated one another when we needed it.

We gave each other the space when we needed it.

And we have grown strong like a tree

that graciously braves passing storms.

A broken branch, a few fallen leaves

but stronger with roots winding deep into the earth.

 

These days, when I wake up in the morning,

the warmth of her body lying next to me

is like a second sun rising.

I embrace her before I rise.

I exhale into her frame before I begin my day.

And kiss her gentle lips before I rest for the night.

 

These days, I understand the real meaning of Love

because she has been gracious

to learn it with me.

 

 



Day 5/Poem 5 – NaPoWriMo
AMpSun, 08 Apr 2012 00:52:05 +000052Sunday 1, 2010, 12:52 am
Filed under: poems, the sweetst thing | Tags: , , ,

We Danced

 

It was raining.

We were without care.

The day was winding

without a particular direction.

We stood in the doorway

nd you looked at me and asked

if I wanted to go for a walk.

 

I stated the obvious,

but it’s raining.

With your carefree smile

you spoke without words,

So, we’ll only get wet.

 

So we ran into raindrops

the size of grapes.

Your hand in mine.

Our clothes sticking to our skin

and a thousand sentiments

of untold love.

 

We spun, we ran and

we laughed until our bodies

warmed with mirth.

We did anything but walk.

We danced on the inside.

Pirouettes and cha-chas

and The Waltz.

 

In the most rudimentary of steps.

We were young and in love,

and we danced.