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A Privilege and A Gift

The word prison almost always brings with it a negative connotation, but please allow me to share with you some of the positive things that I’ve been trying to do. I have traded in crime for college courses, and I have traded in drugs to become the co-facilitator of a self-help group designed to aid in the recovery of criminals and gang members who wish to break the cycle of addiction.

I have published several short stories and poems in magazines, as well as in my book, Stygian, and I am currently working on several more projects. Most recently, I’ve become involved with a program called “Prison Letters for our Struggling Youth,” whose mission is to take the honest and sincere writings of prisoners and share them with “at-risk” youth with the hope of effecting positive change in their lives.

My personal mission is to use my gift of the written word and touch even one life to help someone get through the same tragedies I experienced as a child. I’ve finished my autobiography Lost Child, Broken Man which shares these events and poses the question of redemption. I am currently working on a novel called Broken Homes, and I have started a non-fiction booklet about the realities of gangs, drugs, crimes, and prison.

To effectively complete these tasks and touch the lives of others, I need the requisite supplies, such as typewriter ribbons and white-out, paper and pens, journals, postage, and money to purchase author’s copies of the books for donations and giveaways. Any money I earn from sales will be reinvested in supplies and in marketing and promotion.

By purchasing a copy of Stygian, you will have invested your money not only in a good read but also in me, so that I may expand my gift of the written word. None of us can ever change the world, but we can make changes ourselves and help others who need change. As long as I am able to think and write, I will continue to do so, and I will do it to put a smile on another person’s face, give them something to relate to, shock them, inform them, or scare their socks off (I love Horror). Because, in the wise words of Amy Tan, “Writing is an extreme privilege, but it is also a gift. It’s a gift to yourself and the gift of giving a story to someone.”

I thank you for your time and consideration. May the rest of your day be awesome.

THE MAD POET

Name This Poem and Win a Prize!

Sometimes thinking up a good title for a poem is like trying to select a name for an unborn child. There are the obvious or “popular” names, but what I’m looking for is something unique like “Heaven Leigh.”

The following poem has been labeled “Untitled,” and I’m hoping you’ll submit your ideas here, so it will finally have a name. It was also posted on this site once before under the title “Equality?”—my grandmother’s choice for a name, not mine.

The prize to the winner is a copy of my poetry book, “Stygian,” shipped to you for FREE!

Everyone is eligible to enter even if it’s your first time to visit this site. Simply leave your entries as a comment to this post. Enter as many titles choices as you like. Have fun with it. I’m looking forward to hearing your suggestions and ideas. Contest closes March 20, 2017. Here it is:
UNTITLED
Sean Michael, January 2017

“We must take into consideration the world to come, the faces we will never see.”
—Mohawk Woman

Can we be equal
and yet different
even opposite?

does equality mean similarity
or the same?

To whose standard must we conform?
Who will establish the “universal culture”
of one nation and one state?

To be united
must we be molded?

Imagine a world with one language
and cloned identity
loss of individuality

If culture is melted away
then perspective is lost

Must “equality” be at this cost
when acceptance is free?
To each thine own will be

Two Minutes to Midnight

Sean Michael, February 2017

It’s two minutes to midnight.
Lock your doors and seal your window tight.
There’s a murdering thief stalking the night.

He kills for fun.
He does not use a knife, hammer, or gun.
He uses his teeth and goes straight for the jugular.

If you ever happen to meet him,
Don’t look into his eyes.
He could cast a spell and you’d be hypnotized.

He feasts on human blood.
He’ll catch you if you try to run.
The only thing he fears is the rising daylight sun.

Make sure you ignore that knock at the door,
The one that comes in the middle of the night.
Before you go to sleep, turn on a bathroom light.

Because it’s two minutes to midnight,
There’s a murdering thief stalking the night.
And he just might be coming for YOU this time!

 

Posted for  dVerse Poets, Open Link Night #192, March 23, 2017

Three Dimensional Characters (Protagonists)

In a fictional world, a good character is three dimensional. What I mean by that is the characters we create in stories are not unlike you and me; they think, feel, have dreams and goals, and face hardships that challenge their morals, beliefs, and intentions. In short, three dimensional means real.

Sometimes, when creating a character, it helps me to sit and write down everything about this character before putting him/her in a story. The more real they are in your mind, the more the character will manifest as true in the story. Not everything you write about your character in your personal notes will make it into the story, and, likewise, aspects you didn’t originally consider may show up somewhere in the story.

Probably, the most important questions about your character are his/her morals, belief, and intentions for the scene and for the the story. Start with that when creating your three dimensional character. You can tie appearance into these aspects of your character by using metaphor, comparisons, and contrast. Maybe he’s a pacifist, who always wears black, has a mohawk haircut, and gauges in his ears. You don’t have to follow the “cookie-cutter” way. Be creative and have fun.3d-wallpaper-8-610x457

Getting Started Writing

Recently, I reread one of my poems from “Stygian,” called “The Elusive Bird,” about a man chasing1 hope through the arid deserts of his life. I chose to reread this particular poem, because in one of my groups, we had a long discussion about how pointless life can seem. Some people expressed their suicidal thoughts. The last line of the poem is… “He must choose.. chase the bird and its promise of hope (his mind tells him it may only be a shadow) or return to dust…

After the group, I was approached by a young black Muslim man who wanted to know “how I got published.” The only reason I stopped to listen to this dude was because he was usually quiet, but when he spoke, he struck me as intelligent. What I knew about him is that he is serving life inside, as I am, and he’d already done 15 years. Also, he has ZERO support outside, and he has dealt with that fact better than I would have.

On the mainline, I wouldn’t have been permitted to sit at the same table with him, and we probably wouldn’t have spoken. On this day, I took one of my extra composition books out for him to take notes in, and I tried to answer his questions. Too many times, I found myself saying, “It’s hard to explain,” and becoming frustrated. Obviously, I express myself better in writing than verbally.

Finally, I told him, “Just start writing. Start with short stories that will prepare you for the longer works.” We also discussed other aspects of writing, and I told him that as he reads novels to be vigilant of these techniques, spot good descriptive language, and practice.

I gave him a couple of my old books about writing and told him to read those. I also let him know that I’d started writing poems and lyrics when I was 11 years old, but after I started studying how to write and making submissions, it took years before I got published. It took a lot of work cultivating the idea/story, learning how to tell it, learning how to approach editors and publications, and a whole lot of salt for the hundreds of times I heard “No.” Writing, for me, is a spiritual experience (not always bliss, not even always good), but it’s something that comes from inside. Hey, some people got it and some don’t. He’s left the yard now, but hopefully, I’ll bump into him again some day and find that he’s been successful. Then, I can say, “I got him started.”

Why Do You Read Mad Poet Enchained?

As most of you know, I am in prison and have been for the last nine years. I have no Internet access and probably never will. I am hoping to be able to use a computer to some extent in the future, which will be a little easier than my typewriter, since it will allow me to save, more easily make changes, and print multiple copies.

As I said, I have no Internet access, but I do have a loving Grandma who expends much time and energy to keep me connected. She types everything I write into her computer, posts some items to the Internet, submits others to publishers, and manages my social media to keep me in touch with you, my readers.

For several years, I’ve written strictly what I’ve wanted to write and what, I guessed, others might want to iuhear. Today I’m asking you, reader: when you arrive at Mad Poet Enchained, what are you looking forward to reading? Is it technical pieces (how-to) on writing, or mental-health-related subjects and how mine may or may not affect my art, or do you have questions about prison? Do you want to know about corruption and positive programs, the “underground market” on the yard?

As much as I look forward to writing for you, I look forward to hearing from you. Your feedback, critiques, suggestions, and comments are always welcome, even if you did not like, understand, or enjoy what you read in some particular piece. I want all my readers to feel free, welcome, and comfortable to express themselves. So far, no one has been downright cruel or mean, and I would hope that continues to be true.

Leave your comments, suggestions, and questions as a response to this post. I will reply and keep your interests in consideration when I write. Who knows, the next post may be on a subject you suggested.

Prison Letters for Our Struggling Youth

Recently, I discovered a program called “Prison Letters for Our Struggling Youth” in which I look forward to participating.

Prisoners are able to use our negative experiences in the form of poems, letters, etc. in order to do something positive. On the other end, maybe a troubled youth will be able to relate and relax for a while knowing someone does understand their struggle.

Of course, the letters are screened and the author is asked to sign a binding contract that allows the program to use their contributions in whatever capacity they decide is most useful, whether it be in some sort of group or presentation or individual counseling.

As I said, I’m looking forward to contributing. I know there has been at least one person who reads MadPoetEnchained and has mentioned having a family member in prison. If someone you care about is incarcerated this program could be helpful. The people who work for the program will send thank you letters for the parole board and also for you personally.

The address for this group is as follows:

Prison Letters for Our Struggling Youth
603 B East University Dr., #219-Carson
Carson, CA 90746

Songwriting

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