Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Beverly M. Collins Celebrates Black History Month at Phoenix House with her Book, "Mud in Magic"

Beverly M. Collins, Maja Trochimczyk and Akilah Templeton at 
Phoenix House Venice with Beverly's book Mud in Magic

On February 24, 2016, residents of Phoenix House Venice celebrated the Black History Month with poetry. The evening, hosted by Program Director Akilah Templeton, featured poetry readings by residents, dealing with issues of recovery, solidarity, personal relationships, and life advice. At the end two guest poets read their work: I was joined by Beverly M. Collins , an accomplished African-American poet of wit and wisdom, who presented selections from her recently published book Mud in Magic (Moonrise Press, 2015).  Ms. Collins donated a copy of her book to the Phoenix House growing poetry library. 

Ms. Templeton encouraged clients to write poetry during the entire month of February, or to read poetry books in search of a poem that moves them or expresses some of their personal feelings. Some residents decided to read verse by famous author like Langston Hughes or Maya Angelou. Others wrote their own verse, using a free verse format or various rhyme scheme.  

Beverly Collins read two poems selected from her book, Mud in Magic, "Next" and "Up for Air"  - both with topical advice suitable for individuals in recovery, struggling with the dead weight of their past. 

Beverly M. Collins

 It is important, said Ms. Collins, to always look forward, to give ourselves a break and not be too hard on ourselves for past mistakes. There is always hope, always time to fix things, to start anew, to say...


From the tip-top of January
to the bottom of every December,
life is a continuum.
May we remember to remember.

There are no platforms on which we
halt. No arrivals at which we are landing. 
There is only continuous movement.
Blend motion into all planning.

Next is a good four letter word that dances
on the tongue and illuminates the playgrounds
of our minds. Next can call loudly or soft
and subtle when it chimes.

Within the cold of winter remember next are
the fragrant flowers of spring. Next reminds us 
there is no be-all or end-all to anything.

When riding a high tide or if a low tide 
has you feeling sadness or perplexed, 
know true muscle can be found
in how well we just say... Next!

(C) 2015 by Beverly M. Collins

Up for Air

Cuddled at midnight, with my pillow of dread,
I and apprehension lay like spoons in my bed.
My suffocating “To Do” list, too long for one person.
Its tedious tasks make my aching head worsen.

My stubborn impatience has landed me here.
I want it all now. I want it last year.
I hold anger so big over things that are small,
like my neighbor’s loud laughter while
bouncing a ball.

I can choose to narrow my focus singly on a plan,
long enough to get myself fully in hand.
Wrapped warm in my blankets, my emotions are bare
as I promise myself, to pull me up for air.

 (c) 2015 by Beverly M. Collins

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