root - Posted on 02 June 2003

POOR Press Releases the books of several new unheard African-American voices…

by Michael Vizcarra/ PoorNewsNetwork Community Journalist

On Sunday, February 23, 2002, I attended POOR Magazine’s launch of its newest project, POOR Press, with a book release party featuring newly published works from low and no-income youth and adult poets and journalists. The night was beaming with energy as the community came to support the project and its authors.

Marvin Crutchfield was one of the new authors published by POOR Press and were featured at the event with the release of his first book, Paradise Ventures. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, he moved to San Francisco’s Hunter’s Point 29 years ago when he was 9. It wasn’t until recently that he discovered a talent and love for writing poetry, though. In 2001, while working at his job, he wrote his first poem. He grabbed a pen and paper and started writing. "It just came to me," he says, "God inspired me." That first poem, "Don’t like my life of sin in the world we live in," startled a few friends who didn’t know Marvin had a penchant for writing. He’s been writing poetry ever since.

A lot of Marvin’s writings deals with being black and oppressed. His poem, "Clean Slate," reflects on the public’s perception of black, reformed ex-convicts, trying to make it in society but are not given a chance. Another poem, "B.L.A.C.K.," focuses on problems within the black community; whether it is the police, drugs, or the black community itself. What’s wonderful about Marvin’s words is he can take complex social issues and refine the complexity into poetry.

Religion is also a prevalent theme in Marvin’s poetry, perhaps the main theme. Marvin accepted Jesus Christ in 1998 because he wanted him to save his soul. "I believe he died for us," Marvin says. His poem, "Kicking it," eerily shows what might happen when you die without repenting for your sins, a ‘no admittance’ sign. Another powerful poem, "Guilty," depicts an omnipresent being from which no one can hide their sins, and when judgment day comes, he will know everything you have done.

Marvin has also found inspiration from other areas; his family, the state of the world, his love for his wife and two children, to name a few. He always shows his poems to friends and family, he says, because he values people’s opinions.
And his writing is not all about doomsday. There is always a sense of hope in Marvin’s poetry. As tough as life may seem, religion and God are always there to be a guiding light. "I just want to help people," says Marvin, "to help people get inspired."

Another new author releasing a book through POOR Press is Byron Gafford. His book of poetry, Through The Eyes Of A Child," deals with child abuse. Also growing up in San Francisco in the Double Rock Housing Projects, Byron also accepted Christ as his savior. In November of 1999, Byron received a message from God. His aunt for lying to her was beating his godson, Ronnie. Byron was about to intervene when he heard a voice tell him not to. The voice told him to just watch and take it all in. That experience was the epiphany he needed to start writing poetry.
"The Lord uses me as the vessel on child abuse," says Byron.

His friends and co-workers started telling stories from their own experiences with child abuse and Byron started putting it down on paper, making poetry out of it. The poetry is not just for kids or their experiences, he says, but for adults of every nationality and every culture. "My poetry is worldwide so it’s not about one person," says Byron. He also gets the titles of his poems from God. God also suggested the introduction of his book. Byron is on a goal to write 2000 poems. So far, he’s got 1855 written.

With the release of his first book Byron has had nothing but positive responses. A lot of the people who saw the book are ordering it. "It’s very spiritual, very powerful. If you take offense to it then there’s something there to hide," he says.

It’s amazing to see this kind of achievement and talent. It’s even better to see this talent recognized and heralded. These two men had never received any kind of computer training. It was only through their training here at POOR Magazine as part of the Digital Resistance Program were they able to learn and gain the skills and knowledge of putting together a book of poetry.

The book release party was great exposure for both Byron and Marvin, who in addition to Joseph Bolden and A. Faye Hicks released there first books through POOR Press It was also a rewarding culmination of everyone’s hard work and effort to bring these books as well as several other powerful books by POOR Magazine to fruition. There are powerful words and images within the pages of all of these books, and a message that transcends any race, cultural, or religious beliefs which would be a great addition to any school curriculum or gift list .

These and many more books are available now through mail order . To order the books by mail order please call POOR (415 863-6306) and ask for the POOR Press catalogue to be sent to you or and click here to access the on-line POOR Press catalogue.


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