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“The beautiful thing about true genius, such as that which Michael Jackson possessed, is that it can inhabit and express its truth in meaningful ways through many forms.”

Aberjhani Laughing photo by John ZeuliBIO
Despite my overly-elegant name, I was born and raised in Savannah, Georgia (USA), on the west side of the city about two miles from the Savannah River. By the time Michael Jackson and his brothers completed their fifth album, I had started considering the possibility of one day becoming a writer. So far I’ve authored (or co-authored) eight published books, including the world’s first Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance, edited several others, and lost track of the number of articles (approximately 8 on MJ) and poems I’ve written. Before actually getting on with the business of writing, I attended a number of colleges and universities, and then became a photojournalist and editor with the U.S. Air Force for six years. I later worked two more years with the Reserves as an E.O. Human Relations Counselor.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself managing bookstores for about 13 years after leaving the Air Force. One of the stores was actually a multi-media department store, which meant we sold a lot of music and going to work was much like going to a party every day where I got to jam to tunes by Michael and others while making a fairly decent living. An unavoidable passion for poetry has been with me for as long as I can remember and during the 1990s I had a lot of fun helping launch the spoken word movement in my hometown. In fact, creativity in general has always played a major role in my life and for that reason my creative works command a lot of space in interviews and bios like this.

I stopped managing bookstores in the year 2000 in order to become a full-time caregiver for an aging mother who suffered from a complex of illnesses. Ironically, I first gained national attention as an author when an essay about my attempts at caregiving was published in ESSENCE Magazine in 1997. The theme of challenges faced by caregivers was further explored in my first book, I Made My Boy Out of Poetry, published in 1998, and again later in my nonfiction work, The American Poet Who Went Home Again, in 2007. I remained a caregiver until my mother’s passing in 2006.

Aberjhani chilling at partyFortunately, after I stopped managing bookstores, I was blessed with the contract to co-author Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance. (How I managed to complete it while also taking care of my Mom I haven’t a clue - therefore my poems on angels.) Around the same time, I wrote and edited The Wisdom of W.E.B. Du Bois. My most recent titles are a poetry and art gift book called ELEMENTAL, The Power of Illuminated Love, which features the art of Luther E. Vann and which was published through the very gracious sponsorship of the Telfair Museum and fellow citizens of Savannah. The River of Winged Dreams is a book of poetry in which I pay tribute to MJ with two elegies and to the ever-abiding presence of angels in my life.

A few years back I founded the Creative Thinkers International online community, which celebrates creativity as a force for positive change in the world. I also currently maintain a column called “The African-American Art Examiner,” serve as editor for the Civil War Savannah Book Series, and scribble notes for books and plays that I hope to one day complete.


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