As some of the readers of this blog will recall back in October/November of 2016 I set forth on a bit of a voyage through unchartered waters. For those not familiar essentially I had just purchased a copy of Jahméne Douglas’ second album U.P (Unfathomable Phantasmagoria). From the play button was hit I was captivated by this remarkable work of art. I listened to the album, re-listened to it and continued to do so; trying to draw fresh meaning from every one of the pieces contained. I posted a review of sorts of the album (www.dominicoreilly25.wordpress.com/2016/10/25/unfathomable-phantasmagoria-an-album-review/) which led some readers to ask me would I write about some of the individual songs, which led to two weeks blogging about the album and every piece on it. It was a process I was incredibly proud to engage with.
How delighted I was when I discovered some time ago that Jahméne would be following this album up not immediately with a third album but a book of his poetry. As soon as the book landed in the post and I had begun engaging with this new piece of art I knew I wanted to write some more. But how best to write about a book of poetry? This was the bit that has been tricky for me. After some reflection and reading through the poems I have settled to take one and reflect on it and what thoughts, feelings, emotions, memories etc it conjures up for me. Surely that must part of the meaning behind every artist; the artist does not create just for the sake of it but rather does so to impact on the life of another.
Therefore for the topic of this blog I decided to take a poem which would not be selected for any other specific reason other than I liked the sound of it at first! Yet after reading it, rereading it and reflecting on it I am not surprised that this was the poem I settled on today. I have chosen the marvellously titled “Strawberries & Cream”.
Strawberries & Cream go together so well don’t they? They’re almost perfect together. Wouldn’t it be lovely to have a connection with someone else that felt like that?
I absolutely adore this piece and were I to sum it up I would do so in one word: connection. In this poem the author so beautifully and honestly bares his soul once more and tells us a story of having encountered someone and desiring a connection with them. It’s something I (and I am sure countless others) am able to relate to on a very raw level. Who could forget those occasions of falling so helplessly for someone and for believing that you connect with them on a very deep level?
We’ve all been there: we meet an other and upon realising what we feel for them suddenly they are all we can think about. We crave hearing their voice, hearing their words, reading their messages, seeing them in the flesh, etc. We play over in our mind’s theatre that one wonderful moment in which these two souls met for the first time and the world was forever changed. The connection which has been established may be that of a romantic nature, or perhaps it could be two people who nourish each other through friendship, or on a spiritual level etc.
The human heart desires love. I have said it before and say it again I shall, I recall reading someone once say that the deepest desire of every human heart is simply to belong and I couldn’t agree with this more. In this poem Jahméne cries out to an other out of a desire to belong with them. To take this leap requires incredible humility and courage. Upon realising that their desire for the other may not be reciprocated he spells out what so many of us feel; pain. How many of us have felt as though we were just waiting around for someone who would not return? It’s certainly a part of my past and when I read this poem I am transported back to that time and remember the deep hurt which I felt. Is this a bad thing though? No says I! If nothing else then I can at least learn from the hurts of the past, not to avoid being hurt in the future (it is inevitable) but rather to remember that when I do get hurt and badly at that, that the pain does ease and becomes nothing more than a mere memory. There is hope in this poem, albeit a very subtle hope. For me that is what I have taken from this piece. In many ways it reminds me of the majestic Nina Simone singing Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ckv6-yhnIY)
I believe in connections. I believe people who have never met can share wonderful connections. Kindred spirits. Jahméne’s work continues to reach out and touch my life and the lives of many others. He continues to inspire and play a positive role in the lives of others. He is a genuine bona fide artist and role model for many young people today. His message is one which should be heard by so many. We have all encountered pain in our lives, but what we do with that pain will be what defines us. Jahméne has already crafted a remarkable legacy so I cannot wait to see what he will do next. He shows us that dreams are never out of reach and they are achievable! Someday perhaps my dream of meeting this incredible artist and talking with him will come to pass. That would be remarkable. For now though I shall continue spending time reading the works of this kindred spirit and hope his work reaches as many as possible. One thing is for certain though; Jahméne has touched my life in a very positive way and we who saves one life, saves the world entire. Thank you Jahméne.
If anyone has read today’s blog and is interested in hearing more reflections on Jahméne’s incredible book Unfathomable Phantasmagoria then please do not hesitate to comment on the post, tweet me @DominicOReilly or reach me through the Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/DominicOReillyWriter).
If you haven’t already then do buy a copy of Unfathomable Phantasmagoria (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Unfathomable-Phantasmagoria-Jahmene-Douglas/dp/1521439133/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1502643734&sr=8-1&keywords=jahmene+unfathomable+phantasmagoria) and you won’t regret it! Why not follow the man himself on twitter @Jahmene
Peace, love and blessings to you all. Thank you for taking the time to read this!