Tag Archives: Life Comes From Concrete

LCFC Journal #12: “To Be Young & Black in Grad School”

23 May

20170517_183328To this day, I still remember my first taste of graduate school. It was August 27th, 2015, summer was rapidly on its way out and I happened to be running behind schedule for my first class of the fall semester.

After leaving work and catching my buses headed towards Queens College, I contemplated on how the first session of my English M.A. program would go. Grad school was something that I had convinced myself I was ready for, especially after having been out of school for 20 months upon finishing my undergraduate degree. However, as the bus neared the school with each stop I couldn’t find it in me to suppress a tiny voice from asking if I was sure that a Master’s degree was something I could complete.

Upon arrival, I remember walking into the designated building in which my class was being held and making my way to the seventh floor.

The classroom itself was a long conference room and to the least of my surprise was filled with students settling into their seats. The professor, (a tall brunette woman) seemed welcoming and handed out the syllabus with worksheets.

As the materials went around one by one, we volunteered and read these sheets as they consisted of stories that we would cover throughout the semester. However, upon reading them, I felt a pang of anxiety as my chest tightened. Suddenly an unwavering sense of doubt drenched my thoughts as I felt as if I had instantly drowned in water. In that instant I honestly said to myself that I wouldn’t be able to complete the work and that grad school wasn’t made for someone like me.

Further along, the more I took the initiative to complete the assignments and do them well, I found out that I wasn’t that bad of a student. I made A’s and A-’s on a majority of my assignments and was very relieved upon receiving these grades as these first few marks certainly boosted my confidence.

However, I still felt conflicted somewhat as I dealt with the large elephant in the room. The elephant being that I was one of few black men or people of color within my courses. I know this sounds absurd especially since undergraduate programs are generally swarmed with white people but for some reason I felt like an outlier in my classes while listening to discussions on literary criticism, English Renaissance in the 17th century and anything Marx and Engels related. To be clear, I of course didn’t connect with my classmates but in regards to my education I also didn’t connect to what I was learning either.

My vision heading into grad school was premature at best. I honestly thought that I would concentrate on African-American literature and would in the process write a Master’s thesis in which I’d hone the skills that I had only begun to sharpen in my undergrad program while simultaneously showing that I had the ability to write, publish, articulate, and discuss on the graduate level. Nonetheless, over the past twenty-two months I’ve managed to do work in sectors unrelated to what I specialize in as I recently submitted my thesis on Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s “Runaway Slave at Pilgrim’s Point” and now stand days away from graduating from the program.

Looking back, however, I still feel conflicted about the whole thing. For one, I consider myself to be a person who loves to experience what he is a part of. But somehow, I never felt as if my time within my graduate program was an experience. To me, it felt more like a task within my journey.

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Surely, one can ask if I took advantage of everything the school or the program itself had to offer and I would say that I did the best I could. I mean, I attended some readings sponsored by the department’s MFA program. From Zadie Smith, Cornelius Eady, Jackie Woodson and Kia Corthron, I extracted knowledge from their readings as well as their sit-down discussions with moderators, but a part of me still felt as if something was missing, as if I was a little guppy that had lost his way swimming in a sea of strong bass fish.

Moreover, I felt as if the entire time I existed within a bubble often finding myself awkwardly alone and staying to myself as others connected. Nothing felt inclusive, as I consciously harbored upon my blackness and whether my peers thought if I belonged or not.

On the days I had class I always felt as if I had something to prove. It was important to me that my classmates saw me as a competent black man who deserved to be within their presence. And so, I took it upon myself to engage and ask questions every single session. Although I felt as if they knew I was smart or capable enough to hold my own, I was never satisfied and always found myself trying to fit in.

During my time in grad school there were no study sessions, no support groups, no trips to local bars for drinks, nothing in which I knew I could be present in. And to be completely honest, this frustrated me. I was frustrated because I didn’t know how to fit into the whole graduate school paradigm and I was frustrated because of the lack of people who looked like me within the program.

Overtime I grew accustomed to being alone and started treating it like an actual job. Get in, get out, read, research, write, repeat. These are the things I told myself. It almost became some sort of an ethics code. Something to live by and not think about as much.  And although I felt out of place, I cannot say that I didn’t grow to enjoy the work. Again, some of it felt pointless to me, but along the way I picked up essential knowledge from professors I admired as well as writing methodologies that will serve a great purpose moving forward as I plan to further my studies over the next few years within a doctoral program.

At the beginning of this spring semester, I found myself releasing tiny sighs of relief as I could see the light at the end of the tunnel. Additionally, I was elated that I would not only be writing my thesis but would only have one class the entire semester. Being in several classes with people who I wasn’t sure wanted me there put me in a state of depression often. But the mere fact of having one class while focusing on my thesis project with my adviser made me happy because for the first time I worried less about what people thought of me and of my place within the program.

As the months passed, I remember receiving e-mails from my program director inviting all students within the M.A. program undergoing their thesis to participate in writing workshops to strengthen our drafts. Looking at the date of the first workshop, I told myself I wouldn’t be able to go because I was still in the early stages of the paper and up until that point hadn’t even drafted two pages which was the minimum requirement to participate in the workshop. But deep down I knew that I was only making excuses as thesis proposals were deemed acceptable for those wanting to participate.

Personally, I didn’t want to be in the space that made me feel uncomfortable. I didn’t want to be judged, I didn’t want to be critiqued and more specifically, I didn’t want people to look at my writing, cringe, and think I was stupid because I was black. And so, I didn’t go. I skipped the workshop and pretended as if I hadn’t seen the e-mail. However, a month later another e-mail came around asking for us to participate in the second workshop. When I looked at it, I initially dismissed it yet again but something told me to give it a shot this time around, especially since I had completed my first draft just before spring break.

And so, the following day I mustered up the courage to attend and found myself sitting with my former professor and M.A. program director as well as the assistant chair deputy of the department. But unlike what I had pictured in my head there were only two students present: two young women. Instantly, my mood improved as I released nerves that had been built up on my way to the workshop. And by the time it was over, I left feeling much better than I had anticipated. The critiques weren’t as bad as I had thought they would be and it honestly felt great working in such a small group in which I wouldn’t be judged for the color of my skin. It left a great impression on me as I decided then and there on the spot that I would be present at the last workshop which was scheduled to take place in the first week of May.

Two weeks exactly after this final designated workshop, I was scheduled to meet with both my adviser and second reader for my graduate thesis oral exam. I remember being very nervous and thinking that the worst of the program had yet to come. In my head, I imagined them both questioning my every decision and writing technique I had incorporated within my essay. However, it turned out that all they had wanted to do was have a conversation about the work. From the moment, I entered the room, I felt comfortable and at ease. In addition, the fact that they had both complemented me on the writing itself made me feel (for the very first time) that I had belonged within the program. After receiving my grade of A on the exam and looking at the smiles stretched out across both of their faces, I really took the time out to recognize the sincerity of their compliments and their approval of my work.

The faculty had been rooting for me all along and were happy that I had accomplished something significant that I could take out into the real world as an academic scholar. Within that very moment it put everything into perspective for me. It wasn’t the school or the program itself that I had issues with but the fact of me being a young black man in an English graduate program surrounded by people who were possibly unfamiliar with my presence as a person of color. It made me second guess myself and question every move or thought I posed along the way.

Now as I prepare to walk down the commencement aisle over the next few days I’m going to think about my experience and how much it allowed me to grow as a student and person in academia.

People are born into a world in which we control only what it is that we can control. We can’t get too high and we can’t get too low on an array of things. But what we do control is our productivity and our choices. Had I believed my inner voice that very first session and thought my presence wasn’t merited or worth being a part of the institution I honestly would have quit that same day. But to the best of my abilities, I worked hard, persevered, and did my absolute best so that I could see the day in which I would be able to graduate while being one step closer towards my dream of being a college professor. Sometimes when you’re uncertain of yourself and haven’t a clue of where to turn, all you could ever ask for is your best effort. Again, you can’t change the way others think of or about you, but what you do have is the utmost power to control what you (as a sole individual) can control. And to be completely honest, that’s all that really matters in the end.

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Photo Courtesy of Kevin Anglade

 

KEVIN ANGLADE is the author of frankly Twisted: the lost files, a collection of detective fiction. He was featured on NBC’s The Debrief with David Ushery in 2014 where he provided insight and purpose about small-press publishing. Anglade holds an A.S. in Theatre, (Queensborough Community College) a B.A. in English (Brooklyn College) and an M.A. in English (Queens College). He is the author of the poetry collection Life Comes From Concrete: a poetry memoir (2016).

Find him online at:

www.kevinanglade.com

Twitter/IG: @velevek

LCFC Journal #11: “Poetry in Motown”

21 Feb

resized_20170114_191048A little over a month ago, I was able to visit Detroit, Michigan for the first time on a poetry tour called #AmINext.

#AmINext is a poetry show created by social worker, poet and social justice advocate, Felicia Henry.

Ms. Henry created the show as well as her non-profit organization, “Behind The Walls, Between The Lines” in 2015 and brought a collection of artists together to build awareness around mass incarceration, gentrification, socioeconomic disenfranchisement, and police brutality.

Because I am truly passionate about the topics of social justice on a grand scale, I was more than excited on the evening of Friday, January 13th when me and the other artists crammed ourselves inside of a sea blue van and made our way to Motown.

Throughout the entire journey, I had a great time socializing with the other artists while getting to know them better. Although I had already done two show dates with many of my tour mates, I learned that people we often encounter through work or business related circumstances have more layers to them that can’t be dissected or figured within a span of a two-hour time crunch when performing on a show.

And so, the following day we arrived in Detroit, sleepy, but happy that we had made it safely and in one piece.

After getting ourselves situated and settled within our hotel rooms, it was then time for rehearsal in one of its conference rooms. We made our way through every single performance piece expected and scheduled for the evening’s show.

Once we were confident in our poems and songs, we all departed towards the van and headed to the venue where we were scheduled to perform at called The Jam Handy.

At the event, many people came from various parts of the city in order to watch us perform. A lot of this stemmed from Ms. Henry having and maintaining connections from graduate school which were instrumental in aiding us secure the performance.

After a successful event, we went to Applebees and celebrated the evening with a group dinner. And so, dinner for me was a truly remarkable moment. Hearing the conversations of other artists and how their creative endeavors intersected their morals, values, and professional work and aspirations seriously made me appreciate the great energy surrounding me .

I say that to say often times people are so invested within the work that they do that they tend to forget there are many people who want/do the same work that they find themselves in. It honestly humbled me to hear my peers talking about what undergraduate schools they attended, what major they studied, future plans of advanced study, teaching pedagogy etc.

As I sat there entranced by everyone’s conversations I proceeded to ask myself: Why aren’t we portrayed more positively?

There are many talented, intelligent, and gifted people within the world doing groundbreaking and admirable work. There should be no reason as to why we aren’t spotlighted, celebrated, and appreciated for our achievements and our all-inclusive goals that plan to better the society.

What I took from that moment of us getting to know each other better is that we all wanted to be there because we understood that the fight we are in is bigger than us. Way bigger. The purpose of that entire weekend was to remind ourselves that social justice is important and by doing work that affects the way people think within the processing of our realities, only then can we go about devising any forward thinking solutions to bring about systemic change.

In parting,  I ended up learning a lot about myself while on the road in Detroit. Because of it, I can only hope that more road trips through poetry performances with “Behind The Wall, Between The Lines”will provide us artists with more solutions  for the betterment of it going forward.

A major thanks goes out to Ife Nira, Leah James, Jherelle Benn, Alia Pierre, Ashley Clarke, Zachary Durham, and Felicia Henry for allowing me to share the moment with them.

Sincerely,

– Kevin Anglade

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KEVIN ANGLADE is the author of frankly Twisted: the lost files, a collection of detective fiction. Kevin was featured on NBC’s The Debrief with David Ushery in 2014 where he provided insight and purpose about small-press publishing. He is also the author of the recently published debut poetry collection Life Comes From Concrete: a poetry memoir (2016).

Find him online at:

www.kevinanglade.com

Twitter/IG: @velevek

LCFC Journal #10: “Reflecting in 6” (A Postlude)

26 Jan
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Observing the journey over the last half year.

 

It’s been six months since the initial release of Life Comes From Concrete and since then I’ve thought a lot about what it means to write a book and unveil it to the public. When writing, I’m not usually conscious of what the content will do for others. First and foremost, I think of myself and what I would personally take away from it.

Maybe its because writing is a form of documentation in which one’s most sincere thoughts are shared on paper.

The act of penning thoughts that confesses what someone may or may not have ever thought to share with others is truly an act of intimacy. Therefore, something that’s been on my mind for a while now is whether my collection was able to arouse the emotions and feelings of others. Was anyone able to relate? Did the writing move them? Overall, how does it enable one to go about living out their lives, especially, as a young adult within America’s society?

The only thing I wanted to accomplish with this memoir was to have people feel something. And for the reason of feeling, I figured that if I had a story to provide context and background information to each and every poem included, it would evoke a form of expression that would be personable for the reader.

That’s all I ever wanted to accomplish with the collection and its counterpart in 1.5. These two editions are essential in providing a story of a young man’s journey, and are unique as they both aim in establishing a particular tone and mood when reading them. In essence, what is your story? Everyone has one and I believe it’s imperative that you share yours as well.

Sincerely,

– Kevin Anglade

KEVIN ANGLADE is the author of frankly Twisted: the lost files, a collection of detective fiction. Kevin was featured on NBC’s The Debrief with David Ushery in 2014 where he provided insight and purpose about small-press publishing. He is also the author of Life Comes From Concrete, a poetry memoir.

Find him online at:

http://www.kevinanglade.com

Twitter/IG: @velevek

LCFC Journal #9: “LCFD”- Intersecting Journeys

20 Jan

IMG_0100In December of 2014, an idea popped into my head about creating a documentary. The first thing that came to mind was shooting a film that visually displayed my literary story of Life Comes From Concrete on screen. However, the more I thought about it, the idea and concept of this documentary changed significantly.

I then proceeded to ask myself: “What would the story be like if I followed the journey of fellow young artists/creatives on the path of turning their dreams into reality just as I intend for myself?”IMG_0160

From there, I told my friend Roy, a DP/video editor about my ideas for the project and asked him if he’d be willing to shoot it with me. He immediately obliged and the summer of 2015 turned into one of the most exhilarating summers that I have ever experienced.

The documentary was shot from June of that year up until the closing days of July and every step of the way I was amazed by the stories of each and every artist that I had reached out to interview.IMG_0056

Ultimately, what it taught me was that although everyone’s journey is different, it ends up being one in the same as everyone on earth has one mutual common goal and that is what we believe to be our “destiny”.

The result of this documentary furthered my belief in the project’s concept and that I had done the right thing in naming my poetry collection Life Comes From Concrete.

 

PS. I hope you enjoy this film with an open mind and heart. This one in particular isn’t just my story, but the stories of others in similar fashion chasing their dreams…IMG_0184

Sincerely,

– Kevin Anglade

Life Comes From “Destiny”

A Mini-Documentary About

The Journey of Artists & The Paths They’ve Created

Directed by: Jack Stellar

Starring
Raheem “Cash Sinatra” Wharton
Nick “Alexander” Anglade
Juan Bayon
Charbrielle Parker
Shola Gbemi
Chris “The Artkitech” Brown
Joshua “J La Sol” King
Jonathan Oke
Kevin Anglade

Created by: Kevin Anglade                                                                                                                   Written by: Kevin Anglade                                                                                                             Executive Producer: Kevin Anglade                                                                                            Produced by: Flowered Concrete & Jack Stellar Films
Camera/Video Editor: Neil Diaz
Management: Mia Hill
Advisor: Emir Fils-Aime                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   Original Music By:                                                                                                                                         Chris The Artkitech                                                                                                                             Zachary Durham                                                                                                                                     Suupa                                                                                                                                                             Cash Sinatra                                                                                                                                                  Jam Young                                                                                                                                                     The Social Experiment                                                                                                                        Chance The Rapper

Special Thanks To:

Light                                                                                                                                                        Michael “Big Mike” Wharton
Kerry Freycinet
Aaron Gilgeous
Erik Johnson
Michael “Mikey” Cook

LoudER Records
Artkitechuals                                                                                                                                                            Sus Life

Queens College, CUNY                                                                                                                       Brooklyn College, CUNY
New York City (All Five Boroughs)

 

Also Streaming on YouTube

KEVIN ANGLADE is the author of frankly Twisted: the lost files, a collection of detective fiction. Kevin was featured on NBC’s The Debrief with David Ushery in 2014 where he provided insight and purpose about small-press publishing. He is also the author of Life Comes From Concrete, a poetry memoir.

Find him online at:

http://www.kevinanglade.com

Twitter/IG: @velevek

 

LCFC #8: “The Life of Concrete in 2016”

27 Dec

DSC_0128edit.jpgWith just a handful of days left in the year, I would just like to say thank you to each and every one of you that contributed to my growth as a person, friend, and an artist.

I learned so much this year and none of it would have been possible without you. And when I say you, I mean, you, the person that’s taking precious time out of their day to read this post.

I say this because if you’ve invested yourself into reading my words, then it is only because you have been a big supporter of mine along the way, whether I knew it or not. And because of that I am grateful and thankful.

So many blessings and great things happened to me in this year and I am eager to see where my path will take me in the year of 2017.

As I complete my final year in the Master’s English program at CUNY Queens College, I will be mindful when digesting everything that comes my way. The good, as well as the bad.

For we cannot have one without the other. We need both, not only to choose wisely in between options, but to make ourselves aware of the obstacles that lie in front of us that we may have never thought were there.

Lastly, I would just like to thank everyone who bought my debut poetry collection, and those that allowed me to read excerpts from the book in various spaces around New York City as it has helped me to become more in tune with myself as a contributor to the society.

Again, I love each and every one of you guys and I pray that your 2016 was filled with joy, growth, stress, pain, and laughter. May it have enabled you to face everything within the present and in the year to come.

Cheers to a prosperous and healthy, 2017.

Your Friend Always,

– Kevin Anglade

KEVIN ANGLADE is the author of Frankly Twisted: the lost files, a collection of detective fiction. Kevin was featured on NBC’s The Debrief with David Ushery in 2014 where he provided insight and purpose about small-press publishing. He is also the author of Life Comes From Concrete, a poetry memoir.

Find him online at:

http://www.kevinanglade.com

Twitter/IG: @velevek

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LCFC Journal #6: “The Hood & Fail, Success & Yale”

22 Nov
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Yale University-Main Library, General Floor

A little over a month ago, I had the fortunate pleasure in visiting New Haven, Connecticut on a Columbus Day weekend. My reasons for heading out there was because a friend of mine whose name is Shayne McGregor, is currently in his first year of a PhD English program at Yale University. Both Shayne and I have known each other since 2012 as we were fellow undergrads at CUNY Brooklyn College.

In the fall of 2012, we were enrolled in a seminar course called Postmodernism: Poetry & Politics. In this class, taught by Professor Ben Lerner, a literary talent who happens to be a force in the publishing industry, (former Guggenheim Fellow & MacArthur Genius grant recipient) Shayne and I came of age as we learned about poetry during the early twentieth century and how it affected the politics of America’s society in the years to come.20161009_144848

Fast forward to the fall of 2013, and we both transitioned to our final semester of undergrad writing our senior thesis’ which would cement our legacy as English majors.

Since then, however, Shayne hasn’t looked back at all as he immediately furthered his education the following semester and pursued his Masters degree in English.

After completing his M.A. last spring, Shayne entered his doctoral program at Yale. I, on the other hand, am now in the final year of my Masters English program at CUNY Queens College.

What makes this story interesting, however, is that I remember being at a poetry show early September when I received a call from Shayne as we caught up and talked about Yale’s PhD program and what life as an academic has been like for him thus far. Moreover, Shayne offered me to come visit and get a feel of what the program was like since he knew I wanted to pursue a PhD in the near future.

Soon after, I wasted no time and took him up on the offer by making my way to New Haven, Connecticut via Metro-North Railroad. And once I got there, I was hooked.

Being able to walk on campus and see what the energy was like was something that I’ve never experienced.

To be in a such a space where students were not only working, but collaborating together and taking their work seriously, was truly a real sight to witness.

Shayne also gave me some sound advice about the PhD process and what it was like for him during his time of applying. I also learned how to plan in advance before taking action whenever I decide to fully commit myself to the application process.

More than anything, besides staying in Shayne’s graduate apartment, meeting some of his cool PhD friends, walking around the beautiful campus, and visiting its prestigious library, I learned more than anything that just because I grew up in a working-class household, and average neighborhood, that doesn’t mean that my dreams aren’t valid and that going to an Ivy-League institution is an idea that is unfathomable beyond my circumstances.20161009_144614

Honestly, every kid whether poor, middle-class, or wealthy, should feel as if they have the same shot or opportunity in possibly attending such an elite institution. No one is or should be exempt from this and as long as one works really hard to make such a dream plausible, they can actually make it a reality.

In closing, as I wind down my final year in the M.A. program at Queens, I know that a PhD is definitely not within my immediate future, but after my next move which is scheduled to be in effect within the next year and change, I’m sure that I’ll be ready to embark upon the journey that is life as a PhD student and when I do, no one will be in my path to tell me I can’t. Those days are over. I no longer believe that I’m just average.

 

Sincerely,

– Kevin Anglade

KEVIN ANGLADE is the author of Tales of the 23rd Precinct, a collection of detective fiction. Kevin was featured on NBC’s The Debrief with David Ushery in 2014 where he provided insight and purpose about small-press publishing. He is also the author of Life Comes From Concrete, a poetry memoir.

Find him online at:

http://www.kevinanglade.com

Twitter/IG: @velevek

LCFC Journal #4: “Best of Times, Worst of Times”

18 Oct

DSC_0161Today marks the official re-release of Life Comes From Concrete. And so, if you originally experienced the first edition, you may be asking what is the reason or purpose for a second? Well, my answer to you is that it’s not a second edition but more so the same one with a growth and matured vibe in terms of visual presentation.

What I mean by this is that many of the poems written were from my early days in writing poetry, and although I haven’t added any of my new material in this edition, I’ve decided to include all new and additional portraits that display me as a twenty-four year-old young man in progress as opposed to a twenty-two or twenty-three year-old one.DSC_0159

Moreover, you’d be surprised by how much you could actually learn in a year or two and that is something I’m sure that all of us have inevitably experienced one way or another. Therefore, I hope that this edition sucks more people into my story. I figured what would be a better time to do it then to release it in October which stands as the birth and demise of my father.

I’m sure that wherever his soul lives he is proud of me for the young man I’ve become as well who I am becoming. And so, as I stated in last week’s post, this edition is dedicated to him for providing me with the necessary tools to become an emerging star amongst the earth with the thought of one day joining him within the heavens.DSC_0166

Yours Truly,

– Kev Elev

LCFC 1.5 (The Fall Edition)

The Fall Memoir by Kevin Anglade

Available Now Wherever Books Are Sold

Photography by: Divin Mathew