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Dear Father

Breaking the Cycle of Pain

by J. Ivy

Hardcover, 286 pages, Pocket Books, List Price: $24 |


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Dear Father
Breaking the Cycle of Pain
J. Ivy

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NPR Summary

The rap musician and poet presents an honest and inspirational memoir in which he draws on his painful past of being abandoned by his father and growing up on Chicago's South Side to show what it takes to deal with one's emotions.

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In 'Dear Father,' A Poet Disrupts The 'Cycle Of Pain'

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Note: Book excerpts are provided by the publisher and may contain language some find offensive.

Excerpt: 'Dear Father: Turning My Pain Into Power'

In that moment, I spilled my guts for my dad and the heavens to hear and take in. With the simple stroke of the pen, I let it go. My tears poured down and steered the ink on the page in new directions. It was the happiest poem I've ever written. It was the happiest I've ever felt. The weight that had been magnetized to my spirit had been lifted. The release of it made me appreciate everything I had been given. It made me a much better person. It made me a much better man. In that moment I knew that I could begin my life again. I could move forward without reservations, without guilt, without doubt or regret. I could rejoice in knowing who I am and where I come from. I could work on me with an honest heart. I could work on the parts about myself that I wanted to improve. I felt free.

I was free.

Free to move.

Free to truly be me.

Having broken thru the bars that held me for so long, I was now free to do what I was put here to do. Life is so short, too short to waste on depression and sadness. The pain had taken up precious space in my spirit, space that I would need in order to grow and become greater, greater for me but more important, greater for others. I wanted to be happy. I deserved to be happy. I needed to be happy. And now, somewhere within the strength of that moment, I had written myself a new lease on joy. I never felt better.

Shortly after writing "Dear Father," I decided it was time to share the piece with others. The easiest way to do that was by performing it at a show. Although the stage has always brought me comfort, when it came time to perform "Dear Father," it was more than a notion speaking my unguarded truth. The piece was so personal. It was so close to my heart. It was so close to my family, but those areas of vulnerability are where we find the depth of the healing that we're seeking. It was hard, but it was important to perform it where it all began, Sweet Home, Chicago.

In front of a packed house, my thoughts leaned on the comfort of my family and friends. It took every ounce of my soul to get the piece out, but what needed to be done . . . was done. Standing there with my eyes closed, I envisioned my dad, his smile. My spirit could feel his heart, which was warmed by the love that he had for me and my family. Supported by his spirit, my entire existence collapsed into the lines, letting the words catch me from my fall. Each word escaped my lungs with raw passion. My soul pushed out the purest poetic phrases with power and poise until the very last syllable. Like a track star, my energy was refueled by the love rediscovered, sprinting me thru until the last word dropped from my sincere lips. I was overwhelmed from letting go, but I felt empowered by the courage to speak. My strength stood tall, as a man's strength should, as I watched the audience rise, clap, cheer, support, and cry. We all became witnesses to the power of letting go, as I finally closed the door to my pain!

My pain was diminished. Each line had been medication, healing the wounds that had periodically reopened. My self-awareness became so much clearer. I acquired appreciation for both my good and my bad qualities, realizing that the imperfections had helped shape my character. Finally, I found love for the entire canvas. I've always heard you can't love someone until you're able to love yourself, but before that moment it hadn't sunk all the way in. With love as my companion, it was my deepest desire to share my feelings, scream them from a mountaintop, make copies of these keys to freedom and pass them out for the world to hear. Because of the POWER of forgiveness I had broken the cycle.

From Dear Father: Turning My Pain Into Power by J. Ivy. Copyright 2015 by J. Ivy. Excerpted by permission of Beyond Words Publishing.