Poet, Essayist, Novelist, Screenwriter Al Young at SMC
"America needs to stop dropping bombs and spread our culture instead," said 69-year-old Albert Young who was dubbed the poet laureate of California by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2005.
Young is an accomplished essayist, screenwriter and has worked with the CIA in the past. In a deep, firm, tenor voice he hosted a reading of his works at Santa Monica College's Broad Stage this past Saturday.
The reading of his poems invited a spiritual, curious audience within his thoughts on life, music, the blues and his own bundle of personal humor.
"I would like to bring people back to that wonder. I'm still fascinated by the sky and all the worlds out there we know nothing about," said Young.
His poems had a story to tell, mostly inspired from common places and people.
Young's personal affair with the blues was sensed by an awed audience as he sung melodic verses while reading the poems.
"Show me that you're mine girl," Young sang aloud.
Taking a moment Young partially explained the essence of his work: "Music always occurs in my poetry."
Music happens within his poetry for technical purposes or simply for the deep, sad purpose that official spiritual place where the blues have marked their steps decades ago.
It is really a journey to watch and feel how Young can transpose himself from past, present and future starting with the glance of his eyes, the voice of his verses and the thoughts of his soul.
"Lost Passport Blues," is a poem written in February 2007, after a lost passport interrupted his trip to Vienna, Austria.
It was during a horrendous time that he wrote this poem which starts with a verse that if analyzed carefully one may hear the echoes of an entire world. "Travel never was what it used to be!" Young said.
Failing to believe in the passport's
barriers, Young dares to ask what most under the wash of illusioned super-powers have stopped asking long ago: "Who discovered what or whom?"
His books are translated in more thn 15 languages across the world and he has a message for Santa Monica College's aspiring poets:
"I encourage poets to learn another language. Language is not just words. It's another way of looking at the world," said Young.
He graduated with honors from UC Berkeley with a degree in Spanish, a place where he has also taken the time to teach fiction writing and American Literature.
His honors include the Radio Pacifica's KPFA Peace Prize, Fulbright National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, Richard Wright Award for Excellence in Literature and many more.
The number of his published books grows every year. His latest book is "Jazz Idiom: Blue Prints, Stills, and Frames," which he wrote in collaboration with photographer Charles Robinson.
"Something about the Blues, an Unlikely Collection of Poetry," the book from which the poet guided
his reading during the lecture was published in November 2007.
Young has passion for music and especially for working with musicians. The back of the book has a CD where Young takes the opportunity to recite a few of his works such as "Lost Passport Blues," and "The Elvis I Knew Well Was Spiritual," a commissioned poem written for the king's admiration for Buddhism and for a place which he held dear to his heart "The Self Realization Fellowship Temple," in the Pacific Palisades.
His intriguing observation about different countries compared to America, brought a sense of refreshment to today's patriotism.
"America puts emphasis on originality. Other countries continue updating what their ancestors have done," said Young.
From the way he spoke about the endeavouristic trips across the globe one could sense his love for peace and the integrity of all human races.
"Cultures is really what makes and imprint on the world," he said.
The audience entered the Edye Second Space studio to meet Young and had the rare honor to meet the kind of man who today can only be found in the lost biographical books of alchemists forever young.