The People’s Poet
From Street Crime to Nature’s Bounty, His Poetry Runs the Gamut
Walter James wrote his early poetry about the dramatic and the frightening. But his more recent poems reflect more serene surroundings and contemplations such as the future of mankind. Both sides reflect the path his life has taken.
The author’s lasting impressions in The People’s Poet crystallizes into poetry that is both emotional and gripping. We read about crime and street violence one moment, and later touch on soothing scenes such as nature and the environment.
Some poems were completed after years passed, including “In Spanish Harlem,” which was written “when I felt secure enough to look back in time during that period in 1980.” His impressions have crystallized into poetry that is both emotional and gripping. All the variations come from The People’s Poet.
Autobiography of an American Orphan
A hard look at the realities of New York in the 50’s
One can’t help but get tired of American glamorization— especially when it comes to our history. The litany of vapid ‘period pieces’ that portray the mid 20th century like a Chevy ad or a Rockwell painting, so often more concerned with the fashions of the time than the people themselves, do a great disservice to the complexity of the era as it actually was— rough edges and all.
Walter James’ Autobiography of an American Orphan cuts through the fluff and
icing of the 50’s, penetrating instead into its darker, brutal, and frankly more human core. Chronicling the author’s life as an orphan is post-war New York City, the novel lushly illustrates a world of poverty and crime, displacement and heartbreak, and a whole generation of young men searching for their identity.
Mr. James was moved from foster house to foster house, introducing him to an array of characters— counselors, nuns, priests, fellow orphans, junkies, thieves, etc.— who shaped his life, and whom he portrays with poetic nuance and a deep understanding of human psychology and conditioning. As the author reaches adolescence, Autobiography of an American Orphan brings us to a Spanish Harlem on the brink of revolution, to the ghettos of Brooklyn, and to a clearer understanding of those marginalized and dispossessed by society. The insights are profound, the writing crisp yet vivid, and the story wholly engrossing.
Autobiography of an American Orphan contains the same force as any novel in Edward Bunker’s canon, and the same savage beauty as any of Miguel Pinero’s writings. It is a deeply personal and yet universal exploration of a period so often misrepresented; a novel of manhood, of tragedy, of awakening— a literary achievement that intently reminds readers to consider their privileges, those so frequently taken for granted, and to remember the people who weren’t as lucky. I loved this book, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in the harsher realities of an often all too glamorized decade.- Charles Asher, January, 2015