John Warner Smith
John Warner Smith is the author of four collections of poetry: Muhammad’s Mountain, published by Lavender Ink in 2018; Spirits of the Gods, published by ULL Press in 2017; Soul Be A Witness, published by MadHat Press in 2016; and A Mandala of Hands, published by Kelsay Books-Aldrich Press in 2015. Smith’s fifth collection, Our Shut Eyes: New & Selected Poems on Race in America, is forthcoming in 2019 by MadHat Press. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
12:15 p.m. to 1 p.m.
Capitol Park Welcome Center, Glass Room
Louisiana Poets I
1:15 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Barnes & Noble Bookselling Tent
Muhammad's Mountain, the first-ever book-length collection of poetry on the life and legacy of Muhammad Ali, consists of 45 poems, tracing the entire spectrum of outward events and inner forces that made Ali one of the most recognized figures in the world--the boyhood years in Louisville, Ali's rise to the top of the boxing world, his conviction and subsequent government-imposed exile for refusing to be inducted into the military, Ali's return to the ring, and the final phase of his life in which he battled Parkinson's disease while serving as an ambassador for world peace. But as Charles deGravelles, author of the best seller, Billy Canon: A Long, Long Run, notes, "This is no boxing book. The complex--even seemingly contradictory--nature of this towering figure is explored poem by poem, carrying with it along the way the sweep of the second half of the American twentieth century."
The last section of the book, "Seeking God," symbolically depicts Ali's journey up the mountain of self-actualization, an individual feat seldom achieved. Tested by Parkinson's, Ali's spiritual quest for immortality takes him to the top of the mountain, where, "in the blindness of a bitter, wintry storm, his feeble hands let go of the snowy rockand took hold of faith, full of breath and countless acts of kindness."
Smith gives us the whole Ali: gifted athlete and greatest fighter of all time, a man of uncommon courage and conviction, and the messenger for peace, who, for love of mankind, was willing to bare his brokenness to the world. This is a book of lessons for all races and ages, and all generations--present and future.
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