Giving voice to struggles,triumphs.
Giving voice to struggles, triumphs
Michael Bostick has seen tough times, but poetry helps him cope
|By MIKE PIEKARSKI, Special to the Times Union |
First published: Tuesday, October 23, 2007
|MENANDS -- It is said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Michael Bostick can say that his literary journey started with a single letter -- in his case, a letter in which he said goodbye to his longtime nemesis: alcohol. |
Bostick, a Menands resident and recovering alcoholic, was an outpatient at St. Peter's Addiction Recovery Center in Albany in the latter part of 2005, when a counselor asked him to write that letter and read it aloud to his support group.
"The feedback was great," said Bostick, 46, who read the letter and a poem he had written to his recently deceased grandmother.
"This is pretty good," he was told.
Using that session as a springboard, Bostick began writing poetry regularly and prolifically. The result is his first book, "Mou-si: Life Lessons and Thoughts Set to Poetry," published by RoseDog Books this past May.
The title comes from Bostick's nickname, "Mousy," for his "squeaky voice, ears sticking out," he said. He added a hyphen and the "si" ending because, he said, "I wanted it to sing.
"The poetry is a way to have people read something that's true , and it's short and quick," Bostick said during a recent telephone interview.
The Bronx native, born in 1961, has plenty to tell. He was only 6 and temporarily staying with his grandparents in Jersey City, N.J., when his 21-year-old mother was murdered by her husband. A year later, young Michael learned that his father, estranged from his mother, had been murdered in the Bronx. At that point, his stay with his grandparents became permanent.
In Bostick's new neighborhood, "all the families were a little dysfunctional," he said. "There was a lot of drinking going on."
His household was no exception. Her daughter's death was really hard on Bostick's grandmother, he recalled. "She resorted to the bottle. She was functional three-quarters of the year, but there were months when she went on a binge. It would go on for a couple of days or a couple of weeks, and then she'd be functional again."
The lifestyle, Bostick said, "was a thing you handled. It was an experience."
In 1972, prodded by relatives, his new family -- which included his younger brother and sister, his aunt and his great-grandfather -- moved to a large house in Poughkeepsie. His grandfather landed a construction job, his grandmother took in boarders from a nearby developmental center, and Michael began his new life.
By the 10th grade, he was in the Poughkeepsie school system, a football player -- and a drinker.
Once the football game ended, the players typically went to parties, "and you would really put down beer," Bostick said. "I was a little knucklehead. I had good grades, but then I slacked off."
After a short and ill-fated stint in the Navy, some "mishaps with the law," various jobs and general drifting, the father of three has settled down. He moved to the Capital Region to be near his girlfriend in 1995, got an associate degree in microcomputer systems management from Bryant & Stratton College in 1996 and has worked for a telecommunications company for the past 11 years.
In addition to a book-signing set for Nov. 1 at the Book House in Stuyvesant Plaza, he has a new book of poetry coming out in early 2008 and has begun work on his autobiography. He won't say he has beaten alcoholism because, he said, "It's an endless battle I continue to fight every day."
His poetry, which explores such varied subjects as social ills, spirituality, alcoholism, love, race and responsibility, is not of the rhyming variety because "I write from the heart," he said. "(Poetry) is where I form my ideas and words in a way where I'm telling you what's going on. It's my way of getting everything out. Everything that came to mind, I put it down and made something out of it."
"My audience is whoever wants to listen, whoever can relate to that poem, not just black men or young men -- everybody."
Bostick's book can be ordered online at http://www.rosedog books.com. Piekarski is a freelance writer from Latham. He can be reached at piewrite.aol.com.
Product of an environment that was derived on greed and malice, wandering about that Peaceful Existence.
As I stand and look into the mirror, I see the shell of a man that has taken the less traveled road searching for that Peaceful Existence.
Momentarily seeing footage as I digress, looking on the birth of my children, there seeing glimpses of peacefulness. Either I or society spoiled that picture of total oneness.
Other moments of sharing my love with special ones, only to have it run its course. Searching for that Peaceful Existence, asking myself why I can' have that existence.
Should I dare have that rose colored glass exterior or the Don Quixote mindset searching for that Peaceful Existence?
Laying here now as the dirt settled and my soul starting its ascension, I realize there is a true Peaceful Existence.
-- Michael Bostick