||dim lights publishing
||october 1, 2008
Spoken word living legend writes heartfelt depiction of his struggle, persistence and success.
Dim Lights Publishing
Dim lights publishing
Up the Street Around the Corner by Cory Besskepp Cofer, touches on the ups and downs of a boy, raised by his single mother, living an urban-nomadic life. Telling his story through the soul of an innocent child, Cofer masterfully injects the conscience of an adult enlightened, with his heartfelt narrative blurring poetry and prose for all ages and walks of life. Delivered as a collection of evocative vignettes, Up the Street Around the Corner examines the close of the 20th Century, chronicling the music, hair and the hard realities of eviction notices, welfare, violence and life on the move. Up the Street Around the Corner is the uplifting story of a young man making his way and defying all odds. Cofer lends a universal and powerful voice of hope for everyone, coming of age, in the face of sparse opportunity and impossible circumstances.
I wish we didn't move so much. I envied
those who didn't. My family moved with the
wind. We moved like birds relocating, like 20th
century pilgrims, like antsy toddler boys.
Evictions plagued us like common colds.
Mom worked the system. She'd somehow
extend 30 day-eviction notices, to 60 days,
sometimes 90. During these time periods she
paid nothing so she could save for the next
apartment. 1st months rent, last months rent,
and a security deposit were standard.
Managers lied about credit checks and
pocketed $25 credit check fees. When
managers actually did credit checks, we had no
Money talks, mom would say. A wad of 90
days of saved cash, her beautiful personality
and bogus references usually got us a roof and
at least four walls.
There was nothing like the softness of new
carpet under my big toe, and the aroma of new
paint after moving into a new apartment. There
was nothing like a sanitary swimming pool
deeper than 6 feet, calm neighbors, green
landscape, and trimmed bushes akin to $5
haircuts that stay straight across. There was
nothing like 1 ½ bathrooms, quaint patios that
stared at the moon, and a walk-in closet big
enough for a twin mattress. Mom hung her cross
in the kitchen like always, and prayed that we
It was nothing like apartments with dirty,
reused carpet, crunchy to the touch, moldy
showers, and tan-colored stained toilets. It was
nothing like having to live under an apartment full
of kids jumping rope right above where you sleep,
stubborn heaters on cold nights, adult men
fighting with their shirts off, stolen cable, and
graffiti-crammed For Rent signs. There used to
be a landscape, but now people escape. Mom
hung her cross in the kitchen like always, and
prayed that we were blessed.
Apartment names that ended in Gardens,
Villas, Hills, or Ranch rarely lived up to their
names. Tyra Ferrel in White Men Can't Jump,
once said after her Vista View apartment was
robbed, Aint no vista, aint no view, and there sure
aint no vista of no view! Obviously these surnames
are to attract those who could not afford to live in
the hills, or had no back yard to plant a garden, or
whose view was usually the neighbors' living
room. We once lived in an apartment complex, in
the lowest part of the city, with the surname
Heights. The only heights about it were the steel
bars that surrounded it.
s Everybody knew about Filbert Arms
Apartments in East Stockton. Most called it The
Arms. It was a place where little black boys would
slang little white rocks with little fear. Crips wore
crisp white t-shirts and corduroy house-shoes with
socks. Some had very dark skin that made
tattoos green. Some wore dog tags just in case.
Girls carried their boyfriends' drugs and dared
male cops to search them. A plethora of people
got beat up or killed at The Arms. You could hear
the hoarse voice of the ambulance siren, as petite
sisters cried at their brothers' funerals or inside
emergency waiting rooms because of what
happened at The Arms.
Monty tried to rob an apartment in The Arms.
Somebody waited with a gun in the back room
and blew Monty's head off. Tyrell is doing 10
years for selling crack to an N.A.R.C. Darrel got
his arm blown off. Hooty got paralyzed for
wearing blue. Cristina got raped. Father-figures
got sparse--in The Arms.
The wind took us back to Texas when all else
failed. We would regroup there, then head back
to California, and move into an apartment. We
once rented a U-Haul and kept it for 2 months. It
was our ride to places like school, the grocery
store and the post office. We angered neighbors
in our apartment complex because we took up
two parking spaces. I'm sure our neighbors knew
something was up. We looked like we were
always on the move--literally. As embarrassing as
it was, it signified our ongoing predicament.
Lee Ballinger, West Coast Editor, Rock & Rap Confidential
"Up The Street Around the Corner is snapshots of the big picture--mug shots of racism and poverty snapped by a man who's lived them both. These stories are short but they say so much--like squeezing a ship into a bottle and then watching it expand to full size. Cory Besskepp Cofer is a major literary voice for the 21st century--a voice with a great sense of humor who let's you know the shit ain't funny; resigned but righteous; black but universal; angry but carefree. Maybe this world of hairstyles and homicide, music and moms, funky food and alley fights is one you know firsthand and maybe it isn't. But it springs from a history and a culture that casts a giant shadow over the planet and impacts us all. Cory Cofer has made a place for himself in the shade created by that shadow, a place as a writer, a father and husband, a hell-for-leather organizer. And he has written a book like no other."
Luis Rodriguez, poet and writer, author of Always Running, La Vida Loca, Gang Days in LA.
“Besskepp is a writer whose ink is the blood of our times, who's voice moves sweetly through a room, then rumbles to the core of our being with truths, stories, challenges. I'd read this book and then look for Besskepp's work wherever you can. Or catch a reading. But don't let this man's blessings and art pass you by -- we need people like Besskepp more than ever.”
Anne Knight, Digress Magazine
“Cory Besskepp Cofer’s Up the Street Around the Corner only further exemplifies his ability to make readers feel like they are welcomed participants in his stories. This book demonstrates adept writing fluidity as Besskepp successfully incorporates different writing styles including prose, spoken word, and even simply emboldened text—words that jump off the page at the perfect moment to set a mood or background and are as effective as paintbrushes in creating a picture or setting that immerse readers in the scents, sounds, and tastes of the author’s childhood. You can just taste the garlic chicken! Up the Street Around the Corner is truly a show and tell to beat all. Not once, but twice did I ward off sleep to be taken under by the book’s spell.”
“Nicole Klaymoon’s illustrations also provide an incredible narrative face to the book’s text. I found myself wanting to trace each sketched line with my finger to find out where they led and how they all connected to the story. “
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Reader Reviews for "Up the Street Around the Corner"
|Reviewed by Randy Vega
There is a bit of irony how I stumbled across your book and how much I can relate to it (well at least from reading the excerpt.) I forgot my phone at home today and I was trying to get a hold of my friend who does occupancy at the Filbert Arms. Oddly enough, I recently moved in with my half brother and his mom down the street from the apartments. So I googled Filbert Arms, in search of a phone number and stumbled across your book. It's strange how much we have in common. I don't know the age difference between us, but I am going to assume you are a little older than me. I too grew up with a single mother on welfare and section 8 housing. I was born in French camp and lived in Stockton until I was in second grade. That's when the moving started. My mom had just met here soon to be biggest mistake of her life boyfriend and we moved to Texas (San Antonio) in a Uhual. We moved into the projects of San Antonio when I was in the second grade. I remember sitting in class and hearing the echoes of gunshots being fired in the field in back of our school. We weren't allowed to go anywhere until our parents came to get us. I never fell into any of the gangs, drugs, and violence that surrounded my everyday life. I was different and fortunately my mom always kept me away from it. So after about a year of witnessing and being in the middle of both physical and verbal abuse, my moms boyfriend took a hike. We did alright for a couple of years, and not to mention I was taking a few AP classes. But then we moved, and the classes I was taking weren't available at the new school. So I tried my best anyhow. When I would finally get settled at one school we would move again and again and again until I finished high school. High school is another story. I wasn't doing to well after high school and still had two uncles that lived in Stockton. I figured I had nothing to lose, besides a cheating girlfriend and back stabbing friends, so I took I chance. I thought to myself I love traveling and meeting new people, so why not? Only Stockton isn't exactly the picture perfect postcard image that most people perceive when the think of California. So two Years have passed and all I'm really focused on is work, music, and school. Writing is a real hobby of mine also, so you're an inspiration to me. Please tell me where I can get this book. None of the links seem to work. Sorry, I realize I have written enough to write my own book. I don't know if you ever check this site or keep up with your messages but, a reply would be appreciated.
|Reviewed by billy bivins
|I will be your fan|