Photo by Courtesy Charlie Braxton
Jackson native Charlie Braxton will be at Gallery 1 in One University Place (1400 Lynch Street) this evening at 5:30 p.m. to promote and sign copies of his new poetry book, "Cinders Rekindled." This book is Braxton's second published, the first being "Ascension from the Ashes," published in 1991.
Braxton, 51, grew up in McComb, Miss., but is currently living in Jackson. He graduated from MccComb High School in 1979 and went on to Jackson State University, where he majored in mass communication with a minor in English literature. He graduated from Jackson State in 1983.
"Cinders Rekindled" is Braxton's tribute to the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s.
"That movement was about African Americans finding their own aesthetic," Braxton told the Jackson Free Press. "It reached back to Africa, the African diaspora and the African American experience for inspiration. My book also deals with African and African American spirituality. An important thing to remember is that African American literature is based out of oral tradition; I wrote in a way that you can hear my voice (in the words)."
Braxton, who is also a music journalist, gets a great deal of inspiration for his poetry from music.
"I loved listening to music in the '60s and '70s," Braxton said. "It was more complex, talking about love and sexuality and politics. I remember I wanted to be a lyricist."
While at Jackson State Braxton formed a group called Black Poets for a New Day, which hosted poetry readings on a monthly basis. He was also part of the Jackson Writers/Actors Workshop. Other participants in the workshop included Nayo Barber-Watkins, Jerry Ward and Michael Stewart. Mississippi Sen. John Horhn, who Braxton said is actually a brilliant actor, was also part of the workshop before he became a senator.
Braxton cites as some of his biggest inspirations musical artists Milton Nacimento, Bob Marley, Marvin Gaye, John Coltrane and Jimi Hendrix, who Braxton dedicated a poem to in his new book. Another artist with a poem dedication in "Cinders Rekindled" is Jackson native Cassandra Wilson, who Braxton plans to put together a collaborative project with at Jackson's Yellow Scarf listening room. Braxton also credits poets Amiri Baraka, Kalamu ya Salaam, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Ishmael Reed, William Carlos Williams and Claudia Sanchez for inspiration.
"Mississippi has produced more writers per capita than any other state in the union," Braxton said. "I am proud to be one of those writers. I hope to see more young writers rise out from of Mississippi, and poets and songwriters as well."
Braxton has written stories for the Jackson Free Press in the past. You can read one of them here.