Sunday, February 03, 2013

The Black Buddhist by Meikle Paschal

The Black Buddhist   by Meikle Paschal   (Ibbetson Street Press)  $15

Review by Afaa Michael Weaver

In sentences that are as sincere as they are nostalgic, Meikle Paschal gives us a valuable portrait of the journey of his life from the poor neighborhoods of Boston to the comfort of a consciousness furnished by the loving kindness of his Buddhist principles, principles that save him from the bitterness and resentment that can occupy the mind of someone who has fought adversity for his entire life. An African American man gifted with unusual intelligence and a keen intuition, he is lifted also by a penchant for forgiveness. As a reader, I am especially endeared to his portraits of a Boston I could never have known, the old Boston of the mid twentieth century. Paschal seems remarkably adept at recognizing and seizing the chance in life, even when he was not aware of the fuller meanings of his actions at the time. He implies repeatedly that something saved him, and it is that hope he offers the reader, namely that if we would just believe there is a way, the way will reveal itself to us. He is not blind to the tragedies of life, as he notes the people who did not have or see the chance, people who fell victim to things we would rather not imagine, but he offers his own encounters with those chances. He explores the vicissitudes of upward mobility in stories that are insightful and inspiring. In admitting the perfection possible in life, he admits the imperfections, the double binds, the impasses, and he continues on with life, even as the apparent paradise proves itself over and over to be only that and not something ultimately real. Paschal lets us see only the journey is real.

To order:

Afaa Michael Weaver

Simmons College


******Afaa Michael Weaver (born 1951 Baltimore, Maryland) formerly known as Michael S. Weaver, is an American poet, short story writer and editor. He is author of numerous poetry collections and his honors include a Fulbright Scholarship and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and Pew Foundation. His poems have appeared in literary journals and magazines including Callaloo.

Born in Maryland, he studied two years at the University of Maryland. Then he entered the world of factory life alongside his father and uncles and remained a factory worker for fifteen years. He started 7th Son Press and Blind Alleys, a literary journal. He graduated from Brown University on a fellowship, with an M.A, and Excelsior College with a B.A. He taught at National Taiwan University and Taipei National University of the Arts as a Fulbright Scholar, and was a faculty member at the Cave Canem Foundation's annual retreat. In addition, he was the first to be named an elder of the Cave Canem Foundation. He also studied Chinese language at the Taipei Language Institute in Taiwan.

He teaches at Simmons College, and is director of the Zora Neale Hurston Literary Center He is Chairman of the Simmons International Chinese Poetry Conference.[4] Tess Onwueme, the Nigerian playwright, gave him the Ibo name "Afaa," meaning "oracle," while Dr. Perng Ching-hsi has given him the Chinese name "Wei Yafeng."

1 comment:

  1. "Only the journey" -- short and full -- I love
    this wee review!