“Storyteller Art is where the artist is writing a book of illustrated short stories.”
At moments of extreme crisis, I have delusions that God is talking to me. This has only happened a handful of times, mostly when I was in the fifth grade.
I wrote for years trying to find a way to explain it without talking about the ways my parents may have contributed to the problem.
Only premonitions of death finally convinced me to write about it in an honest way while my sister Lydia and I are still both in this world. Otherwise, I would not be telling such uncomfortable stories.
I published this project when I told my sister I had doubts about the stories and their emotional consequences, and she told me I absolutely had to keep it up and not change anything for those reasons.
It’s probably appropriate that my sister be the absolute final judge in this matter because she had a worse time than I did, causing mental problems so severe that it destroyed her physical health.
But there aren’t any “bad guys” in my stories, not really. I have little doubt that the Mississippi Delta I grew up in was a cake walk compared to what my parent’s experienced. It beat them down so badly that it made their virtues shine larger than life.
I remember my father coming home from work one day and acting strangely, like something had him angry and more serious than usual, in a more sober way. I helped him in the shop like I sometimes did, but he was very self-conscious in the way he spoke to me. He said please and thank you repeatedly as I handed him tools back and forth, and he went to great lengths not to bark at me, even when he lost all patience with the stripped-out bolt and started pounding the engine block with a hammer.
After he was done banging the head off the bolt, he threw the hammer out the back door of the shop and into the junk yard. He didn’t say anything for the longest time. Then he looked me in the eye very seriously and said, “I know you already know this, but if I ever catch you forgetting to say ‘Yessir and Nossir’ to a black man, I mown be on yo ass same as if it was a white man. Don’t you be like some people.”
I’d prefer to write those kind of stories, but those stories don’t give much insight into the hallucinations. It has to be the embarrassing and disturbing stories if you are going write a real account of why you are on-a-mission-from-God crazy.
My sister Lydia and I have talked about books and art ever since we first discovered that we loved each other instead of hating each other’s guts.
Lydia has her PhD in English and is a professor teaching Southern literature.
Here is a poem I wrote about pursuing my true path as an artist.
Thanks to Browning and King
Heil Roland of Gilead,
Blow your horn and cry,
“Elders of the Tet Corporation to me!”
Set apart to Man Jesus and the Tower
at an early age
by countless ways of coincidence.
“Behold the white!”
Boy, Eld, and Thankee.