Cortez Brasean’s The Art of Poet Philosopher contains multiple parts: short philosophical statements, short stories, poems, and a section of miscellaneous reflections at the end. The back cover indicates that the text is autobiographical, sharing the author’s experiences, trials, tribulations, and learnings as a black man who grew up in the ‘90s in Tennessee.
The stories are engaging with a strong voice, vivid details, and a moment-by-moment realism that puts readers into the scene of everyday life. For example, Chapter 1 opens with action: “I rolled over from my slumber almost tripping over my fiancé’s three-inch stilettos and make my way to the bathroom….I sparked the rest of my spliff from the night before. Inhaling the strong aroma [sic] chills spread over my body…” Throughout, the stories deliver strong characterization, crackling dialogue, and well-chosen details that relay the culture and everyday lives of the characters. They are full of action, emotion, and eroticism.
The poems are heartfelt but less engaging, because they’re mostly more abstract. Brasean relies a bit too much on clichés and declarative sentences, such as comparing love to an addiction and including flat statements like, “I’m addicted and I’m not ashamed,” and “The love we/ Share has a purpose.”
The philosophy and reflections (titled “Words of Refinement,” “Words of Interest,” etc.) are stronger than the poems; they explore the author’s gratitude for a higher power and the ongoing struggle to be a good person when “I’m only mortal.” In “Words of Understanding,” for example, he writes: I’m not perfect, but I’m destined to be…I’m open-minded and patient [sic] there is nothing about me basic.”
The book’s narrative passages contain many technical issues, including sudden switches in tense between sentences and missing words, periods and commas.
While the overall offerings are uneven, the stories shine through. Readers who enjoy tales about a young man trying to get through love, lust, and life intact, should enjoy these selections in The Art of Poet Philosopher.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.