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Poetic Travels

Poetic Travels Cover Image

Sam Youmans

March 31, 2022

Interview with NewsGram on Web Talk Radio

Based on the book First Poem of Words by Jef Harris.

Do what you love.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. 
Celebrate life. 
See the world. 
Try to see the good in everything. 
How many other good pieces of advice can you think of? 

Today we are going to look at a man who embodies everything I just said. He’s a world traveler. He’s an author and a poet with a friendly voice. His name is Jef Harris and and on his website he writes  —  “poetry not only speaks from the soul but also from the spirit of a living God dwelling inside, who sometimes permits the soul to speak.” I love that. He’s written a book called First Poem of Words. 

Jef Harris (Celebration of Words) The book is like a celebration of words. 

Which explains the cover. It’s word art. You’ve seen collages of words before. Jef’s book cover is one of those. It’s field with words that have a double meaning and are fun to say like SING, MOON, MASSACHUSETTS, PEELED, PENETRANT, PASSION, MASK and SURVIVAL. When you open it up and start reading you find that this is not just a collection of words, it’s exactly what Jeff just said a minute ago. It’s a celebration of words. 

Jef Harris (Each Poem is a Story). And each poem is like a story. It’s just a short story, and the reader has to fill in the blanks. 

Let’s take a look. Here is the first poem titled PARIS 1980

The street was too narrow
the bus was too big and 
You parked like a toddler.
The driver couldn’t back 
Us out of that crooked
Lane. He had to go forward.
It took four of us
To pick up your Renault
And sit on the sidewalk
I’m sure you must have
Been shocked mute when
You saw your car up four
And over eighteen inches. 
Sorry, we didn’t  leave
You a note. You wouldn’t
Have liked our reprimand
For lousy parking and 
Inconsideration. Besides,
We couldn’t write it in
French, then
C’est la vie!
Sommes-nous pardonner?

The French words are translated on the bottom to say, That’s life! and Are we forgiven? Hilarious. Who hasn’t been in that situation plus, I’m from Chicago and when I found Jef was too it made total sense and I had to read it. You know exactly what happened there….They lifted and moved a guys Renault Le Car in order to park a bus and the ending is the note they couldn’t leave because they didn’t know how to write it in French.  All the poems aren’t this short and simple. I picked this one because I liked the story and wanted to share it. Here’s one read by the author himself, Jef Harris. 

Jef harris (Lead me) – This poem is called lead me and it’s actually a lyric to a song that I composed and wrote. Lead Me

Through darkness that surrounds me. 
Evil coaxing my hostility. 
Temptations, overwhelming. 
Borderline hatred in my heart. 
Far beyond laughing demons dangling my desires from a string.
They want to take my soul away.
They promise everything. 
As their low lead feeds me. 
Lead me. 
Lead me. 
Past the ignorance that delays me.  
Trust that now betrays me. 
Pain of realizing all those. 
Faces aren’t of prophets. 
Mere devils masked so saintly.  Flashing hope before my eyes. 
I’m lured to accept their passion. 
Apt to believe their lies. 
As their steel will bleeds me. 
Lead me. 
Lead me.

Getting his book published wasn’t easy. 

Jef Harris (Not gonna happen) There was a time when I thought…I’m not gonna make it. It’s not gonna happen.

But it did. Lots of writing and revising and collecting and rewriting…

Jef Harris (The Process) I’ve been writing poetry for years. I started writing in elementary school actually and I just kept on writing and submitting and revising and submitting and revising… 

And all the hard work finally paid off. His book was published and now it’s available everywhere. First Poem of Words. It’s a poetic travel journal of sorts. It’s designed to share his experiences but also to  inspire with poignant thoughts, enlighten and spread hope. 

Jef Harris (Traveling) The way all the poems came out. I told the story of my travels from Chicago, Illinois to South South Korea. and the different points in between. Germany and other places in the states. and the way it came about it did give a holistic view of how I saw the world and its impact on me. Not the entire world but the world I was circling around and its impact on me. 

While doing some research for this edition of Newsgram I read different reviews of Jef’s work. One reviewer said “…there’s a rhythmic playfulness to his words…” and I think that’s pretty spot on. Jef paints a colorful tapestry of language in his book and I think you’ll enjoy the way the words are put together as well as the story they tell. 

It’s available online right now wherever you like to buy books or you can visit his website https:/// Jeff is spelled with one F. 

And that will do it for this edition of Newsgram.