Life lessons, pain and healing

Category:  The Arts
Friday, September 20th, 2019 at 11:03 AM

EU student Devon Brown debuts book of poems

When Devon Brown was in 10th grade, there was an empty slot in his schedule and only one class still available: creative writing. Brown, now a junior communications major at Edinboro, says writing became a habit after that, as a rolling sea of untapped potential began to spill onto the page in the form of fiction and poetry. Brown accumulated so many poems over a two-year period that he decided to publish them.

His debut collection, a book of poetry titled “A World That Taught, A Knife That Cut, A Rose That Grew,” is described in its introduction as being a “message to others” about the importance of vulnerability. It reads: “Do not be afraid. Do not let society trick you into thinking emotion is weakness. Love fearlessly, cry if you need to cry, provide when you need to provide...To feel is to be human. To feel is to be alive.”

Brown describes the poetry collection as being in three parts.

“A World That Taught,” according to the author, is about the little life lessons you get if you pay close enough attention.

“I’m an emotional guy,” said Brown, continuing to explain that the poems in the second part of the anthology — “A Knife That Cut” — depict the pain of heartbreak. The contents of this section follow Brown’s evolution as he overcame adversities like lost love. In part three, “A Rose That Grew,” Brown says the poems are about developing emotional maturity.

At one point during the process of compiling the collection, Brown felt he had hit a wall. The majority of his poems were, admittedly, “kind of depressing,” and he did not have enough material to create the three sections he envisioned. Brown says his girlfriend, Kaitlin, helped him overcome his writer’s block.

“She motivated me to start the ‘A Rose That Grew’ section, because she was able to bring me out of some of those sad emotions,” he explained. This change in perception pushed Brown to finish his book and become more emotionally intelligent.

When asked which poem or section is his favorite, Brown said, “I don’t read the novel a lot, but I think my favorite is called Internal Cuts.” This is a poem about self-inflicted punishment. “Just because your tool is a bottle [and] not a blade doesn’t mean it’s not self harm...If you pay attention you see that people use substances, specifically alcohol, at a young age to inflict self harm,” he said.

Brown credits our alcohol-centric social norms with the prevalence of substance abuse as a form of self harm, calling it “alcoholic culture.”
Brown hopes his poetry can help others realize that using substances to alter their realities can be as detrimental as more direct forms of self harm. To him, allowing ourselves to simply feel our emotions, instead of dulling them or punishing ourselves for feeling them, is the only way to grow.

In the introduction of the anthology, Brown states: “Every work in this collection was written in sober mind, free of the influence of any drug or stimuli. This is my unfiltered mind and emotion, nothing more or less.” Of the poems, he writes, “I hope they make you feel.”

Brown used Amazon to self-publish his novel and encourages others to do so. His advice to other writers eager to expand their portfolios is “Don’t be afraid to self-publish and don’t worry much about branding because the product will speak for itself.” According to Brown, “The only thing that separates someone who is ‘just a writer’ from an author is following through.”

The success of his poetry collection caught the attention of the Oklahoma-based publishing company Askew Publishing. Next year, Askew will be releasing Brown’s next work “Maine Raine,” a fictional mystery novel about a young rape victim who is confronted with further challenges when it becomes clear she is carrying her rapist’s baby.

“A World That Taught, A Knife That Cut, A Rose That Grew” is available for purchase or download on Amazon and on Brown’s website, devonjbrown.com

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