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Get ready to hear from northern Illinois’ “prose pros." Poetically Yours airs Fridays during Here and Now at 12:31 and All Things Considered at 6:18 p.m. Hosted by WNIJ Arts Reporter Yvonne Boose, you will hear voices from northern Illinois poets as they share their words about the world around them. This weekly segment will give you a moment of pause and reflection as your wind down the week. If you would like to submit a poem for consideration, please send submissions to yboose@niu.edu

Poetically Yours - Ep. 44 - Poet Tackles The Perception Of Black Men

Welcome to this week's Poetically Yours. Poetically Yours showcases poems by northern Illinois poets. This week features Carandus Brown. 

Brown is a devoted Christian with hopes to encourage people to find Jesus for themselves. 

He grew up in a single-parent household in what he calls a troubled environment. He also struggled with reading and writing.

Brown said he was involved with gangs and dishonest activities early on in life. But then he met Terry Tague. Tague worked for a group called “Youth for Christ” and became Brown’s mentor. As a spiritual leader, he spoke positive attributes into Brown’s life and encouraged him to get to know Jesus Christ.

Brown began to build a relationship with God and changed his life to fit more godly principles. After the birth of his first child, he decided to go back to school. He said he loved reading and writing short forms of poetry. This allowed him to discover new ways to focus his emotions and anger. His views of the world and questions of religion became his focal points for writing, helping him to build literacy skills. In October 1999, he received his GED certificate with high marks. He began working with at-risk teenagers as a way to give back.

In 2008, Brown decided to continue his education at Judson University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in December 2012 and master’s in May 2018. Over the years, he earned multiple honorable mention awards for his perspective in writing. In February of 2016, he became a minister of the gospel under the guidance of Pastor Steven R. Cossey of Total Faith Community Church in Rockford. He continues to write uplifting and inspirational poems as the Holy Spirit reveals life’s stories. He hopes to write music at some point with his cousin Dwight Clark, who is an aspiring writer.

Brown is married with six daughters and a son. Today he's sharing his poem "Young, Black and Troubled."

Here’s a thought to provoke a discussion

To the mind not already set in erosion

What do you see when you look at me?

Could it be the Joy of poverty bestowed upon this life for the world to see!

Or the pure delight in the pain our ancestors fought to free

An injustice to justice for walking in the shoes of a lost forgotten black man

You expect me to be happy, but I’m Angry and Disturb from a constant fight with unhealed hands

This is the life I live on broken knees, I stand

Everyday a different battle, everyday it seems to double

Yet, you will only see that I’m Young, Black, and Troubled

As parents it was never intended for us to grow up this way

The hopeless discarded dreams of a mother’s fight to just make it to another day

Encouragement is what was hoped would pave the way

Inside at one point there was a good soul

Corruption crept in and dug its hole

A cracked smile pretending to hide inner tears

Shattered courage covering the wall of fears

A confused cry for help beneath a bunch of misunderstood messages in a pile of rubble

Yet, all you see is that I’m Young, Black, and Troubled

I will never be the person your society say I need to be

But I’m more than Young, Black, and Troubled because God is leading me

With the potential to rise above your decapitating vision

If you take the chance to see what’s inside me as your decision!

  • Yvonne Boose is a current corps member for Report for America, an initiative of the GroundTruth Project. It's a national service program that places talented journalists in local newsrooms like WNIJ. You can learn more about Report for America at wnij.org.