Being a lyricist since the age of ten, all of the written works in my creative portfolio had been musical. But in 2004, that all changed. My God-given gift of the written word had expanded into another art form—one which stemmed from the branch of literature, that being poetry.
I would not compose my first production of poetry until the summer season of 2004. It had been hotter than July on that day as I sat indoors under the air conditioner, drinking ice cold lemonade and thinking. I thought about a lot of things: work, family, friends, what I planned to eat for dinner that evening, etc. And after some time, my right hand began to itch. That's a figure of speech I tend to use where it refers to my deisre to write. So my right hand started itching to write. And having all of my supplies within reach, including my notebook paper, my beloved Montblanc Bohème, my mini recorder, and, of course, a good ol' pack of chewing gum, I went about my business of scribbling.
Initially doodling, I started getting somewhere as the words came into being. The "flow of the faucet" had gone from a trickle to a stream, and I was now structuring. But the story had been more of a poetic stanza than a lyrical verse. And under the circumstances, I knew that the work would be one of poetry, not music. There had been no orchestration of melody in correspondence to the words, only a rhythmic stanza — the colorful body of a poetic production emerging from the creative womb.
The written word about which I speak would eventually be titled "Sylvia." The piece is one that serves to pay tribute to the loving memory of my great-grandmother Sylvia Hart — "The Grand Dame."
After I completed the composition for my 11th production in October of 2005, I decided to give the small collection of works an identity—knowing at that time that there would be more to follow. I had an obligation, as a professional writer, to consider these works of poetry in the same light as I do my song works: they would be fine-tuned and undergo the copyright process. Indeed, this latest effort would be not only a hobby but rather an extension of my professional writing career. They would also require their own separate house for issuance purposes—Quill Pen Ink Publishing—which I would build at a later date. It had taken me a few months to come up with a catchy name for the small collection. But in March of 2006, the title More Imaginative Than Ordinary Speech was chosen, as was its subtitle, The Poetry of Cat Ellington.
As a professional writer of songs, and also now of poetic literature, I am most proud to include the latter on my creative résumé. For it is a fun honor and great addition. And representative of this new contribution to the literary community is my newly-elected membership to the Academy of American Poets.
Raised on Chicago's South Side, I had been part of a unique environment—one which embedded a strong sense of self-awareness and that of the social conscience—where I learned at a very young age what it meant to be an African American in this society. I had gained a great understanding of who I was then and who I am now: a Black woman in America. That doesn't make me any greater or lesser than other people. But it does influence, and heavily, what context of witness I bring through the written word—that witness being the African-American experience straight from the mind of a Black woman reared by Chicago's South Side.
The style in which I express myself, poetically, is one of appreciable literary inspiration. For much like those great men and women who are my songwriting influences,
the equally significant ladies and gentlemen who inspire my poetry are held in regard just as elevated. These literary influences include Langston Hughes, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Gwendolyn Brooks, Toni Morrison, Dr. Maya Angelou, Nikki Giovanni, James Baldwin,
And T S Eliot.
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