Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author Clarence ‘Poet 402’ Barbee to talk about Chicken Soup and a Shot of Jack (18 June 2015, 52 pages) a Literary Fiction work containing poetry, short stories and essays.
Synopsis | Teaser | About the Author | Q&A | Giveaway & Tour Stops
Synopsis | Teaser | About the Author | Q&A | Giveaway & Tour Stops
Clarence Barbee, welcome to BooksChatter where we want to know more about you and your latest book.
What was the inspiration for Chicken Soup... and a Shot of Jack?
"The inspiration for the book came from several experiences I’ve had over the last several years.How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
In 2011 I moved without any plans of survival and just headed west. In this movement I received so much help from people. I was homeless for a short stint, but I remained resilient. Without the support of everyday people, I would have never made it. This book is a thank-you of sorts to all the humans who are supportive of their friends and strangers who become friends and confidants.
We all know that life can be good, but what do we do when the road is filled with pot-holes? Sometimes we just run right through them, other times there is someone with a mack 10 truck there to fill the hole and help you over it—that my dear readers is inspiration."
"There is about 97% of me reflected in this book. They are a majority of essays, and I drew on a lot of my own life philosophy and knowledge to write these pages. I have been down and out, and some-how always try to see something powerful and rich from failing, or almost failing. The hardest thing for me to do is give up; there always seems to be something to make me smile, or laugh, and exhale out all the negative to find that spark of life. So yea, I’m all up in this book!"The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"The artist is one of my long-time spoken-word warriors Ms. LaToye Davis. She has been an avid advocate for my writing, my spoken word…heck, me! So as I told her about the book and the balance I was writing about, she just went to work.Chicken soup and some whisky - very true, although for us here in the UK it would probably also be a cup of tea and a nice scotch! (single malt and peaty, please!)
We talked a lot about how Chicken Soup and a Shot of Jack are both remedies for life’s issues/problems. And through these discussions I know I wanted a visual of a drink (a shot) because sometimes you need something stiff in your soul to wake it up. She just got it, (you know) and from there she sent me some samples. So when I saw the red background (which happens to be my favorite color) and the two outlined faces, I thought yep, that’s it, that’s balance that is what represents what is inside."
Why should we read Chicken Soup ... and a Shot of Jack? What makes it unique?
"What makes this book unique is that it comes from a very honest perspective. It’s not like a scholarly examination of life, more of a man/woman of the street perspective. I think that if we look at ourselves, our true nature, then we can start to strip away these labels we have gotten so comfortable in. I think it challenges us to look at what we’re telling our children, our neighbors, and our perceived enemies.Can you tell us something quirky about the book, its story or characters?
The uniqueness comes in the form of it’s poetry and essays. I think the poetry fits the themes of the essays and vice versa. Poetry is so open to interpretation that I feel everyone will be able to relate to some part of it. And the essays and short stories will give you a chuckle and allow your humanity to shine."
"In the short story “Just Had to be Grown”, there is the character of the mother. I had such a fun time writing about her, because she seems to be that typical ‘down-south’ or ‘mid-west’ mom that everybody wished they had.Funnily enough we featured an excerpt from that very story in our spotlight article for Chicken Soup and a Shot of Jack.
I think mothers like these are very misunderstood. She appears to be so uncaring, but in reality, she is a great teacher. We learn so much from our…well let’s just say we learn, and sometimes the hard way. This is the mother who would always tell us after the lesson….’you jus’ had to be grown, huh.’ So I think that story is one that a lot of people are going to enjoy!"
Who would you recommend your book to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"I would recommend this book to everyone, old, young, boy, girl, man, woman, CEO, or the lowly janitor with a mop.If you could / wished to turn your book into a movie, who would be your dream team?
Since I work with at-risk youth, I would definitely recommend it to those who are special education teachers, or counselors in a treatment facility. These are the people who use their humanity so much, sometime I think they forget they have to be humane to themselves as well. I think it’ll be good for the high and mighty CEO to take a look at the pages, and then themselves to see where they can recover some of their kindness—if they feel like they’ve lost it.
There is some colorful language in the book, so parents might want to watch elementary school kids reading this, but I think the title kinda gives that picture."
"It would be kind of difficult to turn this into a movie, however I think I would have the director be Tommy Lee Jones. He directed a two-man play with himself and Samuel Jackson entitled “The Sunset Limited”, which was masterful. He has an eye for the angles of life.Great choices, I would definitely come to watch that play!
If I could I would make a small play of “Just Had to be Grown”, and star Ruby Dee as the mother.
I would have the essays be read. I would like Samuel Jackson read “The Human Collective” and Nancy Wolfson read “They Never Told Us.” I feel like she brings the kind of presence to the piece, and make it understandable to the audience.
The location for the play would be a small apartment; living room connected to the kitchen so the mother could watch as her child learns.
That would be my dream play…oh if only it could be true! "
What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I like to write about people, I think we are the most curious and interesting things on the planet. We sometimes tackle problems, and other times let them sit.What is your writing process?
I like reading a lot of historical fiction, poetry, or books that have a story. I love a good story, something with some meat in it that you can gain some perspective on. I like sticking to short stories, I have a really bad and short attention span, so for me writing poetry and short stories feel amazing."
"My writing process is…can I say, fractured to say the best. There are chunks that seem to come out, and sometimes I’ll let it marinade, then come back to it. Other times I’ll wake up, go to a favorite coffee house and just pull out my old MacBook and go in on it.What is in store next?
I always have a notebook and various pens with me; I never know when an idea will pop in my head, or I’ll get a moment to pen a poem. I have attempted to force ideas out, and that just never works, so I just take the inspiration by the horn when it comes to me. Like I said, it’s fractured. "
"I’m currently working on a book of purely short stories. As of now, they have no connection to each other, other than they are coming from a place that is dear to me. One is about a man and his experiences with a stripper, a church, and a lady of the church who he seeks to date. Another is about two boys in a treatment facility; I’m having a good time writing that one. And finally I’m formulating an idea of separate characters who have their own tragic experiences then come together in some kind of form—that one is still very much an idea. However, I think that last idea, will be a separate book all of it’s own.Thank you for sharing so much with us. I used images which you had posted on Twitter to accompany this piece, as I thought their mood fitted really well with it.
I am looking forward to the continuance of being inspired by people I encounter, troubles I overcome, or under-come as the case may be. I’m also looking forward to doing some political commentary on the state of our great country."