I almost let it get away – April – National Poetry Month

I am thrilled to announce the two winners of the book giveaway from this post!! Congratulatiaons to Yvette Calleiro and to Vashti Q! Your books will be on the way soon!

I would be remiss if I let this special month get away without celebrating a very beautiful book of poetry and art.

After I finished writing my four biographical fiction novels, it needed one more piece to complete the circle. And, that piece was a book of poetry accompanied by pen-and-ink drawings that Rick Sikes compiled in the years between 1975 and 1985 from inside Leavenworth Penitentiary.

Writing poetry and doing this incredibly tedious artwork were a small part of his determination to be, think and do only positive from a terribly negative place.

So, it was extremely satisfying to me, to get it edited, and published in 2017.

From the artwork that graces the cover, to the poems and artwork inside, you’ll find little pieces of the heart and soul of Rick Sikes.

The Foreword, written by Connie Nelson (Willie Nelson’s ex-wife) gives a brief glimpse at the level of respect Rick earned, even while in prison. In her words, “…what inspired me and drew me to build a friendship with Rick, was his love of beauty and his never ending, unbroken spirit. He never bought into discouragement or despair – he exuded only beauty…”

The original title of the poetry book started out as “Etchings in Stone.” But when we released a music CD in 2003 with that title, I knew the poetry book needed a different name.

For a copy of this CD, visit http://ww.jansikes.com

The first poem inside the book, “Discovery,” was truly a turning point in Rick’s life. He told the story about how the poem came to be. He was locked in the “hole” (solitary confinement) for some infraction, as often happened when he first arrived. After they escorted him to solitary, three guards went inside with him, and beat him, and kicked him with their boots until he was almost unconscious.

He had a dream or as he liked to put it, a “vision.” In that vision an angel with a broken wing came to him and spoke words that truly changed his life. The poem, Discovery, tells that story. Here’s a small snippet:

Through life’s wilderness I wandered aimlessly seeking my way

Seldom looking up to see the light of day

Stumbling blindly, ’til so weary, I could go no more

In total exhaustion I fell to the earthen floor

My eyes focused on a wounded but lovely thing

Seemingly an angel felled with a broken wing

Said I, “Stranger what will be your name?”

A voice spoke softly, “Yours, for our names are the same…”

Not all the poems and stories in this book are serious. There is a good mix of humor and satire, such as “The Title is Too Damned Long or (When Aunt Bessie Rode a Bike to the Belly-dancer’s Ball).”

So, if you’d like a one-of-a-kind book filled with poetry and art, including some of my poems, here’s the Amazon link. :https://www.amazon.com/Discovery-Poetry-Art-Rick-Sikes-ebook/dp/B072KXYHVY/

One reviewer had this to say, “Discovery by Jan and Rick Sikes is a powerful testimony of the human spirit. It is crafted such that the reader accompanies the writers not as a spectator but as a partner. “

As I approach the anniversary of Rick’s death, I am compelled to share his work with my readers. If you’ve read my novels, then you already know about Rick through the character Luke Stone. But a more personal look can be had through Discovery.

In honor of Rick’s memory and as a part of his legacy, I am giving away one hard-back full-color copy of the book (US only) and one copy of the ebook. Just share the post and leave a comment below for a chance to win!

Thank you for visiting! It’s always an honor!

Music, Books, Friends and Happy Birthday, Willie Nelson

I spent last weekend in Austin, Texas. Why? Two reasons…music and friends. And, friends who wanted books and friends of friends who purchased books. So, I guess that actually makes three reasons.

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Jan and Kay in a Bluebonnet field in the Texas Hill Country.

It is always fun when I can share a road trip with my best friend, Kay. She is the most awesome traveling companion. Knowing we were going into the heart of the Texas Hill Country, we had hoped to find Bluebonnets still blooming. And we did. This field was located on the banks of what used to be Lake Travis. I say ‘used to be’ simply because the lake is dry. It is heartbreaking to see a dry riverbed where a huge lake used to sit. But, perhaps the pendulum will swing the other way and water will once again flow.

The first event of the weekend was held at Strange Brew, an eclectic coffee house/lounge on Manchaca Road in Austin. My friend, Van Wilks performed there Saturday night.

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The incomparable Mr. Van Wilks.

Now, if you’ve never had the pleasure of listening to and watching Van Wilks play guitar, I can only tell you that you are missing out on a musical experience. The way he uses every string, every note to the fullest is beyond comparison. He is a first-class guitar player and my words are falling short in describing him. So, here’s a short video clip. Let the music speak for itself!

Sunday found us back at Strange Brew for another day of music that could not be more opposite from Van Wilks.

My long time friend, Richard Dobson performed in a songwriter swap with George Ensle and Greg Whitfield. I love these acoustic settings where you feel like you’re sitting in your living room with them. Richard (or Ricardo, as he is known by many) is a folk singer/songwriter. He’s had songs cut by Johnny Cash, David Allen Coe, Guy Clark, Lacy J. Dalton and well the list is too long but they are all listed on his website.

Richard currently resides in Switzerland, so when he makes trips to the U.S., I try to catch up. Not only is Richard a prolific songwriter, but is also an author himself, with three published titles and working on a fourth.

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Jan Sikes, Richard Dobson, Kay Shields-Perot at Strange Brew.

For your listening pleasure, here is a short clip!

Then a highlight of Sunday afternoon was a visit from the most beautiful and gracious, Connie Nelson. Yes, she is Willie’s ex-wife and a sweet beautiful soul.

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The beautiful Miss Connie Nelson and Jan Sikes

Heading back to Dallas, my heart and head was filled with words, music and friends.

A huge thanks to our host and hostess for the weekend, George and Donna Garcie! Moments like these are what fills our lives and gives us rocking chair memories.

And today is Willie Nelson’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Willie and here’s to another twenty!!

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Kay, Jan and Sarah at the Willie Nelson statue in Austin, Texas.