by C.A. Seller
To merely say that Ron Whitehead is an author, activist, musician, publisher, producer, editor, poet bar none with 40 cd and audio recordings such as “Tapping My Own Phone,” and even an actor, is an understatement. He has written 30 books, most notably “I Will Not Bow Down” and his latest, “MAMA a poet’s heart in a Kentucky girl.”
In MAMA, Ron’s use of lower case letters conveys the humility of his family. Each poem tells a story. I began taking notes and realized there was much too much to mention.
‘From “wrestling hercules” by Ron Whitehead:
“…know that i’m not kidding the 1st 17 years of my life would make marine boot camp
look like the training school for valet parking
and that’s nothing against marines…”
From “the boxer” by Ron Whitehead:
“…a poet from Kentucky
with a gentle soul
miles and miles I’ve traveled many fights I’ve fought
oh the story of my life
despite the losses
against all odds
relentlessly leaning into the wind
without regrets I remain.”
Ron’s mother, Greta Render Whitehead, is 83 years old and her poems are stories broken into spry stanzas. There are love poems for her devoted husband, Ron’s father, Ed, deceased, who sounds like the father we all wish we had. A record of hard living before and during The Depression, Mrs. Whitehead’s voice is undeniably full of loss and almost indescribable joy that is all centered around her family. Music, meals and an almost ancient sense of community combine to produce a picture of the past and present when the most precious thing the Whitehead’s and Render’s have is a dedication to doing the right thing.
From Page 2 by Greta Render Whitehead:
“…Daddy discovered an abandoned Greyhound Silverside bus in the woods below Centertown.
He moved it to town and made it into The Blue Bus Café.
That was during WWII. Everything was rationed but Mama used their war stamps, and he Mom’s too, to buy sugar for lemonade as well as her delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and hamburgers.
The Blue Bus Café was a great place to eat while sitting in a booth and listening to juke box music. You could also sit by the fireplace and visit.”
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By the end of MAMA I was wanting more and there it was, an interview between Ron and Mama that amplifies her poetry and gives in depth explanation to her losses and loves. This book is an inspiration via family history. The values Ron exhibits in his life today are reflected in Mama’s poems.