“The Middle Path” a poem by John Barrymore


During the Los Angeles Poetry scene of the late 1980’s into the early ’90’s, John Blyth Barrymore III was a staple poet and poetry supporter.

John Barrymore photo by Yvonne de la VegaAn actor, a director and educator, he writes his poetry in a matter-of-factually confessional style, drawing imagery that haunts the Angeleno ghosts within most of us. John’s eccentric humor that is a cross of slapstick and raunch, is unintimidating and honest, but at all times hilarious. As an acting coach the humor is in the title of his acting workshop: “Act Like A Barrymore”.

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Currently writing an autobiography, his memoirs are entitled, “The Sins of The Father” while “The Middle Path”, the following poem by Barrymore, is a quick look at what to expect in the forthcoming book from this multi-talented and iconic poet who states that his DNA is to blame for most of his adventures, short comings and attempts toward moderation. The famous Barrymore Family has for many generations been known for superior acting skills in the theater and early film.

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John Barrymore‘s future theater performances are eagerly awaited by many as he is set to do in “Hamlet” as well as “Barrymore” by William Luce. 

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THE MIDDLE PATH

by John Blyth Barrymore III

The middle path

is the hardest road

for a man to walk with grace.

I’ve spent my life

in a cold dark cell or else,

well, lost in space.

My heart full of peace, harmony, love,

greeting each one with a smile.

Or hanging out down

on Hooligan Street

with O.J., Erik and Lyle.

People would say

as I traveled their way,

“There goes John;

he’s sober and chaste.”

Or else they would point

as I lit up my joint and say,

“There goes John; what a waste.”

A fit vegetarian,

healthy of frame,

living on sunlight and seeds.

Or making my way

down to Tom’s Number 5

to score a cheeseburger

with speed.

Then back in A.A.,

at least for a day,

with a promise never to swerve.

Or down a dark alley

with a spike in my arm,

determined to fry that last nerve

It’s a struggle, my friends,

to live a moderate life

when your personality

leans to extremes.

Some said it was youth

but to tell you the truth,

I think that it’s mostly

my genes.

Nevertheless moderation’s my goal;

my resolve is unsurpassed…

(Hope springs eternal

in the heart of a man who

refuses to learn from his past).

Still this is my row,

though it’s a hard one to hoe,

and I frequently feel God’s wrath

When I come to that

three-tined fork in the road,

I’ll head for the middle path.

~ John Barrymore III

 

This post is from Los Angeles Poetry Examiner’s Friday Pick

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BOOK REVIEW by Sabne Raznik: Tomorrow Yvonne, Poetry & Prose For Suicidal Egotists by Yvonne de la Vega


The following review was originally posted at Yahoo!

Book Review: Yvonne De La Vega’s “Tomorrow, Yvonne -Poetry &

Prose for Suicidal Egotists”

 
BookCoverImage-1     In literary mythology and legend, poets were beings of a lofty kind. They were prophets, messengers of the gods or at least of the times. They were eccentric, crazy, lonely, fools, and wisdom personified. They were terrifying and compassionate, cold and warm, dazzling and puzzling. They went through the worst life had to deal out so as to sing of the most beautiful.
     But after 1914, two World Wars, Modernism, the bloodiest century in history (the 20th), followed quickly by what is stacking up to be an even more harrowing one (the 21st), we’re all grown up now. We don’t believe the stories. Our poets today are not heros with hearts closer to divinity. They are as dirty and ordinary as we are. And we treat them accordingly.
     Yvonne De La Vega both embraces this notion and challenges it in one breath. Her debut collection (which is also her Collected Poems) titled “Tomorrow, Yvonne: Poetry & Prose for Suicidal Egotists” is a thick volume full of surprises. The language is ordinary, sometimes in the gutter. The rhythms are those of Spoken Word poetry – lending itself more to audio than to text. And indeed, up to now, that is how De La Vega’s poetry has been presented and enjoyed. She is a lady of the street and of the moment, of seedy hangout joints and alleys where nothing much has changed but the drug in vogue. She can tell the stories of folk we tend to overlook: the homeless, the down-and-out, the never-had-glory-days, the castaway veteran, the bewildered immigrant, etc. But she also carries the lofty calling: declaring that poetry without a purpose isn’t poetry at all, that the war between good and evil is real, implying again and again that somehow she is meant by some higher power to write, and even reporting from the front lines of the Occupy Los Angeles Movement.
      This book is larger than life, like the city she writes from. De La Vega has a stated passion for jazz and her poetry reads like jazz, particularly when read as a whole as this book allows. Free-form like water and hard to take in all at once – that’s Yvonne De La Vega. Eccentric, crazy, lonely, terrifying and compassionate, cold and warm, dazzling and puzzling, a witness to our times, and as ordinary as your neighbor. Somehow, she’s all those contradictions. “Tomorrow, Yvonne: Poetry & Prose for Suicidal Egotists” is a contemporary answer to the literary legend.