Dr. Neal Hall, a graduate of Cornell and Harvard Universities, is a medical-surgical eye physician by day, and an internationally acclaimed poet by night. His poetry, which tells spine-chilling truths about injustice and inhumanity, has been performed in many countries outside of the United States, including: Kenya, Indonesia, France, Jamaica, Morocco, Canada, Nepal, Italy, and India. He has authored four books of poetry: “Nigger for Life,” “Winter’s A’ Coming Still,” “Appalling Silence,” and “Where do I Sit.” According to Dr. Cornel West, Hall’s poetry “has the capacity to change ordinary people’s philosophy on social and racial issues.”
What role does truth play in your writing?
It frees me from worldwide institutional greed, whose lies they drape in flags, anthems, and robes of divinity.
How does honesty in storytelling translate to your character?
I am always cautious of those manipulating man-made psycho-behavioral determinants (i.e. character, morals, ethics) of human values, we are made to wear by those who do not.
What is character? Is it universal in nature? Who defines character? Do we define it for others or ourselves? Is it not, in large part, culturally, religiously, regionally, socially defined; all of which are self-servingly flawed?
If there is this thing called character, it is an inside-out revelation, not an outside-in indoctrination. It would certainly require that you discover true truths for yourself so that you are not ruled nor misguided by the lies dressed up as truths and half-truths gluttonous men do sell us daily.
We cannot continue to be the conduits of greed’s truths, which would have us regurgitating what we know to be its lies. This kind of madness, for example, is pervasive throughout the bodies of politics and politicians we allow to live and persists through us.
How do you determine something is worth writing about?
There are things that we know are inherently right or wrong. We are left to decide how much of ourselves, if any, we will compromise to stand up for what is right or stand against what is wrong. We know the difference. We can feel the difference. It’s in our DNA. Selfish greed feeds our denials of right and wrong, action or inaction.
Your truest humanitarian heart determines worthiness for you. Each sleepless night ‘it’ keeps you awake thinking, the ‘it‘ determines it for you.
Each beat of your heart that calls you to action for or against that which it beats on behalf of, determines for you. If we stay open to listening, connected to our circle of humanity, ‘it‘ will speak to us of truth and worthiness.
What do you find most challenging about writing the truth?
When the lies of others with influence and power cloud truth’s presence.
What advice do you give to aspiring creative nonfiction writers and where did you learn that tip?
1. There are inherent truths and wrongs. Beyond those, you must discover for yourself what is the real truth. Many of the wrongs are those others of deceit indoctrinate us with. We must be our truths and not those told in the lies of history – his – story, not ours.
2. Michael Jackson said that he is as much a part of his music as his music is a part of him. He, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and Gandhi lived this as an art form. Writing the truth is not enough. We must live within our writings as much as our writings live within us. Then would the words on our pages and the words we speak from our mouths be virtuous of truth, worthy of moving hearts and minds.