[C]hicago raised spoken word artist J. Ivy has a profession many people would love to imitate. His career started from a routine homework assignment in high school, which caught the attention of his English teacher, who rallied him to perform.
That life-changing moment guided J. Ivy to Illinois State University, where he promptly developed a reputation as one of the best poets in the state.
After finishing college he hit the local Chicago art/poetry scene. His work ultimately lead to several high-profile appearances on Russell Simmons’ “HBO Def Poetry,” with a breakthrough performance of his song “I Need To Write” and “Dear Father.”
|Like many African-American students, J. Ivy battled a serious bout of depression, which impacted his life on campus.|
Now J. Ivy is an accomplished performer, who also has a Grammy Award under his belt, thanks to his appearance on Kanye West’s The College Dropout.
Despite working with musicians like Bob Dylan, The Roots, John Legend, RZA and others, J. Ivy’s hurt remained buried inside, because of his estranged relationship with his father. This was evident in his live performance for Russell Simmons “Def Poetry,” and the passion in his delivery of his poem “Dear Father.”
Now, the writer is delving deeper into his relationship with his father. In his new book “Dear Father: Breaking the Cycle of Pain,” J. Ivy explains the trials and tribulations he encountered growing up on 87th and Winchester, without a father as a teen, on the treacherous streets of Chicago’s Southside.
J. Ivy’s father Jim Richards, was a noted DJ in Chicago throughout the 1970’s and 80’s. His dad struggled with drugs and alcohol, which resulted in his parents divorce and his father’s exit from his life.
“If you don’t deal with your emotions, one day your emotions will deal with you,” J. Ivy said, in hopes fans will channel their emotions into positive expressions.
His new 304- page book is divided up into three parts, the first being titled “Pain,” the second being “Purpose” and the last, is named “Power.”
“These hidden issues that preyed on me, these problems that wrestled with my soul, there in the midst of my subconscious, they grew beastly, feasting nightly on my misery, transforming my joy in to pain,” J. Ivy revealed.
J. Ivy should have a sizable reading audience that can identify with the strife of growing up without a dad. In the United States, it is estimated that 15 million, or 1 in 3 children, are currently without a father.
Out of that number, 5 million of these kids are African-American.
Being in a household without a father leads to all kinds of problems research shows. Children in single matriarchal households often abuse alcohol, encounter sexual abuse and are more prone to depression and suicide.
J. Ivy revealed that he fought with depression during a period of time in school over the lack of contact with his dad. He eventually reconciled his relationship with his father. But it wasn’t until the elder Richards passed away, that J. Ivy could forgive him, for walking out on his son, who was just 12-years-old at the time.
For J. Ivy the book’s purpose is twofold: to heal himself through the process of writing and to inspire his fans and readers to reach new heights in their lives.