MY OBSESSION WITH ALBERT AYLER





Those of you who know me personally or follow this blog, know that I do not shy away from talking about my mental health struggles. I hope to be part of the growing movement to help bring mental health issues out into the open in order to remove the stigma. I will say that telling a depressed person to “put on her big girl panties,” or “just get over it,” or “snap out of it,” or “you have nothing to be depressed about” are not helpful and only reinforce and increase the depression. The last one reminds me of our parents telling us, “I will give you something to cry about” in order to make us stop crying. I am still in the tunnel of depression, but there is from

time-to-time a glimpse of light.


One glimmer of light was on Friday night when Marilyn and I were able to return to Blu Jazz+ for the first time since Valentine’s Day of 2020. We were stimulated and overjoyed by the exuberance of the New Orleans music of the fabulous Sunny Side Jazz Band. We were also able to present a framed copy of my poem “Blu” and our Akron On Deck Ten of Clubs Card to be displayed in the club. It was so very therapeutic, and at one point, Marilyn referred to it as being in jazz church.





However, my mental state is still very fragile. On Saturday, I attended a poetry workshop, and the dark fog of imposter syndrome, unworthiness, and not being enough closed in all around me. The stress and tension and the hard uncomfortable chairs also aggravated the pain in my neck and my sciatica. I was in both mental and physical pain by the time the workshop was over. I am seriously considering whether I want to even bother to attend the last two sessions. Luckily some of my sanity was restored when I took Marilyn out to Papa Joe’s for her birthday, and certainty church on Sunday helped considerably. Right now, I am taking a step back from writing poetry and just doing the things that will help to restore my soul.


From time-to-time, I get obsessed with certain people or things. Maybe fascinated is a better world. My fascination right now is with the avant-garde tenor saxophonist Albert Ayler. He was born in Cleveland and raised in Shaker Heights. He disappeared and was found dead in New York’s East River, a presumed suicide; although, mystery still surrounds his death. Another hero dead by his own hand.


Albert combined his free jazz sensibilities with spirituality. His songs had such titles as “Spirits Rejoice,” “Our Prayer,” “Revelations,” “Speaking in Tongues,” “Universal Message,” “Holy, Holy,” “Love Cry,” and “Holy Family.” His last album was entitled “Music Is the Healing Force of the Universe.” That is exactly what I am searching for right now…a healing force.










Barbara Marie Minney is a transgender woman, poet, writer, speaker, and quiet activist. She is a retired attorney and originally from West Virginia. Now based in Tallmadge, Ohio, her first collection of poetry entitled “If There’s No Heaven” was the winner of the 2020 Poetry Is Life Book Award and the Akron Beacon Journal Best Northeast Ohio Books 2020. It is available at www.poetryislifepublishig.com. Follow her at www.barbaramarieminneypoetry.com.


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