By ANNE DONNELLI want to recommend a book written by someone I know and really like. He had a book signing at Sherlock’s and the book is available at Amazon.com. The author’s name is Gregrhi Love; the book is There Is An Urgency.-A Former Student of Yours Now Teaching
One year I taught English IV, and most seniors don’t get cut loose without a glance at Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Then they’re free to murmur knowingly the witches’ chant (“Double, double toil and trouble; /Fire burn and cauldron bubble.” Act IV, scene 1). Act IV also gave the bolder ones, “Out, d----d spot! out, I say!” (scene 4)
But Act IV contains the heart tearing cry of Macduff, “…All my pretty ones? Did you say all?” Macduff’s children have been slaughtered in the downward spiral of horror begun when Macbeth and Lady Macbeth undertook the assassination of Duncan, good King of Scotland.
Macduff is advised by Malcolm, “Dispute it like a man.” (Malcolm, a kinsman of Duncan, will, post Macbeth, restore order and morality to Scotland.)
Macduff answers, “I shall do so; /But I must also feel it as a man: /I cannot but remember such things were, /That were most precious to me. Did heaven look on, /And would not take their part? Sinful Macduff, /They were all struck for thee! naught that I am, /Not for their own demerits, but for mine, /Fell slaughter on their souls. Heaven rest them now!”
Malcolm has more advice: “Be this the whetstone of your sword: let grief/ Convert to anger; blunt not the heart, enrage it.”
The play shows us the descent of human behavior, propelled by mindless ambition, spewing destruction in all directions -- even to the perpetrators, reaching quickly the point where civilization is abandoned, children are murdered. That point in any group, family or country, is marked by children’s being unprotected, vulnerable, subject to violence and death.
Malcolm’s final advice should ring through our era, urging our emotions be directed toward change in the battlefield of inner city or wherever abuse reigns, wherever small soldiers, some in diapers, in vain protest their attackers.
But first we have to wake up; we have to acknowledge a “parallel universe” of drugs and crime, of adults who slap away responsibility or monstrously abuse children because they can. This is not an over-in-sixty-minutes-minus-commercials TV special about some community housing problems on another continent. It’s here. Now. There Is An Urgency.
Gregrhi Love tells two stories: his childhood, spliced by his adult work experiences as a teacher and as a staff member at a juvenile detention center. (He never says “juvie.” That’s taking lightly something desperate, painful, and dangerous.)
As a very young child, Love was subject to terrible beatings and sexual abuse. The culprit was his mother Debbie’s pimp. Debbie, drug addicted and weak, said some of the “right things” but provided no protection from Bobby’s outbursts, directed at her and at Gregrhi. Love’s father was in prison. Other children were in the apartment; we learn most about Matthew, because Bobby spared Matthew, a year, less a day, older than Gregrhi. Matthew, though less scarred physically and mentally than his brother, grew up to be in love with drugs and, predictably, incarcerated.
The full blown descriptions of the abuse bring home what home life can be. Sitting in the desks of American classrooms are children suffering as Gregrhi suffered. Now. Not just then. Or only in Connecticut where he was. Here. Now.
The book switches back and forth from Love’s childhood to Love’s adult life. He’s careful in trimming so readers, though overwhelmed by what he tells, are left with the same hope he is busy sowing in his work as a teacher and as a detention center staff member.
He shows his students and the detainees, some former students, something important and often overlooked in what we should give others: respect.
He shows kindness, also; more than sentiment, it’s often the sum of little things, like warm towels from the dryer for the detainees taking chilly morning showers.
Every student’s story is not wrapped up with a cozy ending; Love lets us in on a teacher’s pain when students are removed suddenly from school or do impetuous, disastrous things.
He shows the teamwork necessary to work with these young people, the other adults who assist become real people to the reader. As does the mother who refused money she needed because her son earned it from drugs, and the boy medicated to sleep at school.
Love shows something else, too. Courage. Now as an adult. Then as a child.
The details of this book won’t leave quickly, but neither will the gratitude that among us walks a Gregrhi Love.