Elliot Fant has survived a life too tragic for words. Both his parents succumbed to a life of drugs and eventually passed away when the East Orange native was barely a toddler.
Raised for most of his life by his grandmothers, Fant never forgot the pain he endured of not having his parents around.
“Nobody would ever guess that I’ve gone through what I went through as a kid,’’ said Fant, who graduated from Kean with a degree in English writing last year and is in the midst of trying to attain a second bachelor’s degree in sociology at Kean. “Trying to piece it all together at a young age was overwhelming.’’
Fant has now funneled much of his feelings through a new published book of poetry called “The Execution of Revolution.’’
It wasn’t until he unveiled a memoir poetry piece in one of his classes at Kean that friends and others became aware of his turbulent background.
“That memoir poem allowed me to let everything out,’’ Fant said. “When others in the class heard it, they were moved to tears, and they had known me for four years. That was my first sign to take this ability for writing poetry more seriously.’’
Fant, 27, credits Kean English professor Susanna Rich for encouraging his poetic pursuits.
“I would have never started taking poetry seriously without her class,’’ he said. “It gave me the confidence I needed to embark on this journey.’’
Fant also praised his grandmothers for their support.
“The roles my grandmothers played in my life were like what a mother and father would do,’’ he said. “My mother’s mother was the more coddling one, while my father’s mother was more hardnosed. They are the bright sun ray that came out of this whole dilemma.’’
When asked to describe his style of poetry, Fant said he considers it a mix-mash.
“I think a mix of poetry is essential because the reader is sporadic,’’ he said. “There is something that really everybody can relate to. There’s a deeper message behind every poem I do. I go about it in funny and hardcore ways to drive my message home.’’
Fant said he’s participated in a number of poetry slams but found they were more about popularity and showmanship rather than the actual poetry he recited.
“Langston Hughes was one of the greatest poets of all time but if you perform his work at a slam it probably won’t resonate well,’’ he said.
Additionally, Fant fastidiously thinks that poetry remains as viable as ever.
“I’ve met so many underground poets who are like machinists in the way they put their words together,’’ he said. “Poetry like comedy speaks on the human condition. I want to reach as many people as possible with my poetry. I knew I would be cheating myself if I didn’t use this ability. God gives everybody something. Once you see it’s an extraordinary gift from God, you have to use it.’’
Here’s the poem “Sounds/The Night Life’’ from Fant’s book:
Sounds – 10:45: train arrival, a mother hums Bill Withers’ “A Lovely Day,’’ brakes grinding, perfect timing, traffic light goes yellow, then red.
The moon is slim, the sky is purple, the sound of a sax abducts the air, skies move as darkness grooves, stretching like stockings up a woman’s leg. Tambourines chime, but not in time, as fire truck sirens sound. The lewd are apprehended, a child’s left unattended, I decide to take the long way home.
Debris cowers from rain showers, then retreats to cracks in street pavement , the lights go out in a family’s home what comes of an unpaid payment. A man passes, clamoring about the joys of a faceless God and hands me a pamphlet asking “Do you believe,” the homeless search for victims to rob. I guess they figure it is nearly winter. A wife scolds her husband who is late for dinner and all this while a hooker beguiles that husband with her charms.
A car passes, stock system blasting Bob Marley, “Three Little Birds,’’ harmony cries as melodies rise to offer his light unto the skies. 12:03: I pass right the courts where the street lamps huddle, time stood stoic, a man is beaten by blue suits with night sticks in black tunnels. Footsteps harden, heartbeats harden, then dissipate as the rumbling softens. Squid cars leave and disperse autumn leaves, the man is left with a car for a coffin. 12:53: When I take out my key as the springs of my sofa bed call, I open my door to an echoing roar, it’s silence: loudest of all.