In this time of the pandemic, racial discord, national mourning, mental health awareness, and discontent, My Strength, My Song is a must-read blog for any young adult, regardless of faith, who is searching for light in what appears to be a period of darkness.
Los Angeles-based artist and writer Ryan Williams French is thrilled to launch his new blog, My Strength, My Song. The blog contains a collection of poems and essays focused on empowering and encouraging young men and women of color. Many of his works are accompanied by audio and visual elements that bring life to the young writer’s reflections on fatherhood, masculinity, and identity formation. In addition to personal insights, Ryan pulls from a collection of authoritative writers and thinkers, including Nelson Mandela, Viktor Frankl, and Carl Jung, to formulate deeper connections that can be applied to life. Although many of his insights are inspired by his Christian faith, the blog is not intended to prescribe a belief system to its readers.
His first poem/essay, “Why Do Bids Sing Early in the Morning?” sings loudly in the space of silence and isolation the pandemic has created. Using the Bird Song as a framework, Ryan investigates the ramifications of absent fathers in young men’s lives. Despite some assumptions that fathers are not critical to the success of a child’s development, statistics and discourse on family structures demonstrate the centrality of a present male figure in a young boy’s upbringing. As young boys without fathers mature into men, they face the dismal reality of higher prison incarceration rates, higher rates of clinical depression and anxiety, difficulties excelling in grade school, problems managing anger, alcohol and drug abuse, and domestic violence. In the face of these trends, Ryan’s poem, or rather, ódé of faith, reconciliation, and self-acceptance, offers strength and courage to young men grappling with the reality of an absent father.
His second essay “Flowers for Algernon/ observations on love and memories,” Is inspired by Daniel Keye’s epistolary novel “Flowers for Algernon.” The essay is written in letter format and is addressed to a student. One could argue that it’s the most affectionate of Mr. William’s blog series. The essay examines the reality of depression and offers a gift of hope and faith through its celebration of life.
Last, Ryan delivers a sobering reflection on race in America in his essay “Something to Live For.” Similar to “Flower’s for Algernon,” the essay is addressed to a former student and gives an account of the writer’s recent traumatic encounter with the police. Mr. French also performs a powerful spoken word poem.
It is evident Ryan has a background in acting and education, his audio recordings of his works masterfully accentuate the spirit of his impassioned writing with poetic fervor. In addition to essays, My Strength, My Song revisits parables from the Bible that offer timeless insights on spiritual and personal development.