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“Author & Poet: Michael L Womack’s” July 2012 Interview with “The APHRODISIAC Show” (e-Magazine)

Michael Lee Womack : Poet Soldier

Submitted by: Lynn Veach Sadler into the Lee County Star – Tribune
on Wed, 12/30/2009 – 2:05pm

On December 21, I received a call from Michael Lee Womack, who had been searching for an editor on the Internet and found me. He had hoped to work with his tenth-grade Creative Writing teacher, Angela Stancar, but she is living in England. We met the next day at the main library, and he turned his manuscript over to me. Michael, the son of Brenda Ellis Thompson, of Sanford, and Billy Ray Womack, Jr., of Moncure, is home on leave for Christmas, and has to return to his base in Georgia on January 4. He hopes to go with his edited book in hand. His Augusta, Georgia, publisher is waiting for it.

A month after his graduation from Lee Senior High School, Michael enlisted (June, 2005) in the Army as a Cavalry Scout. After completing Basic Training and AIT [Advanced Individual Training] at Fort Knox, Kentucky, he left for his first duty station at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii. He served in A Troop 3/4 Cav [Alpha Troop, 3rd Squadron, 4th Cavalry] from November, 2005, to April, 2008, including fourteen months in Iraq. While there, Spc. [Specialist] Womack met Sfc. [Sergeant First Class] Alfredrick L. Cambric, who was writing his first book. They became friends, and Cambric began coaching Michael in the art of getting a book published.

In May, 2009, after serving a year in l-16th Cav, Fort Knox Armor [1st Squadron, 16th Cavalry, Armored Regiment], he extended his contract, reporting to Ft. Gordon, Georgia, to be re-classified as a 25 [MOS] Sierra Satellite Communications Operator/Maintainer. Unexpectedly, he found that his friend, Alfredrick Cambric, now retired from the Army and a pastor and counselor of inner-city youth, was teaching at the “25B schoolhouse” [25 Bravo School, Ft. Gordon]. Their chance encounter has led to his friend’s commitment to bring out, through his now established press, Michael’s book.

Michael’s dream, since about age fourteen, has been to write poetry and get it published. He was always unusually shy, particularly in the presence of females. His best friend, the military buddy he met in Hawaii, Robert Earl Buckner, III, from Beaufort, South Carolina, kept telling him, “A closed mouth never gets fed.” Michael decided that, if he couldn’t communicate through speech, he’d use poetry as his main outlet.

Manual of Love: A Man’s Journey to Self-Discovery is a collection of poems Michael began writing at approximately age fourteen. Most were written later, including a few after his tour in Iraq. They are divided into seventeen sections, ranging from My First Encounter With Love to Colors: The Pigment of Passion, each introduced with supporting quotations from, primarily, literary icons. With a few exceptions (as passing references to “dog tag” and “fighting for freedom”), the poems do not allude to the military or war. In a real way, however, they war against one-night-stand men and mistreatment of women and urge truth and honesty in love. They draw on traditional literature (e.g., Shakespeare, Poe, Hawthorne) and on popular culture (e.g., Rap, R&B, comics, sports figures) and can be “raw” and earthy. (They have taught this much-older poet new “tricks”!) More often, Michael’s poetry is innocently tender, even when juxtapositions are flagrant violations of the “expected.” Frequently his perceptions are keen and attention-commanding (“Feeling like walking down the aisle of a church in an Oreo tux”). He can take a known and make it new, as in this verse from “Where Do We Go Now?”—

No matter if outside is
global warming
or mid-December.
I accept for certain—
it is better to have tried
and failed
than never to have tried at all.
“Love’s labor’s lost,”
love’s labor unknown
would feel like Armageddon.

Michael believes that the Army has “made something out of him” and that the soldiers who know him recognize his “heart” and refusal to give up. His will and commitment are evident in his “chasing his dream of publishing his first book.” He describes himself as now “running with, and not against, the wind.”

All of us “back home” thank Michael for what he is doing for us. We take pride in him (and all those serving in our Armed Forces), wish him the fairest winds possible amid the winds of war, and await the publication of his Manual of Love.

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