A compelling foray into the life and work of poet philosopher Walter K. Delbridge. From rising star of the civil rights era to outcast ‘schizophrenic,’ Delbridge reclaims his dignity in poetry and prose, constructing beauty from fragmented structures of oppression. Living a life of relative isolation, he determined to ‘steel’ his mind through study and creative expression, building inner pathways of resilience that would lead to his recovery and return, on his terms this time.
From stargazing poetry to his call for free thinkers to join him in writing the “Book of Ideas,” to intimate journal entries dating back to 1982, Delbridge reveals the transformative power of his own experience, inspiring others to join him in the dance. As Delbridge’s longtime collaborator Kate Tucker says, “His life, his experience is his great work, so great that it takes a whole choir of voices to sing it.” Tucker’s voice infuses the book with biographical context and editorial commentary in a subtle duet with Delbridge’s own special kind of jazz.
About the Author
Having studied at Harvard, Yale, and Morehouse, Walter Delbridge was on his way to the Sorbonne as one of the first African Americans to receive a Ford Foundation scholarship, when a diagnosis of schizophrenia changed the trajectory of his life. While institutionalized in a psychiatric hospital, his poetry was published alongside the likes of Langston Hughes, Leadbelly, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Audre Lorde in the renowned anthology Understanding the New Black Poetry and in Orde Coomb’s We Speak As Liberators. He continued to write in isolation and in 2017, Oxford University Press published new poetry from Delbridge, along with his letter to the National Institute of Mental Health, in their flagship journal Schizophrenia Bulletin. Now 75, he spends day and night among stacks of books in his apartment in Middlebury, Akron’s oldest neighborhood.
About the Editor
Kate Tucker is a writer, artist, and producer born and raised in Akron, Ohio. As a singer-songwriter, she’s released five albums, two EPs, and 23 music videos. Her production work includes books, films, podcasts, fashion editorials, and art exhibitions. Tucker holds a B.A. in English and French from the University of Akron and she’s guest lectured at Vanderbilt and Belmont Universities. Having recently returned to Akron after living in Paris, Seattle, New York, and Nashville, Tucker is working with Delbridge on the documentary film, Tell It Like It Is, centered on his life and work.
Advance Praise for Comeback Evolution
Kate Tucker’s rich narrative leads us to the door of the intricate, complex and beautiful mind of Walter Delbridge. And Walter, through his broad collection of prose and poetry, opens the door and invites us inside to be a part of his redemptive story.
–Al Andrews, Founder and Executive Director of Porter’s Call
“There are many people in the world who simply need voices heard, yet many implement their voice into their artwork. It takes a special person to see the full story of an artist, and Kate Tucker was the right person. It’s a blessing to see Walter’s story told, and his work preserved! Both are soulful human beings”
–Theron Brown, Director of Rubber City Jazz and Blues Festival
This volume reveals the resilience, ingenuity and humanity of Mr. Delbridge whose words have a way of unlocking emotions, memories, and thoughts. Lovingly curated and edited by Ms. Kate Tucker, Comeback Evolution is also a testament to the deep and enduring friendship between the Tucker family and Mr. Delbridge that led to the rediscovery of his work and restoration of his place in the literary world. Comeback Evolution is a generous open invitation to all of us to rediscover our capacity to be inspired and transformed by the beauty of words and the power of human connections.
–Sohee Park Ph.D., Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of Psychology, Vanderbilt University
In every sentence you can grasp the supreme intellect of Walter. His creativity and artistry are evident in his poetry. But to fully understand the artist, you must understand his journey. Rarely is an individual so attuned to their thoughts and feelings in a way that they are able to accept and embrace the positive and negative, and all that falls between. Rarely can an individual convey these thoughts and feelings in the written word. This is Walter the artist: a beautiful, humble, kind soul.
–Leslie Powlette Stoyer, Executive Director NAMI Summit County
Foreword Reviews: https://www.forewordreviews.com/reviews/comeback-evolution/
Book Talk-The Akron Beacon Journal- https://www.beaconjournal.com/story/entertainment/books/2022/11/20/color-capital-of-the-world-is-tale-written-in-crayon/69644924007/?fbclid=IwAR14zqTlkyEmSylHGY5Q8mQDN57MuKlFtTB_H9NEkKBG9WWSSRAajoDpFtY