Michael Lerman, who has cerebral palsy, describes how and why he created “420 Flowers Behind XVI Bars” and “Flow of Illuminati,” two books of poetry and lyrics remarkable not only for their content but for the fact that both were written, prepared and designed without any type of writing utensil, keyboard or pointing device such as a computer mouse or touchpad. You can see Michael’s work and purchase his books at www.michaelslyric.com.
“For as long as I can remember myself, I was always fascinated with music. Having Cerebral Palsy since the age of five months, playing an instrument or singing wasn’t really an option. But, there was something else. I started to read when I was 4. There were plenty of children books and alphabet toys. Nobody remembers teaching me how to read. I don’t remember, either. It just kind of happened. I must have put it all together, somehow. I remember that I used to turn pages by using my face, my mouth and my nose. So, books became everyday companion. I was reading all the famous science fiction, fantasy, and of course, poetry writers. It was music and books that got me through my childhood, and it wasn’t always easy. Although, despite all of the limitations, I never considered myself to be disabled. Different? Yes, very different. But then, all of us are “different.” That is one of the greatest characteristics of physical existence.
My first book, “Michael’s Lyric” didn’t start as a book. It started as a desire to create music. The first lyrics in the book were the first ones I ever wrote. Many lyrics were turned into songs. Music is the inspiration. Only four years ago, if somebody would have told me that I would have a paperback, I would have never believed them. I Just do not have the patience to write a book. It’s just that I gathered all these lyrics and I needed somewhere to put them. A digital book seemed like a good way to go. Then, the paperback was created, as a last minute idea, just 3 months before the end of 2011. I think that an artist cannot be happy if no one can witness their creations. I figured, if I will continue to put out books, I might live to hear my lyrics on American radio.
There are very few authors that use voice software for limited tasks. The general consensus is that it is almost impossible to write, edit, and design (interior/exterior) a book by using nothing but voice software. If that is so, then, this book is the impossible. Not only that, it is also published by using voice software. It takes a good amount of patience and focus to use voice to text. While I write, I listen to an instrumental music the entire time. So, I have to keep on beat and rhyme, keep check on ideas/concepts, while dictating and catching any mistakes that the software might make, all at the same time. I am not even going to go into describing what difficulties cerebral palsy adds on to the entire process I don’t generally mention any of this, because I would rather people to concentrate on the writing instead of challenges and difficulties I might be facing.
I have contacted major magazines, newspapers, television stations, music /art institutions, academies of education, and historical societies. No one knows of anything like this book. Throughout human history, there are some recollections of books like this one, books that were written by using air vibrations. However, as far as I know, no one is aware of existing copies. That leads me to believe that Michael’s Lyric is the first and only book of its kind. In 2011, when the first paperback, “Michael’s Lyric (420 Flowers Behind XVI Bars)” was published, I didn’t think of it that way. I was just happy that it worked. It was like in the movie Back To The Future. “It worked! It worked! It actually worked!!”
My website, www.michaelsLyric.com, is and always will be the home for the book series. The domain existed before the book. It took 16 years, 6 computers, 4 wheelchairs, and many microphones to create this collection of work. Just 8 years before the first lyrics were recorded as a demo, I was 13 years old, starting junior high school, and I knew almost no English. I remember one of the teachers taking an apple out of a lunch bag and saying, “APPLE.” Most people called me by my name, Misha. One day, I was watching TV, and I saw this amazing artist, Michael Jackson. I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if my name was Michael. I didn’t realize that Mihail is Michael, in Russian. And soon as my family moved from Moscow to Chicago, my name became Michael, automatically, out of convenience. At the same time, something else significant happened. I fell in love with Hip Hop and R&B. In 2009, when it came to choosing a name for the first book, it was natural, “Michaels Lyric.” That collection was available only in a form of a digital file. In 2010, I decided that for every new book that is to come out, Michael’s Lyric shall be the name for the book series and the title of the most recent chapter shall be the name of the most recent book in the series.
That brings me to the title of the current book, “Michael’s Lyric (Flow Of Illuminati).” There are several ways to understand this title. Illuminati, of course, means enlightened. At some level, all is enlightened, everything and everyone. Otherwise, nothing could exist. And so, the title; “Flow Of Illuminati,”flow of humanity. The 2nd and the 3rd chapters of the book contain 16 bar Hip Hop poetry verses. Just like many Hip Hop lyricists, I pride myself on the flow of my bars. Dare I say that there is no one in Hip Hop that writes like me.
Music, lyrics, Hip Hop, stories, the good, the bad and the ugly… it’s all in this book. And yes, in its own way, it does talk about difficulties of having a physical disability. But mostly, this book is everything that is human. It celebrates the ability of Creation to expand and evolve, no matter what. This existence is all about love and passion. Follow yours.”