Poet David Sharp speaks to LAHS crowd at annual writer's forum
David Preston Sharp, a multi-dimensional speaker, writer and communicator, cautioned his audience: "You got to know when to shuck and jive."
Speaking before an assembled group of students at Los Altos High School, April 8, Sharp recited pieces of his inspiring poetry about black culture, keeping the students immersed in his presentation. At the request of the faculty, this was his fourth visit to talk to and motivate the students at Los Altos High School.
Sharp, 41, was the last in a series of speakers at the third annual high school writer's conference. The event included numerous area writers and several San Jose Mercury reporters explaining how to achieve a career in writing.
"My father was a minister and my mother was an English teacher in Atlanta, and writing became my way of life at the age of 14 when I started to write songs," Sharp said. "I write my own sermons and my own speeches and I don't get paid until someone buys my work. I'm a freelancer. I'm not like those newspaper people who came before me and get paid before they write."
Because of his wide ranging skills, which include tap dancing, singing and acting, Sharp was able to engage his audience in ways beyond lecturing.
"Why Black Men Cry" was his first entry into writing professionally after his wife gave him the ultimatum, "If you want to write full-time, then you take care of the kids."
Sharp has taken care of his 10-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter for the last five years. He writes after the family goes to bed and stays up writing until 3 a.m.
"The reason African-Americans don't walk straight is they were taught not to in Africa," he said.
Sharp said: "Everything has rhythm, the sun, the moon, the seasons and even the humming bird flapping his wings. Then, somewhere on slave ships we retained rhythm, but lost our meaning."
A lot of Sharp's autobiographical culture is set in a one-man show he regularly performs called, "I Am A Black Man. Who Are You?"
"It's the story of my past generations and it expresses the feeling of pride that comes from deep inside yourself. I am a black man who was transported from Africa and transformed in America," Sharp said. "Some people call it jive. I call it our culture. It's the story of rhythm and blues. The rhythm I got in Africa, the blues from America."
Sharp has a bachelor's degree from the University of Southern California and a master's degree from the San Francisco Theological Seminary.
Whether he is delivering a straight-forward lecture, or reciting his inspiring poetry, Sharp keeps his audiences in rhythm with the power of his dreams.