Nine years ago, Peter T. James, a young poet from North Bergen, was killed at the age of 22 by a drunk driver. But even though he is gone, he is able to help others, thanks to the efforts of his parents to keep the memory of his spirit alive.
April 21st will be the sixth anniversary of the Elevation Walk in honor of Peter. Organized by his parents, the event raises money for the Elevation Project, which each year makes a donation to a non-for-profit organization.
In the past, funds have gone toward the Alzheimer’s Association and Opportunity Project, a not-for-profit that helps patients suffering from traumatic brain injuries.
This year the walk is going to benefit The Bright & Beautiful Therapy Dogs from Morris Plains who train the dogs to go into nursing homes, hospices, children's wards.
“We continue to bring him back out into the world each year.” Gloria James
“We walk 10 blocks and ask for one dollar a block,” said Mrs. James. “Peter always said, ‘As long as I have a few dollars in my pocket and my family, I'm good,’ so that is why we only ask for a dollar a block.”
For more information, email James at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (201) 348-4209.
A literary life cut short
After Peter died on Jan. 19, 2003, his parents cleaned out his bedroom and found 20 notebooks of his writing. A year later, they found 15 more books in a grammar school back pack, and more writing in one of Peter’s sketch books.
In his writings he used his artist name ‘Elevation’ – hence the name of the charity.
“Living on Paper Streets” and two other compilations have been published and archived at the Poet’s House in New York so his writing will be around forever, said James.
“We continue to bring him back out into the world each year,” said James.
She continued, “In one of his books [he wrote], ‘A simple man with something to say is the perfect masterpiece.’ He truly believed that the everyday, average-class working persons were the heroes of the world. I myself never want my son to fade to black, so we try to do something good.”
Since publication of his work, Peter has been recognized twice by the VH1’s Save the Music contest, and a Denmark composer has created a tribute hymn. One of his friends, Joe Burns, produced a CD by fusing his poetry with more updated hip-hop.