Toliver, like so many others who are born gifted but don’t capitalize on their assets, copped out to less. He counted himself among the sleeping giants residing under bridges, in jail cells, and in graveyards. One would think that a man like Toliver, who had been subjected to these conditions, would evaluate, search and attempt to remove himself from such degradation, he said in a recent interview.
Toliver’s epiphany came while serving a long prison term in Wisconsin. He began writing poems and short stories about his dark life experiences. Writing was his escape; he said it was a therapeutic way to slowly allow him to find himself. Pen and paper were always top priority on his commissary list, he said, because these simple items were giving him the wherewithal to medicate and rebuild his tainted, damaged soul.
After compiling a collection of stories of his reality, Toliver took a chance and began sharing his pain with the men who squeezed into the same tight quarters with him for over a decade. Lacking the courage though to claim his stories as his own personal experience, he changed his name in the tales he related. He just could not allow his fellow convicts to know that he had a drug habit. Revealing to his cellmates that he was molested by a man of the cloth would have been insanity. And why would he allow the cons to know that he had experienced spurts of homelessness? Pride had encouraged Toliver’s stagnation. But what he had failed to realize was that his peers were also cursed and self-punctured with similar vices. After hearing their feedback, it finally dawned on Toliver that his words held power. The affirmation he sought in order to continue to tell his stories came through the responses, the body language, the cascading tears, even the silence that flowed from the legions of his felonious readers.
Now, Toliver is home, his chains lifted, his liberation celebrated, his wings flapping, his self- rehabilitation accomplished. He says he knows his purpose and present reason for being here.
Not only has Toliver changed dramatically, the times have also. In Toliver’s opinion, the world got herself in a big rush during the period of his incarceration. Toliver says he has realized he has to change with the times. In the beginning, frustration and confusion consumed him, but now his pit bull spirit has kicked in, and he is challenging his new fears of the changes in technology.
“Google this! E-mail me! Pay it on Pay Pal! Tweet me! Facebook this!”
Toliver said he was naïve to all these new technological terms. Though overwhelmed by it all, he chose not to falter, but instead began to ask questions. He had to learn this new way. With seven felonies, he knew his chances of acquiring a good job were slim to none.
But Toliver had an ace up his sleeve. He had a book to market! A great book, his baby, a blessing to the Kingdom of God, as he puts it. Instead of cruising in his car Toliver is now surfing the web. He is amazed by all the overnight success stories of those who utilize the internet as their marketing vehicle to cultivate new lives. He is fascinated by the fact that the push of a button backed up by a great idea can generate wealth and self-satisfaction. Prison was the humble ending to his former life, and the web is the new beginning of his bright future. Toliver wanted to get his book out into the world, so he began checking out the websites of publishing companies and learning how an impatient writer could self-publish. Knowing himself to be a more persistent than a patient man, he opted to self-publish.
Toliver met with Jermaine Taris, a graphic designer who assisted him in bringing his vision of his book cover to life. He then created his own website: www.cryingscrolls.com. He located a printer in Chicago, IL, and the rest is history. Toliver said he feels important now. He is making a difference. He is his own boss and no longer has to worry about that question on most applications which makes felons quiver, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?”
With the assistance of Taris, Toliver is learning how to upload new posts on his website. He is selling his first novel, Hallway Man, through this same website, www.cryingscrolls.com.
Al McFarlane of Insight News has personally taken an interest in Toliver and enrolled him in the Broadband Access Project which will help him broaden his technological skills.
Toliver runs his fledgling, itty bitty business out of an itty bitty room in the itty bitty ‘hood. He recently found out that he has an itty bitty roommate – a mouse!
Toliver said he would sure love to copy and paste that little joker back to where it came from!
This publication "Technology enables late bloomer" was prepared by (MMMC) under award #27-42-B10003 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, US Department of Commerce. The statements, findings, conclusions, and recommendations are those of the author (s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the US Department of Commerce.