THE MEASURE OF A MAN: A SPIRITUAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY, by Sidney Poitier

SPIRITUAL “Of, Relating to, Consisting of, or Affecting the Spirit” – Webster’s Dictionary

Dear Reader,

As a movie fan, I’ve always been smitten with Poitier’s voice—his diction and control on film, and the flow of his words as they travel in and around his ideas during interviews―so I read The Measure of a Man (2000) with an ear for his voice. I wondered Is his power translatable to print? It is, but that required the reader to allow Poitier’s thoughts to meander until they find their point, and to understand his thoughts are less formulated (or formal) this way, and the text is more “in his own words,” than they might be if they were edited out. I read just enough “You know?”s “You hear me when I tell you?”s and “You follow?”s to feel like he talked directly to me, but not too many to annoy me. I imagined what it might be like to have a conversation with Poitier. My answer? Intimidating as heck, I think he’d encourage me to speak my mind.

As an editor, I read to learn know how Poitier defines a “spiritual” autobiography. Is it just I-Was-A-Sinner-But-I-Found-Jesus-And-Now-I’m-Saved? Is it a list of how Christianity or another faiths influenced his life? Neither.  Poitier examines the people, events, circumstances, beliefs, and so on, which related to, consisted of, or affected his spirit, and, in doing so, he writes about childhood experiences in the Bahamas, his changing perceptions about his parents, how he adapts to living in the United States, his approach to acting and film making, and his attitudes toward fatherhood. Plus, he shares a thought-provoking debate between a friend and he about the Basic Truth of Nature.

Is The Measure of a Man going to satisfy readers interested only in Poitier’s film career? No. But I urge them to read it anyway, if for no other reason than to find out how his spirit influenced his acting and film choices.

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