Cameron Conaway is a creative writing instructor for Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth and the 2006 recipient of the Richard Russo Award for Creative Writing. He was the 2007-2009 Poet-in-Residence at the University of Arizona's MFA Creative Writing Program. He is also the author of the poetry book Until You Make the Shore. He has trained with Renzo Gracie, the London Shootfighters, and is currently studying Muay Thai in Thailand. CameronConaway.com
Cagedby Cameron Conaway
Accomplished MMA fighter and award-winning writer Cameron Conaway presents in Caged the true story of a young man who overcomes a family background and his own inner torment by learning to channel his frustrations into the physical world of mixed martial arts fighting and the cerebral world of poetry and writing. It teaches the value of personal reflection, how life's most painful moments can lead to a deeper understanding and appreciation of human nature, and just what is possible when optimism and determination combine to overcome tough odds. Caged shows how the pursuit of two seemingly disparate passions helped a struggling boy blossom into a simple man. The result is a literary and lyrical philosophical journey into the heart and mind of a modern-day warrior.
- Mindstir Media
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- Product dimensions:
- 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.57(d)
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I came across Cameron Conaway by way of Twitter, so when I came across the book during a giveaway, I jumped at the chance. I knew that Cameron Conaway was a social justice editor of the GoodMen Project, a mixed martial artist, English instructor, and poet, but I didn't know a lot about how came to be all of those things. I expected this memoir to be like many others I have read in the past, a straightforward account of a fighter recalling his "rise to fame." What I got was something a little different and remarkably better, a memoir that captures the internal workings of a man seeking to define and redefine himself in almost every sense. Caged: Memoirs of a Cage-Fighting Poet is an interesting, 250-page memoir to say the least. It starts off with a quote from Chinua Achebe and then flows into a mixture of verse and prose covering manhood, relationships, writing, childhood, work, teaching, mixed martial arts (of course), philosophy and strangely enough acting. As I mentioned before, Conaway's book does not flow in a straight linear pattern like most other books; rather it flows more like a poem that centers out the themes he feels are important strands in his life and life lessons for his readers. Along the way, you are treated to quite a ride where you might feel shocked, start laughing, or feel empathetic. For example, in Chapter 5 ("Watching Me"), Conaway discusses his philosophy on spirituality, you are taken on a discussion that uniquely combines the rapper Ja Rule, religion, mixed martial arts, and a workout log (not to mention a poem titled Varicella Zoster). In just about any other book, that could be a recipe for a disaster. Conaway, however, pulls it off using his own original style that readers should appreciate. This style is one of the strengths of the book. Another strength of Conaway's book is his frank and open discussion about himself and his life. With an honesty and detail that I have seen in few other memoirs, Conaway details the good (winning matches as an MMA fighter, getting accepted in grad school) and the bad (verbal abuse from his father or his parent's divorce, for example). As Cameron states later in his book, he's gotten to the point where he no longer needs to justify or prove himself. This freedom which he expresses in fight and in word, in my opinion, are the author's ultimate lessons for the martial artists who are sure to read his book as well as anyone else who will be drawn to his tale of overcoming the odds. The only thing I would caution prospective (and current readers) to do is to suspend judgment about the book until the complete book is finished. To get the whole picture, you want to read all of Caged: Memoirs of a Fighting Poet; otherwise you will only get a glimpse of the insight that can be gained from this book. After I read the whole book, I was able to see what Conaway intended for you to see when you he wrote about his father, or working in the grocery store, or receiving a paper cut. So, if you are looking for a book that combines the philosophy of Bruce Lee, the literary style and feel of Fight Club, mixed with a little of the language and swagger of Got Fight by Forrest Griffin, this book will be a great book to read. Pros Unique writing style for a memoir-The book is a workout and fight log, journal of reflection and poetry that delves into the mind of a fighter instead of just talking about it. Honest & frank language that makes it accessible to all readers dealing with the issue he covers-Conaway details scenes that shaped his life in a way that is both graphic, yet highly insightful and riveting all at the same time. Insightful work that builds in complexity as one reads the book Cons Writing style may be a little peculiar to readers not familiar with Cameron Conaway's background- The plot skips around to different points in his life, mixture of poems & prose and Conaway provides really detailed description of mixed arts moves. "Sailor's language" and some shocking scenes-For those not used to Conaway, his use of four-letter words in some intense moments may be a little shocking. Conaway's honesty leads to claims that I never heard mentioned in other memoirs.
If I've ever read a more honest and open memoir, it obviously was not as memorable as 'Caged'. Cameron definitely hangs it all out there for the reader to ponder, critic, agree or argue, and overall just enjoy. From his difficult childhood, to which so many can relate, to his struggle to become a successful MMA fighter and then ultimately finding a preferred path as a celebrated author and poet, he speaks to the reader in a way that most authors fail. There is so much to take from these stories, poems, training tips, and overall mindset. Cameron was/is never a quitter. He's an overcomer.