The Graffiti Bridge has been many things over the years, including a place for young artists to express their art, a place for budding photographers to keep track of local trends, and more recently to raise awareness of the talents of up and coming authors. On the Shoulders of Giants, a story by a man who has spent the last thirty years in the Florida Prison System, is one such book.
You are possibly familiar with the headlines covering his most recent arrest, if you've been in Pensacola long enough. Unlike many of his fellow prisoners, Ivey is serving a sentence of several decades for non-injurious crimes. Other men around him have committed everything from drug crimes to severe child abuse.
But the arrest is the easy part of the story. What of the men? The men behind the short, bloody blurbs used by the local TV News channels to sensationalize local crime and raise station ratings? What desperate circumstances would possibly cause a man to commit the types of crimes that result in a life spent in prison?
These are the questions Ivey explores but can only answer for his own history and choices.
“I was a high school student at Booker T. Washington in Pensacola, Florida, when I graduated from the Juvenile Justice System to the Department of Corrections. The petty thefts and marijuana possessions of my early teens eventually devolved into heavier stuff like cocaine and burglary. By my 18th birthday, I was headed to state prison and would not see the free world again for nine years, seven months, and 21 days.” Said Ivey on his website bio.
On the Shoulders of Giants, Ivey’s masterpiece, follows the lives of two young Pensacola boys, Ezra “Izzy” James and Pharaoh Sinclair. These two young men have many brushes with the law, landing them in the infamous Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, and later in the Florida prison system.
“My prison release date is still a long way off. I’ll be pushing 60 by then, too old to start a family. My kids are the books I write. Each cover is tatted on my skin, just as my fellow inmates have the names of their children inked in their flesh. Consider the Dragonfly is my son, With Arms Unbound is my daughter, On the Shoulders of Giants will be my legacy. And just as every parent has big dreams for their kids, I hope mine grow up to do great things too. Maybe one will even change the world someday, or at least the prison system," Ivey said.
On Sunday April 30th, local artist known only as “Slik the Writer" painted an interpretive piece influenced by Ivey's book on The Graffiti Bridge.. The painting honored victims of child abuse and victims from The Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys and will raise awareness of what happens to our children behind the closed doors of these so called “juvenile institutions,” around the state.