Palm Desert author Dwayne Ratleff finds “inner rhythm” in first book

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.” In many ways, Palm Desert resident Dwayne A. Ratleff has taken that principle to heart.

The upbeat local author possesses a light — both personal and creative — that radiates throughout his book “Dancing to the Lyrics: Finding an Inner Rhythm,” which garnered a Best Indie Book Award for 2021. The compelling read chronicles a curious African American boy who finds emotional jogging during the political upheavals and racial injustices of the 1960s.

Although Ratleff listed the book as fiction, in many ways it’s a memoir.

“It may be about a gay Black child, but the funny thing is, that’s not really what it’s about,” he says. “That’s the surface. At its core, it’s a very human book.”

Hence that subtitle, “Finding an Inner Rhythm.”

“I lived through the riots and so much more,” says Ratleff who will turn 63 on March 22. “Most kids in America, particularly white kids, don’t see soldiers marching down the streets with bayonets or your city burning — like what’s going on in Ukraine today. For most people, that’s something other-worldly, but it wasn’t for me. I wanted to write a book that captured that but that was also about evolving. We change all the time.”

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