Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  John R. Powers  

Pen Name: None

Genre: Fiction

Audience: Adult;

Born: November 30, 1945 in Chicago, Illinois

Died: 2013 in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

-- John R. Powers on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Powers was born in Chicago and lived there most of his life. He attended Brother Rice High School and Northwestern and Loyola Universities. He also taught at Northeastern.

Biographical and Professional Information

John Powers was a novelist and a renowned motivational speaker. He bagan his career as an elementary and junior high school teacher. His work, ''Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?'' was selected for inclusion on the list of Best Books for Young Adults in 1975 and went on to become a hit musical. Powers produced the Chicago show full-time, as well as other productions of the play in other major cities. Powers has also produced and starred in a one-man show called ''Life’s Not Fair . . . So What?''

Powers holds a Ph.D. in Communications from Northwestern University and was a professor of speech and performing arts at Northeastern Illinois University. During this time, he also created and hosted a number of specials for Chicago public television. He received undergraduate degrees in sociology from Loyola University and is a graduate of Brother Rice High School in Chicago.

Published Works

  • The Last Catholic in America, Saturday Review Press, 1973 - reprinted in 2005
  • Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect up, Regency, 1975 - reprinted in 2005
  • The Unoriginal Sinner & The Ice Cream God, Warner, 1978 - reprinted in 2006
  • The Junk Drawer, Corner Store, Front Porch Blues, Dutton, 1992
  • Odditude: Finding the Passion for Who You Are and What You Do, 2007

Selected Titles At Your Library

The last Catholic in America /
ISBN: 0829421300. OCLC Number:

Loyola Press,. Chicago :. [2005], ©1973.

Do black patent leather shoes really reflect up? /
ISBN: 0829421432. OCLC Number:

Loyola Press,. Chicago, Ill. :. ©2005.

Presents a fictionalized memoir of high school student Eddie Ryan, and describes the struggles he and his friends endure while attending a Catholic school in Chicago during the 1960s.

The unoriginal sinner and the ice-cream God /
ISBN: 0829424296. OCLC Number:

Loyola Press,. Chicago :. ©2006.

The junk-drawer corner-store front-porch blues /
ISBN: 0451176022. OCLC Number:

Signet,. New York, N.Y. :. 1993, ©1992.


American Library Association's list of Best Books for Young Adults in 1975 for

Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?