ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes

   

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i didn't hear any new ground being broken, no paradigm shifts,

no theoretical breakthroughs, no insightful revelations that rock you to the roots,

no radical suggestions that offer clarity or suggest new directions.

 

 

Books by Kalamu ya Salaam

 

The Magic of JuJu: An Appreciation of the Black Arts Movement  /   360: A Revolution of Black Poets

Everywhere Is Someplace Else: A Literary Anthology  /  From A Bend in the River: 100 New Orleans Poets

Our Music Is No Accident   /  What Is Life: Reclaiming the Black Blues Self

My Story My Song (CD)

 

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in the hot house of black poetry

another furious flowering

A report by Kalamu ya Salaam

Part III

day three-friday, 24sept.

this was the day i was waiting for. the heavyweight reading plus, a reading that i was on to follow the heavyweights, which is sort of a backwards way to set up a program, but no matter, it is what it is.

furious flower days start at 8am in the morning (i'm being redundant-"8am" + "morning" because it's sort of unbelievable even though understandable. unbelievable because this is a poetry conference, folk are hanging out 2, 3, 4 o'clock in the morning, getting an audience up at 8am, well, well... and on the other hand, understandable in that we are on a college campus with no other place to go and nothing else to do but furious flower.) so here is another case of different worlds bumping heads.

according to the program there were seventeen panels, featuring 51 presenters, with five panels running concurrently at 8am on friday and saturday mornings. a number of friends and colleagues are presenting, but though i try, making the 8am sessions does not happen. i could legitimately say, well, i have to do e-drum and since i don't get a chance to come back to the hotel once i leave for the day, i need to do it before i leave, and since i get in real, real late at night, putting in the time at night is not practical. i could say that and there would be an element of truth to it. but there is another truth: if the conference was in new orleans and i had to be there for 8am, i'm not sure i would make it. i teach high school students and sometimes have 8:30am classes that i make on time, but it's a stretch. but that's my problem.

furious flower had another problem: the bulk of the conference attendees are presenters. i don't know the numbers and it would be unfair to offer rough guesses as a reliable figure, but i would guess (and i stand to be corrected, indeed, hoped to be corrected) that there are less than fifty people who are registered for the conference who are not either presenting a paper, doing a reading, or making some other kind of presentation. in one sense, this is a very small gathering. the bulk of the audience for the readings at wilson are jmu students and faculty, and probably many of the students were assigned to attend specific readings, or offered extra credit. such conditions are the norm for academic oriented conferences held on college campuses, and there is no reason to expect furious flower to be any different in that regard, except...

except, with black poetry there is a whole other trend, a trend which the black arts movement exemplified and which the current performance poetry (slam poetry, spoken word movement, howsoever you choose to call it) exemplifies, and that is a popular base among community folk who are not college students and faculty. few of those folk are here, and of the practitioners present, the bulk of the poets are neither bam veterans nor contemporary performance poets. yet, if we are to study, understand and appreciate black poetry we can not do so without including bam and performance poets, even though excluding these two elements is precisely what is done in college classrooms day in and day out, year after year. yes, yes, i know that baraka, sonia, nikki and haki are taught, but they are taught selectively when they are taught, and there is an ongoing snipping at and denigration of both bam poetry and performance poetry. the young and old performance poets are even more ignored than are the bam folk. bam was such an influential movement that it can not be totally ignored, yet the performance folk can be near totally ignored and nobody points it out.

see, the conference is called "furious flower" and not just "flower" or "delicate flower." where do people think the "furious" part comes from? where was the "furious" at this conference? listen carefully to what i'm saying. baraka and sonia were the chief honorees and that was a major fight joanne gabbin had to wage with some of her colleagues at jmu to have that happen, and, yes, baraka/sonia ably represented the furious, but i'm saying something else. baraka/sonia and other bam folk was always the furious in our poeting flower, where is the furious today and where else was it on the program? which is why i was so happy to hear thomas ellis' piece about all the stanzas sounding the same, but even he is in academe. where were the community-based poets, the ones who are out there appealing to a mass audience? and don't even roll up with no "they ain't really poets" bullshit. the closest we came to that was dj renegade and jessica care moore, and she almost didn't make it - and i will come back to both of them as i finish going through the program.

a third point i want to raise is that with the program so tightly scheduled, one could not engage in fellowship and at the same time make all the sessions. i was really torn about this aspect. there were folk there with whom i wanted to spend a half hour or so conversing. folk like giovanni singleton who does nocturnes magazine-we met, said hi and waved and stuff, but there was just no time to talk. and here i fault myself. i should have made time, which inevitably would have meant stealing time from someone else. and there were literally at least twenty or so people with whom i wanted to reason. but, again, such a jam up of little time versus lots of people to meet is par for conferences like this, so really this is no knock on furious flower in particular, just me moaning about a predicament that i'm sure was shared by many others.

in no particular order, and certainly just to grab three or four presentations as an example here are some papers i missed hearing and really, really wanted to check out.

lesley wheeler, washington and lee university/"ain't you heard?": voice in langston hughes' montage of a dream deferred

maryemma graham, univ. of kansas/speaking of the dead: newly discovered poems by margaret walker

tony bolden, univ. of alabama/the ghetto code: gil scott-heron as vernacular theorist

hazel arnett ervin, morehouse college/but, why, teacher must we study stephen e. henderson?

lenett nef'faahtiti (allen) myrick, poet/folk traditions of courtship and marriage in early african american poetry of the enslavement era

jon woodson, howard university/issues of self-fashioning in 20th century african america poetry

all of these presentations were scheduled at the same time as the panel i was on. it was just too, too much for one person to handle.

at 9:30am there was a critics roundtable moderated by daryl c. dance (my nominee for best moderator of furious flower 2004) and featuring omekongo dibinga, velma pollard, mark sanders, and eleanor traylor (yall young folks think puffy can style and profile, did yall check out eleanor? one day she had on a blue dress that flowed in five different directions everytime she took a step, plus she be talking a mile a minute while she styling, and unlike puffy, she really be saying something worth listening to).

i'm a critic. so i really wanted to be there. and i consider myself a folk critic. i write not because of publish or perish, i critic not to get tenure, nor even because i really believe what i got to say is so important. i critique because i love black poetry and i want to laud the best of it and speak out forcefully against the abuse and misuse of our poetry. plus, i have both an outside/inside view, and i have developed an audience.

e-drum has an international reach. it's at the point now, almost anywhere i go, there will be someone there who is on e-drum. the reach is very, very wide. e-drum is a communications tool i have worked very, very hard to develop; a tool i found out of my own pocket and get no grants, have no support staff or nothing like that. i do it everyday, every, day, year after year, every day since august 1998 because i want to. plus, the feedback i get when i post reports like this on e-drum lets me know that these critical reports are important. and beyond these topical reports, i also do more theoretical pieces (if i live long enough, i intend to finish a project called "sounding," which is an overview of african american poetry that encompasses my "two trains running" thesis, which i promise to tell yall about at another time). 

the outside/inside view is "outside" because i am not affiliated with any academic institution (although i have been conducting a weekly writing workshop since september 1995); and is "inside" because i am a published/performing poet who is widely recognized and broadly anthologized.

i love to listen to our people. i learn a whole lot by just sitting in the corner and checking out what other people got to say. and though i usually don't have much to say about stuff that's not important to me, i feel compelled to bring this up: as much as i hate to say it, i heard nothing new at any of the critics panels. don't get me wrong, much of what i heard i agree with, and a number of statements were important statements that needed to be made, but i didn't hear any new ground being broken, no paradigm shifts, no theoretical breakthroughs, no insightful revelations that rock you to the roots, no radical suggestions that offer clarity or suggest new directions.

why not? i believe that the arrival of something new will only occur when there is a profound dissatisfaction with the status quo, a dissatisfaction so deep that we are impelled to do something else. as long as all we want is more of the same old same old, or all we want is our piece of the pie, well it's going to be the same old recipe, maybe with blackberries or watermelon, but essentially more of the same. no we got to want to get rid of what is, in order to bring something new. and you know it's hard to achieve an mfa or achieve tenure and at the same time be burning down the big house, and it's even harder to achieve a recording contract or get on def-what-ever or cop a guest appearance on whore-tv and at the same time actually be burning down the big house. you can talk change and get a contract, but if you really making change, well. well. you know what i'm saying?

and i don't mean this as no blanket condemnation of anyone, or any group, i mean this as a very precise socio-economic analysis of why so much of our shit is boring right now, boring or at best technically shinny but not going to bring no actual fire.

at the same time, as i sat listening to folk, all up under a lot of the conversation there was a palpable yearning for something more, something real, something distinctive and sustaining. we just got to figure how to get to it. may not know how to get to what we want, but for sure we know: most of what we got is not what we want. or need. even if we are pretending we are happy with the current state of our poetry.

at lunch time i got a chance to hook up with ellis marsalis, iii, who is my second cousin on his mother's side of the family, ellis iii is a younger brother (there are six brothers altogether) of wynton marsalis. ellis lays on me his new photo book called "tha bloc"-a photo essay on the block where ellis lives. it's a forceful compendium of insightful photographs and heartfelt poems and mini-essays done under the pseudonym "t. p. luce."

after lunch there were two poetry readings back-to-back. first up at 1:30pm was the "laureates' circle" featuring, in order of appearance, eugene redmond, dolores kendrick, askia toure, rita dove, amiri baraka and sonia sanchez. scheduled up next at 3:30pm was a session featuring harryette mullen, everett hoagland, nikky finney, alvin aubert, jessica care moore and kalamu ya salaam. i would have reversed the two readings; predictably two thirds of the audience split after the main attraction. actually, i would not have put two long poetry sessions back to back. it's overload, i don't care who is reading... but i wasn't running the show and it was what it was.

eugene's sonorous baritone rang resplendently as he did an ancestral role call and afterwards recited a poem for miles davis and one for shirley anne williams, and followed that with poetic captions from a photo exhibit he has put together from a collection of over 100,000 photos of black writers-you read correctly: one hundred thousand photos. although it wasn't exciting it was informative.

dolores kendrick, the poet laureate of washington, d.c. followed eugene. ms. kendrick did a tribute poem for gwendolyn brooks, a poem about birds and two poems from her poetic slave narrative series, "women of the plum." many of our younger readers may not know the reference, but think of marian anderson and you will understand the type of poeting dolores kendrick does: dignified, proud, articulate poetry.

askia toure was up next and he, one of the chief architects of the black arts movement, predictably brought some fire, however, make no mistake, he has a lot of that "lift every voice" old school race pride in his work; could be paul robeson's younger cousin with that fine baritone instrument that is his poeting voice; loves alliteration and fanciful imagery; could have been a methodist bishop except got caught up in that black power stuff, caught up in it and ain't never got out of it, hence, that scandalous poem he did about condaleeza rice that makes some of my earlier comments sound like praise for lady of dubious employ. i smile, smile cause i dig what askia is doing.

so at this point looks like the program might catch fire except that rita dove was next. dolores kendrick might have been like marian anderson, rita dove is marian anderson reincarnated. i have heard her read before, seen her in videos, read her poetry books and never really been moved, which is not a knock on her, that's my deficiency that i don't respond to the well crafted work she does, plus she was following askia. bummer. except it wasn't. this was the best reading i've heard rita dove do. for one she was totally relaxed and relating to the audience like we were sitting at her kitchen table and she was sharing snap shots of a recent vacation. two, she conextualized each with a pithy intro that let you know where the work was coming from and she also covered a wide range of work.

i'm not saying i'm now in love with her work, but as a result of this reading, i do have a deeper appreciation for her work and for her as a person. she opened with a poem about ballroom dancing and a red dress on a black woman (which was funny to me because i also have a poem about a woman wearing a red dress, and, of course, the ultimate red dress/black woman poem by langston hughes... you get the picture, i'm sure). she followed with a poem about black world war one soldiers and marching down the street and being in france all under the direction of bandleader/conductor james reese europe; again that's the hand i fan with, a deep appreciation of black music is more than music, black music as metaphor about black life.

and then a piece about hattie mcdaniels, the first black woman to win an oscar for her part as a maid in gone with the wind; rita dove deconstructed the shit out of the mythology of hattie mcdaniels. to say i was both surprised and impressed is an understatement. so, while i wasn't jumping up and down with glee, excited to the point of about to pee on myself, i was moved far, far more than i expected to be, and again, that's my deficiency and not a knock on rita dove. if i was into nostalgia, i'm sure i would have been overjoyed.

my man baraka was up next and he did something uncharacteristic of him, he stuck to a fifteen minute time limit, opened with some stinging low-ku (his variation on haiku), none of which were new to me although many in the audience were undoubtedly hearing these caustic, comedic aphorisms for the first time; and then, so as not to disappoint his critics, amiri returns to his enfant terrible ways and whips out his notorious cause celebre epic "who blew up america" and proceeds to gleefully run the voodoo down. predictably, the jms university president who was present was not pleased. how do i know? because it was on the front page of the paper the next day and the controversial poem/controversial poet is mainly what they talked about, including quotes from the school president and reporting that the president did not stand when baraka received a tremendous ovation. here we had a session with the current poet laureate of our nation's capital and a past national poet laureate in rita dove, and they devote most of the ink to talking about the baraka controversy. well, amiri gave them something to talk about because although his readings sometimes are pro forma, especially of "who," amiri really leaned into this particular reading.

sonia followed with a role call of struggle, praise for langston hughes, an important plea for peace, and encouragement to vote for regime change in november. sonia was in good spirits and gave an upful reading. and then it was over. anti-climatically over. it was good but despite the heavy hitters, never achieved that incendiary level that was clearly its potential, sometimes expectations be so high that nothing short of great seems good enough.

and then after a brief intermission we had to follow with our poetry set.

harryette opened with her intellectually penetrating poems that turn language inside out and upside down causing us to reconsider things we thought we knew and to recognize that we knew stuff we didn't consciously know that we knew cause she gave us a new way to perceive old stuff we perfunctory do, believe, utter everyday except this day listening to the poet abracadabra us into a reconsideration of normal. sort of like e.e.cummings without the visual tricks. plus she mixes metaphors semi-surrealistically, sort of in the style of some of jayne cortez's fulminations, except is cool, not hot, harryette's is a cool heat.

alvin aubert came up old school all the way. many of his poems were written in iambic pentameter, expertly so, but also a bit disconcertingly so because his poetry stuck out from just about every other poem that was read at furious flower. i don't know of any black poets who are writing like this today.

i'm a nikky finney fan, so my telling you about her is not a review but rather a press release-will say i really dug the poem she did for toni cade bambara, about how she would kill a tree for toni. nikky is a master of the narrative poet combined with a deep, deep feeling for family, friends and fellowship, plus there is a fierceness about nikky (partly due, i'm sure, to the fact that she is tall, big-boned and has dreads down damn near to her waist, and on her that's more than a little ways down her back). she then did a thing about swimming that kept you wondering how she saw the connections she saw, and then ended with a piece about vomiting up shark meat, shark, the animal who ate africans tossed/jumped into the atlantic ocean. that piece was beautifully repulsive, hypnotically repelling. shark. meat.

my man everett hoagland i have already described as the dexter gordon of black poetry, and he lived up to that. but is also political, hence his poem about baraka, which would probably not play well in peoria, nor harrisonburg, for that matter.

detroit red was next, i mean jessica care moore. sisterlove was baddddd. rita dove had talked about a red dress, jessica had a tight red skirt on and started off blowing hot and just kept getting hotter. her voice full throttle, her hand stabbing the air. watching from the rear (we were all seated at a table behind the podium), it looked like jessica was whipping up on somebody. and she reads fast, in fact, faster than fast. and loud. and strong voiced. don't be doing no tender nothing. watching, listening i started drumming, catching the swift rhythms she was dropping. and then it hit me, she was wailing like recently departed jazz drummer and coltrane cohart, elvin jones. yeah, man, she was bringing the noise just like elvin jones, polyrhythms pushed to the limit, with the insistence of a jackhammer, bam, bam, bam. she ain't had but two gears: loud and louder, except when she hit overdrive and went to louder than that. subtlety is not her strong suit; jessica be right down front, you know how detroit play "d" (i.e. defense)? hard. hard. hard. that's the way jessica recites. moreover, she be talking about shit, particularly liked that last poem about war and the gender deconstruction thereof.

i was up last, did poems that utilize jazz. did both the poems and the jazz. even did a little dancing on the first poem which used lionel hampton's flying home as the musical reference-you ought to hear my mouth trumpets, mutes and all. then did "lonely woman" based on ornette coleman with a narrative written in the first person voice of a lonely woman. and closed with a neo-bop piece called "words have meaning." before i started poeting, i made mention of the absence of performance poets at furious flower, pointed to economic concerns, including the structural situation with academe giving credit for giving papers and presenting at conferences, whereas the performance poets get no benefits out of performing, especially if, like it was at furious flower, it's not a paying gig. also spoke about the need to see that it's all poetry and that we should embrace it all, even if we don't necessarily like it all. and, oh yeah, made a short political message when i said loud and clear: fuck george bush. i know somebody want to know what that got to do with poetry? my answer is nothing. everything. remember "furious"? what are any of us furious about? fuck george bush. and then it was over until the tribute banquet.  

the banquet program opened with dj renegade's band, a jazz quartet. they played freddie hubbard's "little sunflower" and oliver nelson's "stolen moments." i settled in and said to myself, man, this is going to be sweet. renegade with poems in hand was about to climb on the stage to read, but was shut down because the program was starting late and they had the awards to give out, and bummer. they should have at least let renegade do one number. and then, before starting the program, they showed a short video about the first furious flower. it was cool, but my jaws was still tight because renegade didn't get to perform. afterwards there was a short report on the children's workshop that took place while the panels and readings were going on. gwendolyn brooks' daughter, nora brooks blakely of the chocolate chips theatre company, the workshop leader, reported on the event and featured julienne kristin coleman, a fourteen year old poet who read two short poems, one of which was written in the workshop and the other of which was a take-off on gwen brooks' "we real cool."  julienne is the real deal, be on the watch for her.

and then came the awards ceremony which, as i told kwame dawes who arrived to furious flower shortly before the banquet and whom i invited to hang with us (i like brother dawes a whole bunch, ever since we hung out at calabash in jamaica a couple of years ago. in fact, was recently with kwame at a writer's conference in south carolina back in the summer. more on kwame later.), but like i was saying, as i told kwame this was going to be a long program. there were eight awardees, each of whom was given a long introduction.

melba  boyd introduced alvin aubert (it was a very good deal  to see him get a lifetime achievement award). hilary holladay  introduced critic, fiction writer and retired professor velma  pollard. howard rambsy introduced eugene redmond daryl dance introduced lucille clifton and sandra  govan introduced nikki giovanni (who was not present  because she had to leave early to honor a prior commitment)-my  notes are not clear and the introductions may have been the  other way around, but in any case both clifton and giovanni were  awardees. lamont steptoe gave a stirring introduction of the award to askia toure, who is not only one of the architects of the black arts movement, but according to amiri baraka in his autobiography, askia is a direct poetic influence on baraka both in terms of style and in terms of content. quraysh ali lansana introduced haki  madhouse. some of the awardees were genuinely surprised and  moved by the awards, haki in particular, choked up and became  teary-eyed as it took him three attempts to say: "i  believed . . .  i really believed . . . i believed in what we said." the place got quiet, real, real quiet. it was one of  those moments when you understand that there are some for whom  the struggle to institutionalize black life has been a life long  commitment.

william harris introduced amiri baraka, who, feisty as ever, reminded and re-reminded everyone that the black arts was about struggle. eleanor traylor introduced sonia who challenged us to be us, to be fully human and to resist the beasts who would have us be otherwise. and then, because it was almost an hour later than it was supposed to be, which is a nice way of saying how over-long the program ran, and then, they announced they had to clear the room to turn over everything before the late night poetry jam that was going to start in half an hour, and, goddamn, talk about a bummer. you couldn't even sit there and wait. everybody had to get out, so you know what happened, most folk left--but first get all the poets together, stand on the steps leading down to the floor below so the photographer could shoot us. well, ok. and then patrick says he'll give us a ride, and then he needs to drop somebody somewhere and he will be right back and, nia and i sit in a chair near the door, and while we are waiting it is now a half hour since the end of the banquet so the reading starts and some folk go in. nia peeps my restlessness and says, go on in and listen to the poetry, i'll wait here. but, i say no, it's ok, patrick will probably be here in a minute. so i sit. talk to people as they pass.

the reading is hosted by renegade and features quo vadis gex-breaux, quraysh ali lansana, kamilah aisha moon, lenard moore, rohan preston, angela shannon, queen sheba, lamont steptoe, samantha tornhill. every now and then the door opens, someone comes out, i can hear snatches of music peek out. and patrick will be here in a moment. and guess what, patrick arrives about a minute or so after the poetry reading ends (turns out there was a cut off time and two of the scheduled readers didn't get to read), so i could have heard all of them but instead heard none of them. bummer.

folk are heading out for drinks, for an after party get together. tomorrow is the last day. it's about 1:45am, we go back to the hotel. i'm tired. 

Part I  Part II    Part III    Part IV 

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Audio: My Story, My Song (Featuring blues guitarist Walter Wolfman Washington)

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Guarding the Flame of Life

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Men We Love, Men We Hate
SAC writings from Douglass, McDonogh 35, and McMain high schools in New Orleans.

An anthology on the topic of men and relationships with men

Ways of Laughing
An Anthology of Young Black Voices
Photographed & Edited by
Kalamu ya Salaam

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New Orleans Jazz Funeral for tuba player Kerwin James / They danced atop his casket Jaran 'Julio' Green

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Track List
1.  Congo Square (9:01)
2.  My Story, My Song (20:50)
3.  Danny Banjo (4:32)
4.  Miles Davis (10:26)
5.  Hard News For Hip Harry (5:03)
6.  Unfinished Blues (4:13)
7.  Rainbows Come After The Rain (2:21)/Negroidal Noise (15:53)
8.  Intro (3:59)
9.  The Whole History (3:14)
10.  Negroidal Noise (5:39)
11.  Waving At Ra (1:40)
12.  Landing (1:21)
13.  Good Luck (:04)

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music website > http://www.kalamu.com/bol/
writing website > http://wordup.posterous.com/
daily blog > http://kalamu.posterous.com
twitter > http://twitter.com/neogriot
facebook > http://www.facebook.com/kalamu.salaam

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books

For July 1st through August 31st 2011
 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America

By Melissa V. Harris-Perry

According to the author, this society has historically exerted considerable pressure on black females to fit into one of a handful of stereotypes, primarily, the Mammy, the Matriarch or the Jezebel.  The selfless Mammy’s behavior is marked by a slavish devotion to white folks’ domestic concerns, often at the expense of those of her own family’s needs. By contrast, the relatively-hedonistic Jezebel is a sexually-insatiable temptress. And the Matriarch is generally thought of as an emasculating figure who denigrates black men, ala the characters Sapphire and Aunt Esther on the television shows Amos and Andy and Sanford and Son, respectively.     

Professor Perry points out how the propagation of these harmful myths have served the mainstream culture well. For instance, the Mammy suggests that it is almost second nature for black females to feel a maternal instinct towards Caucasian babies.

As for the source of the Jezebel, black women had no control over their own bodies during slavery given that they were being auctioned off and bred to maximize profits. Nonetheless, it was in the interest of plantation owners to propagate the lie that sisters were sluts inclined to mate indiscriminately.

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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updated 9 April 2008  

 

 

 

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Related files:  Is A Sonnet More Than Fourteen Lines    On Writing Haiku     WORDS: A Neo-Griot Manifesto     That Old Black Magic     The Myth of Solitude    What Is Black Poetry

in the hot house of black poetry another furious flowering --  Part I / Part II  /  Part III  /  Part IV