The Dance of Love
Excerpt by Kiini Ibura Salaam
The whisper of air
against flesh was a new sensation. I had never been nude outdoors,
not since I had breasts and hips, not since I had something to
hide. V and I joined a line of women outside a smaller dwelling
similar to the one we had left our clothing in. I shivered and dug
my fingers into my forearms. V let me enter before her. At first,
I could see nothing. Then I made out the eyes, then the curves of
elder women wrapped in dark indigo cloth. They sat on a stone
bench and beckoned me gently. The amusement on their lips made me
feel safe. Still, I stood before them shyly.
The soft clucking of
conversation swirled around me, but I couldn’t understand the
words. One of the women grasped me by the hips and guided me to a
large wooden bowl. I watched her hands leave my body and dip into
the bowl. I drew back slightly when her hands emerged, cupped,
full of a dark red oil. She opened her hands at my waist. I
watched as the oil dripped over my belly. The woman’s fingers
caught the drippings and rubbed the oil over my abdomen.
drifted to the ceiling as the hands picked up a rhythm. Their
palms circled the oil into my skin. My eyes slid closed. The other
woman’s hands pressed oil into my shoulder blades and down my
back. I bit my lip trying to keep track of the stroking. Fingers
wiggled between my knees and tripped up the inside of my thighs.
By the time the women
reached the back of my legs, my body was humming. I wanted to
spread my legs and will the women's fingers to reach inside me. I
spread my arms instead. The women coated them from shoulder to
wrist. Oil slicked down both sides of my torso, then brushed over
my nipples one two three times. Their fingers flew over my face.
Before I knew it, I was pushed out of the opposite side of the
hut. When I turned back, the women had returned to their stone
bench. I caught a glimpse of V stepping into the hut. She flashed
me a wicked smile. The women bent over the wooden bowl to fill
their palms with oil and I backed away.
women waited outside the hut. They tied my wrists with soft pieces
of leather and crisscrossed leather beads across my chest. They
circled around me, wrapping a rope-like adornment around my waist.
I could feel something heavy like a talisman or a pendent resting
right above the crease of my buttocks. I grasped the whip the
women placed in my hand and took a few steps forward.
Around me, women were
now similarly adorned. I watched them eagerly rush ahead, buttocks
shaking, breasts bouncing, whips swinging. I felt the quiver of
anticipation pierce me. Dizziness swooped down on me as the
oil-laden hands flashed through my mind. I imagined twelve of them
pressing on my body. Heat rolled over me. I staggered. The earth
dipped. I almost gave way to a swoon, but V grabbed my arm and
held me upright.
me," she whispered.
I grabbed V's hand
and ran across a field to join a cluster of women. V nudged us
close to the center. I was surrounded by sound. It was a deep,
droning, throbbing hum. All around us women swayed, heads thrown
back, voices joined in song.
Without warning V squeezed her way
out of the singing throng. I heard a snap and looked toward the
outskirts of the group. V was standing, legs spread, arm lifted
overhead swirling her whip high in the air. An echoing swooping
noise issued forth. The women punctuated the sound of V's whip
with a high-pitched yelling.
On that cue, dust
began to rise in the distance.
* * *
My work has always been ripe
with sensual elements, but I didn't start writing full-out erotica
until 2000. A random meeting led me to an erotic publisher. I sent
her a few stories I thought were erotica. She replied that
she liked the writing, but the stories didn't have enough sex in
them. In mainstream literature, she explained, writers usually
stop when they get to the sex scene.
In erotica, that's when the
action begins. For a moment, I was taken aback. Could I represent
actual sex on the page? Then I started thinking about it. Sex,
too, is an aspect of a healthy life. It doesn't really make sense
that writers are urged to describe everything in detail, but
sketch over sexual encounters.
As I began to explore the genre,
I found writing about sex flowed in perfectly with my stories. It
didn't seem like an interruption or a trip into left field.
Ultimately, the publisher found all of my character building to be
too much. Her readers, she said, are eager to get to the sex.
But as a writer, I'm interested
not only in the sex, but also in the context of the sex. Who are
these people? Why are they having sex? Where are they having sex?
What was the seduction? What is the result?
Kiini Ibura Salaam © 2000
* * * * *
Ibura Salaam is a realistic woman.
She likes the feel
of a warm bed, understands the necessity of food, so she
works. At her day job, she corrects inconsequential
errors while remembering mornings spent wrestling with
words and sucking meaning from images. She frets,
knowing her 9-to-5 threatens her fragile relationship
with writing. Yet she always manages to
coax writing back into her graces. She begs writing’s
absolution with essays published in Colonize
This, When Race Becomes Real, Roll Call, Men We Cherish, Utne
Reader, Essence, and Ms. Magazine. She prostrates herself obediently with
fiction published in
When Butterflies Kiss,
Dark Matter, and
She tithes her art form with the KIS.list, a monthly e-report on
life as a writer. She produces www.kiiniibura.com
as an altar, an online offering of words.
Writing, expansive and forgiving, responds with a
flood of inspired embraces. Whether she be in her native New
Orleans, her adopted Brooklyn or her beloved Bahia, the writer
unabashedly bares herself to the caress of words. She writes
with holy gratitude, forever in love with her craft.
* * *
* * *
Hopes and Prospects
By Noam Chomsky
In this urgent new book, Noam Chomsky
surveys the dangers and prospects of our
early twenty-first century. Exploring
challenges such as the growing gap
between North and South, American
exceptionalism (including under
President Barack Obama), the fiascos of
Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S.-Israeli
assault on Gaza, and the recent
financial bailouts, he also sees hope
for the future and a way to move
forward—in the democratic wave in Latin
America and in the global solidarity
movements that suggest "real progress
toward freedom and justice." Hopes and
Prospects is essential reading for
anyone who is concerned about the
primary challenges still facing the
human race. "This is a classic Chomsky
work: a bonfire of myths and lies,
sophistries and delusions. Noam Chomsky
is an enduring inspiration all over the
world—to millions, I suspect—for the
simple reason that he is a truth-teller
on an epic scale. I salute him." —John
* * * *
Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays
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,
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'."
* * * * *
Ancient, Ancient: Short Fiction
By Kiini Ibura Salaam
Ancient, Ancient collects the short fiction by Kiini Ibura Salaam, of which acclaimed author and critic Nalo Hopkinson writes, ''Salaam treats words like the seductive weapons they are. She wields them to weave fierce, gorgeous stories that stroke your sensibilities, challenge your preconceptions, and leave you breathless with their beauty.'' Indeed, Ms. Salaam's stories are so permeated with sensuality that in her introduction to
Ancient, Ancient, Nisi Shawl, author of the award-winning Filter House, writes, ''Sexuality-cum-sensuality is the experiential link between mind and matter, the vivid and eternal refutation of the alleged dichotomy between them. This understanding is the foundation of my 2004 pronouncement on the burgeoning sexuality implicit in sf's Afro-diasporization. It is the core of many African-based philosophies. And it is the throbbing, glistening heart of Kiini's body of work. This book is alive. Be not afraid.''
* * *
Life on Mars
By Tracy K. Smith
Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection's "lyric brilliance" and "political impulses [that] never falter." A New York Times review stated, "Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we're alone in the universe; it's to accept—or at least endure—the universe's mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith's pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the book’s first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant." Life on Mars follows Smith's 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet's second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans.
The Body’s Question (2003) was her first published collection. Smith said Life on Mars, published by small Minnesota press Graywolf, was inspired in part by her father, who was an engineer on the Hubble space telescope and died in 2008.
* * *
A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast
Beyond Katrina is poet Natasha
Trethewey’s very personal profile of the
Mississippi Gulf Coast and of the people
there whose lives were forever changed by
Trethewey spent her childhood in Gulfport,
where much of her mother’s extended family,
including her younger brother, still lives.
As she worked to understand the devastation
that followed the hurricane, Trethewey found
inspiration in Robert Penn Warren’s book
Segregation: The Inner Conflict in the South,
in which he spoke with southerners about
race in the wake of the Brown decision,
capturing an event of wide impact from
multiple points of view. Weaving her own
memories with the experiences of family,
friends, and neighbors, Trethewey traces the
erosion of local culture and the rising
economic dependence on tourism and casinos.
decades of wetland development that exacerbated the
destruction and portrays a Gulf Coast whose
citizens—particularly African Americans—were on the
margins of American life well before the storm hit. Most
poignantly, Trethewey illustrates the destruction of the
hurricane through the story of her brother’s efforts to
recover what he lost and his subsequent incarceration.
writing about the idea of home, Trethewey’s attempt to
understand and document the damage to Gulfport started
as a series of lectures at the University of Virginia
that were subsequently published as essays in the
Virginia Quarterly Review. For
Beyond Katrina, Trethewey has expanded this work
into a narrative that incorporates personal letters,
poems, and photographs, offering a moving meditation on
the love she holds for her childhood home.
* * * * *
The White Masters
of the World
The World and Africa, 1965
By W. E. B. Du Bois
W. E. B. Du Bois’
Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization
* * *
Ancient African Nations
* * * *
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Negro Digest / Black World
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* * *
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 /
* * * *
The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg
Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804
January 1, 1804 -- The Founding
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update 17 January 2012