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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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We were keepers of the eagle's eye view / on the watch out for the cutthroats of reason
and the backstabbers of sanity / on these long, winding and twisting highways and

byways, / booking midnight flights of fancy / on the music of Trane, Albert, and Pharoah,



 Reginald Lockett in Memory and Tribute

to Oakland’s Poet and Professor

By Keenan Norris


The life, accomplishments and final passing of an artist and teacher should never go unacknowledged. Reginald Lockett, or Mr. Lockett, as I knew him, died last week. Mr. Lockett was a true gift to the communities of Oakland, where he lived and of which he wrote, and to San Jose, where he taught at San Jose City College for many years. He was a mentor to me. A generous man and a person of great talent, he embodied the Bay Area. He was a stalwart in the Oakland literary scene. In fact I met him at a reading at Marcus Books, our oldest black bookstore. Mr. Lockett was as interested in his predominantly Asian and Latino student body as in the black neighborhoods of West Oakland he chronicled for so long. He was a master educator, an accomplishment that knows no field of study or professional title. The impact of life-education, which is what Mr. Lockett gave, is beyond that.

He is here remembered.

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Reginald Lockett, [born 1947] died May 15, 2008

If there was ever a poet deserving of the title poet laureate for a city, Reggie was Oakland’s unnamed honoree. His work breathed Oakland—each syllable an experience we who call this fair city home, could relate to. He lived in a haunted house, haunted by the memories of black people from southern towns where they were just as unwelcome, as some were here. Lockett was born in one of those places too, but his family moved here and here is where the poet was born.

The last book he completed before his untimely demise was Random History Lessons, each poem one which vividly etched in one’s mind the characters and corners and attitudes Reggie the young man, Reggie the child, Reggie the young adult met coming up in the ‘hood.

I remember our interview quite some time ago, yet another which I’d not had time to publish and now our brother is gone.

He was so helpful and encouraging. He was just about the most encouraging artist I have ever known. He’d send me leads for publications and then encourage me to send work in. He coached me on numerous job interviews for full-time teaching gigs at bay area community colleges and in 2006 he published our response to Hurricane Katrina, a collection of poetry on his imprint, Jukebox Press. I remember the first time I saw Wordwind Chorus: Lewis Jordan, QR Hand and Reggie. It was at Gerald Lenoir and Karen's home in Berkeley. I remember his first book I owned, When the Bird Sings Bass, a Josephine Miles Pen Awardee. I remember when he was emcee at the Pen awards when Ntozake Shange was honored. I remember his reading during National Library Week at the College of Alameda and I got to introduce him. I remember the California Community College Composition Teachers Conference in Sacramento and our trip to the mall to buy me some tennis. I have been wearing New Balance ever sense, and I still have the shoes he helped me pick out a pair.

I remember his poem about the "dumb class," a class he was in until someone checked his vision. I think about this often and how educators misdiagnose our students all the time.

Just this past Sunday, Reggie was to be a part of the program at Anna’s and I wondered why he wasn’t there. I remember he and Ted Pontiflet. If I saw one, I usually saw the other. I wonder how Ted is doing. I wonder how Al Young is doing, Ishmael Reed, Linda his partner, his daughter, his dad…all of us.

Reggie was the consummate human being. I was watching an old classic black and white film called Laura. In the film a woman was supposedly murdered but as the investigation proceeds she isn’t dead, she was out of town. I wondered if someone would be calling me back to tell me it was all a mistake; it was a case of mistaken identity—

I knew it was wishful thinking but in just two months I have lost two friends—Casper Banjo and now Reginald Lockett. When devorah called and told me she had something to tell me, I asked her if someone had died. I was hoping it was good news, but devorah doesn’t call me often—I got two more calls and I made two. I couldn’t think, and the details the only details that stuck were that Reggie was dead—I was foggy on the when and the who discovered this and why devorah knew it was so. I was hoping that someone was pretending to be devorah and really, it wasn’t her and then Phil Hutchings called, and Sharifah, and Kim verified what everyone else said and I was like—well I guess it’s true.

I had to get away, so I went to the theatre to see Figaro. It was great. I loved the language and the physicality of the piece. When I walked out and looked down there was a poem by Alice Walker, next to hers was one by Rilke (translated by someone else.)

I can see Reggie. I hear his voice…see him walking the Lake with Derethia. I remember giving him a ride to the dentist in Montclair when his crown broke one time. I always saw him and if I didn’t see him a Cave Canem announcement was his calling card.

He was really supportive of the Maafa Book Project and gave me lots of poems and made others I liked available.

Reggie Lockett will be missed. Two writers gone in two years, not a year apart: Chauncey Bailey and now Reginald Lockett.

Wanda Sabir

Prof. of English, College of Alameda

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In Memory of Reginald Lockett

By Ayodele “WordSlanger” Nzinga


…don’t remember when I met ya

you were always there

like fine lines, poetry and air

knew you before wisdom knotted your hair

you were always there

likely sharply drawn points

& fly poets on point

natural as air

saw you this month

you appeared from the no where

substance in thin air

me & you seeing about our

folks somewhere

I remember you like that: solid

savoring flavor

sampling life

regurgitating verse

that reflected your thirst

for ordering the lyrical in life

like an amused God

ordering stars in a chaotic sky

like the poetic

just passing by

OG fly

sharp as the observations

you tooled into ju ju

tying science to the page so

we could see

I dig the flow now

like I dug it back then

no doubt I’ll still dig

the spit when I hear it again

so sign me up on the sheet

so the next time we meet

it will be like it was again

I’ll do my best to hold us up

in the town, in the town

in the state, in the state

in the nation, in the nation

where we are less without you

and even the birds sing bass

Jah speed

peace and infinite grace

till warriors rise again



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Reginal Lockett: "One must be turned on to his Blackness and deep in it. My role as a Black writer is to convey how this is essential for BLACK PEOPLE. Long Knife (the white man) must be taught that his death and destruction is near. White-minded 'Knee-grows' must know this too. That is, if they don't straighten up and fly right they will perish with the Long Knives." Born 1947, Berkeley, California. Presently attending San Francisco State College Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American Writing

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Reginald Lockett was born in Berkeley, California. His father—about whom he has a very fine  poem, “Endless Ports of Call”—was a Master Chief Steward in the US Navy. In “Endless Ports of Call”—Lockett recalls his father unexpectedly showing up at a high school class

in full Navy dress blues with the gold chevron
of a master chief steward and five hash marks
on the left sleeve a show of authority
and years of service, and that grin
just like the one Scatman Crothers wore,
the whole ghetto classroom in awe of him....

Lockett began school in Hawaii, “believing himself / the dumb, ugly / little nigger / the white kids called him,” moved to Texas, and then came to Oakland in 1960, when he was about twelve years old. He later attended San Francisco State University and lived in San Francisco for thirteen years. . . .

The book reveals that Lockett’s birth mother, whom he came eventually to know, gave him up for adoption. This is from “Bastard”:

At my mothers funeral,
I suddenly
became untouchable.
Printed right there
in the obituary
the name of a third son
relatives and friends
knew nothing about
as long as they
knew my mother.
A son
never mentioned,
a son
not born in holy wedlock
like the other two.

Reginald Lockett, The Party Crashers of Paradise (Jack Foley)

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I regret to inform you that Bay area poet Reginald Lockett passed away, Wednesday May 15, 2008, from a heart attack. The Funeral service will be held on Thursday, May 22 @ 11 a.m. at Bebe Memorial at 3900 Telegraph Ave. Oakland, California. He will be interned at Rolling Hills in El Sobrante. The repast will be at the Black New World following the burial about 4 p.m. Guests are asked to bring a dish for the repast and a poem, art, a song to share, etc.. The gathering is to be celebratory.

The Black New World is at 836 Pine St. Oakland CA / 94607 Oakland: Jack London Square 510-238-9680 / BlackNewWorld.blogspot. You can send condolences to Reggie's family's house: 3717 Market St., Oakland, / CA, 94608. Reginald's Daughter Maya Lomasi Lockett can be reached (510) 798-8201.

Poets from all around will read from his work on KPFA Radio 94.1fm or streaming at, on May 30th from 12 PM - 1 PM Pacific Time. (The above information was taken from recent internet posts by Wanda Sabir and KPFA) With respect, staajabu

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Reginald Lockett, Professor of English, is the author of The Party Crashers of Paradise (2001), Where the Birds Sing Bass (1995), which won a PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Literary Award in 1996, and Good Times & No Bread (1978). His poetry, articles, and reviews have been published in over fifty anthologies, periodicals, and textbooks. Random History Lessons, his fourth book of poetry, was published by Creative Arts Books in Fall, 2003. He has performed his work in Illinois, St. Louis, Arizona, Nevada, Paris, and throughout California. He has taught composition, reading, literature, and creative writing at San Francisco State University, City College of San Francisco, Laney College, and College of Marin as well as other institutions. Wikipedia

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Al Young, Reginald Lockett, Opal Palmer Adisa, devorah major, Eugene B. Redmond, Joseph D. McNair

Source: http://Al YoungP hotos/

Reginald Lockett performed his work in Illinois, St. Louis, Arizona, Nevada, Paris, and throughout California. He taught composition, reading, literature, and creative writing at San Francisco State University, City College of San Francisco, Laney College, and College of Marin, San Jose City College as well as other institutions. He performed with the WordWind Chorus, and lived in Oakland.

posted 21 May 2008

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Poetry By Reginald Lockett:  Reginald Reflections / Asilithe Journal

Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American Writing

Edited by Amiri Baraka and Larry Neal

Black Classic Press (February 28, 2007). 680 pages

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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

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Ancient African Nations

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

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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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