ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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Wilson I met in the 60s Black Arts eruption of mass and individual development.

The period when "Revolution" was The main Trend in The World Today."



Slo' Dance

Poems by Ted Wilson


By Amiri Baraka


If this is a first book, it is only in the literal sense. Meaning, the presence the book projects is deep with accreted experience and its perception, rationales and their use as poetry reaches much deeper into the author and the reader than most firsts. The work tells us Wilson has been around the whole construct of art, writing and political commitment, and has even penetrated, with his knowing, the "hard heads and soft behinds" of both the aesthetic and social base of what he has witnessed. As living consciousness, in the day to day wasteland of Dis and concomitantly as an artist.

But to be an artist, a term so bitten by opportunism and dissembling distortion, one must re-remember constantly what it does mean. To Create, from the only essence that the goodness of the infinite creating comes from . . . Truth and Beauty (Dig Keats, DuBois), the candidate must, it seems, regard his own consciousness as capable of generating those qualities with as much materiality and certainty as the existing world.

So that when the work is somehow collected and presented, it must be the result of a sharp focus on the external and the internal. With such willful determination that it is the real we come away with, not just the banter of yet another subjective, usually privileged, but many times near tragic "notness."

We carry what we are as who these experiences, as the context of our motion through life, make us. It is, in the main, environment, and our perception, clear or unclear rationale or explanation of what is perceived, and then our use. Where we are and how we know and who we want to understand we are to become is material life, as culture, consciousness and the fundamental social life as we scramble for food clothing and shelter and the context of that.

Wilson I met in the 60s Black Arts eruption of mass and individual development. The period when "Revolution" was The main Trend in The World Today." Specifically as a mover characterized by the sometimes frantic but ultimately profound upsurge of the Afro-American people to redefine themselves, as an aggressive act of Self Determinism. Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Fidel Castro, The Black Panther Party, the Liberation of the African Nations from straight out colonialism, these were some of the dimensions of our growing, and Ted Wilson was an active and conscious player in that revolutionary motion. A cadre of the movement, however defined, that left much of the world with new understanding and a new era of multidimensional struggle.

So that Wilson is shaped by some of those concerns and has come to this place from that earlier place through a ubiquitous and formidable complex of events, processes, trends, ideas, reflections, reunderstandings, commitments. We are shaped by our lives as our lives and this is the self that reflects and recalls and thinks, creates, and destroys.

The Black Arts Movement in Harlem in 1960s was the social and aesthetic force that produced these affirmations:

          1. We wanted an art, a poetry that was BLACK, i.e. Afro-American in form and content, as recognizable as such as Petey Wheatstraw or Lady Day.

          2. We wanted an art, a poetry that came out of those close circuits of maledict, out of the tidy impotent classrooms and holy quarks of the IN. That would leave the alabaster whatnots of the Ain't and dance in the street so what they bee'd cd really be see'd. We wanted poetry that would mean something to the great masses of people, particularly we wanted to animate the lives of Black people and be animated by the whole of our mass selves.

          3. We wanted most a Revolutionary Art, an art that would help liberate Black people, an art that would help tear this whole playhouse of national oppression and racism rat down!

Sometimes, e.g. the story Willie, the surface can easily be seen in the light of the first two aspects of the rubric, but here the heart of the narrative is like an outline of consciousness acquired. An archetype which describes the dimensions of a particular culture, a particular time place and condition, and like the novel of youth growing to adulthood, is heaviest as a paradigmatic recall of that.

The poetry, as well, carries a specific history, even its speech and reference characterize a path a maintenance a reconfirmation of a certain social consciousness that is easily related from the natural context of its author's understanding. He is telling us, but initially re-telling himself.

He says "we are not writing for us but to us." Though the "to us" is, in practice, initially . . . emotionally and intellectually, "for us," particularly if its effect is to lift us reacquaint us with our strengths and weakness. It is the directness of its Use as literature . . . "like the music we play . . . ya digg?" that reaches beyond the page into our own becoming.

There are many contradictory reflections. "Black as my heart the night grows whiter," even a continuous undercurrent of agnostic indecision . . . as to what is real or real real or the unreal . . . but it grows incisive . . . "a narrow passageway/ a window of despair." Positing that that is how the real gets known!

Dance is full of colliding Yeses and Nos, as when he says, "no blues . . . a wheel of fortune . . ." but the book, if it is anything, is one material meaning of the blues, and the middle passage from "our favorite color" to such deep tragedy it haunts us all, even sweet even pretty, yo funky . . . "blues be good, be good be good . . . " at the margins of our consciousness "a night song."

The poet says he is "a passenger" . . . in what vehicle we wonder. Perhaps like Sun Ra's telling . . . " You on the spaceship Earth and you outward bound, destination unknown. But you haven't met the captain of the spaceship yet!"

That is the essence of the contradictory stances, except he is a passenger in and as his own own self. The coming consciousness of the reality of the personal vehicle and the larger vehicle given to him by his sense-world, that is real and his own reflection which is the poetry.

"We come here from Goree" . . . deep recall . . . "Space is the place . . . sorry but I can't take you . . ." Ra, direct, matter and its dissociative reflection. The whole spectrum of digging not yet clearly resolved, so that there is a constant reverberation as to what is believed and what is known what is thought what is actual.

Speech itself, the elder registration, precise in its twisting and specific touching. "Dap Daddy smiled a beaming smile/ all the while growling." If we recognize what is "Dap" who and where for is "Daddy," we know at once for the complete image, just exactly why he smile and be at same time inside wild. Yes, indeed.

The cultural motif like speech, is observation and history, registration and description. "The night was a flatted fifth," evoking a whole passion, period, way of looking at the world, place, art. We are swept with the familiar, but always renewed by the power of a precise digging, a reawakened feeling.

Wilson's title, as many of the pieces are political upfront and down under. Liberation is more than a statement, it is an emotional commitment. Hence, poems to people like the popular Pan-Africanist, Elombe Brath, his name something to conjure with, and the work draws someone not familiar with the person into the practice that is that person.

Mao sd, we must create art that is artistically powerful and politically revolutionary at the same time. It is a life's work, to bring the two modes of seeing which are actually inextricable in reality, to the conjunction of our rationale and use. Wilson is beginning, not as a persona, but as a public cultural worker, artist, to go to that awesome space around and within himself.

Source: Ted Wilson. Slo' Dance. Brooklyn, NY: Shamal Books, 2003 / Contact: Shamal Books, GPO Box 16, NYC 10116 (718) 622 4426


Ted Wilson, formerly with Pride and Liberator magazines,  is a writer, producer, and promoter, most recently with the Bread Is Rising poetry series in New York City.

A cultural worker since the 1960s Black Liberation/human rights movements, Ted's writings have appeared in several journals: The Black Nation; Black American Literature Forum; Callaloo; NOBO: Journal of African American Thought; and anthologies: Amiri Baraka: The Kaleidoscopic Torch (ed. J.E. Gwynne); In Defense of Mumia (eds. S.E. Anderson, T. Medina); Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American Writing  (eds. L. Jones, L. Neal); New Rain #9: Our Fathers/Ourselves (eds. G. Johnston, M. M'Buzi Moore)].

He also works as a Construction Manager Consultant and Developer currently involved in an effort to develop a Cultural/Arts district in Newark, New Jersey.

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Let Loose on the World
Celebrating Amiri Baraka at 75

Edited by Karen D. Taylor and Louis Reyes Rivera

intro by Mumia Abu Jamal 

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



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#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 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


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#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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Greenback Planet: How the Dollar Conquered

the World and Threatened Civilization as We Know It

By H. W. Brands

In Greenback Planet, acclaimed historian H. W. Brands charts the dollar's astonishing rise to become the world's principal currency. Telling the story with the verve of a novelist, he recounts key episodes in U.S. monetary history, from the Civil War debate over fiat money (greenbacks) to the recent worldwide financial crisis. Brands explores the dollar's changing relations to gold and silver and to other currencies and cogently explains how America's economic might made the dollar the fundamental standard of value in world finance. He vividly describes the 1869 Black Friday attempt to corner the gold market, banker J. P. Morgan's bailout of the U.S. treasury, the creation of the Federal Reserve, and President Franklin Roosevelt's handling of the bank panic of 1933. Brands shows how lessons learned (and not learned) in the Great Depression have influenced subsequent U.S. monetary policy, and how the dollar's dominance helped transform economies in countries ranging from Germany and Japan after World War II to Russia and China today. He concludes with a sobering dissection of the 2008 world financial debacle, which exposed the power--and the enormous risks--of the dollar's worldwide reign.  The Economy

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Sex at the Margins

Migration, Labour Markets and the Rescue Industry

By Laura María Agustín

This book explodes several myths: that selling sex is completely different from any other kind of work, that migrants who sell sex are passive victims and that the multitude of people out to save them are without self-interest. Laura Agustín makes a passionate case against these stereotypes, arguing that the label 'trafficked' does not accurately describe migrants' lives and that the 'rescue industry' serves to disempower them. Based on extensive research amongst both migrants who sell sex and social helpers, Sex at the Margins provides a radically different analysis. Frequently, says Agustin, migrants make rational choices to travel and work in the sex industry, and although they are treated like a marginalised group they form part of the dynamic global economy. Both powerful and controversial, this book is essential reading for all those who want to understand the increasingly important relationship between sex markets, migration and the desire for social justice. "Sex at the Margins rips apart distinctions between migrants, service work and sexual labour and reveals the utter complexity of the contemporary sex industry. This book is set to be a trailblazer in the study of sexuality."—Lisa Adkins, University of London

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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

Browse all issues

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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

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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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ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)



update 29 February 2012




Home  Amiri Baraka Table  Louis Reyes Rivera Table

Related files: Slo Dance Reviews   Celebrating the Release  Acknowledgements  Slo Dance Table   Slo Dance Introduction  A Real Long Look   The Protector Mobutu and Zaire

 From Gangs of the Ghetto to Gangstas of the Inner City