Saturday, September 10, 2011

so... we own a bookstore now, hunh?

been a busy last 4 months since my last regular post. found out in mid-april that my part-time gig at local landmark Morgan Adam Books was coming to an end - that the owner was closing up shop to concentrate on her other iconic business venture, Sqecial Media (the local head-shop). i was bummed a bit, because the bookstore was in my neighborhood and only a 15 minute walk away... ...well, damn. now i was probably gonna hafta find transportation not just for any potential new gig but just to be able to get out and SEARCH for a new gig ( "hey Crys, how much is a bus-pass anyway?" ).  but leave it to Yard-Sale-Queen-Crys herself to never pass up an opportunity, so she says to me: "i've always wanted to own a bookstore - what about you?" i think i just kinda shrugged at first, not thinking she was fully serious about it, but then i saw her eyes beginning to light up some and i knew it was more than a hypothesis or passing fancy... ...did i wanna co-own a bookstore? ...did i?!?!?
well... i was finna be unemployed anyway, sooooo... "yeah, baby, sounds great!"

and in that moment, a wild hair gave birth to a wild fig....

...Morgan Adams Books closed its doors for the last time on May 16 and then a little over a month later, June 20, 2011: THE WILD FIG BOOKS is up and running.

 we're hitting our 10th week... i think we'll be able to afford paying me a regular salary, oh say, Christmas... ...2015!

:)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

'the hero with an african face' by clyde w. ford

the advantage to working in a used-book store is that i get the chance to claim dibs on any interesting books that the community brings in to us. it's rewarding to have materials cross my path, as a writer and visual artist, that i might not otherwise have known about - works that have fueled my poetry, collages and personal philosophy. monday, i had a book enter into my awareness that intellectually validates my diaphanous points of view. that book is Clyde W. Ford's

THE HERO WITH AN AFRICAN FACE

this book is jockeying to become my new personal bible (at least in equal tandem with Brother Ishmael Reed's novel 'Mumbo Jumbo' - or possibly, Reed's book is my old testament and Ford's is my new one).

i've only read a few pages today and it has already become a valuable creative resource. in it, Ford addresses the historical and cultural value of Africa's much-ignored mythological narratives, refusing to lump the entire CONTINENT and its people under one banner, the one modern historians use when reducing hundreds of independent cultures into one manageable stereotype.

this book is a blessing; its inspiring and i am indebted to its author for fueling ghosts that haunt my creativity.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

my bs bio bo

the tale-end of my pdf chapbook...


shovelin’ dirt, my bullshit autobiographical body odor
(a Q and A session between a fool and his Orishas... or maybe a dream)

...

Elegbara: so... you’re gonna put all this shit off on us, hunh? the delusions,
        the hallucinations, your penchant for bourbon poured over ice cream,
        your OCD, the    typos... you’re saying all of that is our fault?

brothadirt: (undecipherable mumbling)

Jesus: excuse me, but could you please lean into the microphone when answering.
        thank you.

brothadirt: (over feedback from fumbling, making adjustments to the mic)
        -ammit, i SAID yes! you hear me now? whuuh... whuuh...

brothadirt's son Jordan, who lived 4 hours in 1988: daddy, please... dont blow into the mic.
        i swair you have no home-training sometimes. embarrassin’.

Elegbara: brothadirt, elaborate.

brothadirt: “elaborate.”     “elaborate.”     “e... l... a... b...”

Yemoja: sir, this is not a spelling bee. Elegba was asking you to explain yourself.

brothadirt: oh. okay. gotcha. you know, i’ve been up all night making last minute edits
        anshit. working on art. its kinda hard to concentrate at times. plus,
        i see that Coyolxauhqui is watching one life to live and i’m trying not to
        hear what’s happenin’ between Sammy and EJ... i have tivo and i’m wantin’ to
        watch this later on when i get home.

Sun Ra: i pegged you as a young and the restless type of guy...

brothadirt: yes, i was raised young and restless. but after i met Crystal i converted.

(Sun Ra nods and Coyolxauhqui cuts the sound down)

(brothadirt continues)

brothadirt: “elaborate” - well, you all know what haunts me, but for the purposes of
        establishing this on record, i’ll recant my testimony...

Yemoja: you mean “reiterate”... surely you’re not wanting to ‘disavow’ yourself.
        and sir, could you please refrain from rolling your eyes. please.

brothadirt: sista, you KNOW i would never be that disrespectful to you; if it comes
        across that way then please forgive me. i’ve got these moles around my
        eyes and sometimes they itch. i was merely stretching my brow-muscles
        trying to scratch my lids without touching my face. that make sense?
        but you’re right... i didnt mean ‘recant’.
        (googles for the correct definition of ‘reiterate’ on his blackberry)
        okay...
        well. i was born in louisville. kentucky.

Sun Ra: I OBJECT! you only think you were born in louisville, kentucky. but you,
        my child, are a son of saturn. continue.

brothadirt: never been to saturn. but i’ve heard nice things. we always talkabout
        retiring there someday. but i’ve been working part-time in a used-book
        store since i moved to lexington, so, i think ‘retirement’ and ‘quitting’
        will be one-and-the-same. i do think my moon was in saturn when i was
        born, if that’s any consolation. but i’m jus’ guessing at that right now.

        uh, i ramble. you all know that.
        i have no problem with yall prodding me to get the answers you want.
        i have a movie-date with Crystal when she gets home and i sorely need
        to shower and put some smellgood on.

Fela Kuti: rambling is beautiful. it’s okay for your stage presence to carry on and on
        for days at a time.

Elegbara: (shakes head... sighs... drops head into palms, turns to some of the blues
        men on the panel for support)

(Junior Kimbrough just shrugs. Muddy Waters is smoking reefer and drinking
        champaign and defers to John Lee Hooker, himself drinking a beer;
        John Lee looks up, taps cigarette ashes into a tray, then waves his the
        back of his hand in brothadirt’s general direction.)

John Lee: uh... boogie on, children.

brothadirt: yes... yes. i will. thank you sir for your eloquence. let me just say how         much
        i deeply admire tonight’s entire panel.
        (nods to Romare, Ahmose of Egypt’s 18th Dynasty, Lucille Clifton,
        and the other honored Egungun held in high esteem)
       
        let me start at the beginning:
        my government name is ronald davis.
        in keeping to the time honored tradition of my african, native american
        and hip-hop-emcee ancestors, i changed my name to ‘upfromsumdirt’
        taking from an old poem i wrote in which i figuratively said
        “i’m up from some dirt, like a pyramid.”
        back when i was starting to truly come into my own natural voice
        as a descendent-looking-in of the black arts movement.
       
        (grabs mic, stands up, motions to the background singers to cue up)

dirt continues:
as you all know and i’m REITERATING (thumbs up sign to sistaYemoja) i’m haunted by africa-america’s lack in mythological narrative. i cant imagine sitting down to tuck my grandchildren into bed telling them origin-stories that begin with
“and the heaven’s opened up, a gang-plank descended, and out stepped america’s black-assed-children-of-God in chains and shackles.” (shudders)
every child needs to know they come from somewhere magical. mythological. my own motto has been for years “a people without the science to turn their folktales into tradition are not respected by the world at large as an empowered people or a culture to be recognized, worthy of romanticism.” i mean, sometimes i dont say it like that... the words change at times, but that’s the gist of it. i just added ‘romanticism’, but yeah. that.

so as an artist, i’m always attempting to fill in the void - not the definitive historical stuff, because others are already doing so. my job as a black creative (and i have to be “a black creative” because there is still a need for us to champion an honorable black aesthetic. the art and sciences we create are still lumped under the label of second-hand-citizenry, we still tend to draw from the european classics while ignoring the vast volumes of africa’s and africa-america’s largely ignored narratives. black bookstores are gone. black newspapers have bitten the dust. our black magazines are owned by non-black foreigners and this is truly acceptable under america’s assimilated lifestyle.
a lifestyle that is based on universal-liberalism (in vision, not in practice) that is still based on the traditions of those who only know ‘black art’ by way of the media, grade school, and/or stereotype-as-the-easy-answer.

Granmama Lizzie: all this talkn is makin’ my stomach hurt. yall niggas are gonna mess         around and make me late for bingo, shit.

still dirt: i mean, even black folks hold these common beliefs about their own culture, because it is something that is fed to us from our t.v. sets and internet connections, not something that is raised organically within our own homes... so we shrug and say, “well, if they say this is how black people™ are on t.v., then who am i to say otherwise. and where are those visibly acknowledging an alternative or counter- position?” the internet is cool, but the information existing on it is transient and always in flux as information is transferred from one-cool-website-to-the-next-one.
then it all fizzles, begins again. momentums are lost. the calvary only comes for ‘the assimilated us’ and never for those of us attempting to master the serious-concept.
and when it does swing low to carry us, it is never to the homes we recognize or hope for. in this extra-digital era, the most lasting truth is the one you can touch and hold.
america holds onto its cellphones more than anything else. you can maintain an informed culture this way, but its difficult, in my opinion, to achieve an academic culture using digital technology as our reference guides.

Jam Master Jay: so what is your position on the state of hiphop these days? can you
        elaborate about the disappearance of the urban dj in rap culture?

brothadirt: man, now you’re askin me to say sumshit. i aint got that kinda time. this is
        a chapbook, afterall. i’m already nearing 30 pages and my internet
        provider says i’m dangerously close to going over the bandwidth levels
        previously authorized.     but yeah, hiphop sucks, fareal.

Elegbara: you tip the scales at 270 pounds with your fat ass... you still claiming to be a
        vegetarian? my concerns are incredulous.

brothadirt: i’ll have words with you later out back.

Elegbara: dont bring a knife, you know how i roll. so if your ‘words’ for me dont
        begin with “you know, i was way out of line” then we might be talkn’
        ‘final words’ here. you hear me?

brothadirt: yes, suh. i hear you.

Elegbara: it wasnt even a question.

Zora: gentlemen, mind the testosterone levels, please. the warning signal is flashing.

(both parties suck their teeth)

Father Ptah: i think this is a good time to end this meeting. let’s adjourn until
        tomorrow and then resume the interro, the interview, tomorrow between
        9 and 10. (slams gavel)

(Elegbara pulls upfromsumdirt aside, his rough hand clasping harshly the nape of brothadirt’s neck)

Elegbara: i got my eye on you fatboy.

brothadirt: i wouldnt have it any other way...

Elegbara: as it should be.

• by law, they exchange dap. cellphones begin whirling; laptops are booted up;
everyone retreats to their own respective shadows...

Elegbara stops in his tracks, turns and hollers back in dirt’s direction... wants to know
if Granmama Lizzie is seein’ anybody. thinks twice about it/waves dirt off...
        Penumbra-Prime decides to handle his interests hisself.

Elegbara: hey, sistaLizzie... you need a ride to bingo? i got camels... or a cadillac,
        if that’s what you’d prefer. i can take you where you want, i got keys.
        i know a good place for catfish. i know a place where the coffee is good.
        everywhere i go i get a real good reception.... join me sista,
            jus’ join me.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

lit-crush (menage-a-trois) of the month

"Assimilate; don't be assimilated." - Léopold Sédar Senghor

 Senghor (1906-2001), a Senegalese poet, the country's first president, and an absolute Francophile, maintained early on that the best way to support and protect one's indigenous origins, especially for Africans, was by using contemporary (European) methods, or 'the master's tools' as referred to by James Baldwin, to canonize the legacy of your people and NOT by using those methods to dismantle one's culture, rebuilding some Euro-nized facsimile in its place. i've been in serious 'black empowerment' discussions where this point is missed or mistakenly appropriated as an act of oppression... i've had to 'dumb-down' the talking points to this: "if you stole the colt-45 of your oppressor to gain your freedom you wouldnt doubt your own motives by suggesting that an american made gun invalidates that freedom - it's how you use it, what you do with it that matters the most."
- that same theory holds true if your weapon of choice is the inkpen or the paintbrush. the world is moving forward, making advances - with or without us - and our narratives ARE going to be told and preserved, the only question is who will be the curator of such narratives: those who are native to those narratives or those who are only out to catalog stories and art, interpreting the meanings however they see fit? we, as black creatives, must curate our own work; validate what has the most 'authenticity' so that outsiders will fully understand what our value systems are.

love who you are. understand where you come from. let these understandings be the cornerstone of the art, philosophies and sciences that you create, just as other cultures (European, Asian, Carib, etc) have done; just as Africa had always done prior to colonization - tell your tales without flinching, let your own tongue be triumphant in the way it organizes your stories. use what embodies the contemporary in your own times, this is the only way for you to achieve relevance beyond your own era.

Senghor did this successfully, utilizing the written word to canonize his African-ness in France, in Senegal, and on the world stage. such work leaves a lasting impression on me... and as poetry editor for Mythium, it's one of the main things i look for in submissions: finely crafted nuanced work with distinguishable, cultural undertones.

nuanced, not annoying or the nuisance of self-indulgent hubris.

i often credit Haki Madhubuti's book earthquakes and sunrise missions as being "my literary bible". my sister Karen gave me a copy for my 21st birthday and his work inspired my creativity and the new way in which i approached writing. before then i was Chuck D Lite, writing angry, black-conscious poetry rants. Haki's book gave me focus and a better understanding of what it means to craft your work. although i was familiar with Gwen Brooks, Gil Scott-Heron, Sonia Sanchez, the Last Poets and tons of other Black Arts Movement writers, it was the tone of Haki's work that influenced me the most and made me want to be a writer instead of merely being a black poetry fan. he was writing black poems FOR black people to heal to, not black poems to strictly poke in the eyes of our oppressors...

from him i fell into the works of Lucille Clifton; her poem "if i stand in my window" is my all time favorite above every other poem ever written on the face of the earth! it's such a short piece and yet it has metaphor, self-love, AND oppressor eye-poke ability all in one... embodies craft and depth and is the epitome of Senghor's philosophy of "assimilate; don't be assimilated."

but Senghor, Madhubuti, and Clifton are not the subject for this 'lit-crush menage-a-trois entry... no.
it's Senghor, Ishmael Reed and Nikky Finney... 

i'm late coming to fully appreciate the works of Senghor, having only become familiar with his work in the past couple of years - but his sincerity to his craft and subject matter mirror what i would gratefully love to emulate in my own writing.

i first read Ishmael Reed's poetry back when i was too young to appreciate it and he didnt re-enter my consciousness until after i had read his novel, Mumbo Jumbo, about 15 years ago... that book is now my second bible! in my most creative moments i am channeling the spirits of Papa LaBas, Jes Grew and the Mumbo Jumbo Kathedral... it grounds my space-age sensibilities in the root-works of African culture as seen through the eyes of a black man raised on speed racer, sanford and son, mantronix, and saturday morning cartoons, pre-cable tv era. not just Black America, Ishmael Reed steered me toward the importance of romanticizing one's own heritage in order to canonize your own art. "I Am a Cowboy in the Boat of Ra" is a poetry classic... his work should be taught everywhere!
but only by educators who 'get it', but sadly - it seems - our teachers leap from Langston Hughes to Maya Angelou to fill-in well-advertised contemporary-black poet-of-the-moment here. maybe Audre Lorde. Gwen Brooks. Rita Dove... ...the on-the-surface classics, but seldom those below the radar who had or have been writing exceptional work for a mighty long time. their names might be mentioned, but is their work being thoroughly discussed in a classroom setting? i dont know... i'd be happy to hear about such literary programs.

my first encounter with Nikky Finney's work happened in 2001, when i stumbled across her poem, "Assam", in the Step Into A World anthology - in that piece, she writes about a maternal figure "steeping" in the ocean as if a teabag. i'm HORRIBLE with names, so me being a very visual person that single bit of imagery has haunted me since i first read it! i remember everything by way of imagery... and emotion. (and since my copy of the anthology, misappropriated from a library ((a complete accident i swear!)) is missing, i'm not even sure that the title 'assam' is even correct and its one of my top five poems ever; thank you google, for what sounds like the correct title!)

((to be 100% transparent, i still have to refer to Lucille Clifton's work to correctly remember the title for "if i stand in my window" where she is actually standing in her window in the poem! - memory, BAD!))

(((i've had people quote my own work to me while i waited for them to tell me who the author was!)))

back to the point: A BLACK WOMAN WADES INTO THE SEA, FLAVORS THE ENTIRE OCEAN!

- that's dope.

Finney's poetry has taught me the importance of physically honoring our people, not abstractly or in attempts to recreate the personal mythologies that haunt me, but of immediate flesh and blood bonds - something i have never mastered and more than likely never will. i've had a son die, a nephew survive being in the second world trade tower when the plane hit, the passing of my father who i still have unresolved issues... and nothing i have ever attempted poetically has done justice (to me) in those events. i'm incapable of writing personal narratives that involve my loved ones, with the exception of 'being in love' poems - i can wax poetic about Crystal's effects on me all day! but to write about Crystal as a whole person outside of my affection for her would be a task, because i remain unable to fully encapsulate her womanhood, her country background, her afrocentric tendencies, or her feminist nature adequately. as a writer i know its not a necessity, that its even an impossibility to fully portray someone accurately in all dimensions of their being in a single poem (or even in a group of poems)...

i might incorporate icons famous to me in my work, but for the above reason, i could never be "a persona poet" - not that i lack the skill. i lack the nerve. i can write about me, Sun Ra, and Olodumare in a stolen Jeep driving drunk to a knife fight at the Source Awards, but to take a page from Sonny Blount's actual life to place solely into verse? i could never do it.  not without space aliens and a craps game entering the picture...

but when i do attempt to write about something personal, it's Nikky Finney's work that first comes to mind... she has a very humanistic approach in her writing - her characters are tangible, not because they put on shoes and walk - but because her writing makes me feel its subject's toes protruding from their socks within those shoes... her poetry reflects Senghor's approach: not only do i feel her South Carolinian heritage, it also feels authentically 'black' - a rarity in an age where the current philosophy of black writers suggests we aggrandize the dysfunctional in order to be seen as "progressive"...

i'm not opposed to the exaggerated or the cinematic in our poetry, but there's this 'twitter-effect' going on in literature where common, everyday happenings are placed into verse with little poetic device, and yet we are expected to assume that something poetic is riding underneath - the cinematic assumed.

but that's another issue...

Léopold Sédar Senghor
Ishmael Reed
Nikky Finney

"assimilate... don't be assimilated!"

Friday, December 03, 2010

Olive Senior - literary crush of the week

it takes diggin' in the crates, late nights and early mornings
spending the set-aside, essential creative time for precious projects
on web-surfing, google, bing, etc... but when you come across
that previous nugget-of-the-dark-unknown™ then it all seems worth it.

(at least until the people you're beholden to wanna know what's up with your deadlines!)

Olive Senior... why do we not know who she is on the education circuit?

check her out... her work is canonical.

tongues of the ocean is another good site to check out... this link takes you to Olive's poem there.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

"change the style" - wordemup!

and now, for your listening and viewing pleasure,
i present to you... ...son of bazerk; vintage 1991. enjoy.

Monday, November 08, 2010

"my students are full of shit"

branford marsalis speaks the truth...

Sunday, November 07, 2010

"shadeism"


Shadeism from Shadeism on Vimeo.
This short TV documentary is an introduction to the issue of shadeism, the discrimination that exists between the lighter-skinned and darker-skinned members of the same community. This documentary short looks specifically at how it affects young womyn within the African, Caribbean, and South Asian diasporas. Through the eyes and words of 5 young womyn and 1 little girl - all females of colour - the film takes us into the thoughts and experiences of each. Overall, 'Shadeism' explores where shadeism comes from, how it directly affects us as womyn of colour, and ultimately, begins to explore how we can move forward through dialogue and discussion.

Friday, November 05, 2010

stronger than silent 'e'

baby's asked me to create a new flier for her and i started thinking about using an image of letterman (electric company, not david) for it... but then i got to thinking: shit, like today's students would even know who letterman is!
so i'm gonna settle on watching these classic videos for now til i think of something else -

 





and then there's this one... just cause the sista is so fly...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

until the real thing comes along...

no, not the song... just talknabout the next blog i'm wanting to write.
until then, this will hafta do...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

disintegration of america's black neighborhoods

eugene robinson on npr

we're slowly getting to the point where we can openly speak about the negative side-effects
of integration on the black community. eugene robinson touches on a few points of interests,
but i think he sidesteps acknowledging the main component plaguing the legitimacy of
empowerment for african americans - i'm talking about 'integration' itself.

not saying integration is bad; it's just that african americans were badly integrated.
we didnt step headlong into 'the great american project' hauling our culture with us; for the most
part, that culture was what we were wanting to get away from - slavery, jim crow, stereotype,
disenfranchisement, poverty, ridicule, self-hate, etc... the only thing is we also abandoned
the positives that go along with thriving within your own culture as it battles outside forces
to maintain its dignity, relevance and reverence to the world at large: community, pride-in-self,
accomplishment, solidarity, social inclusion.... all the things currently coming up short in
black communities across the american nation; the dwindled social aspects that caused
mr. jello (bill cosby) to launch into his tirade about the perception of social malfeasance
existing not only in our neighborhoods, but in how our images play out in the media and beyond.

400 years of second class (on a good day!) citizenship has intrinsically damaged our self-esteem
and yet 'post traumatic slavery syndrome' is a laughed at phenomenon. and yet we treat
children held hostage over night by irate family members, lovers, co-workers, etc... we treat
soldiers who spend any amount of time in active combat situations (whether weapons are fired
or not). and yet african americans have had to deal with the legacy of being the offspring of
those violently taken from their homes and loved ones, we have all come of age living with
this banner of supreme victimization and yet america expects us to shrug it off/get over it/accept
their somewhat-welcoming and not-all-together-immediate embrace...
we probably COULD get over it if our medical practitioners hadnt abandoned us in our mad rush
to join in with the mainstream - black communities where left with the void of business
professionals rushing out in attempts to earn gainful employment where financial reward was
more likely to equate to their experience, know-how and cognizant abilities. ask any black
person over 50 and they'll recount tales of neighborhoods thriving with black businesses -
bakeries, restaurants, dry-cleaners, lawyers, doctors, teachers, etc... black professionals who
worked within the borders of the communities in which they lived. this is called 'being invested'.

and in the mainstream of america, our white counterparts had already called dibs on the goods
and services we once provided. this is how a black doctor under segregation becomes a factory
worker at general electric. of black elders who believed the grass was always greener on
the other side, so they'd comment that 'white doctors are better than black doctors', exposing
the 400 year legacy of being victims in a harsh environment. not that we all individuals suffered,
but as a black collective, which is what mr. robinson's article addresses.

we'll get it straight one day; i know that about us. but it will take bolder language out in the open
than what currently exists at this time. eugene does an excellent job in adding this subject to
the national discussion...

it's time our artiststs and writers to back him up; for our work as individuals to reconnect us
to our cultural heritages existing before melting-pot-theories watered us down. its not america's
pollutants that have pulled us down, its the dilution of our cultural fabrics that have splintered
us the most.

(and where's the 'black newspaper app' for our smartphones? ...damn!)

time to kill (and the sacred desk)

i love days like today, when me and crys are on the same creative schedule,
where we're not rushing our own individual projects and each other 'making time'
before rushing beyond our doorways appeasing the projects of other people.
days like today are good. we get to lounge, catch up on tivo, cradle each other,
wash clothes/dishes/behinds (or not!), make grocery lists and other day-in/day-out
activities at our own leisure. even when we both retreat to ten paces away from
each other to work or play on our computers the actions are casual. there is a pleasure
at not being pressured to surf the web when on a time-line... being in the same room
while surfing the internet is relaxing. i'm left to wonder what the percentage is of
internet users who feel a high level of anxiety just from being 'connected'. i know
such an activity, over time, affects our cognizant abilities - how is it affecting our
physical health? maybe it doesnt and its just the on-going battle being waged within
us as our old-school upbringing resists the lure of technological advancements...

anyway, what i'm saying is: today i get to surf the web more slowly and with a bit
more sense of purpose/less the sense of urgency... i came across this video about
the way we use our workspaces, real and imagined. having crys nearby without
the invasion of 'work' hanging above our heads has me able to process the trillions
of daily websites i stumble across on a daily basis. the posting of this video reflects
the peace of mind i'm currently aware of...
tomorrow is back to the grind; but we're grown...
so even if stressed, we know that tomorrow will hold its own type of beauty.



Desk - Music and Sound Design from Aaron Trinder  Film:Motion:Music on Vimeo.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

canonical black lit

there are many factors shaping the aesthetics and acceptance of the black creative in this modern era.
mostly, we are affected by the loss of a common, communal plane of existence to house our muses.
in this overly-assimilated era we've lost our own cultural mt. olympus from where our creative gods
held fish-fries, rent parties, and shot dice before heading to church.

to fit into 'the mainstream' america asks its subcultures to streamline their baggage. if you can not
fit your heritage into a carry-on (or is over 2 megabytes of memory), then you have to get from
here to there all on your own (not impossible to do, but once you arrive you'll find no welcoming
reception). so, if a black creative is to ride the uncle-sam-express he's less the history of his people.
or if not 'less' then at least very simplified. you can not enter their boxcars with your convoluted
community ties. come 'clean and articulate' or not at all.

you can opt for 'not at all', but there are no publishing houses or exhibit curators flipping through
their rolodex searching for your contact information. black narratives no longer seem to channel the
communal black experience before being funneled into the wide open world. we sieve our creativity
through the institutionalized avenues of acceptance: art schools, mfa programs, the assembly lines of
writing collectives.
when's the last time a completely 'unknown' forced his or herself onto the social scene?
because our avenues for success are now narrowed by academia our creative geniuses are no longer
recognizable to the common people: popular black writers and artists are no longer marketed to
the black communities where legacies are fostered. black creatives chase after 'legitimacy' which is
now the sole-property of higher institutions. 'legitimacy' is what pays the bills. unless you ply your
trade in coffeehouses and cafes, no one leaves a legacy to inspire the common people in their own
homes.

now, i know this is not exclusively the problem for black creatives. i'm not saying it is.
all i'm doing is discussing how the monopolizing of the creative process has specifically hindered
our cultural progressions. if you are over 40 years old, then you grew up at least knowing about
such writers as langston hughes, james baldwin, toni morrison, sonia sanchez, etc...
but ask someone under 25 to name their favorite black literary writers... 9 times out of 10 they'll give
you those exact same names. ask them to name someone under 30, they stumble for answers.
unless you participate in creative workshops and classes, you'll stumble to name any also.
you might luck up and get a saul williams or jessica care moore. maybe someone will say jill scott
or mos def or some other frequent flier on the cable tv spokenword circuit. tyler perry might even
be mentioned; not knockin' his hustle - we all need one.

... (stops to take one long pull from an inhaler) ...

what books are the coffeehouse audiences carrying with them? are they the same ones being used to
teach black creativity in academic classrooms? audre lorde, langston hughes, james baldwin, toni
morrison, richard wright... all extremely venerable in the pantheon of black literature. but how long
can they carry the load for us? at what point do we champion their successors to carry on the legacy?
and whose job will it be to do so? it's been nearly 25 years since chuck d. said "our heroes dont
appear on no stamps" - well, some of them are now, but who writes letters these days?
we have to find our voices, our new icons and hold them dear no matter the advancements to
technology, education, and society tempting us to pull away. when america places its seal-of-approval
on 'the next new thing' it needs to be because the masses put that person in position to be honored;
this is how we as a whole become invested in the world at large. otherwise, america will prop up
'the new thing' like a foreign dictator and when his or her usefulness has expired then so does the
resources once available to that person. 'the new thing' returns home, angry that we can not support
his 15 minutes of fame... we shrug at his anger because, shit, we're angry too, asking him "and who
did you say your mama was? ...pfft! you didnt come up through us anyway."

every black writer can tell their own authentic black stories, but in this day and era where
the institutionalized whole is more important than the communal parts, what's that mean to the black
society at large still trying to fit in? has black legacy become the woolly mammoth frozen in a glacier
or has it moved beyond the scope of our community elders once chosen (hand-picked or self-assigned!)
as our keepers of the flame? an extremely limited coven of black literary artists create work that is
canonical to the black experience, working equally on universal and marginalized plains of existence.
can anyone now do so effectively? should we even expect our geniuses to attempt so?

black trees fall in our forests everyday... 'hearing' them or not is not the question; the question is:
how do we even get people back into the forests to begin with?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

ps:

and if you drop by the house unexpectedly
and hafta use the restroom then dont come
calling on me to hand you a roll of toilet paper
if it runs empty. you are welcome in my home,
but uninvited visitors are not 'a guest' - i am not obliged.

thank you.

- the mngmt.

ibid scribbled at the bottom of my tombstone made a totem turnt a temple

how much scab could a hermitcrab grab if a hermitcrab could grab scab?

ok. i admit to being off my rocker today, but off-my-meds is where i need to be at every day of my life.
creative types shouldnt have to reel themselves back in for the sake of appearances... i, too, wanna walk around with my draws showing, not like the younger generations with their pantses sagging, but like our daddies used to do walking through their own houses in a t-shirt and boxers and a can of pabst in one hand, porn in the other, on the way to the bathroom while mamas were entertaining the jehovah's witnesses dropping through to talk about organized salvation.
(and yes, i said "pantses" - stfu!)

i want my art and poems to grow from a crevice. from the forgotten pot of beans in the back of the fridge that now has a rain forest growing in it. i want ... the hell if i know ... something. different. older than where we are now as a people but still future-forward. reverse-sankofa. an un-diversed dissertation on total damnation written from the hands of some dawn-dead zombies and have it be a poem of love and affection. thats what i'm wanting. to be so fkn retro its original. to sit on the Great Porch built by the hands of those forced into serving me. to be an overseer. shotgun across my lap, marcus garvey and kwame nkrumah on my ipod. reading franz fanon on my ipad. whipping my fieldhands, the scarification on their backs my folk-art; telling toby his new name is achebe.
(and yes, muhfkr, i said 'lissen'... no, wait. no i didnt. i deleted that part.
but i'm not sorry for callin you a muhfkr. live with it.)

its not that i'm antisocial (because i am), its just... i'm just not counter-cultural enough. i think.
the status quo has tainted what it means to living-up-to-your-responsibilities. i love doing what others expect of me, as long as what's expected of me is based on the name i've created for myself and not by the stereotypes associated with 'black/art/literature'.

you probably dont understand.

its not just a black thang.

its a blacker thing.

Friday, September 24, 2010

i would give anything

to own the truck currently used in my banner. that is the dopest thing on 4 wheels. i could be driver/curator for the black-apothecary-traveling-splinter-art-and-broken-lit-splitters-show...
like a new-era bingo long!

have a bell, like the old-fashioned ice cream trucks used to have. (god, how i miss ice-cream trucks! not popsicle  truck, ice-cream! remember how they useta swirl vanilla and chocolate double-barreled from the side? simply beautiful.)

my daughter calls me weird.

i dont deny it.

ding, ding, ding... we have a new champion!

and the winner by tko is
(ref lifts the arms of.... ) .... ... ... ... ... the people's champion!

okay... i can be simple and direct. i'm not always so theatrical.

i'm talknabout the blogsite AUNT JEMIMA'S REVENGE! they are holding it down!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

"O" is for...

its sad when one of the freshest things in hiphop isnt actually hiphop but a homage to it...

there are exceptions, but exceptions are usually fleeting.


O from Daniele Manoli on Vimeo.

Daniele Manoli - check out his entire alphabet on vimeo.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sunday, August 15, 2010

"an african and an irish walk into a holler..."

black southern heritage and appalachian culture

Saturday, August 14, 2010

abbey lincoln

abbey lincoln - the man who has the magic/where are the african gods?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

some real good feel good...

8 goals for africa -

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

summer reading list 2010

(when not reading poetry submissions for mythium)

anthills of the savannah, chinua achebe
the woman of the dunes, kobo abe
fledgling, octavia butler
the electric koolaid acid test, tom wolfe
african short stories, achebe & c.l. innes
flight to canada, ishmael reed

up next:

naked lunch, william burroughs

thinking outloud online part 1

every couple of years i gather up the 20 plus years of badly written poetry, focusing on the last ten years in particular, with the intention of 'getting published'... so i read, reread and do some editing, siphon a million bad similes into 70 pages and shout to the heavens how THIS IS IT! my voice shaking the shit outta the firmaments... but then the transient taste of satisfaction and sense of accomplishment fades and i shrug; toss the manuscript back into dry-dock and go on about my business of being indifferent, literary-speaking.

i know for a fact that i'm a decent poet, but tho i consider my poetic approach 'scholarly' i have never once considered myself an 'academic'. i've spent a great deal of time studying the writers who've influenced me, but never while in a classroom setting... i've been encouraged to get an mfa in writing but again to what purpose? to teach? to sharpen the shape of my nose as i preach 'form' to the 'unlettered'? for vanity? for 'just because that's the way its done'?

certainly receiving my mfa would potentially add weight to my credentials as i talk to 'genuine' publishers about accepting my collections, but then what? i dont particularly need the approval of a publishing house to know i'm better than what passes as an average writer (and despite that last sentence, i am quite humble in this fact/even if it only exists in my own mind) - but unless i win a substantial prize, the role of 'poetry writer' is cupboard-bare skill once fully accomplished.

but i do want to publish my work. but #2, i dont want to self-publish. writing in my own journals is self-publishing all by itself, why would i want to spend my own money expanding the look and feel of my own poetic journal entries, especially since i can only name 10 people that might be interested enough to purchase one! better to just turn my manuscript into a pdf file and just send it to them via email for free, right? but such a hassle seems too much like an inept type of hustle to me. i'm not a mic-type writer standing outside the coffehouses pushing my wares... my dilemma is this: i write for both academia AND for the non-academics. i want one word to reach them both and be equal in standing.

this means self-publishing is most definitely out. or is it?

shit. its almost 2 in the morning... wtf was you expecting from me at this hour, an epiphany?!?!?!

go to bed and forgetchu was e'en herre.

or if you're reading this after breakfast/lunch/dinner/etc, then please proceed to vomit at the commencement of this sentence.

(watch the shoes!)

Monday, July 12, 2010

siblings...

its funny how much me and my sisters have in common but yet still know very little about each other and whatever it is that motivates us... i'm the youngest and the only boy amongst 5 girls (2 sisters from mama's previous relationship, 2 from daddy's previous relationship, then me and a sis from their union)...
there is off and on tension from a sister on my father's side who i think feels 'neglected' (or annoyed) by daddy's 'new' family. i think she feels like we enjoyed vast advantages of a loving home (which we did and then sometimes we didnt - its all relative to your own individual demons)
my other sisters think i enjoyed some 'loving, common bond' with daddy, as if i adored him and had a close relationship with him (which didnt exist and has never existed. as mentioned in the previous post i had much emotional acrimony towards daddy and not until he had lost the use of his legs did he seem to have much use to stay connected with me)...

i think 3/5ths of my sisters are extremely narcissistic. one would doubt it and turn it back on me, one would say 'yeah, and?' and the other would roll her eyes and hit me in the back of the head...
(one sister is a complete angel and we would never exchange cross-words with each other...
then again, maybe i just dont her that well... and the other sister, i just dont know her that well; daddy's funeral was the first time i'd seen her since i was a pre-teen - just found out she's been living within 5 blocks of mama and daddy's house for the last 2 years!)

anyway, we all have issues and are bound to have the wrong adjectives (see previous post) placed on one another's obituary pages when those appropriate times arise...

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