Books by Kalamu ya
The Magic of JuJu: An Appreciation of the Black Arts
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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("Pen of Peace")
Kalamu ya Salaam was born Vallery Ferdinand III on March 24, 1947 in New Orleans, Louisiana. He
attended Carleton College (1964-1969), and Delgado Junior
College from which he earned an A.A. (Associate Arts) degree in
Salaam is a professional editor/writer, filmmaker,
producer and arts administrator. He served as a senior partner in the New Orleans
based public relations firm of Bright Moments Inc. (1984 - 1996)
and is a co-founder (with Kysha Brown) of Runagate Multimedia,
Inc. He is the founder and director of NOMMO Literary Society, a
New Orleans-based Black writers workshop. Salaam is also the
founder and moderator of e-Drum, an informational listserv for
Black writers and diverse supporters of literature worldwide.
His latest books are the anthologies From a Bend
in the River: 100 New Orleans Poets (Runagate Press 1998)
and 360âˆž A Revolution of Black Poets (BlackWords
Press 1998). Mr. Salaam latest spoken word CD is My Story, My
He is the recipient of a 1999 Senior Literature
Fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown,
Massachusetts; a 1998 Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
Award, a 1997 Mayor Marc Morial's Arts Award, the 1995 Louisiana
Literature Fellow and guest editor of "The Music"
(Vol. 29, #2) special issue of the African American Review.
He is the poetry editor for QBR: The Black Book Review.
He is the author of What Is Life?-The Reclamation
Of The Black Blues Self (1994, Third World Press) and the
editor of WORD UP -- Black Poetry Of The 80s From The Deep
South (Red Beans and Brown Rice Press1990), an anthology of
His jazz play, Body&Soul, is the 1996
awardee in Louisiana State University's Native Voices
competition. An excerpt from What Is Life? was used on
the national ACT examinations as part of the reading
Mr. Salaam is the leader of The WordBand, a
performance poetry ensemble. He and musician Fred Ho comprise
The Afro-Asian Arts Dialogue, a poetry/music duo. He is the
producer and scriptwriter for Crescent City Sounds (WGBH Radio
Boston), a nationally syndicated, weekly, one hour radio program
of New Orleans regional music carried by over 70 radio stations.
He is also a radio producer and DJ for WWOZ, 90.7FM
in New Orleans and a record producer with AFO Records, a New
Orleans independent record label.
In May 1992 Kalamu ya Salaam produced NEW WORLD POETS
for the Houston International Festival in Houston, TX. The
program consisted of three concert readings of poetry by African
American poets Jayne Cortez, Haki Madhubuti, Thomas Meloncon;
Puerto Rican poet Tato Laviera, Native American poet Jack
Forbes, Asian American poet Genny Lim, and Chicana poet
Evangelina Vigil-Pinon. The program was recorded by Mr. Salaam.
In November 1989 Kalamu ya Salaam produced A NATION
OF POETS for the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta, GA.
The program was a concert reading of poetry by Amiri
Baraka, Pearl Cleage, Wanda Coleman, Mari Evans, Haki Madhubuti,
Kalamu ya Salaam, Sonia Sanchez and Askia Muhammad Toure.
The program was recorded under Mr. Salaam's direction and
videotaped for broadcast on the Atlanta PBS affiliate. Mr.
Salaam is the producer of A NATION OF POETS cassette and CD.
Kalamu ya Salaam is a music producer who has produced
festivals and served as a consulting producer for festivals in
Trinidad, Barbados and many events in the United States.
He served as associate producer and scriptwriter for the
nationally distributed JAZZTOWN radio series, a 13 part, one
hour each documentary of jazz in New Orleans.
He produced a nationally broadcast New Year's eve
event for National Public Radio.
He directed a one hour radio documentary on Blue Lu
Barker, a New Orleans traditional jazz vocalist.
As a music producer Mr. Salaam's accomplishments
include a three volume record series, The New New Orleans Music,
released on the Rounder Record label.
This series documents the contemporary jazz scene in New
Orleans. Piano In E -- Solo Piano by Ellis Marsalis (Rounder Records),
The Classic Ellis Marsalis (AFO Records) and Germaine Bazzle
Standing Ovation (AFO Records) are a few of Mr. Salaam's
Kalamu ya Salaam has served as a panelist for arts
awards and grants programs at the local, state, regional and
national level, including four years on the NEA music panel and
one year on the NEA literature panel.
In 1987 he served as the co-chairman of the National
Endowment for the Arts, Jazz Presenters panel.
He is served as a field consultant for the National Jazz
Mr. Salaam served as the Executive Director of The
New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation for four years
Prior to his tenure at the NOJ&HF, Mr. Salaam served
as the editor of THE BLACK COLLEGIAN Magazine for thirteen
his work in journalism, Mr. Salaam writes for numerous
publications in the New Orleans area.
Mr. Salaam's published plays include: The
Destruction of The American Stage in Black World Magazine, Blk
Love Song #1 in Black Theatre USA edited by Hatch &
Shine, The Quest in New Blacks For The Black Theatre
edited by Woodie King, Jr., plus numerous one-acts published in
small literary journals. A
1987-88 production of Blk Love Song #1 as part of a double bill
produced by Temba Theatre Company of London, England, won the
Manchester Evening News 1988 Award for "Best Of
Memories won the New Orleans CAC's 1990 regional new
play contest, and a production by Chakula Cha Jua Theatre was
one of only 17 companies invited to the 1991 biannual National
Black Theatre Festival. Mr. Salaam's musical, God Bless The
Child, was presented at the 1991 New Orleans Jazz &
Heritage Festival. His one act play Malcolm, My Son was
selected for The 1st Annual George Houston Bass Play-Rites
Festival sponsored by Rites & Reason of Brown University and
has been published in the African American Review.
His play The Breath Of Life was selected as
one of six plays honored by Louisiana State University in 1993
as part of their Native Voices fellowships.
Kalamu ya Salaam is the author of seven books of
poetry: The Blues Merchant (1969), Hofu Ni Kwenu/My
Fear Is For You (1973), Pamoja Tutashinda/Together We
Will Win (1974), Ibura (1976), Revolutionary Love
(1978), Iron Flowers (1979), A Nation Of Poets (1989).
Mr. Salaam has done
numerous pamphlets on political issues, particularly the issue
of apartheid. Kalamu
ya Salaam has written two children's books, Herufi, An
Alphabet Reader and Who Will Speak For Us (written in
collaboration with Tayari kwa Salaam).
He has also written two books of essays: Our Women
Keep Our Skies From Falling: Six Essays In Support Of The
Struggle To Smash Sexist And Develop Women (1980) and Our
Music Is No Accident (1987), an essay accompanied by 20
Kalamu ya Salaam has widely published in literary,
music and political journals including Negro Digest/Black
World, First World,
The Black Scholar, Black Books Bulletin, Callaloo,
Catalyst, The Journal Of Black Poetry, Nimrod,
Coda and Encore.
His work is included
in numerous anthologies including We Be Word Sorcerers, New
Black Voices, Black Theatre USA, Erotique Noire
/ Black Erotica, Dark Eros, Catch The Fire,
and Spirit And Flame.
Kalamu ya Salaam is a professional editor whose
credits include program books for the 1992 New Orleans Olympic
Trials, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival; program
books for the JVC New York, Newport, Saratoga, Mellon
Philadelphia, Mellon Pittsburgh, Ohio Bell and Rochester-Finger
Lakes jazz festivals, and the 1989 Atlanta Jazz Series; as well
as program books for numerous New Orleans agencies.
Kalamu ya Salaam is the winner of numerous awards
including over six first places in Unity Awards In The Media, a
George Washington Freedom's Foundation Award, two ASCAP
Deems-Taylor Awards for excellence in writing about music (1981
& 1989), two NFCB (National Federation of Community
Broadcasters) Silver Reel Awards for radio production, the 1986
Deep South Writer's Contest Award for prose, and a first place
in the 1990 CAC Regional (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana,
Mississippi) New Play Competition.
Kalamu ya Salaam has traveled extensively as a
journalist, activist and arts producer:
Ghana, Tanzania and Zanzibar, Barbados, Brazil, Cuba,
Guadaloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Nicaragua, St. Lucia,
Suriname, Trinidad & Tobago, Korea, Japan, The People's
Republic Of China, England, France and Germany.
5425 Wimbledon Ct.
New Orleans, LA 70131
WordBand is a poetry performance
ensemble led by veteran writer Kalamu ya Salaam. Deeply rooted
in the broad spectrum of Black music, the WordBand's repertoire
includes poetry set to everything from blues to experimental new
music. The personnel are two poets, Kalamu ya Salaam and Kysha
N. Brown; a vocalist, Ginger Maria Tanner and a guitarist, Carl
"We work out of a jazz aesthetic; so
much of what we di is improvised. We don't go on stage with a
set show. Instead, we let the selections flow from the
particular feelings where we are performing and from the
audience reactions. Sometimes we will emphasize blues numbers;
other times we will be much more experimental. Our approach
keeps the performance fresh--you never get the feeling of a
canned show with the WordBand," says Kalamu. "WE don't
have horns or drums, we don't have dancers or a back-up choir.
What we offer is well crafted poetry mated to the fundamental
sounds of great Black music in an intimate setting."
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My Story, My Song (Featuring blues guitarist Walter Wolfman Washington)
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* * * * *
The New New Deal
The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era
By Michael Grunwald
Time senior correspondent Michael Grunwald tells the secret history of the stimulus bill, the purest distillation of Change We Can Believe In, a microcosm of Obama’s policy successes and political failures. Though it is reviled by the right and rejected by the left, it really is a new New Deal, larger than FDR’s and just as transformative. It prevented an imminent depression, while jump-starting Obama’s long-term agenda. The stimulus is pouring $90 billion into clean energy, reinventing the way America is powered and fueled; it includes unprecedented investments in renewables, efficiency, electric cars, a smarter grid, cleaner coal, and more. It’s carrying health care into the digital era. Its Race to the Top initiative may be the boldest education reform in U.S. history. It produced the biggest middle-class tax cuts in a generation, a broadband initiative reminiscent of rural electrification, and an overhaul of the New Deal’s unemployment insurance system. It’s revamping the way government addresses homelessness, fixes infrastructure, and spends money.
Grunwald reveals how Republicans have obscured these achievements through obstruction and distortion. The stimulus launched a genuine national comeback. It also saved millions of jobs, while creating legacies that could rival the Hoover Dam: the world’s largest wind farm, a new U.S. battery industry, a new high-speed rail network, the world’s highest-speed Internet network. Its main legacy, like the New Deal’s, will be change.
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Salvage the Bones
A Novel by Jesmyn Ward
On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake.—
* * * * *
The New Jim Crow
Mass Incarceration in the Age of
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. —Publishers
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Pictures and Progress
Early Photography and the Making of African
Edited by Maurice O. Wallace and Shawn
Pictures and Progress explores how,
during the nineteenth century and the early
twentieth, prominent African American
intellectuals and activists understood
photography's power to shape perceptions
about race and employed the new medium in
their quest for social and political
justice. They sought both to counter widely
circulating racist imagery and to use
self-representation as a means of
empowerment. In this collection of essays,
scholars from various disciplines consider
figures including Frederick Douglass,
Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells, Paul Laurence
Dunbar, and W. E. B. Du Bois as important
and innovative theorists and practitioners
of photography. In addition, brief
interpretive essays, or "snapshots,"
highlight and analyze the work of four early
African American photographers. Featuring
more than seventy images,
Pictures and Progress brings to
light the wide-ranging practices of early
African American photography, as well as the
effects of photography on racialized
* * * * *
It's The Middle Class Stupid!
By James Carville
and Stan Greenberg
It’s the Middle Class, Stupid!
confirms what we have all suspected:
Washington and Wall Street have really
screwed things up for the average
American. Work has been devalued.
Education costs are out of sight. Effort
and ambition have never been so scantily
rewarded. Political guru James Carville
and pollster extraordinaire Stan
Greenberg argue that our political
parties must admit their failures and
the electorate must reclaim its voice,
because taking on the wealthy and the
privileged is not class warfare—it is a
matter of survival. Told in the
alternating voices of these two top
It’s the Middle Class, Stupid!
provides eye-opening and provocative
arguments on where our
government—including the White House—has
gone wrong, and what voters can do about
Controversial and outspoken,
authoritative and shrewd,
It’s the Middle Class, Stupid!
is destined to make waves during the
2012 presidential campaign, and will set
the agenda for legislative battles and
political dust-ups during the next
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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
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Ancient African Nations
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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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(Books, DVDs, Music, and more)
16 July 2012