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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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 My emphasis is on sharing information and encouraging others to use

this technology.  Since January of 2001, I have been traveling around

the United States presenting the Neo-Griot concept



Books by Kalamu ya Salaam


The Magic of JuJu: An Appreciation of the Black Arts Movement  /   360: 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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Writing with Text, Sound & Light

By Kalamu ya Salaam 


The griot is a West African storyteller/historian/musician. In traditional societies the griot's status covered a spectrum of possibilities depending on the particular ethnic group. The griot ranged from an honored member of the king's court to a marginalized commentator on the society.

The neo-griot concept, starts from the prospective of writers who are grounded in their particular community and who deal with both the history of their community and critical commentary on the contemporary conditions of their community. Additionally, the neo-griot employs the latest technology in their writing.

Indeed, the neo-griot concept is one of writing with text, sound and light. Writing with text includes using the internet and the latest developments in publishing, which include "pdf" formats and publishing on demand. Writing with sound produces audio by using desktop editing and the burning of cds as well as recent developments in radio production. Writing with light focuses on using mini-digital cameras and desktop computer editing for the production of videos for distribution as vhs tapes, on cd rom, and streaming on the internet. I currently teach radio production and digital video to high school students.

I direct a weekly writing workshop, Nommo Literary Society, which has been active since September of 1995. I moderate e-drum, a listserv of over 1500 subscribers worldwide that focuses on the interests of Black writers and diverse supporters of our literature. Additionally, I am a music and radio producer.

I host two weekly radio programs for WWOZ 90.7fm (and streaming on the internet at

I have produced commercial recordings for Rounder Records and All For One Records, featuring artists such as Ellis Marsalis, Germaine Bazzle, Kidd Jordan and others. I am the recipient of numerous awards for music production and writing including two ASCAP Deems Taylor Awards and two Silver Reel Awards from NFCB. The equipment we use for the digital video costs less than $4,000 total (Sony digital cameras and iMac DV computers).

My emphasis is on sharing information and encouraging others to use this technology. Since January of 2001, I have been traveling around the United States presenting the Neo-Griot concept at schools, community centers, conferences, and to writers groups, workshops, and seminars. My presentations include video shorts and audio cds produced by high school students and NOMMO members, plus a presentation of my own poetry.  (A schedule of presentations is included below.)

I am available to do presentations, workshops and residencies focusing on the neo-griot concept. The presentations range from one hour overviews with video examples to a one week residency in which I teach the use of listservs, audio production, digital video, along with intensive small group sessions in poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, scripting for video and writing for radio.

The fees range from $750 for a one hour presentation, $1000 for a combination two-hour workshop and one hour performance, to $5,000 for a week long residency that includes two public presentations in addition to neo-griot classes and availability for classroom appearances. The hosting institution is also responsible for air transportation and housing accommodations.

Video tapes and audio CD examples are available for review.

Kalamu ya Salaam Box 52723 New Orleans, LA 70152-2723 

tel 504/581-2963 fax 504/581-5446


Recent Schedule of appearances:

January 2002 >one week residency, Lincoln High School, Dallas, Texas >workshops, South Dallas Cultural Center >WordBand performance, South Dallas Cultural Center >neo-griot video presentation, Sankofa books & video, Washington, DC >presentations & performances, Role Call Conference, Howard University >performance, Spirit House, Washington, DC

February 2002 >performance & poetry curator, Schomburg Center, New York City >Langston Hughes Centennial Conference/Festival, Univ. of Kansas, Lawrence >workshop, "Say It Loud" youth literacy program, Little Rock, Arkansas >presentation & performance, public library, Little Rock, Arkansas >presentation, New Orleans public library >workshop & performance, Emerson College, Boston >presentation, UCLA, Los Angeles

March 2002 >presentation and workshop, Booker T. Washington High School Writer’s Conference, Dallas, Texas >performance with Nommo Literary Society, Shreveport, Louisiana >presentation and workshop, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine

April 2002 >performance with the WordBand, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill >curated program and moderated panel, New Black Writers: The Next Wave, Schomburg Center, New York City  

See also the following conference reports:

 gwendolyn brooks writers conference  kalamu in the carolinas  

american studies association conference

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Schedule of Appearances in 2001

January 2001 >Hayti Heritage Center, Durham, North Carolina >Zora Neale Hurston Festival, Orlando/Eatonville, Florida

February 2001 >Pomona College, Claremont, California Technology, Race & Culture Conference >World Beat Center, San Diego, California >University of California, San Bernardino >Mills College, Oakland, California >University of California, Berkeley >New Orleans Public Library, Louisiana >University of Utah, Salt Lake City >Utah Community College, Salt Lake City >Southern Utah University, Cedar City >YMCA Writer's Voice Series, Detroit, Michigan

March 2001 >National Federation of Community Broadcasters Conference, San Francisco, California (Accompanied students who made presentations)

April 2001 >Kings and Queens of Black Consciousness Festival, Oakland, California >University of California, Sacramento (with Fred Ho) >CLA Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana >Etheridge Knight Poetry Festival, Indianapolis, Indiana >International Hip Hop Conference, University of Wisconsin, Madison >Race and Digital Space Conference, MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts

May 2001 >Residency, London, England >Calabash Festival, Kingston/Treasure Bay, Jamaica

June 2001 >curator/presenter, Schomburg Library (New York city) 75th Anniversary Program

July 2001 >instructor, annual Black Writer’s Retreat (upstate New York) >Guild Complex poetry & music series, Chicago, Illinois

August 2001 >Armstrong Centennial Festival & Conference, New Orleans, Louisiana

September 2001 >Louisiana Folklife Festival, Monroe, Louisiana

October 2001 >Gwen Brooks Writers Conference, Chicago, Illinois & inducted into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent

November 2001 >African-American Griot Conference/Festival, University of Missouri-Columbia

December 2001 >Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan >Detroit Public Library >William Faulkner Conference & Festival, New Orleans, Louisiana >Neo-Griot Screening and Reading with Nommo Literary Society, New Orleans Public Library

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Audio: My Story, My Song (Featuring blues guitarist Walter Wolfman Washington)

*   *   *   *   *'s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#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


#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#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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It's The Middle Class Stupid!

By James Carville and Stan Greenberg

Its 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 warfareit is a matter of survival. Told in the alternating voices of these two top political strategists, Its the Middle Class, Stupid! provides eye-opening and provocative arguments on where our governmentincluding the White Househas gone wrong, and what voters can do about it. 

Controversial and outspoken, authoritative and shrewd, Its 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 administration.

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Ak: The Years of Childhood

By Wole Soyinka

Ak: The Years of Childhood is a memoir of stunning beauty, humor, and perceptiona lyrical account of one boy's attempt to grasp the often irrational and hypocritical world of adults that equally repels and seduces him. Soyinka elevates brief anecdotes into history lessons, conversations into morality plays, memories into awakenings. Various cultures, religions, and languages mingled freely in the Ak of his youth, fostering endless contradictions and personalized hybrids, particularly when it comes to religion. Christian teachings, the wisdom of the ogboni, or ruling elders, and the power of ancestral spiritswho alternately terrify and inspire himall carried equal metaphysical weight. Surrounded by such a collage, he notes that "God had a habit of either not answering one's prayers at all, or answering them in a way that was not straightforward." In writing from a child's perspective, Soyinka expresses youthful idealism and unfiltered honesty while escaping the adult snares of cynicism and intolerance. His stinging indictment of colonialism takes on added power owing to the elegance of his attack.

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Faces At The Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism

By Derrick Bell

In nine grim metaphorical sketches, Bell, the black former Harvard law professor who made headlines recently for his one-man protest against the school's hiring policies, hammers home his controversial theme that white racism is a permanent, indestructible component of our society. Bell's fantasies are often dire and apocalyptic: a new Atlantis rises from the ocean depths, sparking a mass emigration of blacks; white resistance to affirmative action softens following an explosion that kills Harvard's president and all of the school's black professors; intergalactic space invaders promise the U.S. President that they will clean up the environment and deliver tons of gold, but in exchange, the bartering aliens take all African Americans back to their planet. Other pieces deal with black-white romance, a taxi ride through Harlem and job discrimination.

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The Persistence of the Color Line

Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency

By Randall Kennedy

Among the best things about The Persistence of the Color Line is watching Mr. Kennedy hash through the positions about Mr. Obama staked out by black commentators on the left and right, from Stanley Crouch and Cornel West to Juan Williams and Tavis Smiley. He can be pointed. Noting the way Mr. Smiley consistently voiced skepticism regarding whether blacks should back Obama . . .

The finest chapter in The Persistence of the Color Line is so resonant, and so personal, it could nearly be the basis for a book of its own. That chapter is titled Reverend Wright and My Father: Reflections on Blacks and Patriotism.  Recalling some of the criticisms of Americas past made by Mr. Obamas former pastor, Mr. Kennedy writes with feeling about his own father, who put each of his three of his children through Princeton but who never forgave American society for its racist mistreatment of him and those whom he most loved.

His father distrusted the police, who had frequently called him boy, and rejected patriotism. Mr. Kennedys father relished Muhammad Alis quip that the Vietcong had never called him nigger.  The author places his father, and Mr. Wright, in sympathetic historical light.

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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 thats 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 Katrinas inexorable winds is the voice of Wards 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 familys raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brothers blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt. Her fathers hands are like gravel, while her own hand slides through his grip like a wet fish, and a handsome boys 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 isnt usually just metaphor for metaphors sake.

She conveys something fundamental about Eschs fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, whats salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.WashingtonPost

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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 / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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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 10 July 2012




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