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One of the finest stories in Heartwood is “The Church of the Holy Whiteness.”

Writing a story that judiciously represents the soul of white folk is no easy task. 

A writer has to tear off several thousand years of majestic madness to expose its

heartwood.  Finney tore off the bark or majestic madness with laudable expertise;

she wrote a story that demonstrates how sublime poetic justice can be. 



Books by Nikky Finney


Head Off & Split: Poems / The World Is Round / Heartwood / Rice 


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Nikky Finney's Heartwood

& Other Stories‏ of White Life

By Jerry W. Ward Jr


Finney, Nikky. Heartwood.  Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 1997.

When an excellent writer wins a prize, many readers rush to buy the book that won the prize.  On the other hand, readers who are immunized against the herd instinct may take another option.  They may take an older work by the prize winner off their bookshelves and read something they’d always meant to read but had not yet got around to reading.

Nikky Finney recently won the 2011 National Book Award in Poetry for Head Off & Split.  In 1997, Finney published Heartwood, a collection of four interrelated stories. The book is part of the Kentucky Humanities Council’s New Books for New Readers project.  Books in that series were published because “Kentucky’s adult literacy students want books that recognize their intelligence and experience while meeting their need for simplicity in writing” ( iv).  Unlike America’s jaded intelligentsia, readers who find honest joy in learning do not fear simplicity.  Or, as Finney aptly noted, “fiction should reflect life in all its majesty and madness” (v).

One of the finest stories in Heartwood is “The Church of the Holy Whiteness.” Writing a story that judiciously represents the soul of white folk is no easy task.  A writer has to tear off several thousand years of majestic madness to expose its heartwood.  Finney tore off the bark or majestic madness with laudable expertise; she wrote a story that demonstrates how sublime poetic justice can be.  I glow with the pleasure and insight “The Church of the Holy Whiteness” delivers.

When an excellent writer wins a prize, an old reader’s going back into the past of an old book can be most rewarding.  It is there one discovers the writer’s hidden gold.  The reading is a tribute to the writer’s having been what John Oliver Killens called a long-distance runner.

23 November 2011

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Nikky Finney was born at the rim of the Atlantic Ocean, in the small fishing and farming community of Conway, South Carolina, in 1957. The daughter of activists and educators, she began writing in the midst of the Civil Rights and Black Arts Movements. With these instrumental eras circling her, Finney's work provides first-person literary accounts to some of the most important events in American history. In 1985, and at the age of 26, Finney's debut collection of poetry, On Wings Made of Gauze, was published by William Morrow (a division of HaperCollins).

Finney's next full-length collection of poetry and portraits, Rice (Sister Vision Press, 1995), was awarded the PEN America-Open Book Award, which was followed by a collection of short stories entitled Heartwood (University Press of Kentucky, 1998). Her next full-length poetry collection,  The World Is Round (Inner Light Books, 2003) was awarded the Benjamin Franklin Award sponsored by the Independent Booksellers Association. In 2007, Finney edited the anthology, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (University of Georgia Press/Cave Canem), which has become an essential compilation of contemporary African American writers. Her fourth full-length collection of poetry, Head Off & Split, received the National Book Award for poetry (2011). Head Off & Split has been lauded by such poets as Nikki Giovanni, Kwame Dawes, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Meena Alexander, and Bruce Weigl.

Finney and her work have been featured on Russell Simmons DEF Poetry (HBO series), renowned chef Marcus Samuelsson's feature "The Meaning of Food" (a PBS production) and National Public Radio. Her work has been praised by Walter Mosley, Nikki Giovanni, Gloria Naylor and the late CBS/60 Minutes news anchor Ed Bradley. Finney has held distinguished posts at Berea College as the Goode Chair in the Humanities and Smith College as the Grace Hazard Conklin Writer-in-Residence. Finney is currently Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Kentucky.

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In Nikky Finney's Head Off & Split the beauty of language soars and saves us even as we skirt the raw edge of terror. And something rare and precious is restored, a light, circling movement of the spirit. This is poetry to give thanks for.—Meena Alexander, author of Quickly Changing River

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With Head Off & Split, Nikky Finney establishes herself as one of the most eloquent, urgent, fearless and necessary poets writing in America today. What makes this book as important as anything published in the last decade is the irresistible music, the formal dexterity and the imaginative leaps she makes with metaphor and language in these simply stunning poems. This is a very, very important achievement.—Kwame Dawes, author of Hope's Hospice

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Nikky Finney has been a fine poet much too long to say that this latest treasure is her promise coming into being. She exploded with so much talent with On Wings Made of Gauze and beautifully matured with Rice, yet Head Off & Split takes the promise of youth with the control of adulthood to bring her greatest exploration. Honest, searing, searching. We all, especially now, need this book of poems; we all, especially now, need this poet.—Nikki Giovanni, author of Bicycles

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Again, Nikky Finney manipulates into music the words readers use to see, hear, and understand a soul's history. Head Off & Split is as Southern as it is American, as feminist as it is human, as black as it is a tide of colors knowing no bounds. These poems collapse time into one great knowing where Modjeska Monteith Simkins can look Condoleezza Rice in the eye and forgive her. Yes, "lightning can come though any open door," and this book is proof of it.—Jericho Brown, author of PLEASE.

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No one opens a vein on a page with a sharper and more nuanced gathered set of senses than Nikky Finney. In Head Off & Split, she takes aim at the heart of American wrong-headedness with a sense of purpose and integrity not only respectful of, but fueled by, her own brand of multiple kinships and rememberance, a grand struggle-swagger of powerful literary inheritance.—Thomas Sayers Ellis, author of Skin, Inc.

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Beginning with the sweepingly inclusive and powerful 'Red Velvet,' a Middle Passage poem for our times, Nikky Finney takes the reader to a wonderfully alive world where the musical possibilities of language overflow with surprise and innovation. Finney has an ear to go along with the wildness of her imagination, which sweeps through history like a pair of wings. Her carefully modulated free verse is always purposeful in its desire to move the reader in a way that allows us to imitate access to necessary observations about ourselves. These poems, in other words, have the power to save us.—Bruce Weigl, author of What Saves Us"

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Walter Mosely on Nikki Finney

One thing I discovered was that poetry is telling someone something they know and in doing so you also tell them something they don't know, often by using surprising realization. You might even tell someone something that they once knew but forgot and, doing that, you connect with the unconscious or what someone forgot that they forgot. Poetry contains the magic of language, the ache of truth, and the possibility of entering a world where the rules play hide and seek with your sense of being. A poem, when it works, is a rolling realization of ideas and emotions that bring you somewhere you've never been with a sense of familiarity that opens up a whole new world right there in your mind.

Nikky Finney has done all of these things for me. In backyards and back roads, in a redneck's reality, or in me, the only child, now crowded in a small bed with three siblings. She has flung me into an afterbirth of stars and made my stiff bones as loose as jelly. . . . Nikky Finney taught me that my suspicions about who I am might be true. She brought me back home to the South and said welcome. She became my guide and my protector and my joy on the dangerous back roads of America's hidden passions.

But for all that I don't really know Nikky. Every now and then I find myself in a room and there's a stage and there she is reading poems, pulling me out of myself and bringing me home. Poetry can be many things, maybe it can be anything, but one thing I know is that it can bring you home.

That's why when I was asked who would I like to present Nikky Finney was my only choice. She opens all of my doors and windows and airs me out with a cold and truthful wind. (18 September 2002, Walter Mosley introduced Nikky Finney at The Bowery Poetry Club.PoetrySociety

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Nikky Finney: “The Afterbirth, 1931”

“somethin’ wasn’t right:” How Finney captures an American nightmare.

By Kwame Dawes


Nikky Finney’s “The Afterbirth, 1931” appears in Rice, a beautifully designed book filled with daring poems of painful eloquence. Rice was Finney’s second book, arriving 10 years after her 1985 debut, On Wings Made of Gauze. As part of the promotional drive, Finney distributed small burlap bags full of rice. Ultimately, however, it was the poetry, power, and beauty that impressed me most, and the poem “The Afterbirth, 1931” remains a haunting presence in my imagination.

“The Afterbirth, 1931” is a long narrative poem that tells the story of the birth of Finney’s father. But it also tells the story of the death of his mother, and much more. Finney uses language to elevate story into something profoundly musical and epic, both a confession and a lament. The poem reveals that the tragedies of race in America (and everywhere else) are never clean and clear matters of good versus evil, but complex realities that ultimately reveal the flawed nature of all humans and our profound vulnerability in the face of bigotry.

Here’s the story: a woman in the 1930s—a black woman; a black, ambitious woman from an ambitious black family with hopes of moving toward the middle class, a family committed to seeing that its children are educated and are able to seize hold of the elusive American Dream; a black woman from Carolina stock—a descendant of the recently enslaved living among elders who were themselves slaves—is in labor, ready to give birth to her child:

We were a Colored Clan of Kinfolk
Who threw soil not salt
Over our shoulders
Who tendered close the bible
Who grew and passed around the almanac at night
So we would know
What to plant at first light

The family has known the rituals of black folks for years, the rituals of birthing, the rituals that would bring clear-eyed women to the beds of the pregnant, women with the capacity to guide a child into the world while preserving the womb and the body of the pregnant woman. They know that this is what poor people have done for decades, for centuries even, in America’s South because they have had to. . . .

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The Girlfriend’s Train

                   By Nikki Finney

“You write like a Black woman who’s never been hit before.”

I read poetry in Philly
for the first time ever.
She started walking up,
all the way, from in back
of the room.

From against the wall
she came,
big coat, boots,
eyes soft as candles
in two storms blowing.

Something she could not see
from way back there but
could clearly hear in my voice,
something she needed to know
before pouring herself back out
into the icy city night.

She came close to get a good look,
to ask me something she found
in a strange way missing
from my Black woman poetry.

Sidestepping the crowd
ignoring the book signing line,
she stood there waiting
for everyone to go, waiting
like some kind of Representative.

And when it was just the two of us
She stepped into the shoes of her words:

You write real soft.
Spell it out kind.
No bullet holes,
No open wounds,
In your words.
How you do that?
Write like you never been hit before?
But I could hardly speak,
all my breath held ransom
by her question.

I looked at her and knew:
There was a train on pause somewhere,
maybe just outside the back door
where she had stood, listening.

A train with boxcars
that she was escorting somewhere,
when she heard about the reading.

A train with boxcars
carrying broken women’s bodies,
their carved up legs with bullet riddled
stomachs momentarily on pause
from moving cross country.

Women’s bodies;
brown, black and blue,
laying right where coal, cars,
and cattle usually do.

She needed my answer
for herself and for them too.

We were just wondering
how you made it through
and we didn’t?

I shook my head.
I had never thought about
having never been hit
and what it might have
made me sound like.

You know how many times I been stabbed?

She raised her blouse
all the way above her breasts,
the cuts on her resembling
some kind of grotesque wallpaper.

How many women are there like you?
Then I knew for sure.

She had been sent in from the Philly cold,
by the others on the train,
to listen, stand up close,
to make me out as best she could.

She put my hand overtop hers
asked could we stand up
straight back to straight back,
measure out our differences
right then and there.

She gathered it all up,
wrote down the things she could,
remembering the rest to the trainload
of us waiting out back for answers.
Full to the brim with every age
of woman, every neighborhood
of woman, whose name
had already been forgotten.

The train blew his whistle,
she started to hurry.

I moved towards her
and we stood back to back,
her hand grazing the top
of our heads,
my hand measuring out
our same widths,
each of us recognizing
the brown woman latitudes,
the Black woman longitudes
in the other.

I turned around
held up my shirt
and brought my smooth belly
into her scarred one;
our navels pressing,
marking out some kind of new
Equatorial line.

  *   *   *   *   *

The Blackened Alphabet

                         By Nikki Finney

While others sleep
My black skillet sizzles
Alphabets dance and I hit the return key
On my tired But ever jumping eyes
I want more I hold out for some    more
While others just now turn over
shut down alarms
I am on I am on
I am pencilfrying
sweet Black alphabets
in an allnight oil

Source: TheBottomofHeaven

  *   *   *   *   *

Sign language

                                    By Nikki Finney

For the man who jumped out in front of the woman with his
arm raised like a machete screaming Abomination! as she
walked the streets of San Francisco holding her lover’s hand
for the first time in public.

There is a woman who goes to sleep
every night wishing she had broken
your sternum reached up inside your
chest momentarily borrowing your
heart to hold before your screaming
face and with her other hand still
clutching her lover’s broke next into
her own sternum plucking next her
own heart dangling them both there
sterling silver sign language for you
tell me what is the difference.

From The World Is Round  (Innerlight Publishing, 2003)

*   *   *   *   *

Nikky Finney Speech Rocks National Book Awards 

Professor Nikky Finney wins National Book Award for Poetry—16 November 2011—Joy Priest—As Nikky Finney began her acceptance speech for Head Off and Split—the 2011 winner of the National Book Award for Poetry — on Wednesday evening, one might have mistaken it for a poem. But it was just Finney, the Provost’s Distinguished Service Chair Professor of English at UK, being who she was and living, “the only life I’ve ever wanted, that of a poet,” she said. Finney thanked her publisher, her partner A.J. Verdelle who is a novelist, her father and mother, and the other finalists, saying “simply to be in your finalist company is to brightly burn.” Finney was teary-eyed as she continued her speech, which would explain her emotion as an African American accepting the National Book Award for Poetry. “A fine of $100 and six months of prison will be imposed for teaching a slave to read and write,” Finney began her speech, reading from the 1739 slave codes of South Carolina. She talked about how blacks were forbidden to be literate in her home state and across America for a part of history. “I am now officially speechless,” Finney said, ending her speech with a pun to her literacy.KyKernel

*   *   *   *   *

The Bare Arms of Angry Black Women—Nikky Finney—1 February 2012—We are called angry Black women because we are not afraid of bare arms. We pay close attention to our arms, holding our children tight inside of them. We are called angry Black women because we use our arms to wave to each other, because we boldly swing our arms when we walk, because we know arms reach out, give regard, sometimes we even hire haute couture designers who have done their homework, who know we are no armless hipless mannequins.

I have decided that when I hear another fine Black woman fallaciously referred to as an angry Black woman during Black History Month this year, that I will stop whatever I am in the middle of and meditate on my personal list of other Black women who had great regard for their bare arms: Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Ida B. Wells Barnett, Barbara Jordan, Modjeska Monteith Simkins, Lorraine Hansberry, Beulah Butler Davenport (grandmother), Frances Davenport Finney (mother), as well as the fierce line of great aunts: Otelia, Nanny, Mary, Bertha. Here on these sacred black winged things, I will zoom and linger for the duration. Black amber, caramel, elegant, muscular, long, pillow-like, black bare arms akimboed at the hip or side. American history has not acknowledged the black arms of Black women. But Black History knows the arms of Black women very well.

Black arms on Black women are valuable apparatuses: for escaping, pointing to North Star freedom; recruiting Black troops for the Union Army; penciling notions of women's suffrage; documenting, detailing the horrors of lynching (circa 1892), and thereby inventing investigative journalism in America; pecking out, scene by scene, manual typewriter blazing the timeless A Raisin In The Sun. Brave black arms assist in the raising of a historical hand. Remember that day in the House of Representatives, 1972, 'the Inquisitor' she called herself at the impeachment hearings for President Richard Nixon. Bare black arms show up like early travel signage of American history: STOPGOTURN HERE. To make a young country stronger, better, more just.

Black arms on Black women defended themselves from raging policemen and sex-crazed guardians of the old guard. Wiser Black arms taught us to high fly our younger Black arms like proud banners of the Black country we dreamed our lives forward from. The Black arms of the Black women of so many families drove buses and carried weighty purses that doubled as hammerheads. Barriers might need dismantling between breakfast and supper.—huffingtonpost

*   *   *   *   *'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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Season of Adventure

By George Lamming

First published in 1960, Season of Adventure details the story of Fola, a light-skinned middle-class girl who has been tipped out of her easy hammock of social privilege into the complex political and cultural world of her recently independent homeland, the Caribbean island of San Cristobal. After attending a ceremony of the souls to raise the dead, she is carried off by the unrelenting accompaniment of steel drums onto a mysterious journey in search of her past and of her identity. Gradually, she is caught in the crossfire of a struggle between people who have "pawned their future to possessions" and those "condemned by lack of learning to a deeper truth." The music of the drums sounds throughout the novel, "loud as gospel to a believer's ears," and at the end stands alone as witness to the tradition which is slowly being destroyed in the name of European values. Whether through literary production or public pronouncements, George Lamming has explored the phenomena of colonialism and imperialism and their impact on the psyche of Caribbean people.

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The Last Holiday: A Memoir

By Gil Scott Heron

Shortly after we republished The Vulture and The Nigger Factory, Gil started to tell me about The Last Holiday, an account he was writing of a multi-city tour that he ended up doing with Stevie Wonder in late 1980 and early 1981. Originally Bob Marley was meant to be playing the tour that Stevie Wonder had conceived as a way of trying to force legislation to make Martin Luther King's birthday a national holiday. At the time, Marley was dying of cancer, so Gil was asked to do the first six dates. He ended up doing all 41. And Dr King's birthday ended up becoming a national holiday ("The Last Holiday because America can't afford to have another national holiday"), but Gil always felt that Stevie never got the recognition he deserved and that his story needed to be told. The first chapters of this book were given to me in New York when Gil was living in the Chelsea Hotel. Among the pages was a chapter called Deadline that recounts the night they played Oakland, California, 8 December; it was also the night that John Lennon was murdered.

Gil uses Lennon's violent end as a brilliant parallel to Dr King's assassination and as a biting commentary on the constraints that sometimes lead to newspapers getting things wrong.Jamie Byng, Guardian

/ Gil_reads_"Deadline" (audio)  / Gil Scott-Heron & His Music  Gil Scott Heron Blue Collar  Remember Gil Scott- Heron

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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.

*   *   *   *   *


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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How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

By Walter Rodney

The late Guyanese writer, Walter Rodney had left us his great insights regarding the reasons for the underdevelopment of the African continent. His work finds equal footing with those of Frantz Fanon and to an extent that of the late Brazilian author and social activist, Paulo Freire in attempting to provide a critical insight, and a gainful analysis to the situation and reasons for the poverty on the African continent. This analysis, whether one agrees with its conclusions or not provides a means towards looking at the stalk realities of African underdevelopment. Rodney thesis that the trans-atlantic slave trade diminished the African manpower to attain development cannot be easily pushed under the carpet. Development is how a people within the means available to them, within their eco-context utilize their knowledge for the good of the totality. When their people is afflicted with disease or mass uprooting there is bound to be both biological and social ripple effects that would affect both the pace and nature of development. It is here that we realize that Rodney's proposition underlines a crucial factor in explaining the reasons for the African state.

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Natives of My Person

By George Lamming

Natives of My Person focuses on slave traders of the sixteenth century. The novel reconstructs the voyage of the ship Reconnaissance, which is led by a character known as the Commandant. To atone for his past cruelties and barbarism, the Commandant plans to establish a Utopian society on the island of San Cristobal. The enterprise fails for many reasons: fighting amongst the crew, loss of interest, greed, and an inability to erase the past. The novel argues that an ideal society cannot be built by those who have committed moral atrocities and unnecessary bloodshed in their past. . . . Although Natives of My Person has a historical setting and deals with the voyage of the Reconnaissance, a vessel ostensibly engaged in the slave trade, a specific historical phenomenon, it is only partly accurate to describe it as a work of historical realism. Its realist component is not to be found in its fidelity to period costume, living conditions, or similar revealing detail. Instead of the veneer of verisimilitude that such usages provide, the novel locates its realism in the way in which it elaborately recapitulates an outlook.

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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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update 18 August 2012