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Kalamu ya Salaam Interview Table



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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Books by Langston Hughes


Weary Blues (1926) / The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes  /  The Ways of White Folks (Stories) / The Big Sea: An Autobiography

A New Song (1938) / Best of Simple    /  I Wonder as I Wander: An Autobiographical Journey  / New Negro Poets U.S.A.


Not Without Laughter  /Five Plays by Langston Hughes / Selected Poems of Langston Hughes


Ask Your Mama: Twelve Moods for Jazz / Fine Clothes to the Jew / The Collected Works of Langston Hughes (Poems 1921-1940)

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John Coltrane CDs:

 Ascension  /  Ballads  /  Best of John Coltrane / Impressions / My Favorite Things  / Selflessness  / A Love Supreme  / Giant Steps  Meditations 

Kulu Se Mama  /  Interstellar Space  / The Complete Africa/Brass Sessions  / Stellar Regions  / Expression

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Yes, NOMMO is a workshop for Black writers. At least 75% of our writers are female,  and the majority are in late twenties to mid-thirties. Our youngest member is Sukari Ua, she is a 16-year-old high school student. NOMMO

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Before FST, I was writing fiction and poetry. After FST, I wrote mostly drama, poetry and journalism. The journalism happened because I was a founding member of The Black Collegian Magazine in 1970. But my point is, I was too ignorant and too maladjusted to take advantage of a major publishing opportunity. I don’t want to give the impression that the reason I don’t have a book with a mainstream press is solely because of some kind of ideological purity. Literary Style

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I agree with Terence (the enslaved African writer from Roman history): there is nothing human that is foreign to me. I can learn and use any human cultural expression that exists; moreover, every human expression is part of my heritage. Or, to paraphrase African liberation leader Amilcar Cabral: we will be free only when we are both self-determined and are able, without inferiority complexes, to use any and all aspects of human culture that work for us. Borrowing & Adapting

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The creative use of communications technology in cultural work is constant in black culture in America. It is just that many of us are not aware of how closely aligned the use of technology and the expressions of our culture are. Perhaps because we seldom do anything just for the sake of technology, and thus technology is always used to facilitate our expression rather than to be the focus or subject of our expression.  Langston

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Rather than simply ignore that or reluctantly tolerate the fact that he was homosexual, I ended up investigating the whole issue and over a period of years and after much struggle and study around those issues, I arrived at what I would consider a reasonably progressive, although others might call it "radical," position on the question of homosexuality.

You know, the more you open your eyes, the more you see. So once I dug Baldwin and tried to understand where he was coming from, then I began to see homosexuality throughout our community. Also, by then I was into the blues aesthetic (see my essay on that in What Is Life?), and homosexuality was generally accepted as part of life in those circles. Malcolm, My Son

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Racism: A History, the 2007 BBC 3-part documentary explores the impact of racism on a global scale. It was part of the season of programs on the BBC marking the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in the British Empire. It's divided into 3 parts.

The first, The Colour of Money . . . Racism: A History [2007]—1/3

Begins the series by assessing the implications of the relationship between Europe, Africa and the Americas in the 15th century. It considers how racist ideas and practices developed in key religious and secular institutions, and how they showed up in writings by European philosophers Aristotle and Immanuel Kant.

The second, Fatal Impact . . . Racism: A History [2007] - 2/3

Examines the idea of scientific racism, an ideology invented during the 19th century that drew on now discredited practices such as phrenology and provided an ideological justification for racism and slavery. The episode shows how these theories ultimately led to eugenics and Nazi racial policies of the master race.

And the 3rd, A Savage Legacy . . .  Racism: A History [2007] - 3/3

Examines the impact of racism in the 20th century. By 1900 European colonial expansion had reached deep into the heart of Africa. Under the rule of King Leopold II, the Belgian Congo was turned into a vast rubber plantation. Men, women and children who failed to gather their latex quotas would have their limbs dismembered. The country became the scene of one of the century's greatest racial genocides, as an estimated 10 million Africans perished under colonial rule.

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Interview I



2. Literary Style & Mainstream Publishing

3. Borrowing & Adapting Literary Styles

4. Langston as Literary Influence

5. Malcolm, My Son

6. Christianity & Other Religions

7. More on Music Influences

8. Travel & Travel Writing

9. Being Black

10. Yusef Komunyaka and What Is Life?

11. Cultural & Political Work

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Interview II -- What Is Life    Nia

Interview III --     Digital Technology & Telling Our Story  


Related files

Art for Life: My Story, My Song

Black Arts and Black Power Figures

Black Arts Movement

"The Call of the Wild" (1998)

First Panafest Festival

Free Southern Theater (Rachel Breunlin)

Impotence Need Not Be Permanent

"Iron Flowers" (1979)

James Weldon Johnson

John Coltrane

Kalamu ya Salaam Table

Kamau Brathwaite

Langston Hughes

Malcolm My Son

Miles Davis Poem

Muddy Waters

On Writing Haiku

Our Women Keep Our Skies From Falling

Paul Laurence Dunbar

Richard Wright

Satchmo: My Life in New Orleans

Southern Journey

Tom Dent

What Is Life?

Yusef Komunyakaa

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If by rap/hip-hop approach one means an emphasis on performance, BAM did indeed influence rap and hip-hop. However, I think it is a mistake to ascribe that quality to BAM rather than to understand that performance is a hallmark of black cultural expression in general rather than an attribute of BAM exclusively. I’m sure that there have been some influences [on my writing]. However, I think the hip-hop influences are minimal mainly because I have been so consciously opposed to the commercialization of my work. In fact, rap itself, as we know it today, is nothing but a commercialization of hip-hop. Also, because I am so firmly embedded in a blues aesthetic and a jazz aesthetic. I listen to hip hop, I can hear it, but, hey, Shaq can dribble a ball but he’s not trying to be a point guard. More on Music Influences

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I follow Langston Hughes, simply "dig and be dug in return." I believe, dig what you can dig, and leave alone what you can't. Don't fake the funk. If you dig it, do it. If you don't, regardless of what others might say or what experts say you are supposed to dig, if you don't dig it, leave it be. Move on and do something you do dig. Life is too short to spend time following the dictates of others. Travel Writing

Neither "buying" nor "voting" is going to free us or empower us. Indeed, it was the struggle for power that won us the opportunity to spend our money in public places and to exercise the right to vote as citizens of America. Struggle gave us "buy" and "vote." Being Black

If you have a specific position that Yusef takes that you want me to comment on, I will do that. But even when I might strongly disagree with his position, I still embrace him as my brother and salute him as fellow poet and, to be clear, this is not about Yusef per se. Embracement, diversity, those are my philosophical positions in general with everyone. Of course, this is not a blind embracement nor a valueless espousal of diversity. My embracement of my enemies is struggle. My acceptance of diversity does not mean giving way to evil, to that which is anti-life. I will speak out against whatever I consider wrong. What Is Life?

Two weeks ago, I walked into a small restaurant and bar in inner city New Orleans. I was there to buy a catfish plate. While waiting for my order, the brother sitting at the bar next to me called my name. We struck up a conversation. He remembers me from the seventies. He is a welder. He studies African cultures. Sema Swahili (speaks Swahili) to me. Drops a Hausa phrase on me. If you saw him, the last thing you would think is intellectual. His speech is not proper nor laced with big words, but he is an organic, working-class intellectual. He tells the waitress that I am a great writer, and encourages me to keep writing. Cultural & Political Work

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

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For July 1st through August 31st 2011


#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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Blacks in Hispanic Literature: Critical Essays

Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis 

Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America. This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President

By Ron Suskind

A new book offering an insider's account of the White House's response to the financial crisis says that U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner ignored an order from President Barack Obama calling for reconstruction of major banks. According to Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Suskind, the incident is just one of several in which Obama struggled with a divided group of advisers, some of whom he didn't initially consider for their high-profile roles. Suskind interviewed more than 200 people, including Obama, Geithner and other top officials . . . The book states Geithner and the Treasury Department ignored a March 2009 order to consider dissolving banking giant Citigroup while continuing stress tests on banks, which were burdened with toxic mortgage assets. . . .Suskind states that Obama accepts the blame for mismanagement in his administration while noting that restructuring the financial system was complicated and could have resulted in deeper financial harm. . . . In a February 2011 interview with Suskind, Obama acknowledges another ongoing criticism—that he is too focused on policy and not on telling a larger story, one the public could relate to. Obama is quoted as saying he was elected in part because "he had connected our current predicaments with the broader arc of American history," but that such a "narrative thread" had been lost.—Gopusa

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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

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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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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updated 5 November 2007 / update 4 February 2012




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