RSS

Create for Dr. Angelou

Create for Dr. Angelou

Maya Angelou maya (1)

I am not saddened by the death of the incomparable Dr. Maya Angelou. She lived a long and glorious life. Her passions led her to careers in singing, dancing, acting, writing and education. St. Louis, Cairo, Accra, New York, Winston-Salem and Stamps, Arkansas are all cities she called home at one time or another.

This is a woman who knew Malcolm X personally, who counted James Baldwin as a close friend, who reminded Tupac of how important he was, who spit a few words on a Common track, who chopped it up with Dave Chappelle in an epic interview and who was bestowed one of the country’s highest honors by the first black president of the United States of America.

This is not a person for whom tears are appropriate, unless you have tears of joy for experiencing the creativity with which she graced the world. Dr. Angelou left us with so much to love and ponder. There are approximately 1, 898, 347 brilliant quotes from Dr. Angelou floating around online and in books on a variety of subjects.  But at the core of her work, she often came back to themes of love, self-care and community support. She was a beacon of encouragement and inspiration to millions of people

Dr. Angelou will not and can not be replaced.

Thankfully, due to the welcoming and dazzling light of her spirit, she has touched numerous current and future world changers. I claim today as a day to celebrate the life and contributions of Dr. Maya Angelou and to utilize and hone my own skills and talents for the betterment of myself and the world I occupy.

Ashé.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 28, 2014 in Love

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Artist’s Way 3: Week 5

Artist’s Way 3: Week 5

 

photo (11)

“A Subtlety” by Kara Walker

Week 5 is titled “Recovering a  Sense of Possibility.” It’s basically about nurturing yourself as an artist and getting rid of the 8,000 excuses you have for not feeding your creative spirit. A lot of times we feel pressure from other people and ourselves to be “selfless” or to just stay on the 9 to 5 track and nothing else.

Cameron is not suggesting that everyone ditch their day jobs to become underwater basket weavers, but she is suggesting that everyone should pay attention to and cater to their inner artists. You don’t have to quit your job, but you can buy an easel, a canvas and some paint. You can take a salsa class. You can create a bright orange accent wall in your living room. Let your inner artist be fed and be great. Get rid of those excuses! There is no upside to keeping roadblocks.

A quote from Collete in this chapter was my favorite for this week. “You will do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm.”

For my Artist Date I went to see Kara Walker’s amazing art installation called “A Subtlety.”  It is a sphynx-like figure of a naked black woman made of 80 tons of sugar. This incredible artwork is housed at the historic Domino Sugar Factory in Brooklyn. The original structure was built in the 1850s and the factory was at one point refining more than half of the sugar in the United States. I knew about the factory’s existence (the sign is one of those NYC icons), but I did not know how old it was nor that it was such an integral part of the sugar industry. The curatorial statement was very enlightening.

A construction crew will be demolishing the old factory soon to make way for a new development, so Walker’s work is an elaborate adieu and a not so subtle way to finally acknowledge the labor and lives of the people who worked those sugar cane fields. If you don’t know anything about slavery, sugar cane fields and even post-slavery sugar cane field work, please do Google that.

This was perhaps my favorite Artist Date so far this year. Walker has a brilliant mind and the layers in this art installation are numerous and each worth a thesis. I’ll have to come back and do a seperate post with all of my thoughts on this work. In the meantime, I encourage everyone to go see “A Subtlety.” It’s free and it’s open every weekend until July 6th.

 

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on May 21, 2014 in Creativity

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

Book Review: ‘Americanah’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Book Review: ‘Americanah’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

elle-americanah-chimamanda-adichie-de-mdn

I enjoyed Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s smart, engaging and contemporary. Adichie introduces readers to Ifemelu, a Nigerian who moves to the United States for college and eventually moves back to Nigeria for love and other things. Her high school love Obinze is in that “love “category even though he is married with children.

Adichie tells the story in third person limited omniscient, toggling between Ifemelu and Obinze. She tackles a lot of issues and perhaps most prominently, the perspective of an African immigrant in the extremely racialized US society. Ifemelu learns what it means to be “black” and what American blacks and Africans think the difference is between them. There’s funny stuff, serious stuff, thought provoking stuff and stuff that will seem like a mirror for you.

The novel offers a complicated love story and a very fleshed out central character in Ifemelu. I found myself staying up late just to read what happens next, which is a clear indication of a good book.

I definitely recommend Americanah for book clubs, contemporary novel courses and just general pleasure. You’ll be invested in the characters. I’m looking forward to Adichie’s future work.

 

 

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 12, 2014 in Entertainment, Reading, Reviews

 

Tags: , , , , ,

Artist’s Way 3: Week 4

Artist’s Way 3: Week 4

10256888_10152813147159097_4244603425425170200_n

Week 4 is about recovering a sense of integrity. Yes, ma’am. The crux of this chapter is right here:

The snowflake pattern of your soul is emerging. Each of us is a unique, creative individual. But we often blur that uniqueness with sugar, alcohol, drugs, overwork, underplay, bad relations, toxic sex, under-exercise, over-TV, under-sleep–many and varied forms of junk food for the soul. The pages help us see the smears on our consciousness.

Alla da truth is right there. I’m using this space to document and not really go in depth, so I won’t speak on what parts of that paragraph really struck me personally, but it definitely did.

Moving on…My Artist Date was going to a local artist supply store in Harlem. I got a super cute new Moleskine notebook. I also went to Staples and got a new pack of pens. I’m kind of particular about pens. I write hard (I’m intense, son) so I need pens with a nice rubber grip. Anywho, It was nice to me immersed in all that artistic awesomeness and my notebook is super cute.

 
 

Tags: , , , ,

Artist’s Way 3: Week 3

Artist’s Way 3: Week 3

photo (10)

Week 3 is all about recovering a sense of power.  Good stuff here. Cameron talked quite a bit about anger and how to use anger in a positive way. I got angry a couple times in the past couple weeks and I expressed that anger in such a way that I had to apologize to the folks on the receiving end. So, it happens.

One quote from this weeks’ reading that I really enjoyed was from Goethe. It reads: “Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it. Action has magic, grace and power in it.”  Well said. Or like Nike said, “Just do it.” You’ll never do “it” if you don’t make that first step no matter how tentative it is.

For this week’s Artist Date, I attempted to go and buy a new notebook and some new pens, but my mission ended up a failure because I embarked on said adventure on Easter Sunday and stuff closed early. Womp, womp. So, my Artist Date became the walk there and back. The picture above is from my travels. Reminds me of a song from my adolescence. “The red, the black and the green. With the key…”

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 22, 2014 in Creativity, Writerly Things

 

Tags: , , , ,

Artist’s Way 3: Week 2

Artist’s Way 3: Week 2
My view during my run/Artist Date.

My view during my run/Artist Date.

Week 2 focuses on recovering a sense of identity. My girl Julia goes all the way IN with this chapter. Here’s an excerpt where she talks about having “crazymakers” in your life, essentially the folks who always manage to suck away all of your energy creative and otherwise:

Crazymakers discount your reality. No matter how important your deadline or how critical your work trajectory at the moment, crazy makers will violate your needs. They may act as though they hear your boundaries and will respect them, but in practice act is the operative word. Crazymakers are the people who call you at midnight or 6:00 am saying, “I know you asked me not to call you at this time, but…”

Yes, Julia, yes! I most certainly had a crazymaker in my life a while ago and I’m so glad I let that go. Good riddance to drama. But here is my absolute favorite quote from this week:

The quality of life is always in proportion, always to the capacity for delight. The capacity for delight is the gift of paying attention.

She’s basically saying that even when life seems to be piling on every possible miserable thing, focus on the good stuff. Appreciate the little things. FIND THOSE LITTLE THINGS.

For this week’s Artist Date, I went for a walk/run along the Hudson River and it was great. Just a bit before sunset and it was a beautiful night–70 something degrees. Just me, the sun, the river and my music. It was an Outkast mix by the way. Got in some good people-watching of course and got to notice nature showing all the way out with different little creations along the path.  Good week!

 

 

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on April 14, 2014 in Creativity

 

Tags: , , , ,

Three Things I Learned at the National Black Writers Conference

Three Things I Learned at the National Black Writers Conference

 

photo (5)

 
A couple weeks ago, I wen to the The 12th Annual National Black Writers Conference at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn.  The plan was to cover it for work and also use it as that week’s Artist Date. Weeeeeell, I did use it as an Artist Date, but the coverage thing didn’t happen. Le sigh. As a freelancer, sometimes that happens. Does not happen to me often, but it happens. So, I decided to share some of my thoughts about it anyway here on my little blog.

The conference was a whole weekend packed with book signings, panels, after parties,  spoken word events, workshops and film screenings. This Harlem girl was all the way UP in BK tough that weekend. Of course I didn’t get to everything. Folks like Asha Bandale, Marc Lamont Hill, Walter Mosley, Tananarive Due and Leonard Pitts Jr were among the people speaking there and it was just impossible to go to every event.  But I did make it to a few different things on each day and here are three new things I learned from my time at the conference.

Gordon Parks Directed a 12 Years a Slave movie for PBS 30 Years Ago
Steve McQueen’s critically acclaimed, Academy Award winning film is technically a remake of a made-for-tv movie that was released on PBS in 1984.  Directed by legendary photographer and filmmaker Gordon Parks (he also directed1971’s Shaft), the film was called 12 Years a Slave: The Odyssey of Solomon Northup and later released on VHS under the title Half Slave, Half Free. The movie starred Avery Brooks in the title role, Rhetta Green as Jenny (the Patsy character) and John Saxon as slave master Epps.  During the NBWC film series presentation, Parks’s version was shown and a panel discussion followed featuring author and journalist Herb Boyd, African American history professor Barbara Krauthamer, filmmaker Marquis smalls and filmmaker Janay Shabaz, who actually worked on the 1984 production.

The conversation was about the differences between the two films. Both filmmakers took creative liberties with the story, but McQueen’s version was more faithful to the details provided in Northup’s memoir and had a decided focus on the brutality of Northup’s enslavement. By contrast, Parks filled in a lot of the domestic holes in the narrative and focused more so on the everyday interactions and even moments of laughter in Northup’s life before and during those 12 long years. Gordon’s version is available to rent or buy via Amazon’s instant video program.

Founders of the Black Arts Movement and Umbra Movement are Your Uncles
Askia Toure, David Henderson, Ishamel Reed and Steve Cannon were the panelists for a discussion called “Maintaining Cultural Legacies: The Black Arts and Umbra Movements.”  The men, mostly in their 70s were a riot.  The stories these men had of the their 1960s and 70s exploits are the stuff of legend. Fights, threats from Bumpy Johnson, Allen Ginsberg showing up at a house party, guns being drawn during a “truce” between two bickering organizations—these men have stories for days. The poor moderator Tonya Foster tried her best, but was no match for “Let me just say one more thing…” which seemed to precede minimum 10-minute monologues every time it was uttered and it was said numerous times. Though it was a panel discussion in an auditorium, their banter made it feel like the audience was invited to an intimate family dinner.  It was kind like how your uncles might behave at Thanksgiving. They argued with each other, they talked over one another, but ultimately they laughed together and it was a heart warming highlight of the conference.
Faith Ringgold is Michelle Wallace’s Mother
Maybe I’m just late to this information and everyone already knew this, but Michelle Wallace, the author of 1979’s incredible book Black Macho and the Myth of Superwoman is the daughter of artist/quilter/phenomenal woman Faith Ringgold. Did you know that? If so, why didn’t you tell me? That’s a lot of intelligent black woman creativity in one family and I’m here for it.  During a panel discussion called “Race Power and Politics,” Wallace spoke alongside Marc Lamont Hill, Obery Hendricks and Jelani Cobb. During her presentation, she showed slides of her mother’s political work in the 70s and mentioned that she’s working on a book dedicated to her mother. Faith Ringgold was sitting in the front row during the event looking resplendent with a glorious grey ponytail swinging from the side of her head.

So there you have it. New things I learned! Thanks NBWC!

 
2 Comments

Posted by on April 12, 2014 in Creativity

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,436 other followers