The BackList

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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

a sad tribute to Ms. Butler

Here's a sad but much more personal article about Ms. Bulter from the Washington Post.

Monday, February 27, 2006

totally off-topic

last weekend i watched a made for TV movie about MC Hammer's life. Oh it was bad. So bad that I watched the entire thing. Who played hammer? The black guy from 40 Year old virgin.

Anywho, Hammer was on my mind, and what do I find? His blog. Now I am not sure if this is really Hammer's but something tells me it is. Don't act like you didn't like "They Put Me In A Mix." Was that the name of it?

cupcake brown

Janet Maslin of the New York Times reviewed Cupcake Brown's book. Yall heard about this book, about this woman who turned her life around from drugs and gangs to become a lawyer.

This review somewhat confused me, as they sometimes do.

But I bust out laughing on this part (with a underlying tone of are-you-kidding-me?):

The battle for Ms. Brown's soul shows up in her prose as well as in the events she describes. Most of "A Piece of Cake" is written straightforwardly, in the articulate language of her latter-day life. She also slings the occasional, incongruous burst of jive: "They may have suspected they were getting to me, but I sho' as hell wasn't gon' show it." Instead of recapturing her earlier self, this language gives the book an air of calculation, as does its heavy foreshadowing. For instance: "There was no way I could have known of the horrible tragedy that lay ahead."

Jive? Do people still say that?

Octavia Butler

I had no idea that Ms. Butler passed on Friday. And when I tried to google it, it didn't even come up immediately.

There's just too much death going on. And at 58? That's too young.

I saw Ms. Butler about two years ago at the Yari Yari conference in New York. She mentioned taking a break from writing (she had just finished Fledgling), due to illness. But she said she was feeling better and believe me she was still so sharp and poignant and political. Her presence was so incredibly strong. I am glad I at least had that opportunity to hear her speak truth. Because that is what she did and in the most creative way, she spoke truth.

Rest in peace, Ms. Butler.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

the never ending Catch-22

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

The Toronto Star discusses the paradox of being a black writer.

I recently had a conversation about this with a publisher of books of African American interest. Some black authors don't want their books boxed in, classified as a black book. I definitely understand that.

But as someone in marketing, i think it's important to first define and reach a target audience (which doesn't necessarily have to be black folks) and then spread out. It is much harder to gain the attention of the masses these days. But if you can conquer a target and move forward many times you are much better off.

Now the whole thing about being an artist versus a black artist (that would be nice wouldn't it), well that is a behemoth that requires an societal attitudinal shift. Or perhaps the disintegration of race, whichever comes first.

If you are in the area...

The Center for the Humanities
and the Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas and the Caribbean (IRADAC) present
An Evening with Contemporary African Writers

Monday, February 27


Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie (Nigeria) author of the novel Purple Hibiscus; Laila Lalami (Morocco) author of the story collection Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits; Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor (Kenya) winner of the 2003 Caine Prize for African Writing for her story “Weight of Whispers.”

Reading and discussion moderated by
Professors Bertrade Ngo-Ngijol Banoun and Anne Rice,
Black Studies, Lehman College.

Room 9100
The Graduate Center, CUNY
365 Fifth Avenue (34th/35th)

Founded in 1993, The Center for the Humanities at the Graduate Center, CUNY provides a forum for CUNY students and faculty to engage in interdisciplinary dialogue with other scholars as well as prominent journalists, artists and civic leaders. By bringing together diverse voices from both inside and outside the academy, the Center seeks to broaden the relevance of the Humanities in contemporary life. Our programs include lectures, symposia, performances, and exhibitions, and in keeping with CUNY's commitment to ensuring access to the highest levels of educational opportunity for all New Yorkers, they are open to the public.

For further information please call The Center for the Humanities at The Graduate Center, CUNY: 212-817-2005, or see our website at

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Friday, February 24, 2006

dead emcees scrolls

so I think I am going to try to make this place a little more spiffy by adding some pictures to my posts. Well I say that now, let's see how long it lasts.

anywho. here's my review of saul william's new poetry collection Dead Emcee Scrolls. I do warn the review is a little weird: it's part interview and I included a rather large excerpt, but i just liked the excerpt too much not to. i'm still happy with the review despite it's strangeness.

cop his new book. the poem NGH WHT, which is about fifty pages is mean.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

A Walk Down Memory Lane

As a teenager, i used to hang out at Security Square Mall, in Baltimore, the newest location for Karibu Books (which was supposed to be up and running but ran into a few snags, but is apparently good to go.)

Those were some good times. It would be like 10 of us. A girls clique and a group of dudes, chilling at the mall. I know that malls are now trying to combat that because of spikes in crime. But it was alot of fun, a meeting spot to get digits (i guess folks don't say that anymore). I remember my boyfriend worked at the Great Cookie (talk about all the cookies I ever wanted) and I would go there to hang out while he was working and of course to thwart the efforts of other girls trying to get at him. Geez have times changed...

I went to Security mall about a year ago. It was pitiful. I couldn't even tell you what stores they had. I vowed never to return...

but now I reckon i have a reason. It sounds like Karibu is necessary for the mall, might breathe some life back into the mall.

Monday, February 20, 2006

This is what happens when...

Lagardère to BuyTime Warner BooksFrench publishing giant Lagardère will acquire Time Warner Book Group, for $537.5 million.

so i meant to comment on this when it happened, but you know how it is, other sh*t happens. Anywho, I was a little sad to hear this because for some reason, I saw it as a negative thing. Hopefully, I am wrong. I interned at TWBG and hope that this doesn't affect the core of the operations. Maybe it is a good thing that they are back with an actually book publisher and not a Multi-tiered media company.

See this is what happens with big ass media companies buy book publishing arms and expect the book publishing arms to perform the same way as their other businesses. They forget that book publishing just doesn't have the profit margin of say, a major CABLE company. You can try to squeeze and squeeze but for the most part, it ain't happening. So when execs have this horrifying revelation..this is what happens.

Trying something new

From PW:

The team behind Amistad's red-hot radio campaign for Karrine Steffan's bestselling memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen, is back with another clever publicity scheme. Only this time, it doesn't involving giving away celebrity sex secrets. Now, the HarperCollins imprint is scoring urban radio play, online buzz and bookstore events by pairing popular novelist Lolita Files with rising pop singer Silena Murrell.

The hook is that Murrell's catchy debut single from Universal/Motown, I Like My Man Hard, does a decent job of describing the hardcore bad boy in Files fifth novel, Sex.Lies.Murder.Fame, who will do anything to create a platform for literary stardom, including court P. Diddy, Starbucks and Calvin Klein. (This is fiction, remember.)

To help stir word-of-mouth among readers and music fans, Amistad has created a music video—no doubt the first to be set in front of the HarperCollins offices in Manhattan. It pops up on Google Video if you search for "sex" (the first word in the book's title) and is also posted on Karrine Steffans's highly trafficked pages on the HarperCollins Web site.

Though it's too early to tell if the video will go viral, the package was enough to get the two women on Wendy Williams's nationally syndicated radio show (with 10 million listeners) and on MTV radio, both airing on February 21. They will kick off their bookstore tour on February 18 at the Fort Bragg, N.C., Army PX, with Files reading from the novel and Murrell performing her single, which Universal will release for radio play on March 14.

The imprint has also distributed 3,000 promotional CDs to bookstores, barbershops and radio stations. In addition to Murrell's R&B single, the disc includes songs by three other debut artists and two excerpts from the novel read by actor Al Jackson. Marketing director Rockelle Henderson came up with the idea of creating a video for the book, and publicity director Gilda Squires ran with it, recruiting Murrell through a friend at Universal, while Files recommended the other singers who contributed.

The rarity of the black Canadian blogger

I thought the intro to this article about the lack of black Canadian bloggers to be a little, uh, discordant, but then I visited the author's blog and changed my mind.

Her blog is dope.

But the article raises an interesting issue about this scarcity. Here's the question she poses:

When will Canada have a website comparable to the popular American site,, which lists all American black bloggers?

I'd answer, it can start with just one person. I think that's the beauty of blogging, the viralness (is that word?) of it.

Shout-out to the dopest black canadian literary blogger. You should have been in that article!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Relentless Aaron

Relentless Aaron, the self-proclaimed father of Urban fiction is profiled today in the NYT. I got to say selling books on buses headed to prisons is absolutely brilliant. Pretty bold too. I may not want to do it, but talk about reaching your audience.

Okay, my favorite quote from the piece:

"It's true, there are too many distractions on the outside," he said. "Sometimes I have to lock myself in a hotel room with no phone or TV. Sometimes I just get in my truck and drive to a deserted place for a while. But I'll never have it as good as prison again. For writing, anyway."

Sunday, February 12, 2006

New York Times Book Review

Sometimes I am just bored to tears with the NYTBR. But I thought I'd link to a few of the articles

A funny, honest look at one writer's unpleasant experience with book clubs. What happens when book clubs hate your protagonist?

More coverage on the bizarre JT Leroy scandal. This threesome looks strange. But here's my favorite quote from the article:

Mr. Knoop has hired a Los Angeles entertainment lawyer and said that he hopes to sell a movie about his experience. (New York Magazine yesterday cited an anonymous source saying that Mr. Knoop was seeking a book deal about the Leroy story, which Mr. Knoop denied.)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Essence's book club

I think the club is a fabulous idea! We need to put reading in the forefront of our media.

From PW:

Get set for a new book club logo from a trusted print magazine, which will appear on five books this year and six next year. Essence magazine has just launched Essence Book Club Recommended Read program, focusing on recently released and classic fiction and nonfiction. The first pick, Pearl Cleage's new novel, Baby Brother's Blues, was announced in the March issue (on stands this week). 1,500 people have signed up as online members, in the six weeks since the club was first announced to the magazine's seven million readers and on
Though a $24.95 hardcover seems like a suprising choice for a new book club, Cleage's novels have done better in hardcover than softcover on the magazine's monthly bestseller list. The club's first consideration is "the quality of the read," explained books editor Patrik Henry Bass, but that doesn't exclude consideration of the price-point. In fact, most of the books under consideration are softcover, he said.

Though it didn't hurt that Cleage is a big favorite with Essence readers, publishers shouldn't to read too much into the first pick. The next one is a "far more topical" novel that's likely to inspire a lot of debate, Bass said. "We're also trying to give exposure to writers who haven't had a hearing in the mainstream marketplace, and we won't be choosing just African-American authors. We're taking a broader view of the Africana experience." The author of each book club pick will be featured in the magazine, in the club's monthly e-mail, and in online author forums and interactive chats.

Bass and Editor in Chief Angela Burt-Murray also see the club as a way to gather more data about African-American reading habits, by tracking how many people are buying the club's picks, and gathering demographic information on readers who sign up for the club online. "There's a lot of noise about what's selling and what's not in the African-Amercian community, said Bass. "The only way we can answer those questions is to go to reader and allow them to guide us."

Thursday, February 02, 2006

BackList issue #14

So finally, a new BackList issue has been posted. I know, it's late as it wants to be, but boy I just couldn't pull it together. But it's here. And it is kind of inspirational and features some wonderful women writers/editors/poets/publishers.

Check it out.

And if you aren't a BackList subscriber, sign up today!