The BackList

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Sunday, March 26, 2006

Part 2 of the Prisoner's Wife

If you read the Prisoner's Wife by asha bandele, loved it and wanted more, you are not alone. I heard she was writing a second memoir but have no idea when it is coming. But so many questions remain, I always wondered about what happened with her relationship with her incarcerated husband, Rashid.

NYT published an excerpt from an essay by asha that discusses her marriage, her child and the strength required to be a woman. I love her because she is so honest and open. I admire that incredibly and this essay is no different.

Smiley made the NYT list

He entered at Number 6 on the Paperback nonfiction list.

Turn the Page

The literary activist, Patrick Oliver has edited a wonderful collection for young people about the importance of reading and writing.

Turn the Page and You Don't Stop features essays, poems short stories, photographs and paintings from award-winning writers, artist and professionals from around the country. Front and back cover paintings by Frank Frazier. Publication date is April 2006.

And yours truly is a contributor. Other contributors include:

Cory Anderson, Melrita Bonne, Traycee Lynn Bryant, Kenny Carroll, Reverend Marrice Coverson, Frank Frazier, Patrice Gaines, Dr. Sandra Y. Govan, Hadassah Hickman, Victor Hill, Allyson Horton, Wade Hudson, Andrew Sekou Jackson, Parneshia Jones, Janis F. Kearney, Haki R. Madhubuti, Dr. Julianne Malveaux, Dr. D. H. Melhem, David C. Miller, E. Ethelbert Miller, Opal Moore, Useni Eugene Perkins, Jamel Shabazz, Irene Smalls, Dr. Ivory Achebe Toldson, Lynnette C. Velasco and Latoya Wolfe.

If you are going to be at the National Black Writers Conference at Medgar Evers next Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, copies will be available for sale.

Support this book and the cause it's promoting.

Acclaimed Author Lee Stringer to Speak NYC March 29th

The Small Press Center would like to announce our lecture series Emerging Voices. This series is highlighting writers published by groundbreaking independent presses, and is being kicked off with Lee Stringer, author of the new book Sleepaway School, as well as Grand Central Winter, his critically acclaimed memoir about his experiences of addiction and homelessness.

Stringer will appear with Dan Simon, publisher and founder of Seven Stories Press, and discuss his life, his work, and how they influence each other. In particular, he will be focusing on his latest release, a poignant memoir of his childhood, experiences in foster care, and three-year stay at a boarding school for at-risk children.

The event will be held at the General Society Library on March 29th, at 20 West 44th Street between 4th and 5th Avenues. This event, as well as the others in the series, is free to the public. Reservations via telephone- 212.764.7021, or e-mail- are strongly recommended, as seating in The General Society Library is limited. More information is available at

It must be nice to have a movie director for a husband

I saw Inside Man this week, the new film starring Denzel Washington, Clive Owen, and Jodi Foster, and directed by Spike Lee. I enjoyed it just when I thought the heist theme was played out.

Anywho, at the end of the movie, before the credits they roll, they show every major character in the movie, with their name beside them. When they show the woman that played Denzel's girlfriend, she opens a copy of Gotham Diaries written by Tonya Lewis Lee and Crystal McCrary Anthony. I was like oh my goodness, that's Spike's wife book. Granted it wasn't product-placed in the movie, but still I was like WOW. Must be nice...I can only imagine the other promo hookups.

Modern Day Hottietots

Mark Reynolds, columnist, discusses the exploitation of black women's bodies in media. What's great about the column is he quotes from a few, very appropriate books to add to his argument oh and the fact that he doesn't dismiss the role of the video vixens themselves in the exploitation of black women.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006



New York, NY – March 21, 2006 – Warner Books, Seven Stories Press, Beacon Press, The Carl Brandon Society, Writers House, and the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame announced today the creation of The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund in honor of the internationally acclaimed fiction writer, who passed away last month.

The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund will enable writers of color to attend one of the Clarion writing workshops where Ms. Butler got her start. It has been established to honor and affirm her legacy by providing the same opportunity and experience Ms. Butler had to future generations of emerging writers of color. In addition to her stint as a student at the original Clarion Writers Workshop in Pennsylvania in 1970, Ms. Butler taught several sessions for Clarion West in Seattle, Washington, and Clarion in East Lansing, Michigan, giving generously of her time to a cause she believed in.

On hearing about the scholarship, Walter Mosley commented, “Octavia Butler has been a beacon for thousands of us. She carved out a place in the darkness and made a berth where there was none. This award will continue her legacy making sure that others will find their way to harbor.”

The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund will be administered by The Carl Brandon Society. The first scholarship will be awarded in 2007. Please send your tax deductible contributions made payable to “The Carl Brandon Society” and note that it is for “The Octavia E. Butler Memorial Scholarship Fund.” The Carl Brandon Society’s address is P.O. Box 23336, Seattle, WA, 98102. Visit for more information on how to contribute.

“Octavia's death only a few months after her novel's publication was an unexpected blow, forcing us to weep about what we had lost, the unwritten dreams that might have flowed from this fine writer's pen….Octavia left us with Fledgling, one last piece of her heart and soul.” —Tananarive Due, American Book Award recipient, author of Joplin's Ghost

“She was sweet, and kind, and generous, and brilliant. And now she is gone. Travel well, my friend. Rest deeply." ¯ Steven Barnes, author of Lion’s Blood

Octavia E. Butler (1947-2006) was the first black woman to come to international prominence as a science fiction writer. Incorporating powerful, spare language and rich, well-developed characters, her work tackled race, gender, religion, poverty, power, politics, and science in a way that touched readers of all backgrounds. Butler was a towering figure in life and in her art and the world noticed. A critical force, she received numerous awards, including a MacArthur “genius” grant, both the Hugo and Nebula awards, the Langston Hughes Medal, and a PEN Lifetime Achievement award.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Q&A with Colson Whitehead

I look forward to his new book. He has an incredible imagination. Read the TimeOut Q&A with him.

Has anyone ever heard him read?

I remember going to a reading by Colson and he had a very distinct reading voice, very different from his regular voice. It was kind of strange/freaky--and I first thought he was conjuring up the character (he was reading from John Henry Days) but he had the same voice when he read excerpts from the then-not-yet-published collection of essays about New York. I wonder if he still uses that voice. I had never really heard an author alter their voice that way when reading.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

So readings aren't out of style?

NYT published an article about the rising interest in readings (of course this is based on research conducted in New York City). I don't know if I believe that. Isn't the overwhelming understanding in book publishing that readings are becoming a lost activity? I mean it is incredibly difficult to get people to attend readings these days (beyond the author's friends or families). Of course I'm not talking about the big-name authors that command audiences.

I personally think the tradtional book reading needs to be remixed. But I've said that before.

Becoming Abigail

Becoming Abigail by Chris Abani receives a stellar review in the NYT. The book releases in April and I highly recommend it. It's dark but written so beautifully. Abani's poetic influence finds a powerful place in his fiction. And just as the review says, it is amazing how much he accomplishes in a novella format. I do warn, it's pretty intense.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

what would you have done?

I found this on the blogsphere. Millenia Black, an author who was scheduled to appear at a bookstore in Florida, cancelled her apperance after the bookstore owner sent an email inquiring about is she was black. Allegedly (now I feel like a real journalist), the bookstore has the largest selection of AA titles in its area and serves a large population of Black people.

I can see why she was offended. Would I have been? Probably not. It takes a lot for me these days, which may or may not be a good thing. Plus when I get a book published, I want my shining face on the back. But that's just my vanity.

Back to Ms. Black. It's obvious that she doesn't want her race to be a factor surrounding interest in her book. She deserves that. But will she get it?

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

because we are all on a equal playing field

Maybe i've been sleep or navel-gazing or in a coma, but apparently we are all on a equal playing field according to the Center for Equal Opportunity.

support independent theater

Please join us for the Atlanta premier of:

Settling Sophia"A question of race ... a matter of life."

A three-act drama by Cherryl Floyd-Miller

Opens March 18, 2006 at 8 p.m.
Southwest Arts Center9
15 New Hope Road
Atlanta, GA 30331

Cast:Nina Larsen (Chelsea Bridges)
Kaira Whitehead (Toi Reynolds-Clark)
Nikki Toombs (Toi Reynolds-Clark Understudy)
Eddie Oliver (Trane Clark)
Kent Igleheart (Ian Bridges)
Jane Bass (Rita Abshire Frazier)
Gwen Waymon (Dulcie Reynolds)
aquaya lebron (Dulcie Reynolds Understudy)
Nathan Harris (Lent Reynolds)
Bill Pacer (Rev. Wyman Abshire)

*Talkback and reception immediately following the showon opening night.

Show also runs:
March 19 - 3 p.m.
March 24, 25 - 8 p.m.
March 26 - 5 p.m.
March 24 is "Industry/Pay-What-You-Can" night for actors.
The suggested public donation for this night is $10.
Tickets available online and at the door.
Opening night tickets - $20. All other shows $12.

Please visit to purchase tickets or to learn more about the story and cast.

A 7-year old revolutionary

Thanks to poetess Sheri Booker for forwarding me this article.

Don't say anything bad about Columbus.

"A 7-year-old prodigy unleashed a firestorm when she recited a poem she wrote comparing Christopher Columbus and Charles Darwin to "pirates" and "vampires" who robbed blacks of their identities and human rights. " Read NY post article.

Wow, I wonder if I am more in shock at the fact that she's been officially banned, or at the fact that she is only 7-years old and writing some serious poems.

Officially banned. No questions asked. She's seven. Wow.

There's even a bigger lesson here...

So Tavis Smiley's Convenant with Black America published by Third World Press is selling like crazy. PW discusses the book's success:

"Thanks in large part to the efforts of Tavis Smiley, Covenant with Black America, edited by Smiley, and published in February by Third World Press in Chicago has been a big hit for the small press. Covenant sold out of its 50,000-copy first print run within a few weeks of publication, and is already in its third print run for a total of 100,000 copies in print. The numbers for the fourth print run are being discussed, but have not been decided. And Third World Press's distributor, IPG, predicts that by the end of March, they will have shipped out 100,000 copies of Covenant."

There's a larger lesson here as well, which was well articulated by the president of IPG, ""The fact that this book is doing so well makes the statement that African-American books, if promoted well and if they have something to say, there's a big market for them," Suchomel said."

I agree, although it is also helps that Tavis has crazy media access.

Got writing?

Submissions from African American Writers Needed

Washington, DC ( - The Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation is accepting applications for its annual Writers' Week summer workshop for Black writers. It is the nation's only multi-genre summer writer's workshop for writers of African descent with a tuition-free component for high school students. The workshop will be held on the campus of American University in Washington, DC from July 16 to July 22, 2006. To participate, writers must submit an application along with samples of their work by April 21, 2006.

The week brings together Black writers from around the United States, as well as Black writers from the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe, who create a nurturing, safe space to discuss their work, its meaning, and unique aesthetics. Hurston/Wright Writers' Week is distinguished by the diversity of the writers it attracts: published, unpublished, college students, high school students, seniors, retirees, professionals-all chosen to participate in the Week on the strength of their writing.

"The Hurston/Wright Writers' Week workshop allows Black writers to create a space where our unique story is completely understood," said Marita Golden, founder of the Hurston/Wright Foundation. "Participants build relationships with mentors and become part of a supportive community that sustains them long after the week has ended."

All courses during the week are taught by published authors and include workshops on fiction, memoirs, creative writing, and poetry. Confirmed workshop leaders include:
* Marita Golden, acclaimed author of 12 works of fiction and nonfiction, including the popular best sellers Long Distance Life, Migrations of the Heart and Don't Play in the Sun. She has been a member of the graduate creative writing faculties at George Mason University and Virginia Commonwealth University.

* Wil Haygood, author of Two on the River; King of the Cats: The Life and Times of Adam Clayton Powell Jr.; The Haygoods of Columbus: A Family Memoir; and In Black and White: The Life of Sammy Davis Jr. He is currently a staff writer for the Style section of the Washington Post.

* Venise Berry, author of best selling novels, So Good: An African American Love Story, All of Me, A Voluptuous Tale, and Colored Sugar Water. Berry is an associate professor of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa City, Iowa.

* Patricia Elam, author of the novel Breathing Room. Her fiction and nonfiction writings have been published in The Washington Post, Essence, Emerge, Newsday, and in such anthologies as Father's Songs and New Stories from the South.

* Steven Barnes, author of best selling novels such as Dream Park (with Larry Niven), Legacy of Heorot and Beowulf's Children (with both Niven and Jerry Pournelle). His solo novels include Streetlethal, Gorgon, Child, Firedance, The Kundalini Equation, and Blood Brothers. He has been nominated for the Hugo and Cable Ace Awards, and is the writer of "A Stitch In Time," the Emmy-winning episode of Showtime's The Outer Limits.

* Tyehimba Jess, a winner of the 2004 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was a 2004-2005 Winter Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. His first book of poetry, Leadbelly, was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. Jess is an assistant professor of English at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

* Kenny Carroll, a creative writing teacher at Duke Ellington School of the Arts. For the past 10 years he has been the executive director of DC Writers Corps, a non-profit organization committed to engaging middle and junior high school students in the literary arts.

Participants may choose from a base tuition of $650 or for advanced writers, the tuition is $800. Room and board is available at an additional cost. Qualifying high school students will receive a full scholarship including room and board.

Hurston/Wright Writer's Weeks is made possible with the support of American University, Verizon Foundation, Broadway/Doubleday Group, and the generous support of individual donors.

For more information about the Hurston/Wright Foundation and its annual Writer's Week or to download an application, visit or call 301-683-2134.

About the Hurston/Wright FoundationThe Hurston/Wright Foundation is a nonprofit resource center for readers, writers and supporters of Black literature. The mission of this literary organization is to discover, develop and honor Black writers for the purpose of preserving the legacy and ensuring the future of Black writers and the literature they create. Since its inception in 1990, the Hurston/Wright Foundation has grown from serving only one segment of the community of Black writers, college writers of African descent, to providing culturally sensitive services and guidance for Black writers and their readers at every stage of their development.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Blacks in Publishing

So there are black people that work in publishing. To prove it, Christine P. an editor at Random House, and myself coordinated a Cocktails and Conversation for blacks in publishing at the swanky Flute Bar. We sent out an evite to the people that we knew between us and asked for it to be passed around.

So last Tuesday, about 25 publishing professionals met up for 2-for-1 cocktails and fellowship. There were several people that I didn't know in attendance, including editors and two rising literary agents. Go figure!

Also in attendance: Janet Hill, Charles Harris (the one and only founder of Amistad press and former head of Howard University Press), Manie Barron, Tracy Sherrod, Chris Jackson, Clarence Haynes, John McGregor and one of my favorite people, Linda Duggins. It was a good time and so great to see folks dedicated to book publishing.

I took pictures on my new wonderful digital camera. So when I get a minute to hook up to the computer, I will post some pictures.

And will post all the pictures on the upcoming redesigned BackList. That's right, change is a coming.

brownstone books

There's a nice article in the NY Daily News about Brownstone Books. It's the cute bookstore in Bed-stuy, BK. One thing that is great about the owners is their committment to community. I wish there were more businesses that were invested in the community they way Brownstone is. Check it out the next time you are in Brooklyn.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Target Market News acquires BIBR

Per PW Daily/March 9th, reported by Calvin Reid:

"In a surprise move involving one of the country's most prominent black reading publications, consumer market research firm Target Market News (which publishes a wide array of periodicals about African American consumer habits), has acquired Black Issues Book Review, a six-year-old magazine dedicated to African American consumer book reading. Financial terms were not disclosed. "

The article explained that BIBR will remain in New York although Target Market News is based in Chicago. No staff changes are expected. The article also discussed BIBR's relationship with QBR (remember when they partnered after BEA last year) and that Target Market News hopes to continue that partnership.

Changes are will be interesting to see how.

Monday, March 06, 2006

no really?

so the New York Times believes they aren't diverse enough. After the Jayson Blair thing, they formed a committee to "investigate" diversity at the paper. But most importantly, the paper found that: evidence connects Blair's transgressions to the diversity efforts then in place at The Times, but that the perception of such a link still lingers: "[in] the minds of many, however, Mr. Blair remains an example of newspaper diversity run amok."

No really? They needed a 23-person council to figure that out?