Poetry is not an answer

            Poetry is a calling

                        a vision that does not vanish

                        just because nothing

                        concrete comes along, or

                        because the kingdom of heaven

                        is under some tyrant's foot


            Poetry is not a right

            Poetry is a demand

                        to be left alone

                        or joined together or whatever

                        we need to live


            Poetry is not an ideology

                        poets choose life

                        over ideas, love people

                        more than theories, and really would

                        prefer a kiss to a lecture




            Poetry is not a government

            Poetry is a revolution

                        guerrillas -- si!

                        politicians -- no!


            Poetry is always hungry

                        for all that is


                        poetry never stops drinking

                        not even after the last drop, if we

                        run out of wine poets will

                        figure a way to ferment rain


            Poetry wears taboos

                        like perfume with a red shirt

                        and a feather in the cap,

                        sandals or bare feet, and

                        sleeps nude with the door unlocked


            Poetry cuts up propriety into campfire logs and sits

                        around proclaiming life's glories far into

                        each starry night, poetry burns prudence

                        like it was a stick of aromatic incense or

                        the even more fragrant odor of the heretic

                        aflame at the stake, eternally unwilling

                        to swear allegiance

                        to foul breathed censors

                        with torches in their hands


            Poetry smells like a fart

                        in every single court of law and smells

                        like fresh mountain air

                        in every dank jail cell


            Poetry is unreliable

            Poetry will always jump the fence

                        just when you think poets are behind you

                        they show up somewhere off the beaten path

                        absent without leave, beckoning for you

                        to take your boots off and listen to the birds


            Poetry is myopic and refuses to wear glasses

                        never sees no trespassing signs and always

                        prefers to be up touching close to everything

                        skin to skin, skin to sky, skin to light

                        poetry loves skin, loathes coverings


            Poetry is not mature

                        it will act like a child

                        to the point of social embarrassment

                        if you try to pin poetry down

                        it will throw a fit

                        yet it can sit quietly for hours

                        playing with a flower


            Poetry has no manners

                        it will undress in public everyday of the week

                        go shamelessly naked at high noon on holidays

                        and play with itself, smiling


            Poetry is not just sexual

                        not just monosexual

                        nor just homosexual

                        nor just heterosexual

                        nor bisexual

                        or asexual

                        poetry is erotic and is willing

                        any way you want to try it




            Poetry has no god

                        there is no church of poetry

                        no ministers and certainly no priests

                        no catechisms nor sacred texts

                        and no devils either

                        or sin, for that matter, original

                        synthetic, cloned or otherwise, no sin




                        In the beginning was the word

                        and from then until the end

                        let there always be




—kalamu ya salaam


photo by Alex Lear


She Shimmy, She Wobble


         “she shimmy, she wobble

         she make me wanna holla”


what happened last night

has had me dreaming all day


what black women got

& have given to the world

is no secret


more erotic than the pleasure flow

of emerald water in a secluded cove

the diving into which sends

wet electric ecstatic tremors

tumble cascading through your body,

jump scream shooting out of the trembling

toenail of your left foot’s big toe


& leaves you so satiatedly gasping

for air following the cpr

of her thighs driving you

out of your skull that you swear

you shook hands with the devil

right before tongue kissing god


conjuring up sensual bliss, of course

is not all black women do,

there is far, far more to both

blackness and womanhood than coition

but since this is the way

babies are born, I can’t imagine

much else more important than

honoring that most ancient portal,

our ancestral path,

the primal womanworld

through which the whole

of humanity has issued


created in the exquisitely moist climax

that some scientists rather crudely call

the big bang


—kalamu ya salaam


photo by Alex Lear


A moment in a Mississippi juke joint:

  Wilma Mae looks at John L.


his slender eyes

and taut behind, bared arms

blackberry dark with grapefruit

sized biceps, but especially

the massive slope of his head

with broad textures like the benin

bronze she didn’t consciously know about

but subconsciously gravitated toward

and those teeth shiney like

lighthouses down on the gulf coast

flashing thourhg the ink of stormy night


wilma mae looked at his feet

and the go slow grind of his hips

keeping time to the juke box

& sucked her breath in slowly, she

would have taken a seat

except she was already sitting with

her thighs pressed tightly closed


just then john l. threw his head

back and sprayed the ceiling

with the mirth of his laughter

and casually did a little dip

on the off beat of the break

in  the undulating song


“god,” she thought, “that man

look like a tractor, & I feels like

a field what ain’t never been plowed…”


—kalamu ya salaam


photo by Alex Lear


Wake up—stop sleeping with your eyes wide open


I lead not merely by leading but going beyond myself by teaching, encouraging and inspiring others to lead. I go where I have never been not with my own feet but a part of me will be carried along into the experiences of others. I am not the end of my ambitions, I am not the beginning of my dreams. At my best I am the continuance of those who came before and a foundation for those who come after, a calendar of feelings. Isn’t it odd that our long march into the future is how we make our past, isn’t it normal for an old person to see themselves in the young eyes of students struggling to successfully become old? What I have to tell you is that it is not the future you have to worry about, we can only be true to today, be beautiful right now, and, yes, that is my task, to teach the future how to be fully the present.


interpretation of plato, paragraphs 54 – 55


—kalamu ya salaam


photo by Alex Lear

What Took You So Long?


We've Got To Have A Video For This. Meaningless As They Be, Here Are The Images--All We Did Was Round Up All The Usual Suspects: For these young-stars, while the weather never was cold, the "forties" always were. Plus seems there was always this one cutie who could blow smoke rings out her thing. Toke a big blunt with her labia major, and puff a thick blue cloud of chronic. No shit. The first time she did it in front of Eazy all he said was "whoa, now dat some bomb ass pussy!" (I'm telling yall all this shit so you will know the context. This is the expository part of this story where I do the detailing. Wax and shine the ride and grease down the cow hide. Gas it up to full and bump the tapes up past ten on the 14-inch speakers in the Alpine system.)

OK? Got it? Are You Suitably Distracted? Confused? What Did That Naked Woman Have To Do With The Story? Oh, I See You're Getting The Picture. You Were Looking At The Picture With The Sound Sense Off. OK, Now Cut The Tee-Vee. Ignore The Video. Listen.


So Eazy and Tupac sayz to each other:


EAZY: Yo bitch, how I know I'm alive?


TUPAC: You don't, unless you die.


EAZY: You mean I got to die to live?


TUPAC: No, I mean you can't prove you lived unless you die.


EAZY: And so what happens when I die? 


TUPAC: One of three things. One. You meet God and the Devil and they decide which one of them two mothafuckaz is your old man and who is going to own up to you for eternity.


EAZY: You mean my mama don't get no say so about this shit?


TUPAC: Eazy, man, you always was slow. Your mama deal with you when you alive. Your daddy deal with you when you dead.


EAZY: Oh, I see, what you sayin'.


TUPAC: No, that's the whole point. You don't see. You don't see shit while you alive. You don't get to see nothing til you dead. While you alive, you just live. Do whatever the fuck you want and then when you dead...


EAZY: You get to see what you did?


TUPAC: Yeah! That's one option.


EAZY: Oh, I get muthafuckin options?


TUPAC: I don't know, I'm just speculating on how a nigga be making it after he done passed on.


EAZY: This some of that Panther shit?


TUPAC: Nigga talking to you is like talking to a brick except you ain't even solid enough to build nothing with.


EAZY: I know this bitch-ass momma's boy ain't tryin' to bag on a man. Yo shit so weak til the last bitch you fucked charged you with sexual harrasment AND YOU


GOT CONVICTED, motherfucka!


TUPAC: Alright, whatever. At least I know how to count my money, instead of slaving for a white man, "let's see, one for me, and one for you, and one for me, and one for him, and one for me, and one for Cube, now we all got an even cut." Eazy, you like the clown in class cracking jokes so nobody notice how dumb he is.

EAZY: This ain't school. You ain't no teacher. You just mad cause I know how to read ya.


TUPAC: Alright, alright. Option two is that after this shit play out, that's all she wrote. You had your little fifteen minutes of fame and now it's all over.


EAZY: That's wack. If this is all there is, I want my money back cause I been jipped.


TUPAC: Option three is that this shit is a cycle and we come back over again.


EAZY: What you mean come back?


TUPAC: You get born again but instead of being a gangsta, you come back as a bitch.


EAZY: I know you trippin'.


TUPAC: I'm just saying it's an option.


EAZY: But Pac, if you come back as somethin' else, then it ain't really comin' back. It be a whole new thing. Like if you fuckin' this cutie and the shit is bangin', but then when you go back the next night, she don't be there. Her sista be there. Then you ain't comin' back. It's a whole new thing.


TUPAC: Nigga, why you got to reference everything with your dick.


EAZY: I ain't got to. It just feel better when I do.


TUPAC: Yeah, whatever.


EAZY: So how you goin' out?


TUPAC: Like a man, mothafucka. However it come, I'm going out like a man. My boots on, looking the bullet dead in the mothafuckin eyez. You know what I mean?


EAZY: OK, like I got to bounce. I got some beats and shit to put down in the studio.


TUPAC: Nigga, I heard some of that shit. That shit sound...


EAZY: It don't matter to me how my shit smell to you, what matter is that muthafuckaz buy the shit I do.


TUPAC: Represent and get paid.


EAZY: I'm gon do that. What you gon do?


TUPAC: I been thinking about getting out of the being real biz and getting into some real fake ass shit. That way I get to play hard on the screen and then live soft on the titty for a long ass time. Instead of making five records and then having niggaz saying "Tupac who?" I'm thinking of jumping off into film and shit. I can make movies til I'm sixty-two and people will still dig my shit. Kind of like that muthafucka John Wayne.


EAZY: Fuck John Wayne.

TUPAC: Not even with your dick. I'm just saying homey, I been thinking...


EAZY: Yeah, you done got philosophical as a muthafucka since you took them bullets in yo ass and done a lil time in the joint. Tell me, you ain't got but one nut left.


TUPAC: My one weights a ton, and it's twice as heavy as both your pebbles put togetha. By the way, howz your boyfriend?


EAZY: Nah, there you go. You know you got that shit assbackwardz as usual. That's yo boyfriend and my ho...


TUPAC: Blahzy, blahzy. Whatever. Say Eazy?


EAZY: What?


TUPAC: After we gone, what do you think they'll say about us?


EAZY: Who?


TUPAC: You know, all them magazines that be writing about what color toilet paper we use and when was the last time yo mama sucked my dick on the beach.


EAZY: Nigga, I know you don't believe none of that shit.


TUPAC: I ain't asking about what I believe, I'm asking about how people be pimping us.


EAZY: Pimpin' you! Ain't nobody pimpin' me. I ain't no ho.


TUPAC: Well bitch, I hate to be the one to tell you, you got the claps cause you done been fucked so much, but all you got to do is look around and it's plain enough to see how these muthafuckaz are profiting off of you and me. If we go straight they picture us in white. If we be real they picture us in black. No matter what we do, they sell our picture.


EAZY: I still ain't no ho!


TUPAC: No, Eazy, what you mean is you still don't want to be no whore, but as long as you selling to make a living, you tricking and whoring. Why you think we making all this money?


EAZY: Nigga, you talkin' some bitch shit. I'm gettin' paid cause my shit is the rage and everybody like the way Eazzzzyyyy does it.


TUPAC: Eazy, you dumb as they come, but you still my nigga. After you gone, I ain't never going to forget you.


EAZY: Pour a sip on the curb, shout out a good word for the gangstaz like me and you that stayed all the way true to the real of gettin' fucked, gettin' ducs, and doin' whatever the fuck we wanna do. Peace out, muthafucka. And besides who gives a fuck what happens after I'm gone?


TUPAC: Word. And Eazy, if I get to the otherside before you do, I'ma keep a warm seat at the welcome table, a cold forty in the box, and a light on the front porch so your sorry ass can find your way back home.


EAZY: Yeah, you do that. Meanwhile, I'm outta here.

* * * 

So Eazy slid into a coma, and even before he eased out of here, his peeps was fighting over his shit. Who would get what? They couldn't hardly bury him straight behind all the lawsuits.


For a minute the magazines talked about AIDS and the radio advised safe sex when getting laid. But only for a minute and then the 24-7-365 was on again. Because in the muzak biz, the death of a star only makes more room for the wanna beez. And the hungry ones just keep on coming, keep on scheming, keep on dreaming.


The seduction of glamour and gangsterism is real. The high of being invincible, of dodging death and indulging every desire. Living large enough to make a cartoon out of life is the bomb, until it explodes.


Tupac was no fool. Undisciplined--maybe, self-indulgent--surely, and even ocassionally willfully crazy, but nobody's fool. He could see the moving light headed his way from the far end of the tunnel, and though, every now and then, he couldn't help thinking aloud about turning around, he just kept on trucking. He had shook hands with death before and still had all five fingers to prove he knew what he was doing. He was a fighter and a survivor and real men don't cry. So he sucked up any regrets and kept on stepping.


Everytime the light inched closer towards him, some other kind of good shit would happen to make Tupac disregard the upcoming collision.


God, he loved Iron Mike. The way Mike never let nothing keep him down. And Suge, that nigga is so for real. He covered Tupac's back and had a limo waiting out front when he made the bail.


Inside of Tupac's head the party was in full effect: Did you see how Mike smoked that dude in the first round? And look whose driving me around, the president and me. Two multimillionaires... the light blinded him this time as death took a firmer grip. When four bullets said hello, there was no place for Mr. Tupac to go except to step off into the void of the great beyond.


So when Tupac got to the other side, the first person he saw was Eazy-E and Eazy said to Tupac: "What took you so long?"


And Tupac, still a little dazed from the suddeness of the trip, haltingly replied, "I was having second thoughts about living."


—kalamu ya salaam


photo by Alex Lear


all that's black ain't brother



            white people

            come in all colors


            their systems sink

            past skin

            anchoring into bone, mind

            flesh, heart and soul


            it is geno-suicide

            to minstrel aliens

            but some of us do die

            strangled by our own




            some of us

            selfishly think that

            self starts

            and stops

            with i


            dream not of peace

            but money, don't

            dance, hate

            our energy

            and lust for

            an equal opportunity

            to turn the screws


            see that

            black boy over there,


            he's white.


—kalamu ya salaam


photo by Alex Lear



graphics by Douglas Redd





our women keep our

skies from falling

our days from dying

our nights from crying


carrying deep

within themselves

the sacred sun loves

of African-american lives


embers which fire

black generations are

securely embedded betwix

broad baobabian hips

and gleam sparkling forth

from deep lakes of

blue/black brown

dark ebony eyes


their song is

healing song, and

calling song, and

culture song, and

though no one can

stop the rain


our women keep our

skies from falling


—kalamu ya salaam


photo by Alex Lear




the oumas indians prepared this place for us

centuries before our arrival

a sacred spot where corn festivals

were celebrated & as the colonializers came

they pushed aside our hosts

& introduced us in chains

& by the late 1700s we somehow

recognizing the sacredness of le place de congo,

we somehow, and the how of our persuasive methodologies

is not clear at this moment, but nevertheless,

even as slaves we crafted and created a space

where we could be free to be we

and thusly we countered the sacriligousness of the french

giving great homage to our ancestors as well as

giving praise & thanx to our red blooded brothers & sisters


this is an oral libational toast

to congo square

to native americans

to our ancestors

who made a circle in a square

and gave us a way to stay ourselves save ourselves

from the transformatory ugliness of america

which refuses to recognize the spirituality of life

and celebrates death with crosses & crosses, double

& triple crosses, the middle passage the first cross,

christianity the double cross and capitalism

the ultimate triple coup de grace cross of our captivity


but the terror of crosses notwithstanding

we sang, we beat, we be, we was & is

hail, congo square

our african gods have not been obliterated

they have merely retreated inside

the beat of us until we are ready

to release them into a world that we

re-create, a world heralded by the beat

be, beat being, beating being

of black heart drums


heart beat heart beat heart be/at this place

at this place be heart beat be we

beating place in new world space

beating being in place

in new world preserving our ancient pace

our dance is the god walk

our music, the god talk


first thing we do, let's get together

circle ourselves into community

no beginning no end connected together

and singing ringing singing

in a ring


second let's be original

aboriginal / be what we were before

we became what we are, be bamboula

dance, be banza music, and sing song words

which have no english translation


third let us remember

never to forget even when we can't remember

the specifics we must retain the essentials

the bounce the blood flow the feel the spirit

grow energy, must retain and pass on

the essential us-ness that

others want to dissipate whip out of us

but no matter how much of us they prohibit

deep inside us is us

remains us inside

& needs only

the beat

to set

us free


the beat to free us


it is morning, a sun day, a field w/out shade but dark

with the people black of us in various shades

eclipsing the sun with our elegance


we are centuries later now

and still this sacred ground calls us

to remember / to beat / to be



beat be beat be



—kalamu ya salaam


photo by kalamu




She had recently cut her hair. Opting for a style of convenience rather than of flair.


My first memory of her is the briefest of flashes. She was sitting on my son’s bed when I walked in the room, her back against the wall, or was she sitting Indian-style? There was a pause, no one said anything. My son looked in my direction. She looked up at me then over to Tuta and then away from us both before staring straight ahead. And I simply said, “hey,” backed out the room and went on to do whatever I was doing. And did not give the encounter a second, third or even a months-later-remembered thought.


I’m like that: what doesn’t concern me, doesn’t arouse my attention. Of course I know that everything and every one is connected, but connections can become entanglements, especially when, out of idle curiosity or just plain juicy inquisitiveness, we want to know intimate details and have no intention of doing anything constructive with the knowledge. So much of our lives are too often filled with amassing personal specifics we never use except to make judgments about people when we aren’t even sitting in the jury box.


Twenty years ago in 1990, a strong, wide, silent smile was her response to my curt, one-syllable hello. Today, she still smiles strongly, still continues to flash a quiet grin that is so alluring.


I’ve seen her pregnant. Tuta was still in engineering school at Georgia Tech. Eventually, he dropped out to be first a father and then a husband, and even though he can be a boisterous hothead, he expertly shouldered both tasks that required him to care about someone else more than thinking only of himself.


Over the years three more pregnancies followed.


They’ve gone through a long march together: young and no money, high school sweethearts now evolved like black swans into mates for life. You should see them: season Saints ticket holders traveling to at least one away-game a year, or the humorous dance of housework and cooking they do in the post-Katrina kitchen of their now remolded Gentilly home. Every time I am there, I think of Tennessee Street in the Lower Ninth Ward and how Tuta and his four siblings were reared in the tight confines of a home that seemed one-room too small but worked out fine.


I remember what I went through struggling to stand amidst constant motion, and after sixteen years failing to go on further. I know what Tuta has dealt with financially but most of all emotionally as a young man staying on the road to becoming a mature husband. And through remembering my past and knowing Tutashinda’s realities, I can vividly imagine the zigs and zags, the “too much of this and not enough of that” that Keisha has successfully juggled.


I told her she must be a saint. She just flashed her regular trademark: a quick smile and a quiet laugh. She knows I’m not religious in the Christian sense but she also knows the seriousness behind my playful banter. Her full lips, curved into a mute, upturned crescent, needed no sound to say an unmistakable “thank you.”


It’s sometimes so hard and lonely being a mother of four children and one husband. And not only hard, and not simply lonely, but increasingly in this new millennium, staying the course as a woman, a mother and a wife accompanied by one partner who crosses the finish line with you has actually become un-normal. Today, most of us can not and do not complete such social marathons.


But if you successfully hold on til death do you part (howsoever one might define “success”), and the children grow and go out into the world on their own without returning to stay in the nest; and the husband does not leave, lighting out for other parts, or should we say other arms, unknown; when beneath the bludgeoning of choice and circumstance you have withstood it all and the “you” is also a second person plural and not just a lonely, embittered, divorcee turned second-personal-singular head of household, then that doing is genuinely remarkable.


And beyond remarkable such successful survival means… well, it means a lot to all of us. Although I or some others of us might not achieve it, their example proves that actualizing a strong relationship is possible, even over the long haul of starting out by going steady in high school.


And, hey, as certain as sunshine and as deep as midnight, no doubt on the mundane day-to-day basis, this human miracle is usually and majorly due to great effort, sacrifice, and steadfastness by the female partner. Typically, as a mother within a patriarchal society, the female has less options to leave as well as less desire to leave everything and everyone behind than does her male partner. Ultimately, the success of any traditional marriage is due to and sustained by the great beauty, great, great beauty offered by the woman.


I am not ignoring the men who hold up their half of the family sky, but regardless of whether the man does his part, for most of our families, ultimately our women are the ones who keep our skies from falling.


Keisha always laughs when we hug and affectionately refers to me by he Swahili appellation “baba,” which simply meets father. We spend very, very little time together but her image stays with me. A woman called Keisha who has cut her hair short and is resplendent, her head surrounded by an incandescent aura of glory.


 —kalamu ya salaam


photo by Alex Lear


a neo-griot (writing with text, sound and light) manifesto.

—kalamu ya salaam (kalamu@aol.com)


words. words are the basic element of all writing. seems obvious. except the obvious is misleading. for the last 400 years or so, western culture has defined the "word" primarily and almost solely as "text." enter the mating of digital technology with african-heritage aesthetics, and we are on the verge of liberation from the tyranny of text. we can step back to an old aesthetic in order to boldly create a new paradigm. sankofa fetching an ancient worldview to help fashion a future vision.


in the beginning was the word. and it wasn’t text. in the beginning the word had sound and gesture as well as meaning. indeed, sound and gesture were part of the meaning.


guttenburg’s printing press combined with the alphabet to mute words; stripped words of sound and gesture. (that was not the first instance, but, thanks to western military hegemony, the roman alphabet became the dominant form of word discourse. today, even the chinese use that alphabet, even though their glyphs are older and their language spoken by more people.) western imperialism ensured that the muted text of the printed page became the standard for literature, for writing.


following the first revolution of the printing press, came the 2nd revolution, the reproduction of sound for mass dessimenation via recordings and radio. that happened around the turn of the 20th century. sound was re-mated to words. although most recordings were used for music, radio, for a long while, hung in with all kinds of "talk" shows, from political speeches to orson wells declaring interstellar war had arrived, from cartoons come to life (like the shadow do) to declarations of what soap made you whiter, i mean, cleaner--question: was the golddust twins more clean than the ivory soap chile? even today, talk shows still have a major foothold on radio.


the third revolution is digital, and digital completes the turning of the word back onto its original self: the trinity of sense (literal meaning), sound and gesture. talking cinema, which had its popular birth with al johnson’s "jazz singer" in 1927 was the opening salvo of putting gesture back with the word. and then in the fifties came television. but the distinction is that it costed a lot of money, as well as access to and expertise with highly technical equipment, in order to produce movies and television. the girl next door and the guy in the mirror were not able to make their own movies or produce their own television shows.


the significance of the third communications revolution is that with digital, we can all make movies, we can all present our words with sound and gesture as well as sense. digital is completing the re-animation of words via high quality sound and gesture. the democratication of mass media through the digital revolution is perhaps the most significant development in terms of the preservation, creation and propagation of third world cultural activities and products.


as a writer using digital technology, i can concentrate on what it is i do best, i.e. use words to convey ideas and emotions. and i can do it from the holistic african-heritage perspective which tends to mix and almalgamate rather than specialize and segregate. moreover, digital makes it possible both technically and financially for me to "write" about my culture in its fullest expression and to do so without regard to the strictures of the market place. i can make a movie about the sister next door who integrated her elementary school fifty years ago, or the brother down the street who joined the deacons for defense after he came out of the korean conflict—you don’t know who and what the deacons for defense was, well, that’s precisely why the digital revolution is so important. digital will make it possible for us to tell all the tales and present the total vision that up til now has been severly limited.


digital technology allows us to produce broadcast quality work that can compete in the marketplace. for example, thanks again to the digital revolution, our work can be distributed on cable television. the days of major network strangleholds on mass communications are coming to an end even as there is more and more concentration of wealth and power in fewer and fewer hands. global capitalism is moving toward monopolies, but the underside is that the communications infrastructure has a voracious appetite for content. 300 cable channels require over 2.5 million hours of content to operate year round. there will be room, indeed, there will be a need for locally produced content.


if one needs an example of how thorough going the digital revolution will be and of how deeply we can participate in this revolution, i give you "rap" music. if there was no digital technology, there would be no rap as we know it today. yes, i understand that rap started with analog equipment and the human voice, but that’s not what it is today. the rap that dominates musical culture worldwide is produced via digital equipment. rap is the electronic enhancement of words. electronic machines turned to drums supporting the wit and wisdom of human speech. the digital revolution is all in our face but many of us don’t see it because some of the chief practictioners don't have white faces,  ph.d. faces, or technical "you-got-to-be-technically-trained-to-do-this" faces. the truth is that brothers and sisters at the street level have completely revolutionized the making of music, indeed, revolutionized the very definition of music. and the greater truth is that black dominance of music happened with the previous revolution of sound reproduction at the turn of the century. jazz stood the music world on it's head. indeed, from ragtime to rap, black music was the dominant sound of the 20th century.


my argument is not that all writers need to become rappers. my argument is that rappers demonstate what we can do if we are willing to grasp existing technology and use it to facilitate our self expression. and this is not simply a question of music. we have so many stories that need to be told, sounded, shown. digital technology and our own human will to create makes it possible for us to truly and fully express ourselves. as writers, as cultural workers, our task ought to be to investigate our past, critique our current conditions and create visions of our future.


so, on the one hand, with digital we can tell our story in our own way. although the aesthetics question is a story onto itself, suffice it to say at this moment, with the ease and affordability of digital we can present our culture in our own way like never before. on the other hand, local, national and global audiences want our content. now is the time.


there are, of course, issues to be dealt with, obstacles to overcome, and cultural battles to be waged, but there is a future if we are willing to seize the means of production and actively participate in the distribution of our vision. and it is no accident that i distribute this manifesto via the internet rather than as a pamphlet or an article in somebody else’s magazine. can you hear me now?