In Harlem Shuffle: A Novel, two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Colson Whitehead makes the world from 125th Street and above in New York City as complex a character as the people who inhabit it. He opens his tale in 1959 with a tantalizing line: "His cousin Freddie brought him on the heist one hot night in early June." Freddie is cousin to Ray Carney, who up to now had been "only slightly bent when it came to being crooked." That's what Carney continues to tell himself when Freddie tries to talk him into handling a haul from "the Waldorf of Harlem." Even though Carney thinks, "Robbing the Hotel Theresa was like taking a piss on the Statue of Liberty," he agrees to help Freddie fence the goods from their robbery.
Miramar, FL. — Agent Sasco is known to reach his audience through his music. As a dancehall artist and entertainer of many years, fans have listened to his words over a beat, now the 38-year-old native of Jamaica will be speaking to an audience through words in a keynote speech at the launch of Pete Kennedy’s bestselling book “When a Man Loves – A Lifestyle & Leadership Most Men Will Never Experience”.
It would be only a slight exaggeration to say that I read my very first poem five months ago, on October 3, 2020--a poem from Marosa di Giorgio's scalp-tingling collection about loss, I Remember Nightfall (Ugly Duckling Presse, $20). I recall a seventh-grade textbook that featured a poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay and, later, because of the person I was dating, perhaps something by Sharon Olds. It wasn't until completing in one long go Proust's In Search of Lost Time and I asked, what could I possibly read next? that I realized what the gift of this bizarre life-long desire to resist poetry has left me with in middle age: wide-open reading country.
When you think of National Poetry Month, you probably think of folks like Robert Frost, Edgar Allan Poe and William Shakespeare. As a teacher, you probably think of having your scholars make acrostic poems or try their hand at the dreaded sonnet. But I believe poetry can be so much more than the "classics" we've taught year after year--especially as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of National Poetry Month. With new influencers like Amanda Gorman and Rupi Kaur coming onto the scene in the last few years, the idea of what is poetry and who is considered a poet is evolving.
During this pandemic, we've all learned that fresh air is important for our mental health and well-being. A daily walk is a chance to allow the mind, as well as the legs, to wander. As a writer, I'm conscious that ideas often come to me while I'm walking around the block, not while sitting at the computer.
As Earth Day approaches and the soil begins to bring forth its riches, Natalie Baszile's We Are Each Other's Harvest: Celebrating African American Farmers, Land, and Legacy (Amistad, $29.99) calls to mind the complex relationship humans--especially African Americans--have with the land.