Friday, December 31, 2010
I have so appreciated Now Rise Books blog, this new writing venture I began in 2010 to talk about aspects of my book life, including bookselling and collecting, as well as reading, writers and publishing, generally.
Many thanks to everyone who connected with the blog to share your responses and information.
There is so much to share, so much to read. I am overwhelmed, yet more dedicated to reading the books steadily growing in my home library--and those new releases that keep on coming. I am reading to understand, to defend, to lay a foundation, to preserve and perpetuate the people and culture of African descent, and to support a just and humane social order in America and throughout our world.
In the new year, I look forward to talking more about reading, my acquisitions to Now Rise Books inventory (hopefully you will find some specail work to add to your home library), to authors, booksellers and publishers--and to you.
Here's to mutual "revelation" and "intellectual liberation" through reading and sharing together in 2011.
Peace and blessing in the New Year!
Monday, December 20, 2010
Also, I recently purchased the first series of the Eyes on the Prize cd set, beginning with the Montgomery Bus boycott through the mid Sixties, and Voices is a companion to that magnificent documentation of the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power revolution that Henry Hampton captured through his production company, Blackside, Inc.
Voices will be available at nowrisebooks at Amazon shortly.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Sunday, November 7, 2010
I was reminded, and also newly informed, about how courageous Jackie Robinson was off the field, advocating fairness and integration within major league sports and speaking out on behalf of social justice in various arenas.
|I Never Had it Made|
So, I am fortunate to have just acquired a clean and beautiful hardback copy of I Never Had It Made: An Autobiography as told to Alfred Duckett.
Can't wait to read it and report my impression.
There was another intriguing aspect to the Jackie Robinson autobiography that I've only had a few minutes to research, and that is "as told to Alfred Duckett." Is this Alfred Duckett also the poet, Alfred Duckett? The Alfred Duckett who wrote one of my favorite poems celebrating the Black master of music, Duke Ellington:
Duke Ellington's music
almost came too soon.
A gaunt coyote
Keening the moon.
Mighty organ waters
rushing to the sky
and a great broad,
Duke Ellington's music.
A noonday dream.
A secret joke.
A train gone crazy
on a wide open track.
hot and black.
Is that a baaaad poem or what!!?! "Bitter-strong coffee/ hot and black"!
Oh, yes, I've got to find out about Alfred Duckett now.
Post edited on 4/15/2011.
And one from Malcolm X, written on Jan. 15, 1965, assuring her, “You can communicate because you have plenty of (soul) and you always keep your feet firmly rooted on the ground.”
And a draft of her poem “On the Pulse of Morning,” which she recited at the 1993 inauguration of President Bill Clinton, showing Ms. Angelou’s changing the first line from “Rocks and Rivers and Trees” to the final, stark version: “A Rock, A River, A Tree.”
All of these things and more — a total of 343 boxes containing her personal papers and documents — have been acquired by the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. The trove has notes for Ms. Angelou’s autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”; a 1982 telegram from Coretta Scott King asking her to join a celebration at the King Center; fan mail; and personal and professional correspondence with Gordon Parks, Chester Himes, Abbey Lincoln and her longtime editor, Robert Loomis.
Read the full article by Felicia L. Lee printed in the New York Times on Monday, October 26, 2010
Read full article by Brooks Barnes printed in the New York Times, October 24, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
NEW AMERICAN CLASSIC from Marc Gunn on Vimeo.
Brook Stephenson is an experienced journalist (XXL, The Source, and others), a world traveler and self-described "searcher" of the universal human experience in every culture he encounters. Recently, he has taken up his pen to write fiction. Check out this Brook Stephenson interview by Marc Gunn on Vimeo.
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Saturday, August 28, 2010
Bookmark our blog or Follow us to stay in touch with us and book news at Now Rise Books. Thanks!
The Civil Rights movement forced America, and the world, to look at social and political oppression of Black people.
Beck's rally is really a movement to restore White American honor, self-esteem. That is only good if White America is going to transform from the status quo posture of supremacy and privilege to embrace social equality. Some whites did that four or five decades ago, but as the vitriol of the Tea Party members have demostrated, a remnant breeding that entrenched bigotry of the past still remains.
I wrote about this in an earlier blog on Baldwin's The Fire Next Time. Speaking about White people, Baldwin wrote in a letter to his nephew on the 100th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation:
They are, in effect, still trapped in a history which they do not understand; and until they understand it, they cannot be released from it. They have had to believe for many years, and for innumerable reasons, that black men are inferior to white men. Many of them, indeed, know better, but, as you will discover, people find it very difficult to act on what they know.
Whether Beck intends it or not, his rally is a good opportunity to challenge, invite, engage White Americans to act on their transformation, to right the wrongs not only of the past but the prolonged institutionalized racism still undermining the American progress that Beck wants to see emerge.
Beck is talking about adopting "American exceptionalism," but Americans are not exceptional, God is. God did not ordain Americans as good, He calls all of us to proclaim that He is glorious.
If White America does not fundamentally change, then to proclaim that Americans have a divine ordination but to continue to act out of human instincts of greed, power, bigotry, and selfishness is our fate, will continue to be what the world understands as the American way.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
I admit -- I have not acquired a Kindle, or other such reader, and have not downloaded an e-book yet, none that I've read, anyway.
In addition to reading e-books, I want to know more about how some of you are faring in publishing e-books.
Today, a Wall Street Journal article announces that marketing guru Seth Godin is leaving his trade book publisher and will produce his next work as an e-book directly to fans on his blog, about 400,000 plus fans.
Have any of you who have published traditional books found it more profitable to publish an e-book? Have you found significant increases in "royalties"? More direct communication and feedback with your readers?
Monday, August 23, 2010
Check it at remicalbingham.blogspot.com
Here's an excerpt from "What we should be teaching our children...":
I routinely hear folks who have come one or two generations before me talk about how they were made to memorize poems and speeches during their formative years. At one time, this was a routine part of the educational system. What happened to this tool? Surely, we can make the argument that memorization and repetition help bolster critical thinking skills, so how and why has 'progressive education' all but abandoned this technique? Being an educator, I have a strange suspicion that, because there is no room for oral presentations when administering standardized exams, this learning tool has been deemed unnecessary and a waste of properly used classroom time. But what a shame that is. Imagine what children might learn, retain and grown to love (or at least remember fondly...) if we taught them to pour over words until they stuck. The toddler in the video above gives us a small glimpse of the opportunities we're missing.
Sunday, August 22, 2010
Writers' Institute: Marketing Ideas from "Book That Author" Interview with Media Expert Jackie Lapin
Whether a light bulb just lit up your brain revealing a hot new idea for a book, or whether you just uploaded your completed manuscript files to your printer's website, you will almost certainly hear useful information about marketing your book in this interview that Book That Author recently conducted with veteran media expert Jackie Lapin.
It's 30 minutes of non-stop ideas, insight and anecdotes that can help writers, or others with a product to sell, so bookmark this page, set aside some time, get your notepad and a pen, and get started using this information to outline your marketing plan.
Follow Now Rise Books blog as I add more resources to help you get the most from your publishing experience through this latest addition to my blog, the Writers' Institute.
And let me know how your publishing journey works out... .
Friday, August 13, 2010
New York Times
By JULIE BOSMAN
Published: August 11, 2010
It makes perfect sense that Pete Hamill, 75 years old, chronicler of vintage New York City and newspaper tabloids and boozy Greenwich Village literary haunts, prefers print books to electronic.
Pete Hamill’s book about immigration will skip print and come out only as an e-book.
Far more surprising is this: His next book will skip print altogether and be published only as an e-book.
“They Are Us,” a book about immigration in the United States, is tentatively scheduled for release in the fall by Little, Brown & Company, its first straight-to-e-book venture.
And yet Mr. Hamill, on the verge of becoming a digital publishing pioneer, admitted that he has never read an e-book.
“It’s all personal taste,” he said in an interview. “For me reading a book is what I like doing, curled up in a corner in a comfortable chair. But I don’t have any moral superiority. I don’t care, as long as people are reading.”
There are not many New York writers who have lived more exclusively, and more prominently, in print. Mr. Hamill has been a columnist for The Village Voice; a reporter for The New York Post, The Daily News and New York Newsday; an intrepid foreign correspondent covering Vietnam, Northern Ireland and Lebanon; and the editor of The News and The Post.
In between all the newspapering, Mr. Hamill has written 8 nonfiction books (“They Are Us” will be his ninth) and 10 novels. (The 11th, “Tabloid City,” will come out in the spring.) There were also two books of short stories, photography books for which he supplied the text and three books he edited for Library of America.
For years he has been gathering material for a book on immigration but was unsure when it would come together, or what it would look like. “I had a passion to do something about the immigration mess, for complicated reasons,” said Mr. Hamill, who has lived in Mexico and is the son of immigrants from Ireland. “It drives me nuts, and I want to write about it.”
As the immigration debate heated up this year, so did Mr. Hamill’s desire to get his thoughts down in a book. He is just finishing the reporting (a recent morning was spent covering a pro-immigration protest on the Brooklyn Bridge) and beginning to write so he can meet his Sept. 16 deadline. The book will be on the short side, about 40,000 or 50,000 words — not that length matters as much in digital form.
The idea for an e-book was first floated by Michael Pietsch, the publisher of Little, Brown, part of the Hachette Book Group, who read the proposal for a book about immigration that Mr. Hamill had sent him. Mr. Pietsch was keen to try publishing a book only in electronic form.
“It just occurred to me — we’re talking constantly about e-books and what we can do to publish lively books in that way,” Mr. Pietsch said. “And it hit me, this is a book we can take straight to e-book. It just felt like an e-book.”
One of the reasons was the timing. Mr. Hamill wanted to write a book that dealt largely with the politics of immigration, and with the midterm elections coming up in November, it hardly made sense to abide by a traditional, slower publishing schedule. Putting the book out in digital form saved at least six to eight weeks for typesetting, printing and distribution, not to mention the cost of paper. With any luck, the book could be out before the midterms, so that it could influence the debate, not follow it.
Mr. Pietsch threw the idea out to Mr. Hamill. “He said, ‘Let me come in and see an e-book,’ ” Mr. Pietsch said, chuckling. “God love him, Pete said yes before he even saw a device.”
When Mr. Hamill arrived at Little, Brown, Mr. Pietsch spread out an assortment of electronics — iPad, iPhone, Kindle and Sony Reader, all of which he carries with him every day — for Mr. Hamill to inspect.
Since then, Mr. Hamill said, he has been asking around for recommendations so that he can actually own an e-reader. He is leaning toward an iPad.
“They’re all strange objects,” he said. “But I have friends who swear by them. I have a friend who’s 86 and swears by them.”
Navigating the logistics of an e-book tour might be more complicated.
“Some things have occurred to me,” Mr. Hamill said. “Will there be a book signing?”
Monday, August 9, 2010
Date: Sun, Jul 18, 2010
Subject: Liberation Bookstore (see attached PDF for Inventory)
I am writing to you in regards to my Aunt Una Mulzac, owner of the historic Liberation Bookstore in Harlem for over 35 years.)
For most of her life she dedicated herself to improving the condition of the African American people through education and as an activist championing civil rights causes. Her work has been recognized and praised by many in the community and has been interviewed on many occasions. It was her father’s legacy, Hugh Mulzac, himself an important historical figure that inspired her to work endlessly to advance the cause that became her life‘s work.
At 85 years old she was no longer able to look after herself or her business. I am now working with her legal guardian to find a buyer for her stock of books - a catalog of nearly 10,000 political & historical titles - some that have been out of print for many years. The collection is perfect for a cultural or educational institution. This collection is on offer as a whole and open to any party with a vested interest in maintaining their educational value. While many libraries are working with limited budgets, perhaps a philanthropic alumni association would be able to purchase the collection on behalf of their alma mater.
Anything interest or helpful suggestions would be most appreciated. Please respond as soon as possible since time is of the essence. I would be happy to forward the inventory list to you.
[Minor edits were made to this post on Monday, February 28, 2011.]
Friday, August 6, 2010
Taunts, threats, and name-calling that President Obama has been subjected to from Tea Party members and their conservative media leaders are evidence of more than frustration with the nation’s deficit, else the men and women of the overwhelmingly white Tea Party would have taken to the streets under the former president as vehemently as they do today.
As much as he may want to, President Obama cannot temper these vitriolic eruptions by sitting down with Glenn Beck ("This guy, I believe, is racist") or Joe Wilson (“You lie!”) to have a beer and smooth things over. The situation is really beyond that cordial scene of armchair diplomacy.
That was made clear this week when the latest incident of racial unrest blew up, ironically, at a beer distribution company in Manchester, Connecticut. On Tuesday, August 2, 34 year-old truck driver Omar Thornton called 9-1-1 to explain why he had shot numerous employees that morning at the Hartford beer and wine distribution company where he had just resigned after being exposed for stealing.
In the 9-1-1 call, released by the CT state police yesterday, August 5, Thornton said the Hartford beer distributor was a racist company and that people had treated him badly since the time he began to work there.
Company and union officials said only that there was no record of complaint regarding racial harassment, a far cry from saying no harassment took place. Statements by some of the family members of those killed have indicated that racial allegations Thornton and his family made were disappointing.
That unattended tensions in the workplace resulted in a loss of eight lives is tragic; the trauma to those injured by gunshots and scared by violence in their workplace is also serious and regrettable. Our nation too is injured by this latest blow to an open wound of racial divide, festering from four centuries of anger, resentments, demeaning behavior, mistreatment and denial.
Omar Thornton was injured by the racial harassment he said that he suffered at the Hartford beer distributor company before taking his deadly actions this week. Yet, the particular racial trouble Omar contended with in his workplace, until he reached a breaking point, are the chronic racial problems of this nation, writ large.
If these problems will be resolved, it will not be because there is no documentation of them, nor because someone takes care of business with violence. No, racial reconciliation will cost those of us who remain after these violent episodes, not our lives but something people are sometimes willing to die for, and that is our pride.
Thursday, August 5, 2010
U.S. Postal Service reports $3.5-billion loss, sees more red ink in future
The agency predicts a cash shortfall for 2011 after net losses in 14 of the last 16 fiscal quarters.
August 5, 2010|9:47 a.m.
WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service reported a quarterly net loss of $3.5 billion Thursday and said it will likely have a cash shortfall going into 2011.
The agency, which delivers nearly half the world's mail, has reported net losses in 14 of the last 16 fiscal quarters.
Revenue in the third quarter, which ended June 30, fell $294 million from a year ago, while expenses were $789 million higher at $19.5 billion, due largely to higher workers' compensation costs and retiree health benefits.
Cash flow seems on track to handle 2010 operations, Corbett said, but it is uncertain whether sufficient liquidity will be in place for 2011 after the agency must make a $5.5 billion payment on Sept. 30 to prefund retiree health benefits.
"It is clear that a liquidity problem is looming and must be addressed through fundamental changes requiring legislation and changes to contracts," Corbett said.
A U.S. law mandates these annual payments through 2016 to prefund benefits, a requirement not placed on any other government agency. The Postal Service is pushing for legislation that would restructure this payment schedule.
Congress lowered the amount the Postal Service was obligated to pay to prefund benefits in 2009, but there has been no indication that will happen again this year.
The likely cash shortfall is made worse by the continuing downward spiral in mail volume, as more Americans communicate by email and electronically pay their bills.
Some 40.9 billion pieces of mail were delivered in the third quarter that ended June 30, falling 1.7 percent from the same period a year ago.
While the global recession sparked unprecedented drops in mail volume, the increased popularity of email and competition from FedEx Corp, United Parcel Service Inc and other delivery services have long cut into the agency's mail volume.
Postmaster General John Potter said the Postal Service is expected to achieve around $3 billion in cost reductions in 2010 through cuts in work hours to match declining volumes and other initiatives, but more is needed to secure the agency's fiscal stability.
"It also will require that the Postal Service gain flexibility within the law to move toward five-day delivery, to adjust our network as needed, to develop new products the market demands, and to work with our unions to meet the challenges ahead," he said.
Copyright © 2010, Los Angeles Times
Sunday, August 1, 2010
In the first essay titled, “My Dungeon Shook: Letter to My Nephew on the 100th Anniversary of Emancipation," Baldwin was attempting to explain what his nephew and other Black male youths were up against--to forewarn them about the nearly all encompassing stranglehold that racism had already laid upon their futures before they were even born. His analysis dissects the enduring racial tension among Blacks and Whites in America up to the period of the Fifties.
What Baldwin wrote about White folks in the passage quoted above, and the one more fully quoted below, describes the behavior that many White folks exhibit today, more than 40 years after The Fire Next Time was published.
Baldwin’s description fits to a tee the contemporary boisterous and emotional cohort of whites, especially those of the conservative faction, those who have co-opted the conservative group, loosely associating themselves under a federation of so-called tea party patriotism. Many of them do know better, but find it "difficult to act on what they know."
What they therefore react to is what they see, and that is an African man elected to the highest office in the land and living in the White House.
Baldwin's words 40 years ago are prescriptive today:
Baldwin was correct in his analysis about the destabilizing impact that Black advancement wreaks within the White community. His instinct to spell it out for young people was genuine and life preserving. We would do well to write our own letter, or to share James Baldwin's letter, with our young people today.
Saturday, July 24, 2010
Posted by Melodye Micere Van Putten
>Definitely falling off the cliff... In the mainstream bookstores under "Black Authors", that is all you see... you have to search for classic, intellectual or truly notable authors. Aka, "ghetto lit", is not progress!
Posted by Threefifths Tes
>So would you call Books like C l a u d e B r o w n Manchild in the Promised Land.
Or Piri Thomas book Down These Mean Streets.
>Posted by lisa@nowrisebooks No, Claude Brown's Manchild in the Promised Land doesn't glorify thug life. His book is autobiography, non-fiction; thug literature, ghetto lit, refers to fiction--works of the imagination.
In Manchild, Brown describes the gangs and street life he actually experienced, portraying what violent and criminal activities he and his young cohorts engaged in because they were rebellious and/or lacked constructive direction from adults.
Brown dedicates his book to Eleanor Roosevelt because, as I recall, she was instrumental in establishing the reform school he was "sentenced" to as a juvenile delinquent. The perils of gang life, undirected youth, reform, redemption, the need for government and society to provide the resources to help youth live up to their potential, these are the overarching messages in Manchild. Ghetto lit -- the few I have read or read through -- doesn't point the way out of that life; it resigns itself to living within the gang and violent street life, perhaps only escaping in death.
Ironic you mention Manchild because I decided a few days ago to re-read it after about 35 years.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
This afternoon I sat in on a webinar that focused on the impact of independent publishers on the U.S. book market. Jamie Carter, a representative from the data group Publisher Alley (a division of the pre-eminent book wholesaler Baker & Taylor) talked about sales trends among books produced by independent publishers. One trend she noted was that sales were ranked high enough among urban fiction to make it a top-selling category among independent publishers on the Baker & Taylor list (for the period between Sept 2008 through June 2010.) Carter said the fact that urban fiction titles ranked highly on the Baker & Taylor list showed that it has potential in traditional venues.
Carter went on to say that she had heard anecdotally that urban fiction, also known as "thug literature," was popular, especially in the New York area, and that a lot of it is sold from the trunks of cars. Urban fiction is underserved by traditional publishers and represents an opportunity for market expansion, Carter said, to my dismay.
This news from Baker & Taylor adds to my disappointment with the abundant representation of urban fiction booksellers at the HBF, which I will blog about on a later post. I am still sorting my thoughts out about the enthusiasm I could feel by seeing so many Black writers and publishers entering the industry, on the one hand, versus the discomfort with the quality of the content and morality of the story lines of their books, on the other hand. Or am I just judging books by their covers? No, I have read a few of these books. I am struggling with my own extreme points of view as profound as, "judge not lest ye also be judged" versus "this has got to stop!" Leaning towards "this has got to stop." What do you think?
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Monday, July 19, 2010
Williams was on point when he said that we need to provide young people with the history and give them the love and support to take the baton in activism; Joseph was clear in saying that President Obama is connected to the Black Power movement; however, he can't be held accountable as an activist, such as Malcolm X--he is not an activist, but he can be held accountable in his role as president.
Many props to Gloria J. Browne-Marshall in particular for asking how will we know how much justice is available if we don't read The Constitution to find out what is possible, what is afforded to us as citizens. Browne-Marshall said we need to take the criminal justice system apart; how much justice do we have? Think about it, she said: "I certainly don't have enough!"
Sorry the promoted booksigning after the discussion didn't come off. Where were the books?
Couldn't find Browne-Marshall but did catch (pictured above) Yohuru Williams, Black Politics/White Power: Civil Rights, Black Power and the Black Panthers in New Haven and Peniel Joseph and his book, Dark Days, Bright Nights: From Black Power to Barack Obama. Met Yohuru when he was promoting his book in New Haven a few years ago--good brother.
Friday, July 16, 2010
Check back with us at the end of the day tomorrow -- Now Rise Books will run a special sale for HBF attendees--and anyone who orders our books online by midnight, Monday, July 19th!
Look for us at the Harlem Book Fair tomorrow! Have a great day!
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
|Maya Angelou (DevotionReader Copyright 2009)|
"The tales they tell sound just like lying" is a line from, "When I Think About Myself." I read the eight words intellectually, but in my head I heard Aunt Thelma perform them with attitude. I heard her draw out the word, "tales," in two or three beats longer than it routinely takes to speak that word, then at the end of the line her voiceover bleated out the words, "just like lying," in three overemphasized beats like James Brown's horn section at the end of a number. Aunt Thelma's personality, already submerged inside me, had taken over my reading of the poem. I knew it was her because I was too reserved as a teenager to show out like that.
I wondered, "did Maya Angelou know Aunt Thelma?" How could she have so faithfully transcribed Aunt Thelma's personal style into these poems?
Not too long after thinking intently about this, I realized that Maya Angelou was not transcribing just my aunt. Ms. Angelou had captured a certain personality, a certain cultural sensibility present in the Black community, especially as expressed by some women, and one that could be traced from the South, to the North to the West, and even across generations. And this was an important revelation for me because it was the first time I recognized that my family, the persons in my family, were part of a living and dynamic cultural fabric, and that by virtue of that connection, we, the Parker family, were not only an individual unit but in some way we typified and exemplified some of the traditions and cultural norms of Black Americans.
From that time on I read history and literature with an understanding that some of what I was reading about Black folks could be found in the stories or expressions of members of my family, and that I could learn some of these things by just by sitting around the kitchen table listening to my grandmother, my mother and my aunts talking. I felt connected to a society whose outlines I had not seen so clearly before, threads of my African American cultural heritage connected directly to my family. It was powerful; it gave me a sense of belonging. I felt that the commonality in my culture was an inheritance.
Since that time I have even more deeply valued the power of literature and history to contribute to learning about myself and my culture, and how I am linked with other African Americans and Black folks dynamically across the Diaspora. The history and literature also gives me a background and platform to discuss experiences with folks of other races, and from which to find understanding even if our experiences are different. That is what I gained when I found something that was familiar to my own life while reading a book.
Monday, July 12, 2010
Friday, July 9, 2010
Today, the attitude of contempt toward Blacks lingers among many White people. That was the context on January 1, 2009 in Oakland, California, that allowed White policeman Johannes Mehserle to pull his gun and shoot to kill a Black man, Oscar Grant, who was lying prone on the ground surrounded by Mehserle and other policemen. To compound the injustice, the all White jury propped up Mehserle's lame excuse that he thought he was firing his taser gun instead of his department issued weapon.
That excuse is blatant disrespect for the law--it says the law (as well as common sense and any professional self-respect on Mehserle's part) is void where it may result in a penalty against a White person for assaulting a Black person. That excuse echoes the sentiment expressed by (Supreme Court Justice) Roger B. Taney in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case, 1857, in which Taney said Black people were of an "inferior order" so much so that "they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect." Taney's opinion promotes anarchy as it relates to Black people in America.
But what shall we do about it today?
Cut out the buffoonery that we waste time consuming from the radio and tv and the movies, and give our children a clearer idea of what they are up against, for one. Also, in our homes, communities and churches, teach them the legacy of dignity, self-determination and achievement modeled by Tubman, Delany, Douglass, Truth and others during the dreadful period of enslavement. Our children must know that we didn't take it without protest. We must maintain the same attitude of agitation against injustice today in order to combat residual notions of Black inferiority.
Of course, it is not easy; the history is painful to recall. But living through those periods was not easy either, and many thousands gone did what they had to do in order to move succeeding generations that much closer to achieving economic opportunity and and social equality.
Face the truth of our past, and the wretched condition we lived under due to the wretched moral state of the people who oppressed us. But also, glean the inspiring stories about our struggle; raise those as our standard, and let's make more inspiring achievements to motivate the generations coming after us.
That's the greater aim I have in establishing Now Rise Books, to see improvement in our present state and greater possibilities for our people to live holistically sound lives, even if the social climate does not improve. I believe the social climate will improve, actually, as Black folks look at our past squarely, call it what it was, and begin to heal from the past. I know of at least one grassroots effort, the Community Healing Network, that is dedicated to bringing about that healing among Black people--check them out on Facebook.
Finally, the poet Margaret Walker called us out on a lot of our "stuff" in her poem, "For My People," but near the end of the poem, she sums up Black folks' well-meaning struggle as one rooted in the concept of social equality, to improve not only our own lot but also "to fashion a world that wiil hold all the people all the faces all the adams and eves and their countless generations..." (emphasis mine).
In the last verse, Ms. Walker issued a call to action that I took to heart and that has laid the foundation of what I am doing as a bookseller and writer encouraging our folks to learn our history. Walker wrote:
"Let a new earth rise. Let another world be born. Let a bloody peace by written in the sky. Let a second generation full of courage issue forth, let a people loving freedom come to growth, let a beauty full of healing and strength of final clenching be the pulsing in our spirits and our blood. Let the martial songs be written, let the dirges disappear. Let a race of men now rise and take control!"
Thursday, July 8, 2010
I love books that fit across a diverse spectrum of genres and periods, and I especially find my interests satisfied by the tremendous selection of used books available. I sell used books. You can view my Now Rise Books storefront on Amazon.com
In fact, I started bookselling about 20 years ago by pulling titles from my own home library to sell at fundraisers for church and at a community college where I taught. I was delighted by the many readers who came to my table and were thrilled to pick up old favorites they had not seen in years, such as Manchild in the Promised Land, Native Son and A Hero Ain't Nothin' But A Sandwich.
I was smitten by the bug to sell used books for the sheer joy of seeing folks reconnect with ideas that had represented a meaningful experience for them through the written word. I kept selling at venues for a while, then a few years ago, officially established Now Rise Books to sell "new and quality used Black books." I am a diehard bibliophile, and can buy a book in almost any condition, but I know not everyone wants to. So, in my business, I stipulate "quality used books" which I define as a book whose condition should not obstruct its capability to be read.
"Hello?" you say. Have I noticed a few developments in the book world, such as e-books and e-readers? Yes, I have. Perhaps the handwriting is on the screen, so-to-speak, and the shelf life of a tangible used book is limited more today than ever before. I don't know; do you? Tell me what you know.
As you get familiar with this space (and I hope you will), you'll notice that Now Rise Books blog reflects my longtime interest in the history and literature of African Americans, and the history and literary contributions of African descendants in the Caribbean, in Great Britain and France, in particular. Love the historians and cultural commentators, Lerone Bennett Jr., John Henrik Clarke, Asa Hilliard, Paula Giddings, Cheik Anta Diop, and loved being introduced to and reading Drusilla Dunjee Houston.
Some writers whose works I revere are James Baldwin, also Langston Hughes, Robert Hayden, and Gwendolyn Brooks--yes I am drawn to poetry.
There are many more writers, editors and publishers who have my deep interests, as well, such as Arna Bontemps, Dorothy Porter and Arnold Adoff; Naomi Long Madgett, Haki Madhubuti, Peniel Joseph, Annette Gordon Reed; Black Classic Press and Beacon Press; Random House and Regnery; Janice E. Hale-Benson, Jim Haskins and Just Us Books, to name just a few.
My other reading interests include literary criticism, British writers such as Thomas Hardy, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Henry James; Romantic poets, Coleridge and Keats; books on writing, especially non-fiction, journalism and public relations writing; biography/autobiography and children's books!! I pick up old readers, you know, published by Ginn, Scott Foresman, and earlier series, too, like the McGuffey's readers. I am especially interested in how books impact our society, shape our cultural attitudes, particularly texts in the classroom. Serious issue for me.
I'll keep commenting here on my bookselling, on publishing, and discussions with readers. I invite you to read, respond to my comments, pose questions, share your perspectives on books and their impact on you and our world.
Talk to you later...