You’re Invited To The Launch Party

It’s time to celebrate another year of great southern writing. Join us at Idlewild Books in Union Square (NYC). I’ll read my very short story, “Some Thing Blue” and then we’ll get our wine and cheese on!

Tuesday, September 8, at 7pm.

Posted in Travels & Rambles | 1 Comment

Shall We Go To The Theatre?

This is a great theatre season in NYC. Sarah Schulman has steered me to a bumper crop of new plays written by writers of color. If you are in NYC, please go out to support at least one of these events. (Full disclosure: I am only just now taking my trifling self to see Ruined, so I’m not judging. I’m merely urging.)
Here’s what’s coming up.

  • A Boy And His Soul by Coleman Domingo. Vineyard Theatre: 9/9-10/18
  • The Night Watcher by Charlayne Woodard. Primary Stages: 9/22-10/31
  • The River Crosses Rivers: Thirteen Short Plays by Women of Color. (Yes, I said 13!). Ensemble Studio Theatre: 9/9-9/27
  • Fela! is back. Public Theatre, 10/19-
  • The Brother/Sister Plays, Part 1 and Part 2 (World Premiere)
    By Tarell Alvin McCraney. Public Theatre 10/21-12/13

  • Povenance of Beauty by Claudia Rankine. Foundry Theratre: 9/5-10/25
  • Snake (World Premiere)by Susan-Lori Parks. Public Theatre 3/2-4/4
  • Posted in Bookshelf | 2 Comments

    Another Reason To Write

    This is DailyLit Forums’ question of the week:

    Along the lines of life imitating art/art imitating life, which book(s) seem to resemble your life?

    A simple question but it left me stumped. Alice Walker famously said that Their Eyes Were Watching God was the first book she ever read that featured a brown-skinned heroine. Walker is talking about the thrilling shock of recognition that comes about when you read about a character who looks like you. I think it’s time to take it to the next level. I want to read a novel about a character that lives like me.
    It’s time to write it.

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    Nikki, You Will Be Missed Links

    Nikki Harris

    Originally uploaded by kleopatrjones
  • RIP Nikki Harris– poet, blogger, ATLien. There are many loving tributes at The House of Ladylee.
  • Verve Press is selling their lovely chapbooks on etsy.
  • It’s not just us. Entertainment Weekly loves Nichelle Tramble, too!
  • When can you write about your kids?
  • Joy is compiling an anthology about writing about family.
  • Bat Boy and other assorted aliens have been rescued by Google Books!
  • There will be a sit-com about the publishing industry. (I’m glad SOMEBODY can laugh about it.)
  • When to use THAT and when to use WHICH.
  • Hey fiction writers, nobody is pirating your books. Poets either.
  • An open letter to Tyler Perry, with love and respect. But really, Tyler. Really.
  • To quote Bob Marley; “Stolen from Africa, brought to America” to work in hair braiding salons???
  • Why I love my job.
  • Short fiction– SciFi by people of color!
  • Oxford American has its Southern Issue out. (Why this blog not listed under Blogs by Southern Writers? I am as southern as a biscuit!)
  • A teacher decided that, instead of telling students what to read, she let them tell her what to teach.
  • Not literary, but this story from New Orleans blew my mind.
  • Accelerated Reading” software turns reading into a form of grade-grubbing.
  • Dani Shapiro says sometimes it’s good for writers to do nothing.
  • Reading Rainbow was after my time, but I am sad to see it go.
  • Joy Castro steered me to this lovely and moving essay about a woman who forces herself to remember the past.
  • Posted in Links | 1 Comment

    Katrina: The Blood Dazzler

    Four years ago, this week, Hurricaine Katrina devastated New Orleans and this entire nation. In this video Patricia Smith reads from her award winning poetry collection, Blood Dazzler.

    Posted in Bookshelf | 1 Comment

    2 Hours. You Can Do It.

    A good friend and lovely writer called me yesterday in tears. She’s an adjunct professor at several local universities. She teaches a class here, a class there, and a class somewhere else, all just to make ends meet. “When am I supposed to write?” She asked.
    My answer to her is really simple– 2 hours a week. I know that seems like not enough time to do anything, but it is. It’s not enough time to finish your novel or book of poems in record time, but it’s enough time to keep you moving toward your goal. Consistency is key. Carve the time out the way you would make time for a yoga class. Or, if you are a people pleaser: Carve the time out the way you would if it was something for someone else. Then, find a place to work. You can use your own home, but if you have a lot of people to answer to, leave your cell phone behind and go to the public library for two hours a week. If you can’t do that, maybe you have to transform your lunch hour on Monday and Wednesday to your writing hour. (And to be real– in lieu of watching True Blood and The Real Housewives of Atlanta, you can write your book. Let NeNe and them babysit your family while you handle your business.)
    Two hours is not so much time that you would need to reorder your life, but it is enough time to keep your project alive. It’s enough time that you won’t be discouraging yourself by saying “I’m not getting anything done!” (A vicious cycle: You get depressed because you’re not working,and then you don’t work because you’re depressed.)Also, I believe that once you hit your stride with the two hours a week, the story (or poem) will sometimes ask you for more time, and you will find a way to provide it.

    Posted in Writing | 5 Comments

    Thank You Senator Links

    The Lion is Gone

    Originally uploaded by jezblog on Flickr
  • Good bye Senator. You did your work, now take your rest.
  • It’s a great week be a Sagittarius.
  • Excellent artsy pics from Bread Loaf. (thx Eduardo)
  • An editor tells agents to chill, and an agent responds.
  • I don’t know why, but stories about teenage authors make me feel weird, like seeing a six year old in eye shadow.
  • Tenure track gig in fiction.
  • JCO does not want us to forget Ted Kennedy’s dark past.
  • 25 indie films for fall.
  • Bernice MacFadden talks about writers working together.
  • The “Queen of Redneck Noir” shot her father in the derriere.
  • Why I love The Color Purple. (You’ll have to scroll a little for my entry.)
  • Dear Mr. Obama, next summer will you pretty pretty please put some women and people of color on your list?
  • Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off

    Poolside Recs?

    So, me and my friend Vickie, are taking a vacation– a Mediterranean Cruise to be exact. This will be my first real vacation in more than ten years. I know that I travel all the time, but the closest I have come to a vacation is going away to work a novel. The key word there is “work” and if it’s work, it ain’t a vacation.
    Our sail date is in about two weeks and I want to gather up a couple of books to read by the pool. Although I love ToMo, I am not in the mood for a close re-reading of Beloved. Chillaxing with a sangria, I want to read something juicy! My summer time tastes leans toward mystery and thriller. Romance, not so much. (I think this because having never murdered anyone, I am not struck by how unrealistic the mysteries are. When it comes to romance, I have a little bit more experience, if you know what I mean.) I’m also down to read zany memoirs.
    I have only one book on my list, so far. That’s HOLLYHOOD by Valerie Joyner because I love her book trailers! What else should I take with me?

    Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments

    The R-O-X-A-N-N-E Links

  • Call her Dr. Roxanne Shante! And even better, she sued Warner Records for back royalities that financed her education! (Here’s a video of Roxanne back in the day!)
  • Give us free! Sketches drawn of the Amistad prisoners as they awaited trail. (link via Light Reading)
  • A rare unicorn: A tenure track poetry gig in NYC.
  • Writers block at the end of a manuscript is perfectly normal. (And perfectly maddening.)
  • Obama’s beach reads. Too bad Mr. Obama didn’t take Doug Seibold’s reccomendation for what the POTUS should read.
  • New York Magazine’s fall list.
  • Good news: The Dodge Poetry Festival is back on!
  • Kim Chinquee talks about the difference between short fiction and flash fiction.
  • Saeed has found the wonderfullust ToMo quote ever.
  • You all know I have a complicated view of Karrine Steffans. Well the most famous “video vixen” has a new book out and Slate makes some interesting observations.
  • Not literaty but very disturbing: Costco removes “Lil Monkey” dolls from the shelves.
  • Vonnegut’s advice is still good. (I especially like his advice to write in your own voice.)
  • Book inspired foods. (So weird you have to click.)
  • A-Z list of guests of the Bat Segundo Show.
  • How amazon makes it’s sales ranking list.
  • Old school fan mail.
  • Posted in Links | Comments Off

    Is That Why You Can’t Talk?

    An off-the-cuff status update on facebook has given me a whole new level of respect for the writers of memoirs. Yesterday, I wrote “Tayari is thinking of writing a memoir.” And this was true. I was thinking about it. Just turning the idea over in my head. Most of the responses were positive, although one person begged me not to give up on fiction. Then two other people put their two- cents in. MY PARENTS.
    My mom said “wonderful” at first. My father joked that as the daddy, he gets to make final edits. (I knew he was only half kidding.) And then a couple of days later, my mom sent me a txt that I should wait until after she is dead. (Another half-joke.) And this is about a book I haven’t even decided to write yet!
    It’s funny how much just a little bit of (friendly, joking, why-do-you-have-to-take-everything-so serious) family pressure can freeze a person up. All I could think was how glad I am that I am already through with my new novel. Although it isn’t really autobiographical, the notion of parental displeasure is a real creativity killer.
    It’s a hard place to be in. You want to write with honestly and truth, but you don’t want to hurt anyone you love. Also, you really have no idea what is going to upset them. A couple of years ago I wrote what I thought was a charming little memoir essay for the New York Times, but everyone involved was not as charmed by my remembrances. It wasn’t a big deal, but that incident knotted my stomach a little bit. I had somehow managed to offend when I hadn’t even known myself to be on sensitive ground. I can’t even imagine the landmines buried in the territory of a book-length memoir.
    Of course, all this got me to thinking about the really candid memoirs I have read. Take for example Sue William Silverman’s Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You or one of my all time faves, The Only Girl In The Car. I can’t imagine how these women would have written if they were worried about anything other than the truth. Somehow they managed to shut out all the voices.
    Sometimes, I can tell when my students don’t feel brave enough to tell the real story. Their work has a certain distracted quality. Reading it reminds of the feeling you get when you are talking to on the phone to someone who sounds really weird. Finally I ask the person, “Is there someone else in the room? Is that why you can’t talk?”

    Posted in Writing | 2 Comments