Mom Friendly, I Swear!

I got a google alert today letting me know that somebody was blogging about me. I must say those little notices warm my heart. I happily clicked the link to find that The Shelf Life was commenting on the fact that “50 States of Literature” picked Leaving Atlanta as the best of Georgia.
Then, I looked more closely and saw what she had written. I would be lying if if I didn’t say it didn’t hurt my feelings a litle bit. The long of the short of it is that she didn’t approve of the choice. I would still be whimpering if she was basing this on having read the book, but her objection was that she just didn’t like the description. She even asks readers for other suggestions of what better represents Georgia. “As a mom” she doesn’t think she could stomach my book.
Sigh.

Posted in The Writing Life | 5 Comments

That Crazy Lady is Me

There are moments as we get older that we realize that we have become an archetype. I have more than one friend who has realised that is a crazy cat lady. Way too many of us have turned into our mothers. Today, in my undergraduate class, I was shocked to discover that I was that overly-passionate English teacher.
We were reading “Never Marry A Mexican” by Sandra Cisneros. (It’s anthologized everywhere, but can be found in Woman Hollering Creek.) What a fantastic story. I had forgotten how brilliant it is. It’s easy to sleep on Cisneros. House On Mango Street was so over-exposed and more than one slacker student has tried to use it as an excuse not to learn how to write a fully fleshed out story. But “Never Marry A Mexican.” Pure literary gold. Just mind blowing.
It was supposed to be a group discussion, with me gently leading the way, but I couldn’t help reading whole pages aloud. I got so worked up, I had to take off my school-marm cardigan. “Can you feel her phrasing? Listen to those verbs! Do you get the double meaning there! Gorgeous. Just gorgeous.” I knew I had crossed a line when I closed the book and clutched it to my sweaty little chest and shut my eyes in bliss. When I opened them, students looked at me, and then at each other with little smirks and then just looked a little embarrassed.
I felt old. I also felt alive and jazzed about writing, about life, about the book I am working on. About teaching. About everything.

Posted in Bookshelf | 5 Comments

Round Midnight Links

  • Melanie Jones of The Columbia Spectator is such a peach!
  • The Hurston/Wright Foundation has extended the deadline for the workshops for highschool students.
  • If you want to go to AWP next year, reserve your room now. You can cancel for up to a week before the event without penalty. Go ahead, don’t wait. The last thing you want is to be at some boot-leg, non-affiliated hotel, 8 blocks away. This is FEBRUARY in Chicago. You want to be able to get from the bar to your bed without going outside.
  • I know that we are all very serious intellectual types so I won’t mention Star Jones’s divorce.
  • Posted in Travels & Rambles | Comments Off

    Poetry Up-South!

    To celebrate National Poetry Month,
    Cave Canem presents:
    The Ringing Ear Poets at New York University
    19 University Place,
    First Floor Auditorium,
    New York, New York
    Featuring
    Alvin Aubert, Randall Horton,
    Kamilah Aisha Moon, Mendi Obadike
    and Gwen Samuels.

    Posted in Living For The City | Comments Off

    Product Placement?

    I am not even sure what to make of this. Well, that’s not true. I know what I think about it. But then again, there are some writers I respect on this list. So good grief. Here’s the deal:
    Galleycat reported today that Lexus is paying writers to write short stories that make their cars look good. (Perhaps they should give back-pay to a lot of urban-lit authors that have that territory covered. And they could send a few checks to a few rappers I could name. And what about Chrissette Michele? “Be OK” is my jam.) But anyway, I was surprised to see a number of serious writers on the list. I actually know a couple of them, so maybe I could send an email and ask what gives? From where I am sitting, it reminds me of this article I blogged about back in 2005. Apparently the pharmaceutical companies were paying writers to create thrillers that would scare people from buying drugs from Canada. And Lexus is hiring writers to make thier product look good, look smart, look hip.
    I was trying not to go there– with the nation trying to heal and every thing– but it seems that irony is already embedded in this post. The urban-lit writers and rappers (and lovely Chrissette)who already say such nice things about the Lexus brand don’t get any love from the company. I couldn’t help but take another look at the list of artists whose endorsement the company will pay for. They are from a whole other world entirely.

    Posted in Current Events | 4 Comments

    Go, Michael, Go!

    Our very own Michael Fischer has been accepted into the Ph.D. in Creative Writing at Western Michigan University with a teaching fellowship! He’s a great writer, a fantastic teacher, and a hang-in-there kind of person. I’m so proud of you, Michael. Spend the summer celebrating yourself and in the fall, carry yourself to Michigan and write that book!

    Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

    Feeling a Little Bit Weird Today? Me too.

  • Bert and Cookie Monster were created by the same puppeteer. He thinks of them as two sides of the human psyche. You know, Bert so uptight and Cookie Monster letting it all hang out.
  • This is a gramatically correct sentence in the English Language: “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.” Prestwick hipped me to it and (thank heavens) Mental Floss explains it.
  • I don’t know why I can’t stop watching this train wreck. But alternet got thier hands on a copy of Love and Consequences and gives a quick and dirty critique.
  • I still have laryngitis. I am going to have to teach my classes by pantomime. And Day-Quil is making me loopy.
  • graphic nicked from Miami Milestones.
  • Posted in Travels & Rambles | Comments Off

    What is A Southern Voice?

    Manuel, Tayari, Silas and Lee

    Listen to me, Silas House and Lee Smith at the Key West Literary Seminars as we wrestle with the topic!

    Posted in Bookshelf | 2 Comments

    Fantastic Things Are Happening

    to people who read this blog!

  • Jelani Cobb won the race for delegate in the 5th congressional district and he will be representing it as a committed Barack Obama delegate at the convention in Denver. (Y’all rememeber Jelani, right?)
  • Sarah Schulman has been elected as a Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities at New York University.
  • Shelley Ettinger won a summer residency from the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. (I had never heard of it, but now I want to apply!)
  • Camille Dungy’s second book of poems will be published by Red Hen Press in 2010.
  • Sibongible Lynch is doing her first reading at Clayton State University as part of the launching party for the literary journal, The Cygnet. (They’re publishing two of her poems and a short story.)
  • Dolen Perkins-Valdez will have her first novel, Wench, published by HarperCollins!

    Got more news? Tell me about it!

  • Posted in The Writing Life | Comments Off

    My Publicist, My Friend

    Lauren Cerand and Tayari Jones

    What a lovely day! I slept in and then headed to the Cornelia Street Cafe to meet with my friend/publicist, Lauren Cerand. We talked about the exciting projects she’s working on, and we reminisced about the great events we did when we were working together. She gave me advice about my career and my life, while allowing me little peeks into the fabulousness that is the world of a young successful publicista. (As per usual, I learned a new term: “exy”. It means expensive.) I left the lunch happy– Lauren and I actually ate our food. We are not the NY types that go to lunch and just lick our cell phones for sustenance. We did damage to our steak and potatoes, a little wine, and a brownie sundae for desert. But the point of this post is that I walked away ready to work on my novel-in-progress. Why? Because I am so ready to work with Lauren again!

    Posted in Living For The City | Comments Off