Arts Summit Revives SW Community

There are no pews in this darkened sanctuary. Atop the booming pulpit, a DJ spins a sampled sermon for the head-nodding congregation, colored in sweeping orange and yellow spotlights, the few among them kicking MF Doom lyrics the way a disciplined believer spits scripture. The revival on the second floor is fitting for hiphop’s holy […]

Curtis Crisler: Migration of a Latchkey Boy

Curtis Crisler’s unnamed speaker is a griot of sorts. His distant kin, fleeing from Jim Crow and southern domestic terrorism, joins the 5 million African Americans who decide to roll out. But they aren’t the first to do so. Others left before them during the first Great Migration (1910 to 1930), which swept two-thirds of 1.6 million […]

Blackbird Poetry Festival

This time of year, Poetry gets a lot of attention from the mainstream public. News organizations around the country that would otherwise snub her appearance play paparazzi, recording her whereabouts and goings-on. Thousands of businesses and non-profits celebrate her vital place in American culture through readings and festivals, through book displays and workshops. And for […]

Monica Hand’s *me and Nina*

Farmington, MA: Alice James Books, 2012. 78 pages. $15.95. The world continues to remember Nina Simone (formerly Eunice Kathleen Waymon) as a storyteller through songs, whose body of work created a legacy of compassion, empowerment and liberation. At the time of Simone’s death on April 21, 2003, she was already among the 20th century’s most […]

Makalani Bandele’s *Hellfightin*

Detroit, MI: Willow Books, 2012. 65 pages. $14.95. There’s a lot of music in Makalani Bandele’s debut Hellfightin (Willow Books, 2012). The title’s a subtle bow to the Harlem Hellfighters (or the 369th Infantry Regiment) that fought in both world wars I and II. As the first African-American regiment to serve with the American Expeditionary […]

Get Ready For Split This Rock!

I don’t know about the other attendees, but I’m still swooning from Jan Beatty’s reading at Split This Rock 2010. That year marked the second time for the biennial literary festival that Sarah Browning started as a way of providing a “permanent home for progressive poets.” Since it started in 2008, Split This Rock has […]

Shameless Plug

Drift (Willow Books, 2012) is now available. Order it from Small Press Distribution or get it directly from me: Praise for Drift: “Tender and tough, the poems in Alan King’s wonderful debut book of poems, Drift, reveal the cities of memory, love and friendship with the precise and caring eye of a poet deeply invested […]