Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Black History Month: Black Authors

 The photography contains the following authors/titles:
(the stars indicate newly discovered black authors )
Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Walter Dean, Myers, Monster
Olaudah Equiano, The Life of Olaudah Equiano *
Christopher Paul Curtis, Bud, Not Buddy
Andrea Levy, Small Island*
Margaret Cezair – Thompson, The Pirate’s Daughter
Gloria Naylor, The Women of Brewster Place
Ben Okri, the famished road *
Donald McRae, In Black & White *
Zadie Smith, White Teeth*
Toni Cade Bambara, Gorilla, My Love
Toni Morrison, Beloved
Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye
Alice Walker, The Colour Purple
Jacqueline Woodson, The House You Pass on the Way
L.A. Banks, The Awakening *
L.A. Banks, The Hunted *
L.A. Banks, Minion *
Charlotte Williams, Sugar and Slate  *
Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes were Watching God
Ishmael Beah, a long way gone  *
Wes Moore, The Other Wes Moore

Out of the 21 books I have listed here I have read 9. Some of the authors I'm familiar with others I haven't encountered before. One of the very first books I read by a black author was Toni Morrison's Beloved and I loved it. I remember to this way that it was a very powerful book and because the book was lent to me I purchased my own copy to have and go back to. I found Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a very moving and very touching read. It is an autobiography and I think this is one of the many reasons it is such a powerful and emotional read. It follows Maya throughout her life and there are many many emotional, hard and difficult moments in the book. Even if you aren't the type of person that usually reads autobiography I advice that you break your own rules for this one but this is a must read. I recently read The Other Wes Moore, which is another very moving account of the two very different lives of two black males in America. For me this book is a modern classic and I think that Moore has done a stellar job in illustrating a very brutal reality. One name and two fates - A story of tragedy and hope. This encapsulates the story as the two Wes's inhabit two different ends of the spectrum - one goes to prison for life and the other becomes a Rhodes Scholar. As Wes in the introduction states, "The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his" and indeed this is the reality. They were both from Baltimore and shared similar histories but come to live drastically different lives and what Wes is saying is simply is that they he could have been in prison and the other Wes could have gone on to be a scholar. This book explores the reality they faced which lead them to where they are. It is a very moving book so again I urge you to go and read this book.

If non-fiction and autobiography aren't your cups of tea then worry not. Zora Neale Hurston's Their Eyes were Watching God, is an amazing book. Janie the book's protagonist is independent, strong and resilient - I absolutely love her. It is a powerful story that shows Janie's quest for love and also her search identity. This book is another that falls into the category of a modern classic. In another very different genre is Myers's novel Monster, which is a book for young adult but it is one of those books that no matter what age you are you can read and enjoy. It is a very relevant and powerful read. The protagonist is Steve, a young black male (16 years) who's in jail and the book focus not only on his experience but also the unfairness/injustice of the system of law. It isn't surprising that it has received an award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature and been a finalist of the National Book Award. I love this book and I'm going to read it again this February. In the genre of young adult fiction is Jacqueline Woodson's The House You Pass on the Way, but it deals with very different issues. The book deals with Staggerlee's identity struggle and her attraction to girls. This is another great book especially because it deals with issues which are significant but need even more attention and exploration.

As I make my way through the newly discovered authors I'll be posting an update :) .

This is a directory of black owned book stores http://huria.org/bookstores/ that you can support.  They have mortar and you can search by state and this is the link for the online stores http://huria.org/booksites/index.php  online stores could ship to your country if not usa but I'm not sure of the cost.

February: Black History Month

February has arrived and with it Black History Month has too.

Through out this month I will be celebrating and honoring Black History in a variety of different ways such as books by black authors, art, culture, history and black owned businesses. Books are my conform zone and I'm familiar with numerous black authors however I want to discover and learn more. This brings me into my second point which is that for me Black History month is as much about learning and discovery as about honoring, celebrating and recognizing black history and excellence as well. The learning and discovering I'm referring to is about the people, the events and the history that isn't in the history books but which exists out in society. I already have in mind some people I'll blog about but I want find out more. My aim is to discover as much as I can and blog about it so I can spread the achievements of black people.

Also I'll also be celebrating the month through cooking. The first thing dish will use Reggae Reggae sauce (by Levi Roots) to make probably jerk chicken or chicken wings.

For those interested in the recipe here it is http://www.leviroots.com/recipes/easy-jerk-chicken/
The sauce was purchased from Asda for £1.49. I'm sure it is widely available so can be purchased at other shops.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Remembering the Holocaust.

Today marks the 70th anniversary of Auschwitz. I want to mark the day in my own way and I want to do so by introducing you to Art Spiegelman's graphic novels Maus and Maus II. The writer himself is a son of a Holocaust survivor and he writes his family story.  He writers a wonderful story. I think that it shouldn't be a narrative to be disregarded because literature has the ability to change and impact the imagination. I want to share my experience of this book because it had a huge impact on me when I read it. It wasn't like reading an article or hearing the news. It was about the small detail and the feelings of the characters.

The book depicts the Jews as mice and it's not hard to see why he does so - the living conditions they have to endure, they have to be quiet/secretive and they are prey not predator. The Nazi's are depicted as cats and this already places them in the position of predator without the involvement of language at all.

One of the most powerful moments in the book is The Prisoner of Hell. The style changes and this is the first moment in the book that the character's become human. This is the moment when Anna Zylberberg, Artie's mum commits suicide. For me this was a very intense moment. Artie speech bubble says, "In 1968 my mother killed herself...She left no note." This hit me really hard. After all the suffering she had suffered at the camps and having made it to liberation but only to kill herself in the end. The second part of the quote evokes so much emotion, so much meaning - of course after everything she had seen and been through she wouldn't leave a note - it was just all to much in the end. The absent note just signifies that.

This book shows us, the reader the impact of the Holocaust not just on the survivor but the son of a survivor and how he's life has been affected. In this graphic novel he himself comes to terms with what has happened to his family and coming to terms with his own history. He has a difficult and somewhat estranged relationship with his dad and how to tries to get on with his life and how he tries to bring his past and present together.

Spiegelman's graphic novel does a brilliant job. This novel is aimed at a young adult audience but it  reaches far beyond this. It is a book for all ages. I think it important to remember the Holocaust and this book does not only this but it enables readers from a young age to learn about Auschwitz and understand. It is through education that that readers can learn about this moment in history and make sure that it is not forgotten.

If you have not read this book I urge you to do so.

I know that finances can be a problem but there are accessible ways to get this book - for example going to the library, trying to see if your library has it available as an ebook, half price books (usa), if worldofbooks on ebay (uk) that sell 2nd hand books as well.

My New Year.

I can proudly say that it's not yet even the end of the month and I've read a non-fiction book - which is called The Other Wes by Wes Moore. The book tells a really powerful story. If you have a chance do read it. I'm also on my way to nearly finishing the book with a number in the title which is Thirteen Reasons Why - this is a young adult fiction novel. I discovered while browsing and so far it is a really fantastic read. The narrative keeps twisting and turning. I can't tell where it will go. That's one of the many reasons why I would say it's such a powerful narrative. Another reason why I'd say it is very poignant is that having had suicidal thoughts when I was a teenager and help total hopelessness I can understand the narrator. I feel her. I understand her. So already I've got 2 ticked off.  I've started the new year also ordering myself a bunch of personal reading books - not ones related to my university reading and this is very refreshing. Vivian versus the Apocalypse has already arrived. I haven't started it yet. Waiting on The Short and Tragic Life of Robert Peace, Port Chicago 50, Authority and Acceptance ( part of the Far Reach Trilogy). 
Moving on from my bookish resolutions my second resolution is to start working out and become more fit. I'm signing up tomorrow and I'll aim to go about 3 to 4 times a week. I'll have to update you on how this is going. This resolution is difficult for me because I need to get it done while I'm on campus and it's not something I can do while I feel like it. 

My last resolution is to drink more water. This I can do at my own leisure. It's more then a resolution its about changing my habit and just being more hydrated. 

These are my resolutions. I think its important to have them - no matter how small or how big, It's about progress. I always want to keep active and this resolutions are exactly about that. Yes part of it is to do with the new year but mostly it's personal. I don't want to set myself tasks I'll never achieve but tasks that I can progress through and develop as a person. 

I look forward to all the new things this 2015 year will bring. I hope you are too! :)

I know I know I've been away.

Schools been really time consuming.

I've been working for about 5 hours a day

 for last seven days

this week about 10

 I'm very tired.

my eyes are tired of the screen 

I've been keeping up with life.

I've been keeping up with the events of the world.

Leelah, the black lives matter movement

Charlie Hebdo, racism,

seeing people in need on go fund me

desperate need of help

that little bit extra

i've not had time

to let my mind


to close my eyes

let my body soak everything up

to write a poem

to breathe knowing

there's no deadline waiting

now once again its late

tomorrow more work