My other pen is poetry. The first time I read at an open mic was in Harlem’s legendary Frank Silvera Workshop. I had just begun teaching writing to young incarcerated males on Rikers Island and was introducing them to names like Sonya Sanchez, Amiri Baraka, Ntozake Shange, Wole Soyinka and other wordsmiths I studied during my undergraduate years at CCNY. And in turn, they introduced me to the new generation of jalis who we now know as KRS-ONE, Tupac Shakur, Lauryn Hill, Mos Def, The Roots, Chuck D, Talib Kweli; and still keeping the focus on community, Kendrick Lamar.
Mention my name at Sister’s Bookstore and Café, and you’ll hear stories of me and other local griots harmonizing through word. You can also find me in the very first issue of J Journal – New Writing on Justice of John Jay College (CUNY); Durham Center for Documentary Studies; and Chicken Bones, the coolest on-line pan-African think tank. Whether it takes three pages to say it or one word says it all, the human expression on paper and in art form allows us to continue the tradition of interpreting the complexities and contradictions of life, and of the self.