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« Hoodoo Magic: Healer, Heal Thyself | Main | Up Against the Wall in Haiti »



Arthur, peace and blessings,

You and John Maxwell are two of the sanest commenators writing today. I thank God for you brothers. There is so much propaganda and hardshell ideological posturing that it is difficult to keep up with the truth of things.

Corporate media has become so evidently an arm of government that it is sickening. There are many who hold BBC in high regard. I am not one of them, especially that version that appears on PBS. Its prejudices against non-Western leaders, states, and peoples come across worse than anything on US commercial news. The reporting I have seen on Haiti and Zimbawe is exceedingly distasteful and racist.

By the way, I have begun to read your Vietnam novel. Another wonderful piece of writing. Like the early Tucept, I am still trying to get my mind around the Hoodoo thing. I am from the southern VA/northern North Carolina cultural region -- it has its roots doctors. My favorite as you may recall is Jim Jordan.

Hopefully, it won't be long before I get to your Mojo Rising. By then I think I will be informed enough to ask a few questions.

Thanks ever so much for keep on keeping on with your RootsBlog. What a wonderful service! Your work is a great boost and encouragement. I am steadily learning from you much about the art of writing. As ever and always, Rudy


ah rudy
my brother in struggle
my mentor in the game

my fellow traveler and
keeper of the faith

i have noticed a pattern to your comments
when you want to compliment me
you do so publically
when you want to chastize me
you do so privately

you are just too righteous for words
and i am proud to be your comrade
and fellow dogsoldier

you know what im thinking man
what we should do man is engage in
our more challenging conversations
do one of those 'conversations'things

like when you chastized me (graciously)
about my lack of understanding about haiti

of course
its difficult for me to question any position
of yours
and probably even more so publically
but what will be of most interest probably
are the points where we dont agree
on which roads lead best to timbuktu

since we trust each others hearts
hopefully it wont ever cause true distance
between us

we are both sincere seekers of the truth

in struggle


Arthur, peace and blessings,

I do not mind at all a public conversation on various topics. But I am still learning what and how to think. I was much more cocksure of what was what when I was younger. Now that my head has grown gray and my hair has begun to thin, I now find myself in a state of creative uncertainty.

The situation about Haiti was one that I had been paying attention to for months. John Maxwell emailed me a number of his columns and I had grown to trust his perspective on many international matters. Of course, it is indeed difficult to grasp fully what is happening beyond the borders of the US. But I have enough mother wit to figure out that the BBC and the usual US news broadcast are athwart of the truth of things.

There are probably a number of issues on which you have a greater certainty than I do and on which your view might indeed be the right one to have. For instance your positions on reparations and Nader are not mine, though I have great respect for your reasoning.

But neither of these subjects for me are dire and of immediate concern. I have not made an argument for reparations, though I can appreciate some of the arguments I've heard and have posted some of them on ChickenBones. Recently, I heard Minister Farrakhan on Tavis Smiley make a convincing argument in his own unique religious rhetoric which will be extended in a major address on "Savior's Day" in Chicago.

I also heard Nader speak on his candidacy for ten minutes or so in which he countered his Democratic detractors. I found his defense rather convincing, though I appreciate Diane Feinstein's objections, also.

I am not convinced that blaming Nader for the election of Mr. Bush in 2000 is very insightful of the political circumstances in the US. I still find it amazing that a presidential candidate was unable to carry his own home state and even more amazing that we still have made little or no attempts to get rid of an antiquated electoral college.

Again, the Haiti situation was a unique one. You are usually heading where I want to go. And your view even in that instance was not that far off the mark. The most outrageous position I read on Haiti was that the rebel opposition was leading a worker's revolution against the bourgeoise state. For me, such analyses is indicative of the problems and rigidity of ideological thinking.

I am about a third of the way through De Mojo Blues. Great work! What you have done and achieved by your fictional creativity is where I'd like to be. I find much more insight in those kind of works than polemics on this or that political issue. Most often I am unable to put my gut responses into coherent terms. You have positively demonstrated your artistry in that arena. So, rather, I am a student of yours. As ever and always, Rudy


hey rudy man

you know man i may sound confident of my positions but thats more technique than it is conviction
im in a costant state of uncertainty about my positions and my value

i assume whatever im saying now will embarass me in a couple of years
thats generally been the case

there are some issues that i think ive studied enough to be conversant with authority
one of which being the destiny of the blackrace
the idea of cultural custodianship
on this ive done a lot of thinking and feel like ive figured some things out that might not be apparent in the current strategies of blackfolk
so i tend to speak on the big picture with some authority but its the moves and such that i feel tentative about
im always trying to listen to the wind
and i like it when somebody clarifies things for me as you so often do

reparations, i feel like im really out of step with all my comrades on that one so i have decided not to say anything else about it

but i dont think its a strategy, its just begging and i hate blackfolk begging

i think man that my most problematic contradition for me politically is that i know i come out of the racial uplift school, and i know about the contradictions that come with that position but i cant help it

i just cant get past the conviction that we are capable of playing this hand far stronger than we do, i dont discount the systems role but i think we can outplay the system if we apply ourselves to the game so i just cant get with reparations for reasons ive said repeatedly, i just cant get with that

i hate blackfolk begging

im glad you like de mojo blues
thats where my heart is, my fiction
thats where i feel like i can really let my vision and my imagination and my magic run wild
and thats the form that most challenges me
nonfiction i can do with my eyes closed
you just work on it till its right
fiction is the only pursuit that ive ever tried that i feel like i could fail at
its never right, you just get it vaugely like the masterpiece you have in your head
and then you let it go and start on another one
and just hope that folk can see a glimpse of what you saw it capable of being

my heart is in my fiction
fiction you can make a thing of beauty
you can weave myths that glow with power
fiction is were my heart is

i love fiction man
i love the novel that im working on now
rest for the weary
its finally doing what i all along knew it could do
well i should say its showing signs of being able to do what i feel like it can
if its anywhere near what i see in my heart its going to be a masterwork
but right now it just continues to defy me

and its me losing confidence or something that causes me to establish other means of expression, or rather i should say that its me wanting to say something to my own generation that causes me to do nonfiction, cause my fiction its geared to later generations is when i expect hope pray to get some readership, cause i dont get that much now, all my work is out of print, i dont get no play in the literary world worth speaking of, its a bummer and ive accepted that i may not get any play during my lifetime, and even if i do, its hard for folk to understand literary visions, when folk name the great visionaries of the race they dont count john o killens, which is so deep to be because john o was an incredible visionary whose influence will one day be considered seminal by generations of the future, because its something about literature that doesnt click on that level for folk, literature clicks on a more amorphous generational level, and i want to be a player in my time

but too overt an agenda will kill likely kill good fiction and i dont feel like ive really nailed it in either of my novels to date but i think i got my groove on finally with rest for the weary, i just got to get it done, time time time time time

but then the times come when i want to have a voice in the way of things and when i see blackfolk being unsophisticated in the struggle and then i cant wait to get literary play, and i do my nonfiction then, cause i been trained by john o to be a player and i got to be a player

and its kinda awkward cause i dont really have time to do anything other than struggle with this novel and so my engagement is spotty and often ineffective
and i start initiatives that i dont follow thru on
and as you grow older
cause i can feel myself slowing down these days
you want to use your little remaining viable time that much more effectively

which means the novel becomes ever more important, you know that any minute now you can check out and this will be the one that you left unfinished

i guess on that note i should get back to work

are you thinking of doing some fiction
if so go for it, aint nothing like it

in struggle


Arthur, peace and blessings,

I am a bit of a storyteller. That comes from a wonderful grandmother raised up from the soil of southern Virginia. As far as I have gotten so far is a kind of retelling of her family stories. All of that was intended to extend her life beyond her earthly sojourn, to leave a literary legacy for her extended family.

Of course, every literature major wants to write something worthwhile. But I have had little or no training in novel writing. As you have suggested one must fine the right model that is suitable for the longing of one's soul. And it seems that I am constantly being pulled toward being a facilitator for the writings of others. But that's fine. I have learned much by the process.

I am about two-thirds of the way through De Mojo Blues. I was especially impressed by that brief passage about the relationship between Tucept and his father. I am pleased you avoided the pathological. The way you brought out the latent antagonism between father and son is very important and I think well-placed in the novel.

But there are numerous other scenes, also, that I find important and signifcant.

Whether what you have done in De Mojo Blues and Another Good Loving Blues is excellent novelistic technique, for me, is irrelevant. Both books read well and quickly, and begged to be read more than once for the joy and wisdom they provide. I look forward to your next novel.

You have probably heard the latest news: Aristide Kidnapped!!

It seems as if we will not get the full truth of this matter from our government. Of course, the commercial media support the official line. Definitely, it seems, that Aristide has been isolated and that Bush has taken over the country. As ever and always, Rudy


to be honest man i dont remember what is in de mojo blues, i havent read that book since it came out

its hard to read old work
if i cant rewrite it i dont want to have anything to do with it
it would be cringe cringe cringe all the way thru

so what are you doing with your grandmothers tales
are you shaping them into a manuscript with an eye towards publishing

i just rewrote my aristide posts
to reflect the new developments
the situation kept changing so that i kept revising so as to keep up

thats one advantage of the internet over print
you can update it as situations mature
its a very timely forum

i have still not quite mastered the form yet
but i think of the internet as a 21st century literary skill

it has already(through hypertext)influenced my printbased narrative technique, developing something i call hypernarration, fragmented, nonlinear, multifaceted, etc

an old friend of mine, doris jean austin, who died some time ago, used to always talk about how fiction had to finessee media if it wanted to retain its primacy as a cultural instrument and doctorow some time ago wrote a piece in which he talked about how contemporary fiction is much tighter because of the mtv generation, that it had done away with a lot of exposition and transitions because folk process information differently now and they are are used to cascading images

but there are so many aspects of this new medium pertinent to us as cultural workers and orchestrators that i hope to master

that situation with haiti and aristide is so sad
and its become clear that we cant trust the media
you wonder if there is really all this jublilation in the streets of haiti that im hearing about or whether thats just more of the same

im gone
i am so far behind on my schoolwork preparation

i have class in about 3 hours and i have to finish re-reading the healing and preparing to lead a discussion on it

that gayle jones is a phenomenal writer, strange but phenom, i wouldnt mind meeting her one day if she ever comes out of her hole in the wall

be well


Arthur, peace and blessings,

De Mojo Blues, as a Black Vietnam War book, is quite marvelous. There are indeed a few questions I'd like to ask you about it. I am surprised that sections of it has not been anthologized as "speculative fiction."

As far as my digestion and rewriting of Mama's family stories I have posted some of them on ChickenBones: A Journal, along with letters she sent me over a 18-year period. I am uncertain what I will do with them. The initial intent was to create a family legacy so that ancestors would be remembered. There was some creativity involved but not necessarily sufficient craft.

I have thought little of publication in print since my work began with ChickenBones: a Journal. Much, if not most, of my energies have been spent keeping it alive and progressing. I do, every now and then, have spurts of creativity writing poems and infrequent editorials. I partially view this period as one of creative gestation. I have learned much about writing and perspective in my engagement and reading of other writers.

I have several manuscripts that deserve eventual publication in print: Mama letters; my own poems; my religious perspective of Nathaniel Turner; numerous essays and family tales. Much of what I have written is available now on ChickenBones. A lot of it is read that would not be read in print.

In some sense I have spread myself too thin to work toward print publication. I try not to worry about that. My promotion of the writings of others more skilled than I has its own satisfaction. Working to get your own things published has its own frustrations and disappointments that I cannot presently deal with while things are uncertain with ChickenBones. I have faith that it will all work itself out.

Of course, the most fascinating historical item now is the deposing of Arisitide by US and France. For it has an impact on a respect for black freedom itself. I was up all last night writing an editorial on the situation. I'm afraid that the matter will seep back into obscurity and no real progress will occur in the material development of the Haitian people. That indeed would be a tragedy.

I hope to get to Danticat's Dew Breaker and then to your Mojo Rising. But I have been dealing with so many health issues of late.

There has been some good news: I have received a contract from Greenwood to write a 500-word entry for a 5-volume encyclopedia of African-American literature; ChickenBones' unique perspective has appeared in a recently published book on Nathaniel Turner by Scot French; we have just reorganized ChickenBones so that it is now a "lean, mean fighting machine" and will save us some money though facing an increasing traffic.

We thus expect a hopeful and forwarding-looking spring and summer. As ever and always, Rudy

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