Sunday, September 25, 2005

Strong Sistas at B-More Book Festival

Kudos to the Robin Green and the Ripe Harvest Foundation for organizing a great program at the Baltimore Book Festival.
While it's rare that I've been on a bad panel, it's also rare to be on an exceptional panel. I had that experience at the BFF when I was blessed to share the stage with such amazing sisters as:
Yasmin Shiraz, another soldier for the cause of empowering Black women and girls and the author of Exclusive, another work of bona fide hip hop fiction;
Tajuana "TJ" Butler ,who self-published her way to a book deal with a major publisher for her lastest novel Just My Luck);
and the gracious Philana Marie Boles, author of In the Paint who will now bless middle-grade readers with her forthcoming YA novel Little Divas.
In addition to being wonderful writers and beautiful spirits, Yasmin, TJ and Philana are on a mission to write stories about the struggles, complexities and victories of women of color. Please support them and their work by reading their work, inviting them to appear in your community and spreading the word about them to others.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Coming Soon: Reflections on "Confessions"

Being an unapologetic hip hop feminist activist, many folks have asked me my opinion of Karrine Steffan’s Confessions of a Video Vixen.

So with mixed feelings, I purchased the audio book. Then I decided to re-team with A.I.R.E. – the amazing young poetess featured in my novel Picture Me Rollin’ – for a “Reflections on 'Confessions'” project. We’re going to listen to the audio book together – disc by disc – and record reactions, questions and debates about it.

While we haven’t decided yet how best to distribute the final product when we're done, A.I.R.E. and I immediately promise you one thing. It’ll be a lot more complex than the simplistic Superhead-ain’t-nothing-but-a-ho/Karrine’s-just-a-liberated-victim dichotomy that to date has dominated most discussions about Confessions. Since we're only human, we're liable to lapse occassionally into trivia -- questioning the veracity of this tale, exchanging gossip sparked by the juicy details of another and otherwise getting caught up in quagmire of he-said-she-said that emerged from the book and its publicity. But our ultimate quest is to make a critical but compassionate assessment of three essential issues:

Is this the cautionary tale that Karrine bills it to be? Why or why not? How should conscientious women in the hip hop community respond when a sister among us writes something like this?

A.I.R.E. and I care because, hey, the book is here. Its existence and popularity presents both opportunities and challenges to our efforts to reclaim hip hop and use it as a tool in our movement to liberate ourselves from misogyny. We'll be guided by the words of hip hop intellectual and feminist scholar Tricia Rose. Now I personally agreed with Sister Rose when she told the Washington Post, "We need this story less than we need rich, complicated, reflective stories." But I also heard her when she said, "The question is, will the book be a catalyst for serious conversations, as opposed to allowing easy answers to prevail, like video-hoing is bad, or video-hoing is a great vehicle as long as you avoid the pitfalls. Those are the simple-minded positions that I think we need to worry about."

So that's what A.I.R.E. and I are gonna do. At least, we will try really damn hard. Wish us luck.

"Burn" on Some Other Shit

I know. So lame to start a blog to not maintain it. I own it and promise to do better. To at least post one time per week.

But I think my fans will understand that I’ve been hard at work, visiting cities to meet them in person and sign their copies of Explicit Content and Picture Me Rollin’ and researching the third Black Artemis novel.

The next novel is called Burn and will be published in August 2006. Burn follows bond agent Jasmine, who has a sordid past and a ghost on her shoulder, as she searches the South Bronx for a graffiti artist who jumped bail. The more she investigates his sudden disappearance and realizes that he ran for his life, the more she places her own life in danger. Jasmine’s street instincts and moral grit are put to the test as she discovers something shocking about herselff and makes some tough ethical decisions. That’s right, folks, Black Artemis is finna to write some John Grisham shit for my fellow hip hop heads. Seriously, I like to think I elevated my game with Picture Me Rollin’, and I’m doing my best to make Burn my best hip hop novel yet. And as always, as soon as I can, I’ll send out an email blast when I post the first chapter on my website which will definitely happen before year’s end.

As for the tour, I had to slow down and cancel some dates to begin writing the new novel. Apologies to the ATL because I won’t be seeing you this weekend as planned, but rest assured that my visit is only postponed and not cancelled. My trip to Baltimore and DC this September is still on as is the African American Book Club Summit by Sea this October. I’m also headed to Miami and Columbia, South Carolina in early 2006 to participate in their book festivals and will post more details in the near future.

With that said, it's back to Burn.