ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



I, Askia, the Djali, was the instrument of Divine Spirit

because the Creator and Orishas want this Ancient Knowledge Force

resurrecting in the World of the Living, the Living Dead, and the Unborn



Books by Askia M. Touré

From the Pyramids to the Projects: Poems of Genocide and Resistance!  / Dawnsong:The Epic Memory of Askia Toure

African Affirmations: Songs for Patriots Biography – Toure, Askia Muhammad Abu Bakr el (1938-)

*   *   *   *   *


*   *   *   *   *



The Epic Memory of Askia Toure

By Askia M. Touré

Introduction by Joyce A. Joyce



The poems in this collection address the cultural and spiritual needs of Black people. In Dawnsong Touré successfully develops a heroic poetry that creates its own artistic matrix, which indeed parallels what John Synge, Augusta Gregory, Sean O’Casey, and William Butler Yeats did when they created the Abbey Theatre [in Ireland]. In these poems, Touré takes the reader back to ancient Egypt and, at the same time, demonstrates the relevance of Egyptian history and mythology to the lives of contemporary Africans on the continent and in the diaspora.


Just as Dawnsong exemplifies the Maatic balance between males and females through the poet’s resurrection of goddesses/queens and gods/Pharaohs, the collection also illustrates the Maatic principles through the comprehensiveness of the subject matter and the diversity of the stylistic features that govern each poem.

–Joyce A. Joyce, Professor, Temple University

Touré must be seen as the one poet and activist . . . who has developed his craft tot he deepest reflection of the groundbreaking research with which Afrocentric scholars are focusing on ancient Africa

–Patricia L. Hill, Gen. Editor, Call and Response

Askia M. Touré . . . has continued to combine his passion for poetry and his zeal for a politics of Black sociocultural empowerment in the tradition of Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks and in a way that few “community poets” (griots) have been able to realize as successfully.

–James W. Richardson, Jr., The Oxford Companion to African American Literature

Poets like Larry Neal and Askia Touré were, in my mind, new masters of the new black poetry . . . Askia had the song-like cast to his words, as if the poetry actually was meant to be sung.

Amiri Baraka , poet dramatist

*   *   *   *   *

Why I Wrote Dawnsong!

By Askia M. Touré

Cheikh Anta Diop stated that until African writers reclaimed Nile Valley civilization (as the Europeans claimed Greece and Rome), African literature would remain a minor art form. My writing of From the Pyramids to the Projects, Dawnsong! and the forthcoming Isis Unbound: The Goddess Poems is an attempt to address Dr. Diop’s major concern.

It also is an attempt to resurrect and restore tot he African peoples our lost archetypes, symbols and images lost in the Maafa of slavery, the Middle Passage and the destruction of African civilization by colonialism and imperialism. Unlike most of the world’s major peoples, Africans at home and abroad are unable to project their minds back thousands of years into our common historical past to see ourselves, the way we were in our primordial, pre-colonial essence, before the invasions by Aryans, Arabs, and Europeans. The modern, post-colonial African has never seen the African image as either heroic or divine in the “modern world,” where most of the major human mass media is white/European owned!

The fruit of my heroic, griotic epics is a product of the 1960s Black Arts Cultural Revolution and the Africana Studies Movement in which I was a participating pioneer:


The Black Arts Movement is radically opposed to any concept of the artist that alienates him from his community. The movement is the aesthetic and spiritual sister of the Black Power concept . . . the Black Arts Movement proposes a radical reordering of the Western cultural aesthetic. It proposes a separate symbolism, mythology, critique, and iconology . . . both concepts are nationalistic. One is concerned with the relationship between art and politics; the other with the art of politics. — Larry Neal on the BAM

And while the Black Aesthetic Movement refined and fulfilled the goal of the Harlem Renaissance in grounding art in the needs and ideas of the Black community, Dawnsong! Askia Touré’s latest collection of poetry, moves beyond a “radical reordering of the Western cultural aesthetic” to the creation of a new system of ideas in which he parallels in poetry what Kemetic scholars like Asa G. Hilliard, III, John Henrik Clarke, Yosef ben-Yochannan, Theophile Obenga, Molefi Asante, Jacob Carruthers, and Maulana Karenga are doing in history and philosophy. — Joyce A. Joyce, Introduction to Dawnsong!

My work as a Djali/Griot is not solely an “intellectual” approach. It is closer to the Ancient Alchemaic Process of Trance-meditation/Transformation: like the kemetic masters, the Indus yogis, the Yoruba priests, the ancient shamans, one must go deep will bring one to lovingly into the presence of the Divinity and the Ancestors . . . This work of the Spirit means years of study, sacrifice, and Inner Spiritual Discipline, where one’s worth is constantly tested . . . Learning the craft of poetry is necessary, but is like kindergarten on this Path..

Yes, this is a Way (or Path) of Poetry; a spiritual/Mystic Path which can be both Beautiful and terrifying–as Ra or Olodumare, the Most High is . . . When one reaches into the Deep Realms, one begins to experience Harmonic flow, Rhythm, the Soul speaking/singing through one’s frail being; and one realizes that one is an Instrument, a “Horse” being “ridden” by the Spirits. Indeed, like Master John Coltrane Ornadaruth, or Pharaoh Sanders one is writing/blowing with one’s Soul or Ba!

I, Askia, the Djali, was the instrument of Divine Spirit because the Creator and Orishas want this Ancient Knowledge Force resurrecting in the World of the Living, the Living Dead, and the Unborn . . . Powerful Sacred Souls are resurrecting among us–Ancestors–and they need the Though-tools, spiritual atmosphere to prepare them for their Destiny/Work.

We are at War! Which is why the Epic is the form of choice–whether Poem, Drama, or Film. The reborn Masters must have Atmosphere, Tools, and Forms to become Ra’s instruments of Transformation, if Ausar & Ausset are to resurrect in this demonic Barbarian World of heathens, if the Great Maatic Universe and Its Divine Laws are to be restored, and Set’s current world is spiritually defeated.

Source: Dawnsong! The Epic Memory of Askia Toure By Askia M. Touré. Introduction by Joyce A. Joyce. Dawnsong! won the 2003 “Stephen Henderson Poetry Award.” – presented by the African-American Literature and Culture Society of the American Literature Association.

*   *   *   *   *

Askia Muhammad Touré, right alongside Amiri Baraka , Larry Neal, Sonia Sanchez, Audre Lorde, June Jordan, etc., is considered one of the principal architects of the 1960s Black Arts/Black Aesthetic movements. A member of the legendary Umbra Group and of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, Touré has remained an activist poet of conscience throughout his years. His other books include Earth (1968), JuJu: Magic Songs for the Black Nation (with playwright Ben Caldwell / 1970), Songhai! (1972), and From the Pyramids to the Projects (1990), which won an American Book Award. Widely published in Black Scholar, Soulbook, Black Theatre, Black World, and Freedomways, his poems and essays have embodied the ideology of a people seeking to reclaim their images and history. His recent publications include two collections of poetry Mother Earth Responds: Green Poems and Alternative Visions (Whirlwind Press), and African Affirmations: Songs for Patriots (Africa World Press). 

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery /

George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 — The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *


*   *   *   *   *






update 18 June 2008



Home  Askia M. Toure Table   Mau Mau Aesthetics   Black Arts and Black Power Figures

Post Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.