ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes



the neo-griot stuff just keeps rolling right along. little did we know that all the study

 and stuff we were doing in new orleans would be brought to bear with us

far flung from each other physically but working together in cyberspace



Books by Kalamu ya Salaam


The Magic of JuJu: An Appreciation of the Black Arts Movement  /   360: A Revolution of Black Poets

Everywhere Is Someplace Else: A Literary Anthology  /  From A Bend in the River: 100 New Orleans Poets

Our Music Is No Accident   /  What Is Life: Reclaiming the Black Blues Self

My Story My Song (CD)


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“I’m in Nashville”

Kalamu Update

folks, i’m in nashville, well, actually somewhere in the suburbs (please spare me the jokes, the suburbs are not funny)… anyway, looks like this will be the base for the near future although everything is fluid and that could change. no mailing address yet. cell phone is back in service: it’s a long story, let’s just say my old phone&pda died. i left a new phone in houston. now have a new new phone here in nashville. the number is the same. 504/710-9694 some folk have been asking about making donations. paypal ( is the most efficient way. other than that, email me. if you get a email bounce back because my box is full, wait about twelve hours and try again. right now i do not have 24-hour access to the internet, which i did have in houston, which was why i could keep e-drum humming with no interruption, but now, out here in the sticks… don’t get me started. within a week or so, we should be in an apartment and then we’ll have the stuff hooked up, meanwhile it’s 10:30pm, i’m sitting in a barnes & noble paying approximately $4 for two hours of wireless hookup. i tried just walking into a couple of hotel lobbies. that didn’t work–the marriott had wireless in the lobby but only for hotel guests, wouldn’t even sell me any airtime. oh, the joys of nashville. i’m getting this off now, so technically this is the friday e-drum. and i will do another mailing on saturday. my daughter asante is going to be the manager for the “listen to the people” project, which includes managing my speaking engagements, residencies, lectures, etc. we’re ramping up for me to be active on the road over the next six or seven weeks, raising funds for listen to the people and for to keep a roof over my head and a broadband connection under the roof—actually the roof is not nearly as important as the broadband. we’re about to go verizon on folk and i will have 24/7 broadband wherever i go. more on that in a minute… meanwhile, i am not intentionally ignoring people, i’m just swamped with work. articles to write. e-drum to keep up with. last week we had a thousand emails in a two day period. and aol just quit at that point. plus, preparing for listen to the people, as well as working on sac (students at the center) matters, and other writing i’ve been doing (which includes a major novel: walkin’ blues–a meditation and speculation on the life and legend of robert johnson). i’m about 120,000 words into the novel and hope to finish by the end of the year. i’m going to be more elusive than ever because i will be traveling like crazy, but please bear with me. i love all of yall, thanks for all the support. we are pushing on. my health is good. and most days my head is ok too. check out the KAT ACTION piece i’ve put out. i’m talking about a real tax break. and, the neo-griot stuff just keeps rolling right along. little did we know that all the study and stuff we were doing in new orleans would be brought to bear with us far flung from each other physically but working together in cyberspace. more in a minute, plan to spend quite a bit of time writing and touching base with folk tomorrow. i apologize to all the folk i have not contacted or followed up with to date, things have just been moving too fast for me to catch hold to everything. more in a minute, the next e-drum will be coming at you in a matter of hours. a luta continua, kalamu

posted 10 September 2005

*   *   *   *   *’s 25 Best Selling Books



#1 – Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark #2 – Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree #3 – Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane #4 – Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper #5 – Stackin’ Paper 2 Genesis’ Payback by Joy King #6 – Thug Lovin’ (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark #7 – When I Get Where I’m Going by Cheryl Robinson #8 – Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby #9 – The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 – Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 – Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 – Don’t Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 – For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 – For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 – Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 – The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 – Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 – Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 – Stackin’ Paper by Joy King

#20 – Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 – The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 – Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 – Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 – I Dreamt I Was in Heaven – The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter


#1 – Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable #2 – Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans #3 – Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane #4 – Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper #5 – Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You’re Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant #6 – Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey #7 – The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight #8 – The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing #9 – The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 – John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 – Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 –The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 – The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 – The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 – Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can’t Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 – Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 – Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 – A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 – John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 – Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 – Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 – 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino #23 – Chicken Soup for the Prisoner’s Soul by Tom Lagana #24 – 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 – Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Salvage the Bones

A Novel by Jesmyn Ward

On one level, Salvage the Bones is a simple story about a poor black family that’s about to be trashed by one of the most deadly hurricanes in U.S. history. What makes the novel so powerful, though, is the way Ward winds private passions with that menace gathering force out in the Gulf of Mexico. Without a hint of pretension, in the simple lives of these poor people living among chickens and abandoned cars, she evokes the tenacious love and desperation of classical tragedy. The force that pushes back against Katrina’s inexorable winds is the voice of Ward’s narrator, a 14-year-old girl named Esch, the only daughter among four siblings. Precocious, passionate and sensitive, she speaks almost entirely in phrases soaked in her family’s raw land. Everything here is gritty, loamy and alive, as though the very soil were animated. Her brother’s “blood smells like wet hot earth after summer rain. . . . His scalp looks like fresh turned dirt.” Her father’s hands “are like gravel,” while her own hand “slides through his grip like a wet fish,” and a handsome boy’s “muscles jabbered like chickens.” Admittedly, Ward can push so hard on this simile-obsessed style that her paragraphs risk sounding like a compost heap, but this isn’t usually just metaphor for metaphor’s sake.

She conveys something fundamental about Esch’s fluid state of mind: her figurative sense of the world in which all things correspond and connect. She and her brothers live in a ramshackle house steeped in grief since their mother died giving birth to her last child. . . . What remains, what’s salvaged, is something indomitable in these tough siblings, the strength of their love, the permanence of their devotion.—


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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama’s political success and Oprah Winfrey’s financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today… than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits.

Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don’t know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

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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)

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

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


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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

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

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

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update  15 July 2012




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Related files:  Kalamu Needs Work  /  quick notes from the field /   Neo-Griot Workshop / All Hands on Deck  Rebuilding New Orleans Who Decides