ChickenBones: A Journal
for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes
My work has always been ripe with sensual elements, but I didn’t
start writing full-out erotica until 2000. A random meeting led me t
o an erotic publisher. I sent her a few stories I thought were erotica.
The Dance of Love
Excerpt by Kiini Ibura Salaam
The whisper of air against flesh was a new sensation. I had never been nude outdoors, not since I had breasts and hips, not since I had something to hide. V and I joined a line of women outside a smaller dwelling similar to the one we had left our clothing in. I shivered and dug my fingers into my forearms. V let me enter before her. At first, I could see nothing. Then I made out the eyes, then the curves of elder women wrapped in dark indigo cloth. They sat on a stone bench and beckoned me gently. The amusement on their lips made me feel safe. Still, I stood before them shyly.
The soft clucking of conversation swirled around me, but I couldnt understand the words. One of the women grasped me by the hips and guided me to a large wooden bowl. I watched her hands leave my body and dip into the bowl. I drew back slightly when her hands emerged, cupped, full of a dark red oil. She opened her hands at my waist. I watched as the oil dripped over my belly. The womans fingers caught the drippings and rubbed the oil over my abdomen.
My eyes drifted to the ceiling as the hands picked up a rhythm. Their palms circled the oil into my skin. My eyes slid closed. The other womans hands pressed oil into my shoulder blades and down my back. I bit my lip trying to keep track of the stroking. Fingers wiggled between my knees and tripped up the inside of my thighs.
By the time the women reached the back of my legs, my body was humming. I wanted to spread my legs and will the women’s fingers to reach inside me. I spread my arms instead. The women coated them from shoulder to wrist. Oil slicked down both sides of my torso, then brushed over my nipples one two three times. Their fingers flew over my face.
Before I knew it, I was pushed out of the opposite side of the hut. When I turned back, the women had returned to their stone bench. I caught a glimpse of V stepping into the hut. She flashed me a wicked smile. The women bent over the wooden bowl to fill their palms with oil and I backed away.
More indigo-clad women waited outside the hut. They tied my wrists with soft pieces of leather and crisscrossed leather beads across my chest. They circled around me, wrapping a rope-like adornment around my waist. I could feel something heavy like a talisman or a pendent resting right above the crease of my buttocks. I grasped the whip the women placed in my hand and took a few steps forward.
Around me, women were now similarly adorned. I watched them eagerly rush ahead, buttocks shaking, breasts bouncing, whips swinging. I felt the quiver of anticipation pierce me. Dizziness swooped down on me as the oil-laden hands flashed through my mind. I imagined twelve of them pressing on my body. Heat rolled over me. I staggered. The earth dipped. I almost gave way to a swoon, but V grabbed my arm and held me upright.
“Follow me,” she whispered.
I grabbed V’s hand and ran across a field to join a cluster of women. V nudged us close to the center. I was surrounded by sound. It was a deep, droning, throbbing hum. All around us women swayed, heads thrown back, voices joined in song.
Without warning V squeezed her way out of the singing throng. I heard a snap and looked toward the outskirts of the group. V was standing, legs spread, arm lifted overhead swirling her whip high in the air. An echoing swooping noise issued forth. The women punctuated the sound of V’s whip with a high-pitched yelling.
On that cue, dust began to rise in the distance.
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My work has always been ripe with sensual elements, but I didn’t start writing full-out erotica until 2000. A random meeting led me to an erotic publisher. I sent her a few stories I thought were erotica. She replied that she liked the writing, but the stories didn’t have enough sex in them. In mainstream literature, she explained, writers usually stop when they get to the sex scene.
In erotica, that’s when the action begins. For a moment, I was taken aback. Could I represent actual sex on the page? Then I started thinking about it. Sex, too, is an aspect of a healthy life. It doesn’t really make sense that writers are urged to describe everything in detail, but sketch over sexual encounters.
As I began to explore the genre, I found writing about sex flowed in perfectly with my stories. It didn’t seem like an interruption or a trip into left field. Ultimately, the publisher found all of my character building to be too much. Her readers, she said, are eager to get to the sex.
But as a writer, I’m interested not only in the sex, but also in the context of the sex. Who are these people? Why are they having sex? Where are they having sex? What was the seduction? What is the result? Kiini Ibura Salaam © 2000
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Kiini Ibura Salaam is a realistic woman.
She likes the feel of a warm bed, understands the necessity of food, so she works. At her day job, she corrects inconsequential errors while remembering mornings spent wrestling with words and sucking meaning from images. She frets, knowing her 9-to-5 threatens her fragile relationship with writing. Yet she always manages to coax writing back into her graces. She begs writings absolution with essays published in Colonize This, When Race Becomes Real, Roll Call, Men We Cherish, Utne Reader, Essence, and Ms. Magazine. She prostrates herself obediently with fiction published in Mojo: Conjure Stories, Black Silk, When Butterflies Kiss, Dark Matter, and Dark Eros. She tithes her art form with the KIS.list, a monthly e-report on life as a writer. She produces www.kiiniibura.com as an altar, an online offering of words.
Writing, expansive and forgiving, responds with a flood of inspired embraces. Whether she be in her native New Orleans, her adopted Brooklyn or her beloved Bahia, the writer unabashedly bares herself to the caress of words. She writes with holy gratitude, forever in love with her craft.
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#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 Eroticanoir.com 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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By Noam Chomsky
In this urgent new book, Noam Chomsky surveys the dangers and prospects of our early twenty-first century. Exploring challenges such as the growing gap between North and South, American exceptionalism (including under President Barack Obama), the fiascos of Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S.-Israeli assault on Gaza, and the recent financial bailouts, he also sees hope for the future and a way to move forwardin the democratic wave in Latin America and in the global solidarity movements that suggest “real progress toward freedom and justice.” Hopes and Prospects is essential reading for anyone who is concerned about the primary challenges still facing the human race. “This is a classic Chomsky work: a bonfire of myths and lies, sophistries and delusions. Noam Chomsky is an enduring inspiration all over the worldto millions, I suspectfor the simple reason that he is a truth-teller on an epic scale. I salute him.” John Pilger
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Edited by Miriam DeCosta-Willis
Blacks in Hispanic Literature is a collection of fourteen essays by scholars and creative writers from Africa and the Americas. Called one of two significant critical works on Afro-Hispanic literature to appear in the late 1970s, it includes the pioneering studies of Carter G. Woodson and Valaurez B. Spratlin, published in the 1930s, as well as the essays of scholars whose interpretations were shaped by the Black aesthetic. The early essays, primarily of the Black-as-subject in Spanish medieval and Golden Age literature, provide an historical context for understanding 20th-century creative works by African-descended, Hispanophone writers, such as Cuban Nicolás Guillén and Ecuadorean poet, novelist, and scholar Adalberto Ortiz, whose essay analyzes the significance of Negritude in Latin America.
This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as “the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field ‘cut their teeth’.”
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By Kiini Ibura Salaam
Ancient, Ancient collects the short fiction by Kiini Ibura Salaam, of which acclaimed author and critic Nalo Hopkinson writes, ”Salaam treats words like the seductive weapons they are. She wields them to weave fierce, gorgeous stories that stroke your sensibilities, challenge your preconceptions, and leave you breathless with their beauty.” Indeed, Ms. Salaam’s stories are so permeated with sensuality that in her introduction to
, Nisi Shawl, author of the award-winning Filter House, writes, ”Sexuality-cum-sensuality is the experiential link between mind and matter, the vivid and eternal refutation of the alleged dichotomy between them. This understanding is the foundation of my 2004 pronouncement on the burgeoning sexuality implicit in sf’s Afro-diasporization. It is the core of many African-based philosophies. And it is the throbbing, glistening heart of Kiini’s body of work. This book is alive. Be not afraid.”
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By Tracy K. Smith
Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection’s “lyric brilliance” and “political impulses [that] never falter.” A New York Times review stated, “Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we’re alone in the universe; it’s to acceptor at least endurethe universe’s mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith’s pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the books first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant.” Life on Mars follows Smith’s 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet’s second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans.
The Bodys Question (2003) was her first published collection. Smith said Life on Mars, published by small Minnesota press Graywolf, was inspired in part by her father, who was an engineer on the Hubble space telescope and died in 2008.
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By Natasha Trethewey
Beyond Katrina is poet Natasha Tretheweys very personal profile of the Mississippi Gulf Coast and of the people there whose lives were forever changed by hurricane Katrina. Trethewey spent her childhood in Gulfport, where much of her mothers extended family, including her younger brother, still lives. As she worked to understand the devastation that followed the hurricane, Trethewey found inspiration in Robert Penn Warrens book Segregation: The Inner Conflict in the South, in which he spoke with southerners about race in the wake of the Brown decision, capturing an event of wide impact from multiple points of view. Weaving her own memories with the experiences of family, friends, and neighbors, Trethewey traces the erosion of local culture and the rising economic dependence on tourism and casinos.
She chronicles decades of wetland development that exacerbated the destruction and portrays a Gulf Coast whose citizensparticularly African Americanswere on the margins of American life well before the storm hit. Most poignantly, Trethewey illustrates the destruction of the hurricane through the story of her brothers efforts to recover what he lost and his subsequent incarceration.
Renowned for writing about the idea of home, Tretheweys attempt to understand and document the damage to Gulfport started as a series of lectures at the University of Virginia that were subsequently published as essays in the Virginia Quarterly Review. For Beyond Katrina, Trethewey has expanded this work into a narrative that incorporates personal letters, poems, and photographs, offering a moving meditation on the love she holds for her childhood home.
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From The World and Africa, 1965
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update 17 January 2012