What I would really like to talk about to you, I know that I cannot, although I own this magazine.
Because of my finally staring this fact in the face, this is where Fred Beauford, the former Professor of Media History has finally come back into my life; with all traces of literary vanity gone.
As I questioned him, I had already demonstrated the value of print, in that all three of my magazines are in thousands of university and public libraries worldwide.
Yet, when Black Creation, Neworld: The Multi-Cultural Magazine of the Arts, were first published, only a few thousand read them. My third magazine, where I just served as a hired hand, The Crisis, the official publication of the NAACP was the exception, with a one million and a half readers worldwide.
It didn’t hurt that the magazine was one of the oldest in America, started in 1910 by W.E.B. Du Bois.
With the Neworld Review, in this online world, over three million readers worldwide have logged on in the five years we have been online. You don’t have to be a genius to see the difference between 3 million and several thousands for a brand new publication.
What’s more, I have at my fingertips information that I never had with my print publications. I know so much about you readers. I know which articles are being read; and more important, how intensely they are being read.
This was unheard of in the old print world.
So why my funk? Why am I taking to Professor Beauford about this Brave New World? Perhaps it was because I was recently reading, Meditations written by Marcus Aurelius, and the Old Testament, which was written even further in our past as thinking creatures.
So I turned to Professor Beauford and asked him a simple question: Two thousand years from now will they be reading my books and articles published in print, or the many articles I have published in my three magazines? And, will there be any record of the online world we now enjoy?
I am still waiting for Professor Beauford’s answer.
This is a great issue that deserves to go far into the future. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
Enjoy this issue of the Neworld Review.
To be in love
Is to touch with a lighter hand.
In yourself you stretch, you are well.
You look at things
Through his eyes.
By Gwendolyn Brooks
In this poem on the nature of love, poet laureate Gwendolyn Brooks informs us that when you are in love, “you look at things through his eyes.” We see this concept epitomized in Elizabeth Alexander’s memoir, The Light of the World. The memoir is a narrative recounting Alexander’s trauma and grief when she suddenly loses her husband of 15 years. It is an experience that jars her sensibilities, interferes with a sense of normalcy and impacts on her emotional well being and sense of self.
Light of the World is also a testimony to Alexander’s deep and sacred love for her husband Ficre, an East African man from Eritrea. As she recalls their life’s journey, we witness her go through the process that is necessary to regain a sense of well being and to heal herself and her sons.
This is a compelling memoir, told through a poetic voice that blends prose and poetry as Alexander details the death, the loss and the grief that she and her sons experience. As the events leading up to the death unfold, we learn that she could not write this memoir until she had undergone certain stages in the grieving process and had had the time to reflect and remember the special moments, the talks, dreams, celebrations, and meetings that came to her mind as flashpoints.
Alexander divides the book into five sections, each a story in and of itself that provides a different portrait of Ficre and his relationship with his family from the perspectives of Alexander, her husband and her sons. Thus, we see the many sides of...Read More
Dear Father, this is getting a little too heavy and sad for me. Let’s take a break for a while from October 3, 2037 and let me tell you a little more about the life Mother and I lived after you died. But you can see how the Big Bang was the turning point for human life on this planet!
Your Sept. 11, although horrible to be sure, was still, compared to what I lived through, small potatoes.
You died in 2010, twenty-eight years before the Big Bang. Mother moved us to Brighton Beach a year later, following a horrific incident. She always told me that the reason why the two of you were never married in a formal sense, was because of her husband, the one she came over with from Russia.
He would not give her a divorce. He was obsessed with her. You Father, must have had some nerve, or you must have wanted her badly, to move in with her with such a crazy man lurking in the shadows.
Just after you died, one night as she returned for a rehearsal, she spotted him out of the corner of her eye. The cold rains had just started pounding California. This night, the rain poured down on Mother as she ran from her car to the door of our apartment house. For some reason, she parked on the street and not inside, which was her big mistake.
After all these years, she had thought that it was over. But there he was, his body drenched, his eyes hollowed, his clothes disheveled, a broken, crazed look on his gaunt face. A latter day Rasputin.
She dropped her keys. “Leave me alone!” she shouted.
He continued toward her, and grabbed her by the arm.
“You dirty bitch!” he said harshly in Russian, in a voice filled with hated.
Mother broke away from him and started to run. She ran out into the wet street in oncoming traffic in hopes that someone would stop and help her.
Her mad husband caught her from behind and spun her around. He yelled another curse in Russian and smashed her squarely in the mouth with his fist. She felled backwards awkwardly.
Before he could do any more damage to her, a female motorist stopped her car....Read More
My friend Camille has a fantastic ability to discover places that are untouched and seemingly invisible. Off the beaten track, winding through remote valleys and over passes, she’s discovered pictures drawn on caves and pieces of ancient pottery.
She takes these relics home (on the back of a Harley she shares with her husband) or leaves them alone, depending. She and her husband discover these hidden places on their “coffee breaks”—coffee served from an ancient thermos—as they traverse the dusty, open landscape of southwest Montana. For many miles there is no cell phone reception. She describes these trips casually when she comes to work Monday morning, tanned from the sun and bright eyed, her grey hair framing her face.
Always the writer, I insist that she could write a great travel guide and wouldn’t the tourists who come here for the great fly fishing die to travel to some of these spots (I actually imagine us writing the book together).
“Why would I ever do that?” she asks. “Then everyone would know where to go. You have to discover these places on your own.”
She’s got a point. There’s something to finding a treasure and keeping it to yourself. But as a reviewer, my job is to share, so I’ll share a new find: What About This: The Collected Works of Frank Stanford, a thick collection—over 700 pages, published by the renowned poetry press, Copper Canyon Press—of the work of a little known southern poet. In his introduction to the book, Dean Young writes,” When I was in college in the 1970s and ‘80s, the poems of Frank Stanford were passed hand to hand like contraband: small editions coming from small presses, hard to get, guarded with secrecy, coming from....Read More
Since Paul Beatty’s hilarious debut novel, The White Boy Shuffle, in 1996, the literary world has taken notice of his intellectual brilliance, acerbic wit, and bold commentary on all things American. In his latest book, The Sellout, his first novel in seven years, he has outdone himself, turning African-American literature on its ear with some of the most searing and penetrating insights on race, culture, and society seen on the page in many years.
It’s stand-up comedy at its best, worthy of a ring-savvy Dick Gregory, a raunchy Redd Foxx, a folksy Moms Mabley, and the hip urban truth-telling of Richard Pryor and Chris Rock. It’s howling laughter that ends with a serious face.
The ever-humble but highly capable Beatty, a native of West Los Angeles, has assembled The Sellout in an astounding collection of images and words, mainly told in flashback, like a masterful Charlie Parker solo.
Parker solo played backwards. Our narrator, Bonbon, awaits his fate in the all-powerful corridors of the U.S. Supreme Court, fortified by his maverick academic father’s example. The shooting death of the father at the hands of the police leaves his son confused.
Beatty, the author, centers the action when his fictional world mirrors our real one with the cops recently gunning down Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, and Freddie Gray, triggering urban unrest. The writer says he wasn’t trying to sermonize or drive home a point, but he does justice to the issues of race, culture and politics.
Even in the opening lines of his insightful novel, Bonbon attempts to convince the world to look beyond his skin color to his humanity. He stares straight forward and explains his existence: “This may be hard to believe, coming from a black man, but I’ve never stolen anything. Never cheated on my taxes or at cards. Never snuck into the movies or failed to give back the extra change to a drugstore cashier indifferent to ways of mercantilism and minimum-wage expectations. I’ve never burgled....Read More
The subtitle of this book is “Why We Irish Are Awesome” and it’s fair to say that Ulysses Press is equally awesome for producing Rasher Tierney’s unique book.
This little volume is equal parts history, folklore, ethnic studies, pure sass, dour wit, and socio-cultural drama. All mixed together. It’s not a dry and dusty academic tome; not a text written with an eye on narrative control via chronological order.
Instead, author Rashers Tierney (a self-described “itinerant lecturer and anthropologist of note, presenting seminars across North America on all things Irish”) has created a potpourri that is as instructive as it is entertaining. This is the type of little book that makes a perfect gift, because it works on multiple levels.
From the title itself (which actually features the image of a shamrock in place of the “u” in You Know What), all the way through the book’s 14 short chapters, the author walks a fine line between serious and educational information aligned with saucy humor, a great deal of irreverence, and a sweeping assessment of Irish culture.
It’s a tricky balance. From the get-go, Rashers Tierney strikes notes that in almost any other context might sound too over the top. Too in-your-face enthusiastic. Yet, he does so with such verve and goodwill (not to mention backing up all of his claims with abundant and easily recognizable examples and details) that it all meshes well.
Right off the bat, on page one, his balancing act of tone and mood is achieved:
“From our fightin’ nature and inherent good luck to out potato eating and St. Patrick’s Day parading, the clichés regarding us Irish are famous. But our true awesomeness stems not from a few lame stereotypes; rather it can be found in the countless accomplishments for which we’re not given proper credit. That is – until now! Serving up the truth like a perfect pint of Guinness, here are the fun and informative facts about the best feckin’ people in the world – the Irish. Astonishing historical accounts. Profiles of Irish heroes. Stories of struggles and success. Language. Music. Culture. We’ve got them all.”
And that’s the admixture of high and low that gives this book its charm and its exceedingly useful content. From the chapters titled “How the Irish Made America” or “Irish Pop Culture and Its Worldwide Impact” to ....Read More
One of the big books of last year was The Innovators by the prolific Walter Isaacson. It was a history of the evolution of computer technology. This interesting book started a line of thought about my own personal history with computers.
In 1981, shortly after I arrived in New York City, I dated a man, who said soon most people would have computers in their homes. For some reason that I don’t understand, this claim infuriated me; however, six months later I purchased my first computer—an Osborne.
Few of you probably remember the Osborne. If I had kept it, it would be a valuable antique today. It came in a case that resembled a portable sewing machine. When the cover was removed, the machine had a five-inch screen with an “A” drive on the left where I inserted a program disk, and a “B” drive on the right for storing work.
It didn’t have a central operating system. It had a keyboard for inputting data but no mouse because they hadn’t been developed yet. Now that Osborne seems like a dinosaur, sweetly laughable.
Early printers, if you will recall, used perforated paper, which had to be fed through them. And, the only font they would print was the ugly Courier.
Over the next twenty years, I was hooked and purchased the latest models. Each successive computer I bought embraced the latest in hardware and software advances. I remained in the IBM camp. Soon the MS DOS dull, but ...Read More
As a teenager I fell in love with trees. When my beloved Step-father read Joyce Kilmer’s impeccable lyric of the poem, TREES, to me, it gave words to something I always felt deep within my heart, and these words helped to shape my profound appreciation of trees at a new depth which endures to this moment. Jacob Gils' stunning images add a breathtaking dimension to what I have loved most of my life.
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is press
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
At first glance, the photographs of Jacob Gils appear unfocused and shaken. The award winning Danish artist has a passion for how to push the boundaries of his art. His textural and intense images are best described as “photographical impressionistic.”
His motifs are simple and subdued. He is a true master of technique and composition, balancing reality and dreams. As he pushes the boundaries of photography, what results is a new potential of the art. The challenges Gils experiences, both with his technique and his creativity are what motivate him.
As Gils approached his seventh year he ....Read More
“Sorrow and solitude: the only words that are worth remembering.” This quote from Jeffrey Rotter’s The Only Words that are Worth Remembering answers the question induced by the novel’s title. The book is centered around the Van Zandt family, but more specifically Rowan Van Zandt, the youngest twin in the family of four. He is the weaker and gentler brother, and as such, he represents the reasonable base for their family unit.
The Van Zandts live in a future in which our civilization has collapsed and much of our progress with it. Truth deemed dangerous has been discounted as myth, including astronomy. The Earth once again is the center of the universe and is surrounded by the “Night Glass”, through which there is no escape. This is common knowledge to the Van Zandt’s until they run into some trouble and find, to stay together as a family, their only option is to agree to be shot into space.
The story is told from Rowan’s point-of-view as he recounts the adventure to his young daughter, trying to impart life lessons to the unsuspecting three-year old. Rotter hooked me early with his style, choices, and delivery. The world he creates is familiar and strangely believable. He leads us on a fun adventure with an intriguing group that fulfills each other in oddly comfortable ways and is bonded by the special ties of family. Questions in the reader’s mind of where Rotter and Rowan might lead him or her are vast as the night sky above.
Then the story reaches a point, and the questions quickly dissolve. Answers pour in, and possibilities are eliminated. The story slows (at least for me) leaving only, “How does he get from here to there?”
Rotter carries the reader through though on the deeper level of the journey: Rowan’s search. And he searches, for pages and pages. The early sense of adventure had my heart racing. I was ready to run, but then the book slowed to a walk.
Strange encounters meant (I’m assuming) to entertain fell short of their mark. However Rowan emerges in a good place. He finds what he is looking for and tries, in the telling....Read More
It has taken Ginger Adams Otis nearly a decade to complete her book Firefight: The Century-Long Battle to Integrate New York’s Bravest. Otis, a reporter with the New York Daily News, builds her compelling narrative on Wesley Williams, who in 1919 became the city’s third and most publicized African American firefighter.
Fortunately, Williams was highly literate and left behind a trove of letters and even a few speeches as ballast to Otis’s study, and this was bolstered by family-held memorabilia as well as a richly rewarding research of John Ruffins and a thesis by historian David Goldberg.
But it’s Otis’s diligent and meticulous research that burnishes this untold story, and she more than meets the challenge of filling in the historical gaps between Williams’s arrival at Engine 55 just months before the nation experienced a paroxysm of racism that came to be called “The Red Summer,” and the emergence of today’s Vulcan Society.
“He’d expected his first days to be challenging and they were,” Otis writes of Williams’s arrival at the firehouse in Little Italy where an all-white crew “welcomed” him. “The silent treatment continued, but nobody, save the captain, had been as openly antagonistic as he feared. Nobody had tried to hit him yet.”
After a racial slur by one of the firemen, Williams felt he had endured enough harassment and intimidation. He challenged the name caller to a boxing match in the firehouse’s basement, a customary way of settling disputes in the company. When Williams was the first to emerge, indicating his victory, the other firemen were shocked.
They were unaware that Williams had been given lessons by the great boxer Sam Langford. “Boy, you’re going down to work with the Irish. You’re going to need to know how to fight,” Langford told him bluntly. “You’re going to get lessons from us.”
Those lessons were more than sufficient and nobody else dared challenge him with their fists. Williams had scored 100 percent on his....Read More
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