KidLit: Recommended Reading on Justice and Understanding

Originally posted at The Writer’s Block

At a time of great unease and injustice, those of us who are parents of children have a challenge ahead of us. Most of our kids will be exposed to the happenings of the world, and well they should. At the same time, what books can we read to them that will help them understand, and provide tools they will need to survive, thrive, and engage? We reached out to several Minnesota writers with children to compile this list of suggestions. This is by no means definitive, nor complete.

This list was compiled by Kurtis Scaletta, Shannon Gibney, Lana Barkawi, Kathryn Savage, Molly Beth Griffin, Sarah Park Dahlen, Bao Phi, and Lorena Duarte Armstrong.

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Hollywood’s Dream of a Faceless Rumi

Earlier this month we learned that David Franzoni, the Oscar-nominated writer and Oscar-winning producer of Gladiator, is working on a new screenplay based on the life of Persian poet and scholar Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī.

We also learned, in an interview with The Guardian, that the writer would like Rumi to be played in this film by a white man.

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NOC x BNP at #CrossLines with Lauren Bullock

An historic event occurred during our special live recordings of Hard NOC Life from the Smithsonian’s CrossLines pop-up culture lab on intersectionality. The NOC and Black Nerd Problems formed a Nerd Voltron when we were joined by BNP’s own Lauren Bullock.

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APAture2015: Interview with Jason Bayani

We continue our spotlight on Kearny Street Workshop and its APAture2015: Future Tense, a series of showcases featuring emerging artists from the San Francisco Bay Area. This Saturday, October 10, the Comics & Illustration Showcase will feature a number of comic book artists. Yesterday was my interview with artist Thi Bui. Today, I chat with Jason Bayani, Program Manager of Kearny Street Workshop.

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NOC Poetry: For Bruce, 11/27/40 – 7/20/73

A poem for Bruce we repost on the anniversaries of his birth and of his death.

 

The Real Chow

Like Water:
Excerpts from Bruce Lee’s Last Interview
Hong Kong, July, 1973

I guess it all adds up to bad karma, man.
My father used to talk about these demons
that shadowed my life like rain clouds
crawling over an April afternoon.
Always there. But there’s more
to me than demons.
***
I’m serious.
Dismiss what I do. Chop-socky Kung-fu,
you might say. But that’s my art. Not just ass-kicking and
a wa-taa here and there. That jazz isn’t about
self-defense, man, it’s about saving
my self. And baby, every day I leave my soul out there,
bloody and tired. Honestly. Expressing. Myself. That
can’t be taken away,
no matter what.
***
See, I’m not a superstar.
That’s an illusion, man. I mean, a star
just burns up and fades into the seconds that
disappear on the horizon. But I got nowhere
else to be, but here. Tell…

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R.I.P. Maya Angelou

We are all saddened by the loss of Maya Angelou, who has passed away at the age of 86. Upon hearing about Angelou’s passing, I immediately thought about Life Doesn’t Frighten Me, a book published in the mid-1990s that paired her poetry with the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

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NOC Poetry: R.I.P. Amiri Baraka

The world lost a titan of the Black Arts Movement when the poet Amiri Baraka passed away today in Newark, New Jersey after several weeks of hospitalization. Baraka was 79 years old.

On twitter, honorary NOC Saladin Ahmed wondered if Baraka was the first poet to reference superheroes in his work.

The poem Ahmed was referring to, “In Memory of Radio,” comes from Baraka’s first collection of poetry, Preface to a Twenty Volume Suicide Note, which has been reprinted below. In it, Baraka — then still known as Leroi Jones — uses The Shadow to bookend the poem:

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NOC Poetry: “Open Letter to El Fuerte”

I am a video game player. There is no denying that. But I am also a father. So finding balance between family obligations and video games can be daunting at times. So I allow myself to buy one video game — at full retail price — a year. Well one year, I decided that the game I wanted was Street Fighter IV. I’ve been a big SF fan since SFII. My cousins and I would play that game to death in my uncle’s living room to the point that we were banished from the T.V.

I was extremely surprised that there was a character of Mexican heritage in the game, so that was another incentive for purchasing it. When I chose El Fuerte as my character, I was surprised that, well, he was shorter then Blanka, his quest is to find good recipes, really has no projectile moves, and, let’s be real, resembles a rejected understudy to Rey Mysterio Jr.

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NOC Poetry: “Supa Soul Sistas”

In honor of the Nerds of Color Lit Week, I wanted to share a piece called “Supa Soul Sista.” I wrote and performed it with Turiya Autry and our poetry duo Good Sista/Bad Sista a few years ago.

We wrote it because we are both unabashed nerds. And we are also both Black feminist poets, professors and activist/organizers. As many folks reading this blog know, this mix can cause a bigger explosion than a warp core breach in the matter/anti-matter containment unit on the Starship Enterprise. Often there are no images of anyone who looks like us in comics or in sci-fi, and those folks who do are not authentic representations, but are often more ideas of what white male writers think Black women are.

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NOC Poetry: “Blade, The Daywalker”

Last year, my friend and mentor, the poet Tim Seibles, was a finalist for a National Book Award in poetry for the book Fast Animal.

In the book, Tim writes a series of poems from the perspective of Blade, the Marvel Comics vampire hunter made famous by a series of movies starring Wesley Snipes.

For Lit Week, I asked Tim if we could publish one of the “Blade” poems here on The Nerds of Color. After the jump, you’ll find the first poem in the book’s series of five. The other poems are titled “Blade, Historical,” “Blade, Unplugged,” “Blade, Unsympathetic,” and “Blade, Epiphany.” So, if you haven’t already, go out and get a copy of Fast Animal right now — and hell, all of Tim’s other books of poetry. You won’t be sorry.

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