Saturday, February 22, 2020

From the Black Arts Enterprise to Bad Men

Back in 2011, the University of Michigan Press published my first book The Black Arts Enterprise. In April, the University Press of Virginia will publish my second book, Bad Men: Creative Touchstones of Black Writers. How did I get from a book about the Black Arts Movement to one about bad men and black boys as muses for writers?

It's been a journey. After completing my first book, which concentrated on the 1960s and 1970s, I knew that I wanted my next full-length book to consider more contemporary authors and writings.
Some of the main subjects for The Black Arts Enterprise were Nikki Giovanni, Haki Madhubuti, Larry Neal, Sonia Sanchez, and Amiri Baraka. For Bad Men, some of the focal authors include Tyehimba Jess, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Kevin Young, Adrian Matejka, and Paul Beatty.

In this newest book, Baraka returns, as I devote a major section to one his poems, "Jungle Jim Flunks His Screen Test." In that regard, Baraka serves as one of the bridges from book one to book two.

The kinds of source material I consulted changed in important ways. My first book primarily focuses on poetry -- published in individual volumes, anthologies, and literary magazines. For Bad Men, I cover poetry volumes, but I also take a look at online news articles, blog entries, a comic strip, rap lyrics, and a novel.

A notebook on Bad Men: Creative Touchstones of Black Writers

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