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ITV Reporters Discuss Whether Morrissey Autobiography Is Good.

I love Morrissey, and yes I purchased my copy of his autobiography from Ebay. Morrissey’s book is not available in Canada yet. I have read the early sections of the book Morrissey is a talented writer. Morrissey is famous for being outspoken. Morrissey’s autobiography debut at number one on Amazon.com!

Does Anyone Know Any Publishers Are Accepting Poetry Manuscripts?

Okay, it has been over three years since my first book “You Don’t Know Me” was published and the frustration is only growing. Several new poems have already been published one poem “Dear Langston Hughes” was published in the anthology “Seminal” by Arsenal Pulp Press in 2007. However, I have completed a second poetry manuscript and I want it published. Does anyone knows about any publishers  are accepting poetry manuscripts let me know?

I have already submitted poems to various literary journals and I managed to get a few poems published this year. I have read the Writer’s Market, and the Poets Market.  I already mailed poetry manuscripts  to publishers and I will send out some more next month.

Michelle Obama On The View: I Love Michelle Obama!!!

I notice the Republican party and even the Occidental media are constantly “attacking” Michelle Obama and I was trying to figure out the reasons why. Why does Cindy McCain always get off so easy yet Mrs. Obama is getting all the grief? The reason Michelle Obama is being attacked relates to both racism and sexism. If you watch the clip from “The View” I agree with Whoopi Goldberg’s comment that Michelle represents a positive image of black women. Thank you Whoopi girlfriend for speaking the truth!

The representations of black women in the Occident tends to be very racist and sexist. The media would rather the public pay attention to the stupid games of supermodel Naomi Campbell then the elegant sophisticated Michelle Obama. Naomi Campbell is the kind of stereotype of black womanhood the mainstream loves. Michelle shatters these racist and sexist stereotypes she is a hard working, intelligent, beautiful black woman and she doesn’t take crap from anybody.

The American media of course are going to “attack” Michelle Obama because they want to remind her because she is a black woman she has ” stay in her place”.

Where are the mainstream liberal feminist groups? Why aren’t the feminists rallying to support Michelle Obama? Laura Bush defended Michelle Obama and I was surprised. At least Laura Bush the current first lady has enough class to speak up and say Mrs. Obama was being unfairly attacked. The question has to be asked why are the white heterosexual liberal feminists silent?

Oops I forgot white liberal feminist organizations such as the NOW Organization are too busy supporting their “white sister” Senator Hillary Clinton. After all in the mainstream white heterosexual feminist movement white heterosexual women are at the front of the bus and women of colour are supposed to be silent at the back.Let’s not forget white heterosexual women have white skin privilege, access to power through the marriage market, patriarchy, and the resources of the Mythical Norm.

Also don’t think for a moment that the mainstream white feminist groups aren’t racist against Mrs. Obama because she’s an outspoken black woman. Michelle Obama has a lot of power she is Barack’s wife. According to the information I have learned there is no way Hillary Clinton is going to be Barack’s Vice President candidate. The racist and misandrist attacks against Barack Obama from some white heterosexual feminists such as Gloria Steinem and Geraldine Ferraro must not be forgotten.

Now Hillary has lost her opportunity to become the first white female USA president I doubt white feminist groups would bother to stand up for Michelle Obama. Remember the 1982 black feminist classic “All The Women Are White, All The Blacks Are Men, But Some Of Us Are Brave” edited by Gloria T Hull, Patricia Bell Scott, and Barbara Smith?

Everyone should take the time to read “All The Women Are White, All The Blacks Are Men, But Some Of Us Are Brave” it is the essence of black feminism and it points out why black people we must support one another.

The book also points out the fact there is a racial divide in the feminist movement. The genesis of “All The Women Are White, All The Blacks Are Men, But Some Of Us Are Brave” is to uplift black women and black people to realize the more we help ourselves the better off we will be.

“All The Women Are White, All The Blacks Are Men, But Some of Us Are Brave” highlights the fact black women are treated as invisible by black men, white men, and also white women. Black women are often being forced into a tug of war to choose between their race and gender. “All The Women Are White, All The Blacks Are Men, But Some Of Us Are Brave” points out black women should not choose. Racial and sexual oppression affects black women’s lives and these issues cannot be ignored.

In the book black feminists such as Patricia Bell Scott, Gloria T Hull, Barbara Smith, and other black female scholars break down the reasons why black feminism is so important. You can get a copy of “All The Women Are White, All The Blacks Are Men, But Some Of Us Are Brave” at the local public library.

Michelle Obama is in unchartered territory she is a very strong opinionated black woman and white America can’t handle that. It is ludicrous and ignorant for white people to suddenly think Mrs. Obama should forget about the issue of “race”, “gender”, and “class” just because her husband is the Democratic Party Candidate. I honestly believe there is a fear in the mainstream of Michelle Obama and the right wing are trying to neutralize her by saying she’s “too black”.

It is clear to me if you read between the lines Michelle Obama is viewed in the Occident as being “too black.” Remember Michelle’s comment about “being proud of my country.” The white media and the Republicans had a field day with Michelle’s comment. However, what right do white people have to tell a black woman about America’s turbulent history?

Yes, now in America there are more “opportunities” for people of colour to rise up the social ladder in North America. However, the “change” is still not over and it would be foolish for people to suggest racism and sexism no longer exists. The racist and sexist attitude of the Occident is that Michelle Obama is “complaining”. The racist attitude is black people we should just “forget” the past and move on. We cannot just forget history and turn the page because history can also be repeated.

Does being too black mean Michelle Obama should just ignore the incredible racism and sexism in North American society against black women? Yes, Barack Obama is making history in America and the world by winning the Democratic Party nomination. Finally, it appears change is taking place in North America and it is about damn time. However, Barack Obama is still not in the White House yet. Despite the Occident claiming that “change” is occurring doesn’t mean white liberals and white Republicans really want social change to occur either.

The Occident are far too busy trying to paint Mrs. Obama as though she is the classic stereotypical angry black woman. Michelle Obama is a breath of fresh air she’s such a shrewd politician she will not allow the Occident to get away with attacking her.

We are so conditioned in society to accept “whiteness” as the center of the universe that we don’t even question it. bell hooks reminds us in her outstanding book “Outlaw Culture” we must be “enlightened witnesses” to racism and sexism. Fox News has the audacity to call Mrs. Obama a “baby mama”. The term is offensive but Fox News reeks of racism. First off, Michelle Obama is a married woman she is not a “baby mama”. Would Fox News ever make such a racism and sexism comment about Cindy MCain? Of course not.

I applaud Michelle and Barack Obama for all their hard work I think for some people they really can’t handle the fact black people are now in powerful political positions. The anger in the Occident is they really don’t want to see the United States have a black president they would prefer the status quo the Mythical Norm.

Book Review: Choose Me

Choose Me, is Chinese Canadian writer, Evelyn’s Lau’s second short story collection. The stories in this collection are beautifully written. The stories are very depressing, sad, miserable, but also very realistic. The women in Choose Me aren’t impulsive women, they are simply women that  are desperate and want to be loved. The question remains, do these women love themselves enough to understand why they chase men that are unattainable?

My only criticism of Choose Me is, that I think the women in the book needed more “agency” and “control” over their own lives. I wanted to see more independence from the female characters. I was hoping the women in Choose Me would eventually “stand up” for themselves instead of allowing themselves to be taken advantage by men.

The young women in Choose Me are chasing older men that have financial resources but realize its just a mask.

The women in this book seem to be blinded by the devotion or attention from men. For instance, why did Zoe in the story “Family”, chase after Douglas the married father with two kids? Why was the prostitute Sybil, in the story “The Outing”, upset at her John for taking her to a common bawdy house?

The only story in Choose Me that shows some female agency is “A Summer Place”. Catherine isn’t in love with Barry, although he invites her to Max’s summer place. Although Catherine, the photographer, has feelings for Max he is unattainable. Max is a good man, he’s in love with Claire. Yet Catherine can’t help having feelings for Max. Max is wealthy he owns property and he’s a tall fit man.

It is clear Catherine is sexually attracted to Max for all the wrong reasons. Catherine is content though, she understands that Max is in love with Claire and she doesn’t attempt to cause problems to their relationship. Catherine realizes she will have to find someone else, that loves her and the emotional connection is mutual. Although Barry attempts to make a move on Catherine,she rejects Barry because she doesn’t love him.

One argument is, Lau has created characters that appear as though they are “victims” of their  own circumstances. The women are in love with men that are within their grasp yet never reaching them.

The strongest points of Choose Me is Lau plunges into the minds of these women and exposes their faults. The anger, the frustration, the  depression, the passionate words Lau writes  are wonderful. Lau explores the fierce and frantic state of heterosexual relationships. Although Lau’s work can also definitely relate to gays and lesbians as well.

The bridge between women and men is wide according to Lau. The men in Choose Me are alluring, attractive, powerful, but also pernicious. The men in Choose Me are evil, vindictive, they know the women love them by also love ” playing with their emotions”. These men “play mind games” “pretending to be interested” in the women yet they are just just stringing them along.

The men simply want the “attention” of the women it boosts their ego these men don’t “love” the women. The men in Choose Me are all about raising their own self esteem while hurting women in the process. Yet the men in “Choose Me” are all about “holding hands” or giving “soft kisses” or ” affectionate words” with the women until the women realize its too late.

On the one hand, you can say the women could be misinterpreting the actions of these men. However, Lau suggests the men in Choose Me know exactly what they are doing. The women believe that when the men shower them with “attention” that they are interested in them. Sadly, the women soon realize these men are all about themselves. The feelings the men have for the women are ephemeral not eternal. The men also have other women on the side such as wives or girlfriends yet also want more attention.

The males in Choose Me gain strength from taking advantage of women not just for sex but just attention. Some men just like it when women are around them that are “into them” but they are not “into the women”. The way these men “keep” the women around is by making the women “think” something might happen but it never does.

The women in Choose Me realize they have to break it off and abandon these men so they can get their lives back on track. I kind of wish the stories in Choose Me were a bit longer. I was dying to  to learn more about the female characters. I wonder if Evelyn will write another short story collection?

I wish Lau had explored a bit more about the aftermath of these relationships. How did Zoe get over Douglas? Did Sybili stop prostituting? Did Catherine find true love? Evelyn Lau’s writes so eloquently with clarity about the battle field in relation to the affairs of the heart. Choose Me is a wonderful book and Lau’s writing is crisp, clear, descriptive and fantastic.

Sylvia Plath & Anne Sexton Two Confessional Poets

Confessional poetry is autobiographical, and is based on the life experiences of the poet. Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath deserve credit for revolutionizing the art of poetry writing during the mid twentieth century. I believe due to Sexton and Plath’s incredible poems, most of the poems published now tends to be “confessional poetry”.

My first book, “You Don’t Know Me”, is an example of confessional poetry. I was writing about my life experiences that were  painful, but it was so cathartic to express the pain through writing. I felt a lot better after I wrote about the depression, the suicide attempts, the unhappiness in my life.

When I look back at the dark poems in “You Don’t Know Me” they are like  photographs, snapshots, in time in my life when I needed to express the misery. I needed to experience the pain  in order to move on.

In Women’s Studies, the topic of female vulnerability is often discussed and I wonder if people like it when women are “vulnerable”?

Some art critics hate confessional poetry, because they consider confessional poetry to be a form of self loathing. Is confessional poetry art or harmful to the written word? Life isn’t perfect though life is messy, filled with ups and downs. Shouldn’t poetry reflect this fact that our lives can sometimes have moments of unhappiness and despair?

My viewpoint is, one of the reasons confessional poetry is so popular is because it is much easier to write than inspirational poetry. We all have life experiences and we can tap into these experiences and create poems. Some poetry critics believe confessional poetry is  pathetic for the poet to express his or her`s demons into the poems.  I strongly disagree that confessional poetry is not true art. I must confess, I love free verse and I don`t like traditional forms of poetry.

The quandary for Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton is, they are more “famous” for committing suicide than for  their poetry. The word “suicide” is often attached to them. The word “suicide” is such a loaded controversial term, because people have divergent views on this incendiary issue.

I honestly believe the pain and the grief was so unbearable for both Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath that they believed suicide was their only option.  In the mid twentieth century, there weren’t a lot of therapies, anti depressants, or treatments available for people suffering from mental illness.

Does it matter that Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath committed suicide? Should it matter to the reader? Should Plath and Sexton be known for the fact they both ended their lives prematurely? Does this fascinate the public and why?

Sylvia Plath committed suicide by sticking her head in an oven in 1963. Plath died at the tender age of thirty,  she was a mother of two young children. Plath had tremendous success with her poetry although she is best known for her autobiographical novel “The Bell Jar”.

According to a biography I read, Anne Sexton was fascinated by Sylvia Plath’s suicide. In fact, Anne Sexton  wrote a poem about her friend’s death. Sexton was also famous in the literary world during the 1960s and 1970s. Sexton won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry for her powerful collection of poetry “Live Or Die” in 1967.

Anne Sexton chose death she committed suicide at the age of forty five in 1974. Sexton locked herself in her garage started the engine of her car and committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning . Suicide, death, depression, unhappiness, are the ingredients of confessional poetry.

Sometimes I wonder if these themes in poetry are healthy for the reading audience? Should death, suicide, despair, and unhappiness be explored in art? Or should poetry be about more traditional themes like couplets & haiku’s ? Sometimes I wonder if poetry was a form of catharsis for Sexton and Plath because they both experienced so much grief in their lives?

My perspective is, perhaps the reason people are interested in Sexton and Plath’s poetry because some readers can see the veracity in their work. Maybe deep inside the minds of the readers they believe through the “poetry” are the answers to solve their questions about Sexton and Plath’s mental breakdowns?

Everyone loves drama it seems, and maybe people aren’t that interested in reading “inspirational poetry”. I honestly believe writing “uplifting poetry” is much harder than writing “confessional poetry”.

Despite Sexton and Plath tremendous success in the literary world they were both mothers during a time when America was in transition from post world war II to the capitalist world.  Does the public like to read poetry about death and self loathing because people want to “capture” the emotions of the poet?

I wonder if readers “pity” Sexton and Plath because they were unable to overcome their mental breakdowns? Do readers honestly respect both women due to their literary talents or are they “attracted” to the fact both committed suicide so young?

Zine Review: Kerosene Opinion Is Fuel

On Monday, I received my copy of a wonderful zine called “Kerosene”. Kerosene is a zine that was created through the blood, sweat, hard work, and tears of my fellow blogger Aulelia. The art work is beautiful and the words in Kerosene are passionate, vivid, powerful, and enlightening. Aulelia is a young black British woman of African hertiage. Aulelia was born in Tanzania, she attends the University of Bristol in England. Aulelia’s blog entries proves England is not all about tea, cookies, Wimbledon, and bad weather. Aulelia is the editor of Kerosene.

The written word is very powerful and important through words we are able to communicate, express ourselves, transmit messages and thoughts through language. Reading is knowledge and knowledge is power.

My article, “Shades of Blackface” was republished in the zine and a second piece “where are the gay black men on TV?” was also published.

It is very interesting to read about black people living in the United Kingdom. I admit I have my own misconceptions about the UK and Kerosene really shatters a lot of the myths I have about the UK. It is also insightful to read about the frustrations, the joy, the issues that black Caribbean and African people deal with in jolly old England.

Aulelia’s article, “The Ascent Of The Black Female Blogger” is an important article. The internet has provided black women with a voice since black women are displaced due to race in the feminist movement and gender in the black community. Aulelia is an African goddess she is so passionate about black issues and politics she has really opened my mind to new ideas. Aulelia runs a wonderful thought provoking blog called Charcoal Ink. You can find Charcoal Ink on my blog roll or go to http://www.charcoalink.wordpress.com and check out Aulelia’s blog.

Last summer, Aulelia asked me to submit two articles to the zine she said she liked my writing. It is really endearing that someone else from across the pond actually responds and likes my writing. It feels good to know that there is a connection through the written word. The zine is excellent and well written. A wonderful article I loved was written by a Thinashe Mushakavanhu a young Zimbabwe man. Thinashe lives in Carmarthen in Wales. Thinashe is very educated he has completed a Masters degree in Creative Writing and he’s working on his PhD in English. Thinashe ‘s piece “Notes From A Black Exile In Wales” discusses his frustrations with being one of the few Africans living in Wales. Thinashe discusses the feelings of anger about being treated as “the other” in Wales.

For example, Thinashe says people ask him about “what is the solution to your country?” Of course it is so offensive that people put Thinashe on the spot he’s just one person how is he supposed to stop the paranoid dictator Robert Mugabe? I found it so strange and bizarre that people have the audacity to put Thinashe on the spot like that it. It is just so rude and arrogant it reeks of the Occident’s attitude towards African politics. Thinashe’s piece focuses on identity politics and how he negotiates between the public and private spheres as a young African man living in Wales. Wales has a very small black population compared to other places in the United Kingdom.

Onyeka’s piece “Being A Lot Of Things At Once” is about the issues of identity and our views of blackness. What is “blackness”? What does the term really mean? Onyeka’s article investigates her personal views on the issue. Onyeka believes that the term “blackness” is too myopic and essentialist. Onyeka’s perspective is    there is multiplicity in the black community and people should not be forced to identity a “certain way” to fit into a certain paradigm.  Onyeka provides a few examples she has a white boyfriend she likes rock music, wearing Doc Martens, and she has two tattoos.

If you would like to purchase a copy of Kerosene feel free to contact Aulelia via her blog at http://www.charcoalink.wordpress.com

Book Review: Sister Outsider

What does it mean to be black, female, and lesbian? Audre Lorde a black lesbian feminist attempts to answer these questions in her groundbreaking book “Sister Outsider”. How does a black lesbian woman negotiate between the gay, heterosexual, and black heterosexual spheres? Is the feminist movement a movement where the black woman can work in concert with white females? Or are mainstream feminists simply racists that want to devalue the experiences and views of black women?

“Sister Outsider” was published in the year 1984 by the Crossing Press. Lorde believes poetry and writing is important for black female emancipation. Lorde view is poetry is essential for people to express themselves and she views limiting poetry as a form of class bias and prejudice. Lorde discusses the “mythical norm” which is the white, thin, Christian, heterosexual male. Lorde says the mythical norm has the ultimate power in society since everyone is compared to the white heterosexual man. The mythical norm also creates, enforces, and legislates, laws that discriminate against the black woman.

Lorde also states that in order for emancipation to occur literacy is paramount. Lorde’s view is in order for for black liberation to occur people of African descent we must work together despite our differences. Lorde does not believe in separation from the black male she rejects white heterosexual feminist politics that focuses exclusively on gender. Lorde’s view is race matters and to ignore race and class is to ignore reality.

Book Review: Small Changes Big Results A Twelve Week Action Plan For A Better Life

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Let me tell you dear readers after a year of lying to myself about feeling tired and lacking energy I realized I had to confront my fears. During my life on this planet I have always had a love hate relationship with my body. I know how to lose weight but the struggle I have is keeping the weight off. I remember when I was young in my mid twenties a few years ago and I could eat anything I desired and not gain a pound.

I am an emotional eater when I feel depressed I eat, when I am lonely I eat, when I feel sad I eat. I definitely don’t want to be in the situation where my health is compromised. The quandary is I love food I love to eat. The problem was for the longest time I didn’t know when to stop.

I remember when I was a kid in the 1980s I used to watch Golden Girls all the time and this is when I fell in love with cheesecake. I know it sounds funny but I remember watching Blanche, Rose, Dorothy, and Sophia say “I’ll get the cheesecake” . Sometimes I imagined I was sitting at the kitchen table with the Golden Girls and eating a slice of cheesecake. It was so exciting seeing the Golden Girls eat cheesecake I told myself I simply had to have some! I just love cheesecake but I also realize it can pack on the pounds. I mean does low calorie or low fat cheesecake actually exist?

I realized I not only had internal issues but also external issues. I dreaded looking in the mirror and seeing how much weight I had gained in the past year. Instead of waiting until 2008 to start exercising again I decided in early December 2007 to begin my exercise program. So for over the past month I have been working out and now I’m starting to get sick of it. One thing my friend told me on the phone the other day is that I have a tendency to give up when things get tough. It is true I realize this is one of my main weakness. I chicken out if life gets hard or if it will take a while to reach a goal.

Ever since December 4th 2007 I have been exercising at least four to six times a week. I started off working out for twenty five minutes and now I have increased the intensity to thirty five minutes on the treadmill. I also lift some weights. I have broad shoulders and I remember even when I was young I never was a thin person. I don’t know if I will reach 150 pounds I used to be that thin around ten years ago. The smallest I have ever been in the past five years was around 170 or 175 pounds. I am not a tall man in fact I am average height. I am five feet eleven inches tall so I am not a tall person.

Last month I began reading a book called “Small Changes Big Results” by Ellie Krieger. One section of the book I liked was when Krieger says to write a “dear me letter.” A “dear me letter” is a letter you write to yourself discussing the issues you have with your body image, food, and the goals you want out of life. Krieger’s opinion is that you need good mental health to balance the physical exercise.

Krieger is a dietitian and her book is very well written and also makes a lot of common sense. Krieger says to start a food and exercise diary. A food and exercise diary is really simple it can be a notepad or just a journal. You have to track your progress to see how many times you workout during the week and also the food you are eating. You can pick up and notice patterns that are either helpful or harmful. Krieger doesn’t say to stop cold turkey completely because that won’t work. All Krieger is saying is eat the right foods and cut down on the bad foods. Krieger isn’t a drill sergent and her writing is not patronizing or pretentious either.

Krieger is very realistic she says the problem people have with exercise isn’t the motivation but keeping up with the cardio workouts. I love this advice because I notice when I write down the specific days and times I have exercised that it motivates me. I am now counting calories and reading labels. I have been working out for a month and I do see progress but I am still working on reaching my goal. I definitely see a difference I have lost weight and I have a long way to go.

I don’t eat fast food anymore I also realize that too much starch and potatoes are poison. I am eating more fruits and vegetables as well. I think the struggle I have is and I know this will sound  foolish is  I didn’t know exactly what to eat? I just eat whatever I want. My metabolism has changed and now I have to modify my eating habits.  Krieger’s book makes an excellent argument that I have to learn to train myself to only eat when I am hungry and to stop when I have eaten enough food.

Mr. Procrastination

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I admit it I am Mr. procrastination. I always tell myself that I’m going to do something and then I forget about it for the longest time. Today I am drafting a list of all the things I want to try to do in 2008. I won’t put the pressure on about finding a publisher in 2008 because that’s a lot of pressure. I think the important thing for me in 2008 is to be effective.

I also tend to say I am going to do something and then eventually get around to doing it at the last minute. Although, I already have one book published “You Don’t Know Me” I didn’t appreciate the way TSAR published the poetry volume in 2005. At least I have a professional credit and the book is available in libraries. When I think about it 2005 is almost three years ago it is time to move on. I will never have that first experience again but maybe I can have better experiences the next time around.

It is time to move on from that painful experience. Just because I had one bad experience doesn’t mean every other experience with writing is going to be bad. I need an attitude adjustment ASAP! I tend to get down on myself when bad things happen. I am cognizant of having these negative feelings and emotions. Sometimes I think the negative thoughts surround me and I allow these negative thoughts to control me. I have to break the cycle. I am aware of the patterns this vicious cycle that has entered my mind and I doubt myself. I guess everyone has doubts? I will be honest I definitely think will I ever get another book published? I have this thought a lot.

I received a letter from a fellow writer in November 2007 and he told me to never surrender. Sometimes it is hard because a lot of the time a writer is waiting. You are either waiting for an e-mail or letter of acceptance for publication or a letter or e-mail for rejection. I also realize nobody owes me anything. It is harsh but true the editor or publisher either likes my work or he or she doesn’t. So it is my job to make sure my work is polished. The waiting game can be psychologically, emotionally, and physically exhausting. However, when I receive an e-mail of acceptance it makes everything worth while. It gives me the courage to not give up.

I guess everyone has doubts. Sometimes I wonder am I good enough? Why is it taking so long to receive a response? I always send S.A.S.E. with my submissions because I know publishers will throw your work in the garbage if you don’t send S.A.S.E. I also always send international reply coupons as well.

My printer is acting up again! I hate when that happens! I think I need some new computer ink.I know it sounds corny but I got to keep on trying. Isn’t that corny? So its time to move on from that negative experience and I am looking for a new publisher to republish “You Don’t Know Me”. I also have a second poetry manuscript completed and I am conducting a lot of research. Let me tell you it is so hard to get a poetry book published. Poetry isn’t considered a money maker in the book industry unless you are famous. Everyone knows that I am certainly not famous. I am just an ordinary man that has a love for poetry. For the past two years I have tried and tried to get another poetry book published only to encounter rejection. I still haven’t given up on poetry because I have a passion for it I love to sit and write out my thoughts on paper. I love to read my poetry aloud it is a very soothing experience.

I am still sending my poetry out to magazines, literary journals but I am going to focus less on poetry in 2008. My poetry was published in a literary journal and an anthology in 2007. I have decided I am going to leave poetry behind for a bit. I am now going to concentrate on a manuscript that I had written over three years ago yet it has been collecting dust in my drawer.

I have this fear about fiction writing I can admit it. Fiction is my weakness I haven’t written a lot of fiction. I only had one short story published and that was five years ago. I tend to write mostly non fiction such as poetry, essays, opinion pieces, and features articles. I feel more comfortable with this form of writing then with fiction. However, I’ve decided that I’m going to try in 2008 to find a publisher for my novel.

A few years ago I bought the Writer’s Market Literary agent book and I will be honest I didn’t find the book very helpful. One reason was a lot of the agents in the book simply were not looking at new writers. Of course, I realize the Writers Market book is only one book to find an agent.

In Canada, one of the problems here is that there are simply very few literary agents. The Canadian book industry is very small. The Canadian publishing industry is kind of pretentious in the sense it is all about literary fiction. You know the drill a lot of Margaret Atwood and her clones. I find Canadian writing so boring it just doesn’t interest me. The way I write I know that it would work with an American publisher. The Canadian book industry also has a very myopic attitude towards black writers. One literary agent told that the Canadian book industry thinks blacks don’t sell and that we don’t read.

The United States book industry has a much larger black book market. I won’t make the mistake I made a few years ago. I think the USA is the way to go! The dilemma is most of the literary agents in Canada will only work with seasoned pros because these writers are already established. So I have decided I’m not even going to bother looking for a Canadian literary agent. I am going to look for an American literary agent.I thought about looking for a UK literary agent too? I am going to think about the English language world I don’t know why I wasted so much time thinking about Canada?

I am still going to research on the internet. I was thinking about buying a book on literary agents. I think tomorrow or perhaps next week I will visit the public library or bookstore? I already know a few things to watch out for. The literary agents that charge fees for a manuscript evaluations are agents I will avoid like the plague. Also, I realize even if I do find a literary agent there is no guarantee he or she can sell my book? I am also thinking about conducting more research on small press publishers in North America as well. Also, I need to find a literary agent that is gay positive because the novel I have written deals with homosexuality. I definitely don’t want an agent that is homophobic or has a problem with gay writers.

Book Review: Buller Men and Batty Bwoys

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Is Canada a utopia paradise and the battle for gay rights are over? African Canadian scholar Wesley Crichlow shatters this misconception with his groundbreaking Buller Men and Batty Bwoys. My perspective is, Crichlow was unfairly criticized for not conducting “enough” research for his book when it was first published a few years ago.

Crichlow made the first step he wrote the book. It is often easy for some gay black men to attack Crichlow. Yet the question has to be asked, what are other gay black men doing to advance the rights of gay black Canadian men? Its pretty easy to hide in the closet or live in a glass closet in the ivory towers of universities and colleges isn’t it? It is very easy for gay black professors to write books about the black community but never discuss their own homosexuality in the public sphere?

I am so sick of these gay black cowards that roam free in the white gay community yet are suddenly silent about black community politics. Wesley Crichlow is no coward he is a real man and he is a brave black gay Canadian man for writing his book.

Crichlow’s book is a building block it is a step in the right direction. The mainstream and black communities are apathetic to the concerns of gay black Canadian men. Crichlow’s book finally provides some context into the reasons why this occurs.

Crichlow is a black gay Canadian activist, he fought for black gay rights in the city of Toronto for almost two decades. Although Crichlow has moved from Toronto he once owned a bookstore called “A Different Booklist”. “A Different Booklist” is still open today on Bathurst street in Toronto and is a very important store because its core focus is about providing a platform for black writers. Black Canadian writers we still encounter a patronizing, elitist, and racist Canadian publishing industry.

The title of the book “Buller Men and Batty Bwoys” refers to the Caribbean slang for “gay men”. A “Buller Man” or a “Batty Bwoy” is basically a man that engages in anal sex. The root term is offensive and derogatory because it stereotypes and reduces gay black men into sex objects and brands us as just being interested in sex.

Crichlow provides an account about his childhood growing up in Trinidad and how he struggled with his sexuality. He also discusses how he attempted to fit into the mainstream Canadian gay community and he encountered gay racism. Crichlow moved to Canada from his native Trinidad as a teenager in the year 1981.

The autobiographical elements in the book are a fascinating insights into Crichlow’s life and the misconceptions people have about Canada. I wish Crichlow had expanded more on this section of the book. I was curious I wanted to know more, about the real Wesley Crichlow? For instance, although white Canadian homosexuals are being praised for fighting for “gay rights”,  there is still silence to the racism gay people of colour experience in Canada. For instance, some gay people of colour will not participate in Toronto’s annual Gay Pride event because they view the focus is too white and Eurocentric.

The Canadian homosexual press usually ignore gay people of colour, rarely ever have any black gay artists on the cover of their magazine unless its black history month or it relates to sex. Crichlow’s book explores the issue that in Canada to be “gay” essentially means to be “white.”

Another issue, Crichlow explores, is the binary concept of how black Canadian gay men are consistently framed. Black gay men are viewed as the “entertainment” whether its for “sex” or for a “drag performance”. Young black gay men are stereotyped as overlty muscular, dark skinned sex whores for advertisments for “gay male events”.

Often these young black men have extremely big black penises, or gay black men are stereotyped as the freaky drag queen in a bright fright blonde wig such as Ru Paul. Where does this leave the regular gay black man that isn’t a stud or a drag queen?

Crichlow book is powerful because the reader learns that gay black men we are multi dimensional people with complex lives. Crichlow also explores the fact for many black Canadian gay men to be “gay” is not the focus our “lives”. We struggle with other forms of oppression such as misandry, sexism, and racism. Gay rights is not the only battle gay black Canadian men worry about. We are just trying to survive in a racist, misandrist, and anti black male Canadian society. We have more concerns to deal with then just being gay.

Crichlow’s book “Buller men and Batty Bowys” asks the question, why are gay black men ignored not just by the mainstream white gay community but also by the heterosexist black and Caribbean culture? Crichlow’s book investigates the issue of “Caribbean culture”. In America, black gays are more organized they have their own “black gay communities” in major cities such as Atlanta, Detroit, New York City, Washington D.C., Los Angeles. In Canada, there is no “black gay community.”

Crichlow’s book explores these “hidden men” by interviewing nineteen black men in Toronto and Halifax. The reader learns of the lengths black Caribbean/Canadian men endure to conceal their homosexuality. Yet unlike African American books published on homosexuality the reader will learn from one interview subject named “Bill” that many black Canadian gay men don’t use the “gay” label. Bill has a woman in Halifax, and two children yet he believes sex with men is fine because it’s just his personal business.

Another man Crichlow interviewed “Lennox”, he is also from Halifax is upset about the the virulent white gay racism against black gay men in his city. We learn from a young gay black man Neil that he hates the black community for it’s homophobia. According to Neil, black people are uncivilized and backwards. However, Laqueisha a transsexual receives love and support from her family despite the homophobia she encounters in the black community in Toronto. Crichlow peels beneath the surface about the social values and customs of the black Caribbean/African families.  He explores how black Canadian gay men are often forced to conform to compulsory heterosexuality by marrying women and staying in the closet.

For many gay black men in Canada, it is not an option to “come out”, and to “move” to the mainstream white community, because this is also “foreign” and not “home.”

The interviews,and Crichlow’s personal accounts of his history are the core strength of the book. Crichlow says he chose to write the book in the tradition of the “biomythography” just like his heroine the late black lesbian writer Audre Lorde.

Crichlow claims in the conclusion of the book he wants “change” to occur in the black community. Yet how many black people of Caribbean heritage heard about Crichlow’s book? Also, I discern from the academic tone of the book unfortunately, the way Crichlow writes indicates he may have lost his voice. Crichlow’s “audience” is not the “general public”, this book appears to be for an academic audience.

Despite, the “academic” narrative though Crichlow succeeds in crafting a book that is very unique specifically because the book deals with gay black Canadian men a population that has consistently been ignored by the racist, misandrist, homophobic, and heterosexist, Canadian society.

It was unfortunate there simply wasn’t enough publicity for this book. Crichlow’s book is a brave attempt to provide some insight into the lives of gay black Canadian men.

I was shocked that the University of Toronto press charged such a high price for the book. When I first reviewed “Buller Men And Batty Bwoys” I was amazed at the price of the book it cost $50 dollars. Nobody is going to pay $50 dollars for a book. I understand the University of Toronto press is an academic and scholar press. My view is, this is a complete disservice to the general public to price the book out of the marketplace.

Who is the real audience for Crichlow’s book? Was Crichlow’s book intended for the university student, the scholar, or the general person?

Crichlow’s book is strong when he provides an account about his own personal experiences. Some people may yawn and say “not another black gay man coming out book.” My answer is the more the better, especially when its about being black and gay outside of the United States.

I find too often black Canadians we tie ourselves too much to American culture and society. I enjoyed this book because it related to Canada and the issues taking place right here in this country. However, to be black and gay in Canada you are invisible in so many ways. We are consistently displaced.

Go visit the Canadian libraries or bookstores where are the books about us? Don’t our lives matter? Although gay rights has advanced in Canada, there still is the issue of “othering” that often takes place. Black gay Canadian men are viewed as “something else”, not “really gay”, and certainly not “a part” of the Canadian gay communities.

For instance, the Gay and Lesbian Archives in Toronto is all white, there is nothing about the lives and experiences of gay black men in their archives. Go visit the Archives for yourself and you will see exactly what I am saying.

Crichlow’s book is important because books are knowledge, power, and a written history. I don’t need the Gay And Lesbian Archives to give me validation that’s for sure.

Crichlow’s book is a written account it is a “part” of black gay Canadian history and that’s crucial. Language is powerful it is a system of expression its a way for voices to be heard.

Crichlow is cognizant of the “impetus” to publish this book to advance black gay Canadian studies. Black gay Canadian men we need our own “identity” that is distinct from “African Americans”.

Far too often in Canadian bookstores the shelves are stocked with books about black Americans. What does it mean to be gay, black, and Canadian? How do we negotiate between these identities?

Crichlow’s book is not perfect, but then what book is? Crichlow should be praised for taking the time, effort, energy, to writing a book about us about black gay Canadian men. Our lives do matter and despite the ideology that Canada is a utopia paradise the covert racism in Canadian societies is very real and ugly.

Crichlow’s book is a form of emancipation the book is tangible, real, and so are our lives. Visit your local public library or university library and read this book. I think you will learn something.

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