Monday, November 27, 2006

Kentecloth: Southwest Voices of the African Diaspora : the Oral Tradition Comes to the Page

Kentecloth: Southwest Voices of the African Diaspora : the Oral Tradition Comes to the Page
Edited by Jas Mardis

From the Publisher

Kente Cloth editor Mardis wins Pushcart Prize
From the Dallas Morning News

Dallas writer James Mardis` poem Invisible Man has been selected as one of the 28 poetry winners of the 24th annual Pushcart Prize.

The Pushcart Prize honors the best of small literary presses the winning works are selected by 200 contributing editors.Chosen from 5.000 nominations, the 62 selections--including poems, short stories and essays--will be published in November in the anthology The Pushcart Prize XXIV. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Reviewer: Karen Celestan from New Orleans


From a full-length performance poem in script form to a teen-ager`s image-laden perception of self, Kente Cloth: Southwest Voices of The African Diaspora University of North Texas Press revives on paper the ancient tradition of griots or storytellers. James Mardis, an award-winning poet and radio commentator in Dallas, has compiled an anthology that features mostly unpublished writers. Collecting the work of more than 45 scribes primarily from Louisiana and Texas, Mardis has succeeded in capturing the rhythm-and-blues lives of people in a common-folk vernacular. Simple, earnest and true. Kente Cloth is divided into four basic categories: Witnesses, Performers, Tellers and Signifiers, with a range of styles and tales that tantalize the reader into jumping into a pool of griots. Jesse Truvillion`s A Stray Dog`s Great Day, Nadir Bomani`s Someone`s Knockin` at My Door and Phyllis Allen`s The Red Swing run the gamut from tribute to modern-day vignette. The poetry of Monica Denise Spears, Bertram Barnes, Zenaura Melynia Smith, Gayle Bell, Freddi Evans, Glenn Joshua, Mawiyah Bomani and Kalamu ya Salaam are lyrical emotion-rides, while the prose of Bernestine Singley, Charley Moon, and James Thomas Jackson invoke fiery responses. Lovve/Rituals & Rage by Sharon Bridgforth brings the joy of performance art to the page and the gentle Soul Soother by Zenaura Smith, a freshman at John Ehret High School in New Orleans, offers a touch of innocent love. Even editor Mardis slips in a folktale and a couple of poems, most notably Sting, an ode that balances lemonade and death. A dozen New Orleans writers add their unique perspectives to this collection, including Michael Ollie Clayton, saddi khali, Cassandra Bailey, Nadir Bomani, Barnes, Evans, Joshua, Perkins, Salaam, Smith, Spears and Mawiyah Bomani. The African-American literary scene is a steadily evolving and expanding landscape, and Kente Cloth turns the spotlight around to shine on the South. Mardis wanted this collection to represent the joy of the oral tradition, The elders may be gone in body, but their lessons linger in the living and sharing of these stories, poems and plays. Listen for the voices...the oral dance of tongue to teeth and song to heart. Kente Cloth is a visual tribute to the legions of unscripted griots and a worthy addition to any shelf that holds African-American literature.


Anonymous said...

Do You Wonder?

Jay said...

Well said Karl!
I saw some great floral canvas art I thought you'd like. said...

Fascinating write-up of the history of landscape canvas art, thanks for the info.

Roger said...

I wonder sometimes Karl, do you?
art on canvas