Kalamu ya Salaam's information blog







Birdland, NYC June 30, 1950

Charlie Parker – alto, w/Fats Navarro (aka “Fat Girl”) – trumpet, Bud Powell – piano, Curly Russell – bass, Art Blakey – drums.


I see no one from the bandstand where I stand I see no one, a little to the side from me next to me but a ways off  Fat Girl giggles silently, shows his famous smile to someone in the audience I do not bother to look at, deep Bud Powell sits astride a piano and waits to slaughter any key I call or do not call any key it is not really a wait because there is no expectation on his part, he is supreme supremely confident and wildly cool, cracks no smile, his eyes half closed do not even let on that he is here, he sits there like he is not here, who is on bass?, I sense Bu ready to blow, Bud starts without asking, without saying, we blow the head, god, Blakey drops bombs better than anybody, no not better than Max but better than anybody else, head time, I will give you something to play Fat Girl, play this play this play this play this and behind my solo play whatever you think.


Now.  How do you, do I, does anyone take a sunset and make it more beautiful, beautiful than the beauty it is in both the now and in the eternity and in the medium of expressing this searched for more beauty that the artist seeks not through thought but through god.


Once you have witnessed a sunset’s beauty that beauty will be in you not just the memory but the beauty will be in you as long as you are you, the artist seeks through god.


Thought is being. 


God is creating.


Man thinks.


Gods create.


Are we men or gods?  Can we be both or merely one or the other?


Artists are men who aspire to be god so they create work more beautiful than original beauty, more beautiful than the idea of beauty, more beautiful even than the ideal of beauty, more beautiful than a thought of beauty.


Things are ugly.  Things are beautiful.  Things are things.  Ugly and beauty are not things.  The most lasting beauty is that beauty that lasts only as long as it is beautiful and than submerges into the listener’s head, damn, Blakey plays beautiful music is the only art that dies the moment it is created and must be constantly created over and over in order to and over to live I need music I need music I music I create I music I music create I need create I need I I need music. 


Records.  Tapes.  Are not music they are a representation of music, merely an approximation of what music sounds like when sounded.  Limited approximations.  Very limited.  So limited that everytime you play them they sound exactly the same but music never is exactly the same not music every time it is created especially when it “sounds” the same, our stomachs have different contents even when we listen to records, on some days we play records and don’t even hear them on other days we play a record and hear things we never heard before even though we’ve listened to that record fifty, forty, a hundred, once before, in fact usually the first time we hear it we don’t hear anything but our reactions so busy reacting we are paying attention to our reactions that we don’t hear what is going on on the record imagine and that is only a reaction to a record so how can we really hear music? we can’t, we can watch it with a distant eye, see what it does to us too does to others observe the various parts or we can experience it, submit to it, be a slave to the rhythm become the music rather than the listener to the music rather than merely try listening to what we can’t all hear can’t hear all of anyway.


Or we men.  We are men can be gods.  What gods do is make men aware of godliness and make men aspire to godliness and create beauty and men aware of beauty if they are really men want to create beauty and show beauty to other men want to be gods too.


To help a person move from someone who is just here occupying space while the sun shines, moon moves, crickets and cars cry in the twilight with yellow beam eyes and warm houses flow and row on row of apartments with radioed music, move from just being, attaining no more consciousness than a rock or grass receiving a dog’s golden shower letting everything wash over us and not understanding who what when, why or where because the newspapers are words of men who want to be men and not men who want to be gods, beauty, gods helping persons move to gods ahhhhh.


Art.  Art animates.  Art is the breath of gods, moving, art moves us from witness to participate outside to inside creating pass passive recipient to active conspirator when we look at Picasso’s bull’s head without seeing the handle bars and the bike’s seat we have seen nothing but when we see both the handle bars & the seat as well as the bull’s head then we have seen everything for art tells us that it is possible for everything to be everything for the inanimate to become animate or rather for the inanimate to animate within us whatever potential we have to create, god is bull’s horn from man’s bike handles without man making bull without god making bike handles with both being beautiful, Stravinsky would dig this if he could hear, god, Blakey is beautiful for the blind to see for the unknown to become knowable to know what you did not know you knew for Monk to take three notes three notes three notes you have heard before and before and before and sound completely like something you don’t know not by changing the notes but by changing the way those notes are perceived that is what we mean by genius or how to make us see the extraordinary qualities of things, common things extraordinary in common like life how to make life extraordinary. 


Now.  Fat Girl.  Let’s hear what you have to say…


—kalamu ya salaam

















Reel Dark: Twisted Fantasies

Projected on the Flickering Page

CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: BlackWyrm Publishing is opening several positions in its spring short fiction anthology for general submissions. We offer professional rates (typically $.05/word, negotiable upon acceptance) for writers qualified to be full members of professional organizations such as the HWA, MWA, RWA, and SFWA; other stories accepted through general submissions receive a flat semi-professional rate of $25. All contributors receive copies. The collection, tentatively titled Reel Dark: Twisted Fantasies Projected on the Flickering Page, focuses on the infection of (prose-fictional or poetic) worlds by movies. We want innovative approaches: if you think endless references to films or characters stepping into or off of the screen is innovative, reconsider submitting. Although the anthology as a whole will be dark in tone, it will speak to a range of audiences interested in horror, science-fiction, fantasy, mystery/suspense, and/or romance (particularly paranormal). Stories should not exceed 3,500 words. Submissions are open now and close November 1, 2014. We intend to launch the collection at the World Horror Convention in May 2015. Submit stories in standard manuscript format via Direct questions about the focus, rates, etc. to Editor-in-Chief L. Andrew Cooper via Submissions sent directly to the editor will be deleted unread. Authors accepted or invited to submit may join the group at for more information.









Death Where The Nights Are Long

by Anne Giardini, Claudia Casper


Death Where the Nights are Long is an anthology of writing about the idea and experience of death in extreme lattitudes.  We are asking approximately thirty writers from Canada, the U.S. and Iceland to deliver an account of death in its many varied forms.  We expect submissions to be personal, visceral and unmediated.  Although to some extent unavoidable, it is our expectation that writers will strive to avoid sentimentality and a soothing or educational tone.

We are seeking a wide range of voices and experiences. Untimely death.  Death of old age. Death of a pet or other animal. Death cheated. Death embraced.  Death by suicide, murder, illness, carelessness, caring.  Bargains with death. Experiences and imaginings about what lies beyond our last breath.  Grieving. Coping.  Strategies for living in the full awareness of mortality.  All of these and more are welcome for consideration.

We are seeking essays, memoirs, poetry and creative non-fiction, with a suggested length of between 2,500 and 5,000 words. You can make a pitch, or send in your completed piece. Email to:

 If your piece is accepted, you will be paid $250 on completed delivery and acceptance.  You will receive another $250 on publication.   If the book does very well – as we hope it will – we will also consider a success fee to each contributor in an amount to be determined.

We anticipate working with an established publisher, depending on interest, which depends in turn on the quality of submissions.  Our anticipated publication date is autumn 2015. Deadline for submission is November 1, 2014.

Who we are:

Claudia Casper is the author of two novels, The Reconstruction (published by Penguin Canada, St. Martin’s Press in the US, Quartet in the UK and Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag in Germany) and The Continuation of Love By Other Means, published by Penguin Canada. She has recently completed a third, The Last Murder: The Journals of Allen Quincy. She has published non-fiction in Geist Magazine, Event, the Vancouver Sun and the Globe and Mail and is currently writing a screenplay of The Last Murder for Redfish films.

Anne Giardini has published short stories as well as articles and papers on ethics, legal, aboriginal and other topics, wrote a weekly column for the National Post for several years, and was a contributor to the bestseller Dropped Threads, Random House, 2001. Her first novel, The Sad Truth About Happiness, was published by HarperCollins/Fourth Estate in Canada, the UK, the US and Australia in 2005.  Her second novel, Advice for Italian Boys, was published by HarperCollins in 2009. 

Both Anne and Claudia published essays in the bestselling anthology Dropped Threads, published by Random House and edited by Carol Shields and Marjorie Anderson.

Our Twitter handle is @deathanthology. Join the discussion now!













Stories for Chip:
A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany


Our anthology-in-progress, Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany, will honor science fiction’s living legend, the author of over 20 novels, approximately as many short stories, five notable memoirs and counting, and ten essential books of genre criticism. SFWA Grand Master, Science Fiction Hall of Fame inductee, and multiple award-winner Samuel R. Delany (“Chip” to his friends) has inspired and taught many of us in the fields of science fiction and fantasy, directly and indirectly, by example and by intent. We want to demonstrate to the world the power of his work through what we write, and thank him for the grace of his existence. Would you like to be part of this anthology? Read on.

Open for submissions: September 4, 2014

Deadline for submissions: December 1, 2014

Response time: You’ll hear back from us about your submission by January 29, 2015, at the latest.

Wordcount limits: 1000 to 10,000 for prose

Pay: minimum .05/word up to $400 total per story/essay for original prose; minimum .02/word up to $160 total per story/essay for reprint prose. 

NOTE: Acceptance, contracts, and payments will follow a successful crowdfunding campaign. Campaign will run January 15 – February 15, 2015.

We’re accepting a very few reprints, and plan to include no more than five total in the book. We already have two in mind. You’ll have a much easier time selling us original material.

What we’re looking for: We want stories and critical essays that relate in some way to the strength and beauty of Samuel R. Delany’s body of work. This relationship can be made evident through allusions to the author himself; through allusions to his work’s titles, characters, situations, settings, etc.; through evoking a Delanyesque atmosphere; or through analysis of any of these elements, in the case of nonfiction. We’re hoping for essays which elucidate his important, lasting contributions to literature; and for fiction inspired by these contributions.

What we’re not looking for: Please don’t send us your parodies of Delany or his work. We’re also not at all confident you’ll impress us with your serious attempts to reproduce his style; if you must try us with something along those lines, be aware that’s going to be an extremely hard sell. Further, because Delany’s critical writing though rigorous, is so clear and easily understandable, we’re not at all interested in deliberately obscurantist, jargon-laden critical essays.

Once the submission period opens, we’ll accept ELECTRONIC SUBMISSIONS ONLY. We’ll destroy unread anything you send before September 4 or after December 1. During that period, send your submissions as attached .rtf or .doc files to: In your message you can include any previous publishing credits you’d like to mention, and make any statement you care to make about your connections to Delany.
How to support without submitting: Check back here this January 15 – February 15, 2015 to participate in our crowdfunding campaign.

Publication and review copies: Our press is Rosarium, noted publisher of Mothership: Tales of Afrofuturism and Beyond. We expect to publish Stories for Chip in July 2015, and to make ARCs available to reviewers in March 2015.

Editor Nisi Shawl is the author of the James Tiptree, Jr. Award-winning collection Filter House. Delany pronounced her one of the best short story writers he has ever read. Previously she edited Bloodchildren: Stories by the Octavia E. Butler Scholars and WisCon Chronicles 5: Writing and Racial Identity. With Rebecca J. Holden, Shawl co-edited Locus Award finalist Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler.Since its inception in 2011, she has edited reviews for The Cascadia Subduction Zone, a feminist literary quarterly. She’s a co-founder of the Carl Brandon Society and a board member for Clarion West.

Editor Bill Campbell is the author of three novels, including Koontown Killing Kaper and Sunshine Patriots and the nonfiction collection, Pop Culture: Politics, Puns, and “Poohbutt” from a Liberal Stay-at-Home Dad. He also co-edited (along with Edward Austin Hall) Mothership: Tales from Afrofuturism and Beyond and is the owner of Rosarium Publishing.








Shine | Where Black Women Take Centerstage

Wednesday, October 22, 2014





mo'ne 01

Watch Spike Lee’s Documentary

on Baseball Prodigy Mo’ne Davis

“Throw Like A Girl” is a short documentary directed by Spike Lee about little league pitcher Mo’ne Davis. Mo’ne’s spectacular performances leading up to and in the Little League World Series catapulted her to stardom.

In the film, we learn more about Davis and her extraordinary talent. Mo’ne is not only a phenomenal athlete but she’s an honor roll student. It’s wonderful to see her get this shine!
The best summer of her life is only the beginning for 13-year-old Mo’ne Davis. With the support of her family and passion for sports, Mo’ne stands for girls who want to play with the boys. She embodies the spirit that drives an athlete to push further, work harder, and overcome challenges. Are you ready to listen to her open letter, America?

Learn more about Mo’ne Davis and her journey:…










22 Oct 2014





Teen killed in New Orleans

believed in the power of food

justice and gardens





I met George Carter when he was 10 years old, at a banquet where his organization, Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools*, was receiving an award. The “Rethinkers” are young people who came together in 2006, after Hurricane Katrina, to ensure that students’ voices would be heard in the rebuilding of public schools. George joined when he was just 8 years old, following his older sisters and brothers who were leading the Rethink cause. He was the youngest of the group, and hence was dubbed a “Pre-Thinker.”His thoughts helped mold the organization, which took on school administrations by demanding healthier foods for school lunches and safer learning environments. He loved gardens. He believed they could be a calming presence for young students, especially those recovering from the most traumatic storm disaster the U.S. has known. His thought seeds grew into the kind of ideas and projects that helped earn Rethink an award that night on Oct. 25, 2009.

After the banquet, he posed with his friends holding the plaque and then pranced around the room gathering roses from each table’s centerpiece arrangement. He told me that he was going to be a biologist when he grew up. He decorated himself with the roses and asked me to take pictures of him.

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Today, there’s another picture of him I can’t get out of my head, though. It shows George’s body lying on the ground, partially obscured by a cop car. Police around him are scribbling notes.

George was found dead from gunshot wounds yesterday morning. He was 15. His killing was added to an obscene murder count in New Orleans that I find no value in enumerating here. Suffice to say that it is high. Another black life was ended before it could reach its potential.

I’m not writing about George to say he was some exceptional young man. Hundreds of black teenagers and young adults have been killed in New Orleans over the years, and all of their lives matter, whether they were drug dealers or burgeoning biologists. Two women were found dead in New Orleans within 24 hours of George’s death, and I’m as saddened by their killings as I am of George’s. Many people were shot and killed in the four years I lived there, some of whom I knew personally, but all of them equally heart-breaking.

But I want to tell you about George, because his ideas about the transformative energy of gardens needs to live on.

This is George sharing his garden theory, when he was just in fourth grade:

To me I think all schools should have gardens because you can use the plants, and plants give you oxygen. I like to go out in the garden because it calms me down. … If you just had a fight, you can just go in the garden, calm down, eat some strawberries, and you’ll feel safe because you’ll be around nature. And nature, it won’t hurt you.

“This insight was one of the first that connected the idea of school gardens and fresh food to school to the prevention of school violence,” said Jane Wholey, one of Rethink’s founders.

While supplying school students with fresh fruit sounds like common sense, it wasn’t the practice in New Orleans schools (nor in many other schools across America). One of the primary ways that George and the Rethinkers thought they could reform schools was to convince them to provide healthier lunch options. So they did their own study. In 2010, the Rethinkers — aged 10 to 17 — visited various schools across the city, surveying students about their feelings about their school lunches. To little surprise, they found that most kids found their lunch disgusting.

Next step: The Rethinkers stepped to Aramark, the company contracted to provide food for the schools’ lunch programs. George was part of a round of negotiations that led to Aramark agreeing to purchase locally grown fruits, vegetables, meat, and fish for school lunches. No more of the canned, processed stuff. Aramark signed and sealed this contract in 2011, during a press conference organized and coordinated by the Rethinkers themselves. It was hosted at the Hollygrove Farmers Market, and for their guests — a packed room — they served strawberries.

This was all captured in the HBO documentary, The Great Cafeteria Takeover, which is part of its “The Weight of the Nation” series on obesity.

The kids’ logic, as expressed by Rethinker Ashley Triggs in the film: “When people don’t eat, they act out. When they act out, they get in trouble. When they get in trouble, they get suspended, so they need to eat.”

Companies like Aramark had gotten away with providing cheap, processed foods to schools for so long because no one had challenged them on it. Its bottom line did not figure in kids acting out and getting suspended. This macroeconomics lesson was explained by George’s older brother Vernard Carter, another Rethink co-founder, in the doc:

People are putting money before people’s lives and thinking that as long as they have money they’re OK. That makes me wonder what is going on with the world? Why are people leaning towards more of these beliefs? Why aren’t they leaning more towards humane ideals that keeps the human population flourishing and keeps us going?

These were thoughts and values that circulated within the Carter family. They did not arrive at this academically. George’s older brother Victor and sister Victoria were recently the first in their family to go to college. And yet academics have drawn the same conclusions. A study last year from Joan Luby, a researcher from Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, found that:

The effects of poverty on hippocampal development are mediated through caregiving and stressful life events further underscores the importance of high-quality early childhood caregiving, a task that can be achieved through parenting education and support, as well as through preschool programs that provide high-quality supplementary caregiving and safe haven to vulnerable young children.

George didn’t need an empirical study to understand this, though. He was connecting these dots in elementary school. His thoughts on these matters continued to evolve.

In 2012, George sat on a panel for a conference called “Root Of It All: The State of Mental Health of New Orleans’ Youth,” which was sponsored in part by the Deep South Center for Environmental Justice. MSNBC TV news host Melissa Harris-Perry was one of the keynote speakers. When George spoke, he emphasized the stressful environment of schools in his city. Compounding that were the new mandatory standardized tests, which George and his peers found inflexible if not counterproductive to their educational pursuits.

Said George, “If I get stressed I won’t be able to do my work, if I don’t do my work, I’ll probably flunk a class or drop out of school. If I drop out of school I’ll be on the streets. If I’m on the streets I’m gonna be homeless, dead, or in prison.”

He told the conference that New Orleans schools needs support teams in the classrooms that can help with tutoring and serving the students “healthy snacks” throughout the day, because — you know, “when people don’t eat, they act out. …”

“Students and teachers should work together to make the environment healthier,” said George, his voice deeper and more confident than when I first met him at the awards banquet.

As George aged, his interests expanded from biology and gardens to architecture, law, and justice. He started an internship this year through his school with the Capital Post-Conviction Project of Louisiana, which provides legal defense for people who’ve been sentenced to death. His first day was Monday. He was killed before he could make it to his second day. As of this writing, the police have no suspects or motives. According to he was found on a “narrow street bordered by a fenced-in field on one side and overgrown trees, weeds, and vegetation on the other.”

“I’m afraid to walk down this street,” a woman told the reporter. “The streetlights don’t work, the city don’t cut this. … They could just snatch you and pull you into the bushes.”

The city could honor George’s legacy by converting those bushes into a garden, perhaps with strawberries.

George Carter’s family is accepting contributions to cover funeral expenses. Rethink is processing these donations and 100 percent of funds received will go to the family. Go here to donate. 

(*My wife, Thena Robinson Mock, is the former executive director of Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools. One of our first dates was at the awards banquet where I met George.)

More by Brentin Mock























next city

OCTOBER 23, 2014




The Talk I Never Wanted to Have

With My 11-Year-Old





George Carter, 15, was killed on his way to school on Tuesday morning. (Credit: Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools)

George Carter, 15, was killed on his way to school on Tuesday morning. (Credit: Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools)


It’s one of those breezy New Orleans days in October where the weather is perfect and the windows are down, the sun shining.

I’ve just picked up my 11-year-old son from school.

“How are you?”

“I’m good,” he replies.

I don’t know that I believe him.

I choose my next words carefully. “What happened to George is … ”

There is a silence. He interrupts me. The coolness still feels good on our skin. Traffic is speeding along.

“Do you know why they did it?” His tone is laconic.

“There isn’t a suspect or a motive. Yet.”

I glance over at him sitting in the passenger seat dressed in his school uniform and favorite gray hoodie. He stares straight ahead.

“I don’t want to talk about it.”

“We can not talk about it if you want,” I stutter, “or talk about it if you want.”

“I just don’t want to talk about it.”

George had been shot in the head on the way to school on Tuesday morning. His body was found by police in the middle of a residential street, next to an overgrown, abandoned lot.

My son drew his mouth tightly into his face and braced himself, “Where ever you got that information, did that person tell you why he got shot?”

I had no words.

My son picked up his iPhone. I saw the article flash on the screen, the photo of his friend dead on the ground, the scene cordoned off with yellow police tape. He threw his phone face down on the carpet.

George D. Carter III, 15, was killed on October 21st. His death was the 12th juvenile homicide in New Orleans this year.

My son met George two years ago through Kids Rethink New Orleans Schools, a local youth leadership development organization that has garnered national acclaim for teaching young people how to improve their environments through research and organizing.

By then, George was a Rethink veteran. He had been organizing for five years, having joined the organization at the age of 7. He had a particular interest in ending the school-to-prison pipeline, and in architecture and gardening.

“George was a freedom fighter. He was going to make sure that he was always on the right side of justice. George taught me to stand tall. For many years, he was the shortest person in the bunch, but his power and light stood 20 feet,” remembers Thena Robinson Mock, former Rethink executive director. “He challenged New Orleans to be the best it could be to its young people, and he made sure that you saw him, heard him and felt him.”

I have no answers when my son asks why George is gone. I can’t explain why young people too often die violently in the street. I can’t tell him that I’m scared because I don’t know how to keep a black boy safe from gun violence, street violence, police violence.

This isn’t the first time we’ve had to discuss the loss of young black life. Trayvon Martin. Michael Brown. The countless other young black boys whose names become headlines only when they are killed.

Since the federal government began tracking crime rates in U.S. cities, New Orleans has hovered in the top 10 of most murderous cities. In 2012, there were 53.2 homicides per 100,000 residents. Eighty percent of the homicide victims are black males, mostly teens.

A well-known chant is “I’m from that 9 and I don’t mind dying.” That 9 refers to the Ninth Ward, the part of the city where George was killed.

Fully aware of my city’s struggles with violence, crime and a fragmented educational system, I continue to raise my son here. I seek out the bright spots like Rethink and try to shield him from the lurking danger.

I keep him close, limit outside play, drive him to and from school, and send him to his grandparents’ house in the suburbs on the weekends where he can ride his bike and go to the park alone. Sometimes he feels smothered and wants to venture out on his own a bit. I don’t let him. I’m too nervous.

I know what kind of city we live in. If he didn’t know before, now with the loss of George, he is beginning to understand.

George Carter’s family is accepting contributions to cover funeral expenses. Rethink is processing these donations and 100 percent of funds received will go to the family. Go here to donate.



jewel bush is an award-winning journalist and writer living in New Orleans. Her newest piece, “Related Somehow to Africa: Black Palestinians and the Search for Shared Identity,“appears in issue 115 of the Harvard University journal, Transition.