Kalamu ya Salaam's information blog

In 1995, after a summer of conducting a commissioned writing workshop for men at SUNO (Southern University in New Orleans), I responded to Ayo Fayemi-Robinson’s challenging query: “what’s up with that–excluding women from your workshop?” And that’s how Nommo Literary Society was born, a three-part (first, study of a wide variety of published work; second, announcements of news and upcoming events; third, sharing our work produced in our Nommo workshop, which I led for ten years).

Nommo, is a Bantu-based word that literally espouses the power of the spoken word. In our workshop, we extended that concept to deal with both the spoken and the written word as produced by a familial society of modern day griots. Nommo Literary Society was wiped out when Hurricane Katrina forced us to de-ass New Orleans and literally spread out across the country–east, north, and west. We couldn’t go much further south because we would have ended up in the Gulf of Mexico.

Ten years after we had become fugitives in search of haven, and in some cases finding what became a new home, many of us now have produced books. Our cohort of writers and spoken word artists had been set to celebrate a decade of our beloved Nommo workshop where we held weekly meetings and monthly doing public readings and performances at Community Book Center, run by Vera Williams and our dear “Mama Jennifer” Turner. We intended to show out and throw down in joyful revelry. Alas, Katrina’s flood waters drowned those aspirations.

Fifteen or so years after the mighty flood, literally domiciled all across this wast expanse of North America, albeit, for the most part, enscounced in major urban locals, while Nommo has not reassembled,  our alumni have gone on to publish and proclaim their individual and collective truths born of experiences, observations, and conclusions that life has taught us.

Here is a video interview with Cassandra Lane who has produced an award-winning, wonderful, albeit sometimes painful, memoir.




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