Courtesy of EBONY.com
Many young writers, no matter how independent they are as thinkers, want to be down with a cool group of fellow scribes. Flipping through library books, we read about the days of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald hanging tough in Paris; Langston Hughes and Claude McKay doing their thing in Harlem; and the Beat boys Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs driving cross country. Some of us want to sit down at the Algonquin’s round table with Dorothy Parker, while others wanted to talk through the night inside Ralph Ellison’s massive Riverside Drive apartment.
Yet for me, as a young writer coming of age in the early 1980s, it was the discovery of the Black Arts Movement (BAM) spearheaded by poet Amiri Baraka which inspired me to aspire higher in my chosen craft. These were the cats, with their beards and their poetics barbs, who first made me aware it was all right to be me when I sat in front of a blank page.