Eric Kamau Gravatt

At the Bowery Poetry Club in New York SUN April 19, in celebration of “Pow-Wow: Charting the Fault Lines of the American Experience _ Short Fiction from Then to Now,” an anthology compiled and edited by ISHMAEL REED with CARLA BLANK,

YURI KAGEYAMA has a book of poems “Peeling” (I. Reed Press). Her works are in many literary anthologies _ “Y’Bird,” “Pow Wow,” “San Francisco Stories,” “On a Bed of Rice,” “Breaking Silence: an Anthology of Asian American Poets,” “Greenfield Review,” “Beyond Rice,” “River Styx,” “Other Side River,” “Yellow Silk,” “Stories We Hold Secret,” “MultiAmerica,” “Obras.” She has read with Ishmael Reed, Shuntaro Tanikawa, Geraldine Kudaka, Victor Hernandez Cruz, Russel Baba, Seamus Heaney, Shozu Ben, Al Robles, Winchester Nii Tete, Keiji Kubo, Yumi Miyagishima. Her son Isaku Kageyama is a “taiko” drummer in Amanojaku in Tokyo. She is a magna cum laude graduate of Cornell University, and has an M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley.

ERIC KAMAU GRAVATT has played with Freddie Hubbard, Albert Ayler, The District of Columbia Youth Symphony, Roberta Flack, Horiuchi Makoto, Sonny Fortune, Jackie McLean, Charles Mingus, Donald Byrd, Carlos Valdez, Booker Irvin, Woody Shaw, Kenny Dorham, Blue Mitchell, Hank Mobley, Kikuchi Masabumi, The Milwaukee Symphony, Jimmy Heath, Donny Hathaway, Sam Rivers, Khalid Yasin, Andrew White, Tony Hymas, Paquito D’Rivera, George Mraz, Ravi Coltrane, Stanley Clarke, Pharoah Saunders, The McCoy Tyner Big Band, Gary Bartz, Bobby Hutcherson, James Carter, Terrance Blanchard, Wallace Roney, Donald Harrison, Charnett Moffett. He tours with his own band Source Code and with McCoy Tyner. Wayne Shorter calls him “The Weather Report drummer who was the all-around hippest one.”

TERUYUKI and HARUNA KAWABATA are on their honeymoon. Their band Cigarette She Was performs at the numerous “live houses” in Tokyo. Their hippie-like music scene is part of what inspired YURI to write her story in “Pow-Wow” _ “The Father and the Son.” They have been performing poetry together with other Tokyo musicians, including Winchester Nii Tete, a percussionist from Ghana, under YURI’s project called The Tokyo Flower Children. Haruna fell in love with not only Teru but also the kpanlogo, a drum from Ghana, during college. The couple also work on films, CDs and posters, and are often featured in art festivals in Japan. Teru also makes cell-phone music downloads, and Haruna works at a major Japanese coffee-shop chain.

Bowery Poetry Club

Photo by Annette Dorfman.
I am reading at the Bowery Poetry Club in New York: ISHMAEL REED HOSTS READING OF HIS NEW ANTHOLOGY, POW-WOW.

Reviews on Pow-Wow

My short story “The Father and the Son” is among the works in this book.
(Updated with more reviews)

Publishers Weekly says: “Reed’s selections will draw readers into American cities, suburbs, prairies and mountains with vivid, precise, at times documentary description and bold, personal questions of American identity and purpose.”

David Ulin of the Los Angeles Times says in his review that Pow-Wow is “big, diverse, messy, all over the place _ just like American literature itself.”

A review from INFODAD.COM:
“This is not a book for those seeking uplift – although a close reading of its Contributors section indicates that there are more positive things in America than these individual writers choose to observe.”
To which Ishmael Reed comments:
“Thanks. The title of my next anthology will be ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy.’ “

The Buffalo News makes the book its March editor’s pick. “I don’t think there’s been anyone remotely like him as an anthologist,” Jeff Simon writes of Reed. “It’s there, it seems to me, that his service to literature has been irreplaceable.”

Alan Caruba includes it in his March picks, describing the book this way: “A multicultural anthology, it includes a diverse group of writers sharing stories that ultimately transcend race, religions, gender and class.”

In a review in Library Journal, Gene Shaw highly recommends the book. “The United States of the 21st Century is an ocean of stories and peoples, made up of a variety of races, religions, classes, genders, languages, cultures and sexual preferences,” he comments.

“Booklist,” published by the American Library Association says the writers in the book address “what makes American life so vital and contradictory, so cruel and so cherished.” Donna Seaman says Reed and Blank have picked “molten and magical tales that dramatically explore the consequences of our attitudes toward race, ethnicity, gender, class, and sexuality.”

And this review accuses the book of misplaced anger and inadequate quality control.
And this is Ishmael Reed’s comment on that:
“Your reviewer not only misrepresents my anthology,but Affirmative Action as well. According to the U.S.Department of Labor, Affirmative Action benefits whites the most. The guy is a literary shock jock.”

And this from January Magazine: “Pow Wow is an important book.”

POW-WOW: Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience _ Short Fiction From Then to Now, edited by Ishmael Reed with Carla Blank. Da Capo Press, January 2009.

Company You Keep

“POW WOW _ Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience _ Short Fiction From Then to Now,” edited by Ishmael Reed with Carla Blank, (cover design by Ann Weinstock) just came out, gathering works from the likes of (as photographed clockwise from top left): Ntozake Shange, Alejandro Murguia, Benjamin Franklikn and Gertrude Stein.
Works are in alphabetical order and so my short story “The Father and the Son” follows “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston, and comes right before “Moses Mama” by William Melvin Kelley _ some exalted company I keep.
Among others in the book: Langston Hughes, Al Young, Russell Banks, John A. Williams, Grace Paley, Mark Twain, Chester Himes.
From the cover:
“Celebrated novelist, poet and MacArthur Fellow Ishmael Reed follows his groundbreaking poetry anthology FROM TOTEMS TO HIP-HOP with a provocative survey of American short fiction …. By presenting many different facets of the American experience, these stories challenge official history, shatter accepted myths and provide necessary alternatives to mainstream notions of personal and national identity.”
My story is about death, motherhood, identity, music, love.
In the Foreword, Ishmael Reed says my story exposes the stupidity and cruelty of the patriarchal family.
That, too!