Dear Toni Morrison

S6XANFBY2VF5PAH3377EARLHK4.jpg

Dear Toni Morrison,

May You Rest In Peace…

I discovered your works in high school and fell in love with the challenge of reading your works. I was mesmerized by the beauty, pain and truth in your words. You were both an inspiration and a legend that set the bar. I will miss reading your newest and latest novels. Thank you for all of your work and for sharing your gifts with us.

I saw you only once in person at a book signing for your novel, A Mercy. I was so nervous but looked forward to meeting you and telling you how much your work meant to me. How you inspired me to write my first novel and begin the Diamond La Rue series because you stated that: “If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I had been looking for a character like Diamond in almost every book I read on my own in college, but could not find her. When I read those words of yours, I knew that she existed only in my mind.

I was knee deep into writing my novel that day I journeyed down to the Barnes & Noble to hear you speak. But the line was so long and you had been sitting for too long that I didn’t get a chance to meet you or to get my book signed by you.

But, it was enough to hear you speak, to witness or even stand near the presence of greatness. I waited and watched until you left, just grateful to be there.

I had hoped that one day we would actually meet—face to face and talk about our love of language and literature, arts, culture, history and people. I have read that you were a great mentor to writers and so encouraging, but alas it was not meant to be.

I will miss looking out for your latest and greatest works. There will be a permanent literary void from now on, in my mind and to the world.

Rest easy…

Naj

Art Surrounds Me: The Sable Series

Art Surrounds Me: The Sable Series

Art Surrounds Me Series returns with a review of the Sable Series: The History of Black Shakespearean Actors.

Flashback: Schomburg-Black Power 50

Flashback: Schomburg-Black Power 50

The Flashback Series takes a look at a powerful exhibition at the Schomburg Center called Black Power 50.

Blazing Words: Sacrifice

Blazing Words features my poem, Sacrifice, which is dedicated to all of the activists from the Civil Rights and Womens’ Rights era.

I Love New York: NAMA

I Love New York: NAMA

The I Love New York Series returns with a feature on the New Amsterdam Musical Association (NAMA), a historical musical association in Harlem, New York City.

Musical Playlist 27: Coltrane & Company

Musical Playlist 27: Coltrane & Company

A Musical Playlist devoted to John Coltrane and company..

Film Review: Chasing Trane

Film Review: Chasing Trane

My film review of the documentary, Chasing Trane about the magnificent John Coltrane.

Art Surrounds Me: Patrick Kelly-The Journey

Art Surrounds Me: Patrick Kelly-The Journey

The Art Surrounds Me series returns with a focus on Patrick Kelly and an exhibit honoring his life and work; hosted by the Studio Museum of Harlem and held at the Countee Cullen Library.

Film Review: I Called Him Morgan

Film Review: I Called Him Morgan

Film Review of I Called Him Morgan, documentary about jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan.

Blazing Words: We Carried It With Us

My poem, We Carried It With Us, is featured on the Blazing Words Series. This poem reflects on the African influence that was carried across the ocean so many generations ago and permeates all aspects of black culture.

The Color Purple

The Color Purple

A review of the latest revival of the Color Purple on Broadway starring Cynthia Erivo and Jennifer Hudson.

I Love New York: The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

I Love New York: The Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture

The I Love New York series returns with a recollection of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

Art Surrounds Me: Ntzoke Shange Exhibit-I Found God In Myself

Art Surrounds Me: Ntzoke Shange Exhibit-I Found God In Myself

Art Surrounds Me series focuses on the exhibit, I Found God In Myself, a collection devoted to the works of Ntozake Shange at the Schomburg Center.

The Millionaire Next Door

The Millionaire Next Door

The Millionaire Next Door is a recollection of a millionaire who lived in my neighborhood when I was growing up.

Motown: The Truth Is A Hit

Motown: The Truth Is A Hit

Recalling a visit to the Schomburg Center to see the exhibit, Motown: The Truth Is A Hit.

The Best Memoirs: Black Literati Edition

The Best Memoirs: Black Literati Edition

The Best Memoirs Series focuses on memoirs or biographies written by or about black literary authors.