february cafe: Don’t Miss the “Making A Career of Creativity” Panel Discussion on TalkShoe.com


Creativity (Photo credit: Mediocre2010)

As we round out the end of Black History Month this week, you are invited to join us for this unique online event!

the february cafe – Black DIY conference (online)
“celebrating our history of creativity

Panel Discussion: Making A Career of Creativity


The purpose of February Cafe is to highlight Black artists during the month of February who have made a handmade business a way of life for themselves. These “Black DIY-ers” have businesses in skin care, natural hair care, cooking, clothing, accessories, and writing, capturing and mastering the old school way that our people learned to live off the land using only the materials available to them at the time. Today, professional crafters and artisans have modernized the process and have created business to sustain themselves and their families.

The February Cafe – Black DIY Creativity Conference is an opportunity to bring together handmade professionals for discussion about how to make it as a handmade entrepreneur while also providing educational tools and networking.

So, as we celebrate our history of creativity, be sure to follow all February Cafe posts on the Grown Up Creativity blog at: http://grownupcreativity.wordpress.com/

Thank you for reading Grown Up Creativity

Follow me on Twitter: @ivywriter

february cafe, 28 days of black creativity: the negritude arts movement

Most poets tend to identify with a particular style or era of poetry. As a poet myself, I’ve always subconsciously identified with any poetic form that helped me tell the story of my community through my own experiences with race, social justice, love and relationships, and my life being a women.  As a result, I have always strongly identified with The Harlem Renaissance with the likes of Langston Hughes, Countee Cullen, and others of that era.

However, not knowing much about this poetic movement called “The Negritude Movement“, I find that, even without knowing, I easily identify with this group of poets, even though most of them were French-speaking and some from the continent of

Africa.  I strongly identify with some of the poetic themes in Negritude for Black Americans to escape a country (America) that didn’t provide them equal rights.  We saw this “escapism” with many poets who fled to Europe, in particular Paris, France where they found a sort of freedom to be liberal and recognized and appreciated for their talents and the ability to speak freely about the plight of their people  back home in America. People try to discount that racism still exists daily just because we now have a Black President, however, poets still write poetry about a struggle because the struggle will never go away.  Perhaps another “Negritude” movement is in order so that writers can create a new language for freedom. Read below an excerpt from www.poets.org about the Negritude Movement and a poem from one of the movement’s most well-known poets, Leopold Sedar Senghor and a portion of his fantastic poem, Elegy (for Martin Luther King).

(Excerpt from www.poets.org): Negritude was both a literary and ideological movement led by French-speaking black writers and intellectuals. The movement is marked by its rejection of European colonization and its role in the African diaspora, pride in “blackness” and traditional African values and culture, mixed with an undercurrent of Marxist ideals. Its founders (or les trois pères), Aimé Césaire, Leopold Sedare Senghor, and Leon Gontran Domas, met while studying in Paris in 1931 and began to publish the first journal devoted to Negritude, L’Étudiant noir (The Black Student), in 1934.

The term “Negritude” was coined by Césaire in his Cahier d’un retour au pays natal (1939) and it means, in his words, “the simple recognition of the fact that one is black, the acceptance of this fact and of our destiny as blacks, of our history and culture.” Even in its beginnings Negritude was truly an international movement–drawing inspiration from the flowering of African-American culture brought about by the writers and thinkers of the Harlem Renaissance while asserting its place in the canon of French literature, glorifying the traditions of the African continent, and attracting participants in the colonized countries of the Caribbean, North Africa, and Latin America.

Leopold Sédar Senghor. Senegal (1906-2001).

Elegy for Martin Luther King (IV of V) (for jazz orchestra)


It was the fourth of April, nineteen hundred and sixty-eight,
A spring evening in a grey neighborhood, a district smelling
Of garbage mud where children played in the streets in
And spring blossomed in the dark courtyards where blue
Streams played, a song of nightingales in the ghetto night of
Martin Luther King chose them, the motel, the district,
The garbage and the street sweepers, with the eyes of his heart
in those
Spring days, those days of passion wherever the mud of flesh
Would have been glorified in the light of Christ.
It was the evening when light is clearest and air sweetest,
Dusk at the heart’s hour, and its flowering of secrets
Mouth to mouth, of organ and of hymns and incense.
On the balcony now haloed in crimson where the air
Is more limpid, Martin Luther stands speaking pastor to
“My Brother, do not forget to praise Christ in his
And let his name be praised!”
And now opposite him, in a house of prostitution,
And perdition, yes, in the Lorraine Motel – Ah, Lorraine, ah
Joan, the white and blue woman, let our mouths purify you
Like rising incense!–In that evil house of tomcats and
A man stands up, a Remington rifle in his hands.
James Earl Ray sees the Reverend Martin Luther King,
Through his telescopic sight, sees the death of Christ: “My
Do not forget to magnify Christ in his resurrection this
Sent by Judas, he watches him, for we have made the poor
into wolves
Of the poor. He looks through his telescopic sight, sees only
the tender
Neck so black and beautiful. He hates that golden voice
The angels’ flutes, the voice of bronze trombone that
thunders on terrible
Sodom and on Adama. Martin looks ahead at the house in
front, he sees
The skyscrapers of light and glass, He sees curly, blond heads, dark,
Kinky heads full of dreams like mysterious orchids, and the
blue lips
And the roses sing in a chorus like a harmonious organ.
The white man looks hard and precise as steel. James Earl
And hits the mark, shoots Martin, who withers like a
fragrant flower
And falls. “My brother, praise His Name clearly, may our
Exult in the Resurrection!”

(excerpt from  http://web.uflib.ufl.edu/cm/africana/senghor.htm)

Thank you for reading and supporting Grown Up Creativity.

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february cafe, celebrating 28 days of creativity: this month, I vow to write


English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


It’s about time I give myself a pep talk.


Dear Writer Bursting To Get Out:


You need to write!


As a result, this February,  you need to decide to get serious,  create a plan, form a support network, and figure out a way to write regularly. After all, in the year when we will celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement, surely you can muster up enough stamina to find the time to write when so many people sacrificed their time and lives for the privilege to be educated in America and so that we all have equal rights in America.  Surely, you can press on and find purpose in your writing just like the many writers you idolize like Langston Hughes, Dorothy West, Nikki Giovanni, Eloise Greenfield, and the new novelist sensation Ayana Matheson, just to name a few!


You must let 2013 be your year for focusing on you writing!






Your Writer Within




Thank you for reading Grown Up Creativity!


Follow me on twitter:  @ivywriter





february cafe, 28 days of black creativity: the harlem renaissance – countee cullen

february cafe – 28 days of black creativity

The Harlem Renaissance is one of my favorite eras of poetry partly because it gave us an image of Black life in America that became prominent and influential all throughout the arts and entertainment community.  Countee Cullen is one of those prominent poets. Read his bio from www.poets.org:

Bio of Countee Cullen from www.poets.org:  Born in 1903 in New York City, Countee Cullen was raised in a

Countee Cullen, Harlem Renaissance Poet, photo by Carl Van Vechten

Methodist parsonage. He attended De Witt Clinton High School in New York and began writing poetry at the age of fourteen. In 1922, Cullen entered New York University. His poems were published in The Crisis, under the leadership of W. E. B. Du Bois, and Opportunity, a magazine of the National Urban League. He was soon after published in Harper’s, the Century Magazine, and Poetry. He won several awards for his poem, “Ballad of the Brown Girl,” and graduated from New York University in 1923. That same year, Harper published his first volume of verse, Color, and he was admitted to Harvard University where he completed a master’s degree.

His second volume of poetry, Copper Sun (1927), met with controversy in the black community because Cullen did not give the subject of race the same attention he had given it in Color. He was raised and educated in a primarily white community, and he differed from other poets of the Harlem Renaissance like Langston Hughes in that he lacked the background to comment from personal experience on the lives of other blacks or use popular black themes in his writing. An imaginative lyric poet, he wrote in the tradition of Keats and Shelley and was resistant to the new poetic techniques of the Modernists. He died in 1946.

Poems by Countee Cullen, For a Poet and Saturday’s Child from: http://www.english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/a_f/cullen/online_poems.htm

For a Poet  by Countee Cullen

I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth,

And laid them away in a box of gold;
Where long will cling the lips of the moth,
I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth;
I hide no hate; I am not even wroth
Who found earth’s breath so keen and cold;
I have wrapped my dreams in a silken cloth,
And laid them away in a box of gold.

Saturday’s Child by Countee Cullen

Some are teethed on a silver spoon,
With the stars strung for a rattle;
I cut my teeth as the black raccoon–
For implements of battle.

Some are swaddled in silk and down,
And heralded by a star;
They swathed my limbs in a sackcloth gown
On a night that was black as tar.

For some, godfather and goddame
The opulent fairies be;
Dame Poverty gave me my name,
And Pain godfathered me.

For I was born on Saturday–
“Bad time for planting a seed,”
Was all my father had to say,
And, “One mouth more to feed.”

Death cut the strings that gave me life,
And handed me to Sorrow,
The only kind of middle wife
My folks could beg or borrow.

february cafe, 28 days of black creativity: Happy Birthday Langston Hughes, My favorite Poet

On the birthday my favorite poet and my inspiration for how I write as a poet, Langston Hughes, I feel it befitting to kick off my month long homage to Black Creativity, with my


English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“february cafe, 28 days of black creativity” series.  Please read the Biography and two of the best poems ever, below: “I, Too, Sing America” and “Harlem Sweeties”.

(excerpt from poets.org) Bio: James Langston Hughes was born February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri.  Hughes, who claimed Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Carl Sandburg, and Walt Whitman as his primary influences, is particularly known for his insightful, colorful portrayals of black life in America from the twenties through the sixties. He wrote novels, short stories and plays, as well as poetry, and is also known for his engagement with the world of jazz and the influence it had on his writing, as in “Montage of a Dream Deferred.” His life and work were enormously important in shaping the artistic contributions of the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s. Unlike other notable black poets of the period—Claude McKay, Jean Toomer, and Countee Cullen—Hughes refused to differentiate between his personal experience and the common experience of black America. He wanted to tell the stories of his people in ways that reflected their actual culture, including both their suffering and their love of music, laughter, and language itself.  In addition to leaving us a large body of poetic work, Hughes wrote eleven plays and countless works of prose, including the well-known “Simple” books: Simple Speaks His Mind, Simple Stakes a Claim,Simple Takes a Wife, and Simple’s Uncle Sam. He edited the anthologies The Poetry of the Negro and The Book of Negro Folklore, wrote an acclaimed autobiography (The Big Sea) and co-wrote the play Mule Bone with Zora Neale Hurston.

Happy Birthday Langston Hughes!Sing America” (from http://www.poets.org) and my favorite LH poem, “Harlem Sweeties”:

(Find poems like this and millions more at www.poets.org where you can sign up to get a poem a day sent do your inbox)

Harlem Sweeties by Langston Hughes

Have you dug the spill/Of Sugar Hill?/Cast your gims/On this sepia thrill:/Brown sugar lassie, caramel treat,/Honey-gold baby/Sweet enough to eat./Peach-skinned girlie,/Coffee and cream,/Chocolate darlie/Out of a dream./Walnut tinted /Or cocoa brown,/Pomegranate-lipped/Pride of the town./Rich cream-colored/To plum-tinted black,/Feminine sweetness/In Harlem’s no lack./Glow of the quince/To blush of the rose./Persimmon bronze/To cinnamon toes./Blackberry cordial, Virginia Dare wine—/All those sweet colors/Flavor Harlem of mine!/Walnut or cocoa,/Let me repeat:/Caramel, brown sugar,/ A chocolate treat./Molasses taffy,/Coffee and cream,/Licorice, clove, cinnamon/To a honey-brown dream./Ginger, wine-gold,/Persimmon, blackberry,/All through the spectrum/Harlem girls vary—/So if you want to know beauty’s/Rainbow-sweet thrill,/Stroll down luscious,/Delicious, ‘fine’ Sugar Hill.

I, Too, Sing America by Langston Hughes

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I'll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody'll dare
Say to me,
"Eat in the kitchen,"

They'll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed--

I, too, am America.

thank you for reading and supporting grown up creativity
follow m on twitter: @ivywriter