Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Harlem Werewolf

Kofi Fosu Forson

Novels I read in my Negritude class at Hunter College I was made aware of books written by African writers who explored multi dimentional aspects of the African cultural experience and how it played itself out in the West.

These books among them were No Longer at Ease and the original Things Fall Apart.

Wole Soyinke was the first African writer to win the Nobel Prize. His writings explore a Shakespearen content of style and intuition. His books of poems Shuttle in the Crypt is quite brilliant in making this evident.

At this point and time at Hunter College society in general welcomed a multi cultural diversion from the elite and entitled writings of young white professionals. Much of this has since been exorcised from the mainstream as black and other ethnic poets recite spoken word poems in cafes and clubs.

As I young writer I read Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries. S. E. Hinton books were a mainstay. I grew to read Agatha Christie. Somehow I was mesmerized by the variety of books in my father's collection from political essays to contemporary novels to intrigue and African American classics.

Indeed I was won over by the aforementioned elite young white crowd, Jay McInerny, Tama Janowitz and Kathy Acker. I had formed a world around me separate from my Dad's. This stemmed from my interest in art and pop culture.

There was a movement happening in New York City. It was obvious in the literature, music and everything else art. When I started to take an interest in writing I read Sam Shepard more and more. It became religion to formulate short theater pieces after his earlier plays. As poet I took to Charles Bukowski fashioned my style after his. To make up for lack of black relevance I read Langston Hughes.

Generally I got my literary aspirations from articles in men's magazines, The New York Times and a writing group I was part of which stimulated my writing and reading habit.

I have since enjoyed an experience in the theater where I explored more so dynamics in male / female gender politics than the black experience.

I haven't lived the quote / unquote black experience outside of my family. Most of my friends have been either Americans or Europeans. There has always been a socio political and intellectual difference between me and most African Americans.

Black men and women have been relevant to me in movies and pop culture. I have gained tremendous influence through them in actors, musicians and even journalists. Somehow I have no guilt as I move into the Eastern part of Harlem with its gentrified culture.

I see now I have become person prepared for this with my past life in some of the ghettos of New York. It isn't so much that I follow a black crowd. Rather intimately I can imbibe the nature of human along lines of animal and intellect.

Exceptionally this makes up the foundation of New Yorkers.