DMX 1970–2021

The reason I have a short fuse about writers and rappers lying about “the trap” was that my father was in a lot of them. A ghetto celebrity in Tacoma and a successful businessman before he became a basehead, he used the connections he developed, to scam money, get a come back job at UPS, smoke that up, and then spend a few years playing a victim of the system. In that time she got away with a lot of shit and around trap house, the most egregious things being roughing up runners, people were always 11–15-year-old kids…


The Brilliance of Saul Bellow’s novella outlives the later rages of its creator.

Seize The Day, Saul Bellow’s novella about a failure desperate to find humanity separate from financial success is a masterpiece that outlives the demons of its creator. Published in 1956, it remains a stylistic tour de force, brimming with Joycean riffs, brilliant intensity, and an exquisite structure that was wildly experimental yet still fully contained. …


The Whole Harmonium and the Yale Lecture series do as much damage to the reputations of Wallace Stevens and William B. Years as the people who want them canceled.

I dislike the garden variety college activist who demands Wallace Stevens shouldn’t be read because of his racism. I detest the biographer who treats him as if he’s a god. Both are fringes of cultural movements, nether edges that do nothing but troll each other and contribute no good towards art or critical discussion. However, the activist will be shamed, ignored, and disposed of on account of the cynical factory dynamics…


http://www.ctadams.com/helenejohnson5.html

Helene Johnson’s career, choices, and sacrifices she had to make to express herself as an artist make the term “edgy poet” seem like a cheap cliche. When critical demand dictated that black poets wrote in form, she wrote sharp, terse, and physical free verse. When Johnson did decide to write in form, her work critiqued and deconstructed the goddess archetypes popular in the work of the Harlem Renaissance. She wasn’t before her time. Her time hasn’t come yet.

By the time Magalu, her greatest poem, was published, the biggest cultural quandary in the minds of black critics wasn’t jim…


On the complex call for freedom in Langston Hughes’ most seminal essay

The nature of art will always conflict with critical demand; simply because the mere aesthetic of creation itself is given to so many variables and variants, that it is inevitable that it will somehow conflict with the norms of whatever society in which the art is created. And the Harlem Renaissance had more than its fair share of demands put upon it. …


The debut of a column I want to start, which goes into the complex, muddy, and often beautiful intersections in American literature and culture.

In the last 4 years, believing in the gorgeous mosaic of American literature became less like trying to find a median in the culture wars and more like burning cosmic sage outside my window. The attack at the capital and the paranoia, depravity, and Thackeryan class conceit of the right has been drastic to form a circle in my thinking. …


A caustic, alternative appraisal of one of the greatest poets in the history of the English Language, and his “prime years”

​1: Another Life: The First Sunset

If-as John Updike once said-“Fame is the mask that eats the face,” then one can make the argument that Derek Walcott’s casing began at his boyhood house. In book 2 of Another Life, his autobiographical epic poem, he arrives at his old door an acclaimed yet struggling poet. At the sight of its remnants, the memories overwhelm him

” Old house, old woman, old room old planes, old buckling membranes of the womb…


Do not trust a soul who has laughed at the story of Leon Spinks.

Go down youtube boxing rabbit holes on Leon Spinks, and you will often hear Howard Cosell remind an ABC audience that he used to be a marine. It was Cosell who, in the 1976’s Olympics, sold him to America as a Horatio Alger figure who came up from poverty. It was Cosell who, in Spinks salad days as a fighter, would bring up his service to reprimand sports fans who saw him as another Bigger Thomas. Years later, after people heaped more scorn on him than…


Jay Sizemore’s article on Amanda Gorman was pleasant on its surface and about as morally responsible as an OJ Simpson take on the Bills offense, given his sickening history with women( receipts below). Critics who take him at face value without taking it into account do nothing but contribute to the nightmare of poetry history.

First, let’s get the aesthetics out of the way. On the page, I like the inaugural poem overall, but she’s got work to do. ( we all have work to do). Gorman has said Gwendolyn Brooks and Maya Angelou are her main influence, and the…


Photo by Green Chameleon on Unsplash

I am still processing what to keep with Albert Murray, the person who-along with Ralph Ellison-made me want to be a serious writer. The 43-year-old sees a few more flaws in his work than the 22-year-old fanboy did. His Scooter novels are better read in tandem-an Alabama “In Search Of Lost Time”-but Murray’s steely aspirational politics manifested itself in the later books as a fear of conflict, and the result is that they just sink on the page. That same personal ethos made him distrust James Baldwin’s Another Country and made him tone-deaf in regards to the work of Toni…

Robert Lashley

Writer. Author. Former Jack Straw and Artist Trust Fellow. The baddest ghetto nerd on the planet.

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