March Book Fair Welcome to the March Book Fair! We have tons of books to choose from (MOST price $0.99-$2.99 for at least part of the duration of the fair.) We’ve separated the books by genre to make browsing easier. The following genres are available this month: Fantasy/Urban Fantasy Paranormal Romance/SciFi romance Romance & Women’s Fiction Young Adult SciFi & Dystopian Mystery, Thriller, or Horror We hope you’ll find some books here to enjoy this coming month! Happy reading trails!
Make love with the intensity of Ka-el and Luthor hatred. Make love with the ferocity of Logan enraged unsheathing his claws Make love with the meticulousness of the World’s Greatest Detective Make love as often as Natasha Romanov shoots her guns
These are not comic books. We do not exists upon tangent realities Our identities are not secret We don’t want to conquer the universe Let’s make love Make love as a quickie, fast as Wally West running to the store and back Make love with the affection of Professor Xavier towards mutants Make love fire as if we were related to Johnny Storm Make love with the mindset that we have no equal a la Victor Von Doom
These are not comic books. We do not exists upon tangent realities Our identities are not secret We don’t want to conquer the universe Let’s make love Make love with the power of Bane breaking Batman’s back Make love with the confidence of Guy Gardner using a lantern ring Make love with the urgency of Crisis on Two Earths Make love as if a hex was put upon us by the Scarlet Witch
These are not comic books. We do not exists upon tangent realities Our identities are not secret We don’t want to conquer the universe Still, let’s make love like all that is true
Libyans sometimes refer to being arrested and taken away without warning as being “taken behind the sun.” This interview series celebrates—through conversations with formerly-incarcerated artists and their allies—the ways in which an artistic, creative life can transmute the impact and redefine the legacy of an experience within the Prison Industrial Complex.
My inaugural installment took me to Kusanya Cafe in Englewood to meet up with award-winning author, poet, actor, and spoken word artist James Gordon. Everyone I met in prison claimed to be writing a book. During his time at FCI Ashland, James actually did—and he hasn’t slowed down since. We sat down for a discussion of how the South Side’s fate is like an episode of The Boondocks, the strain prison places on family ties, and the necessity of keeping an eye on the cops.
Michael Fischer: We met at The Moth StorySlam recently, where we both spoke about being locked up. We managed the first dead-even tie for the top spot that the producers had ever seen. When you saw that we had tied for first, what did that say to you about the place and importance of stories like ours—in the arts, the spoken word community, and the community in general?
James Gordon: Well I didn’t look at us as ex-cons. I looked at it as we had stories that were unique to our own experiences. The stories we told came perfectly up under [the evening’s theme of] Busted.
A lot of us are ashamed to tell our stories, but these things are just like anybody else—like someone falling off a motorcycle. You make mistakes. You make errors, and you go forward. I think that’s more important: the fact that we got on the stage respectively and were able to convey these things and be successful. And create history, because that won’t be replicated. They’ll make sure that there won’t be an actual tie again. I actually thought I had finished second, because that night it wasn’t… I don’t know, sometimes I get in a zone and I can’t hear the audience. So I didn’t know how they took my story, I couldn’t hear. But it went over well so that was real cool.
MF: You were South Side born and raised.
JG: South Side all day.
MF: You’ve said that a lot of the problems Chicago has right now are part of a well-organized force that wants to push people of color out of the South Side—to free up some of the last prime, undeveloped real estate left in the city. What do you think the future holds for the South Side, and how do you feel about that future?
JG: The South Side—if there’s no pushback by people of color or people who live on the South Side and like it the way it is—the South Side will be Andersonville or Wicker Park. And a lot of people of color will be pushed out to the less affluent suburbs, like Harvey and Dolton.
If you look at some of the things going on: they’re building I think it’s a $94 million extension of the Dan Ryan. You don’t do that in an area that’s crime-ridden, you don’t do that unless you have an agenda. You don’t do certain things unless there’s an agenda to it, and there has to be. People just don’t want to admit it. This is straight out of a Boondocks episode.
When did it become nouveau or a trend to speak about how many people are shot every day? About how many people are killed every weekend? It’s like a spotlight, it’s almost up there with Sportscenter stats. It’s like wait a minute, I don’t remember that. I’m a lifelong Chicagoan and I don’t remember them doing that. I mean yeah you always had news, but I don’t remember that.
It’s a fear factor. They want you to be afraid, they want people to say, “Oh, I need to leave Chicago. I need to get up out of here.” And then people come right on in and they raise everything up. First they lower the property values, only to have people come in who can raise it back up.
MF: When you see a person of color pulled over by the cops, you pull over also and take out your cell phone. When I learned that, it reminded me of how the Panthers out in Oakland and elsew
I’m not pretty. I’m not White. I’m not light. Nothing that society deems whatsoever to be as great as I am, but I am.
Joey Pinkney: What has the South Side given you that you might not have been able to get had you grown up anywhere else?
G.P.A.: The South Side has that mixture of splendor and roughness. I lived close to Lake Michigan, so I saw the magnificent water. But it is also colder by the lake. I am the embodiment of that.
Joey Pinkney: Before I met you through your books, I met you through your name – G.P.A.. The first thing I remember about you from back in the day is your stage name G.P.A.. I can’t remember if you approached me first or someone like a publicist approached me on your behalf, but I remember reading the name G.P.A. and thinking that’s a unique name. The name became even more interesting when I found out it stood for Greatest Poet Alive. How do you think you have grown into that name?
G.P.A.: Yeah, I remember that. I believe that G.P.A. has evolved into something else. The fact that I am a champion storyteller, an actor and a host of a long-running show known as Poetry’s Love Letter, I am more than a poet. My impact is similar to Kanye West’s in a lot of ways. People don’t like it, but they can not get around it, rather me.
Joey Pinkney: It’s interesting that you mention Kanye West. Both of you are from Chicago, both of you are driven and both of you are considered to be egotistical. How do you define that energy in you that others see as being conceit, ego or hubris?
G.P.A.: Kanye said, “People who like me like themselves.” I like me. When I wasn’t considered conceited or otherwise, I was disliked, made fun of, etc. It makes sense to insulate myself with confidence and self-love. Thus, I have risen to heights that I never dreamed I would be able to.
Joey Pinkney: Before you really kicked liking yourself into high gear, you were disliked. Now that you are definitely a poster child of self-love, you are still disliked, but you don’t have to consider that because you are much more self-motivated. Right? Am I reading this correctly?
G.P.A.: Let’s take someone who is popular, like Taylor Swift. What if she was racist or hated dogs or something and, as a result, became unpopular. Could she deal? Take someone like me, who is self-reliant. That won’t mean a damn thing because all I have is me. I’m my biggest fan, supporter, etc. Me! Joey Pinkney: In the course of living up to the name G.P.A., you have become better able to stay focused in light of all of the opinions and perspectives.
G.P.A.: No choice really, but yeah…
Joey Pinkney: Quick question. What’s your favorite Kanye West Song?
G.P.A.: I really dig “No More Parties in L.A.”
Joey Pinkney: Since she fell into this conversation, do you have a favorite Taylor Swift song?
G.P.A.: Not a fan really.
Joey Pinkney: Me, either. Before we move on from Taylor Swift, which one of your books beat out which one of her books on Amazon?
G.P.A.: It was Revenge of the Orgasm (ROTO) when I made it a free autobiography. Ha! Forgot about that. Joey Pinkney: LOL, see I peep the scene. So, ROTO beat out Taylor Swift’s autobiography. Since the birth of G.P.A., you have taken on quite a few monikers. G.P.A., James Gordon, Pizzle, Bruce Veign, the Three Headed Monster. Now you are the entity known as The Four Horsemen. Let’s put each identity in perspective and break down what each contributes to the #TeamGPA Movement.
G.P.A.: #TeamGPA is an ideal. It simply means God, family, supporters and then the poet. James Gordon is the guy, the secret identity. G.P.A. is the talent, the do-it-all guy. Pizzle is the ladies man. Bruce Veign is the negotiator, the mechanic.
Joey Pinkney: If you had to sum up James Gordon in a sentence, what would it be?
G.P.A.: James Gordon is a higher life-form, perhaps from a future time.
Meet James Gordon—poet, author, publisher, actor and champion storyteller. Lately, he’s been working on set as a self-proclaimed “background celebrity” filming fall season episodes for Empire, but he is a familiar face on many other television shows, including The Steve Harvey Show, Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Shameless, and Sirens. He has been on the Netflix-exclusive Sense8 as an orderly, and he also plays an FBI agent on an Amazon.com show entitled The Patriot. Still, he makes time for his growing library of literary works, which includes mystery and sci-fi novels, children’s books, poetry books, and an erotic anthology.
The Chicago born and raised South sider has a deep passion for writing, which started when he was in 5th grade when he first wrote a poem for a young lady named Maria with the hopes that writing poetry would help him with the girls. He explains, “I love this play—General de Bergerac. And, this guy with this large nose, but he has a penchant for writing love poetry. But, he has great vocabulary, as well. And, he writes these poems, and he’s writing for this guy—this soldier who is kind of an idiot. And, the soldier likes Roxanne. And, Roxanne winds up falling in love with the general ‘cause she recognizes the words in his poetry. So, I was like, ‘Wow!’ When I was growing up, I was like, ‘Man, maybe a girl will like me if I can write poetry, or what have you.’ So, through the years, usually using music as inspiration, he wrote. And wrote. And wrote some more. Gordon explains that writing poetry is natural for him given his ability to complete poems in just a few minutes. He estimates that to date, he’s written about 1,000,000 of them. And, it was his friend, Elwood Pegram, who convinced him that he had a gift and encouraged him to start putting those poems in a book.
Photo Credit: Facebook, James Gordon Photo Credit: Facebook, James Gordon So, in 2009 through his company GPA Media, he self-published his first book titled The Confessional Heart of a Man likening it to DMX’ It’s Dark and Hell is Hot and 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ because it was so personal. Overall, he describes his poetry as “cinematic.” He says, “They come to life. Some of them are romantic or sensual poems…And, then, some of the other stuff that I write it down—social commentary and things of that nature—they paint pictures and that’s what I try to do with the poem—not just fire off similes and metaphors. I try to put each individual reading and listening into a scenario so they can be clearer.” His other poetry books include Book of 24 Orgasms, The Mind of a Poetic Unsub, Revenge of the Orgasm, Angelica’s Box, and The Warmest Winter. In addition, he’s written a children’s book called Hi, My Name is Bobo: A Weekend in the Life of a 5th Grader and spearheaded an erotic anthology called Night’s Playground.
But, before his career as an author took off, Gordon was a 7th grade language arts and social studies teacher at Rosa Parks Middle School in Chicago. He loved teaching, but admits that over time, he became burned out. Then, he worked at SBC and Sprint until his Sprint office closed. At that point, he decided it was time to leave the corporate world for good. “I like being an artist,” Gordon says. “I guess I got the artist quirk—wake up late, stay up late, travel, write.” He explains that his decision to step out and work for himself was an easy one because “I got a great support base from my family, and I’m one of those people who doesn’t believe in ‘if’ or ‘maybe.’ I believe in certainties. I don’t believe in ‘I might win.’ I believe I’m going to win. However, I need to do that, I’m going to do it.”
Gordon says progression was the key to his success. For him, the order made perfect business sense: Write poems. Write a book of poetry. Sell samples. Move around and get seen (i.e., travel). Gain a following with a new set of readers by writing a different genre of poems. Write a children’s book. He advises that “You keep
Reviewed by Siobhan Quinlan for Readers' Favorite
Angelica's Box: A Poetically Sober Psychotic Break (Pizzle's Trilogy of Insanity) by Greatest Poet Alive is a book of poetry. This was a first for me as I normally do not read poetry books, but I wanted to try this. The poetry varies in that some poems are just a line or two and others are much longer. There were a lot of poems I could relate to and I found the writing to be beautiful. I found the humor to be very interesting and witty. Just after the Epilogue there was a little line that made me laugh a lot.
Angelica's Box: A Poetically Sober Psychotic Break (Pizzle's Trilogy of Insanity) by Greatest Poet Alive brings humor in a way I did not think was possible with poems. A few small drawbacks include the lack of capital letters at the start of some sentences and the amount of blank space on a lot of pages that I feel could have been filled with illustrations or maybe placing two smaller poems on the pages together. However, I really enjoyed the majority of the poems and it was a very fast read. I was able to fly through it in one sitting pretty quickly. I enjoyed the writing and it kept me interested throughout. I highly recommend this to lovers of poetry and people just starting to read poetry.
Michele Kimbrough lives in Chicago (but cheers for the Green Bay Packers). She’s an Air Force veteran and formerly a nonprofit corporate executive. She describes herself as a work in progress, and counts coffee and red wine as the best discoveries of all times. Michele writes stories because she loves peeling back the layers of messy truths that come with living life. Her characters are flawed and encounter challenges that either grow them or destroy them. Her passion is writing and she’s written freelance articles and contributed to various blogs. You can find Michele on the web at: www.facebook.com/michelekimbroughwriter www.twitter.com/madambition www.michelekimbrough.com You can email Michele at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank all of you for listening to and giving your feedback on the "A Week of Poems" Mixtape. On behalf of Kottyn Campbell and myself, I'd like to ask for your nomination over the next 24 hours. Just like this. Kottyn Campbell: Poetry Author of the Year James Gordon/G.P.A.: Poet of the Year Pizzle Orgasm: Erotic Poet of the Year A Cruel Summer Soundtrack: Poetry Album of the Year
If you like Tacos, oh my gosh, i recommend Mad Tacos. Yesterday, my brother ventured to 306 East 75th street to support a black business. And oh my goodness, the deliciousness. We ordered the Taco Flight each, and that was $12. In that, you received 4 tacos, so we tried the blackened fish and jerk chicken tacos. They didn't take long either. The only thing is the cashier could've given a more thorough explanation initially, but she recovered an provided great service. If you're into tacos, give Mad Tacos a try.