Literary Birthdays: Week of February 15 – 21

 

February 15


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Masuji Ibuse (b. 1898) – Japanese novelist – Black Rain / Kuroi Ame (1966)

February 16

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Ice-T (Tracy Lauren Marrow) (born February 16, 1958) – U.S. rapper, songwriter, author

First verse to 6 ‘N The Mornin (1986)
6’n the morning’ police at my door
Fresh adidas squerk across the bathroom floor
Out the back window I make a escape
Don’t even get a chance to grab my old school tape
Mad with no music but happy ’cause I’m free
And the streets to a player is the place to be
Gotta knot in my pocket weighin’ at least a grand
Gold on my neck my pistols close at hand
I’m a self-made monster of the city streets
Remotely controlled by hard hip hop beats
But just livin’ in the city is a serious task
Didn’t know what the cops wanted
Didn’t have the time to ask


February 17

Huey Newton

Huey P. Newton (b. 1942) – U.S. political activist (Black Panther Party) and writer – The Original Vision of the Black Panther Party (Statement made May 1, 1971)

Excerpts from
The Original Vision of the Black Panther Party

Democracy in America (bourgeois democracy) means nothing more than the domination of the majority over the minority.
That is why Black people can cast votes all year long but if the majority is against us, we suffer.
Then the politicians and educators try to deceive the community with statements such as “It’s rule by the majority, but the rights of the minority are protected.”
If, in fact, participating in the democratic process in America were in the interest of the Black community there would be no need for a Free Breakfast Program, there would be no need for Free Health Clinics or any of the other programs we have developed to meet the people’s needs.

* * *

Our children still die, our youth still suffer from malnutrition, our middle-aged people still suffer from sickle-cell anemia, and our elderly still face unbearable poverty and hardship because they reach the twilight period of their lives with nothing to sustain them through these difficult times.
Where is the democracy in any of this for Black people?
Democracy means only that the majority will use us when they need us and cast us aside when they do not need us.

See Dorion Hilliard’s documentary short about
Huey Newton and the Black Panther Party on Youtube:

 


February 18

Toni Morrison (Chloe Ardelia Wofford) (b. 1931) – U.S. novelist, 1993 Nobel Prize in Literature – Beloved (1988 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction)

See these Youtube Toni Morrison interviews:


 February 19

André Breton (b. 1896) – French writer, poet, theorist of surrealism

Excerpt from Breton’s 1924 Manifesto of Surrealism

We are still living under the reign of logic: this, of course, is what I have been driving at. But in this day and age logical methods are applicable only to solving problems of secondary interest.

The absolute rationalism that is still in vogue allows us to consider only facts relating directly to our experience. Logical ends, on the contrary, escape us.

It is pointless to add that experience itself has found itself increasingly circumscribed. It paces back and forth in a cage from which it is more and more difficult to make it emerge.
It too leans for support on what is most immediately expedient, and it is protected by the sentinels of common sense.

Under the pretense of civilization and progress, we have managed to banish from the mind everything that may rightly or wrongly be termed superstition, or fancy; forbidden is any kind of search for truth which is not in conformance with accepted practices.


February 20

Buffy Sainte Marie (b. 1941) – Canadian songwriter – Universal Soldier

Verse excerpts from the song Universal Soldier

He’s five feet two and he’s six feet four
He fights with missiles and with spears
He’s all of 31 and he’s only 17
He’s been a soldier for a thousand years

And he’s fighting for Democracy
and fighting for the Reds
He says it’s for the peace of all
He’s the one who must decide
who’s to live and who’s to die
and he never sees the writing on the walls

But without him how would Hitler have
condemned him at Dachau
Without him Caesar would have stood alone
He’s the one who gives his body
as a weapon to a war
and without him all this killing can’t go on

He’s the universal soldier and he
really is to blame
His orders come from far away no more
They come from him, and you, and me
and brothers can’t you see
this is not the way we put an end to war.

See Buffy Sainte Marie talk about the inspiration for Universal Soldier
in this Youtube video:
See this November 2008 video interview (done by Rudy Blair of Toronto’s 680 news radio) of Buffy Sainte Marie, where she talks about her life and work:
or try this lower resolution, smaller file size version of the same interview:
or — if you are short on time — view the highlights of the above interview:

February 21

Anais Nin (b. 1903) – French diarist – The Diary of Anais Nin

Hear Anais Nin talk about her life and her journals in this 1972 Bookbeat interview (1/2 hour length)

Short excerpt from the above Bookbeat interview:
Last but not least, see this video art portrait of Anais Nin on Youtube:
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One Response to Literary Birthdays: Week of February 15 – 21

  1. Paul Herron says:

    You have noted two of my favorite people: Buffy Ste. Marie and Anais Nin. We are celebrating Anais’s birthday in a big way at our blog, http://www.skybluepress.com/blog.html, by presenting her heritage, birthplace, and soon, the big day. Thanks so much for the videos of Buffy. I still have a crush on her.

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