WarpLand: A Journal of Black Literature and Ideas

Article excerpt

WarpLand: A Journal of Black Literature and Ideas

* Published by the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing, Chicago State University

* Quraysh Ali Lansana, faculty adviser

* Audrey Tolliver, senior editor

When reached by telephone in his offices at Chicago State University's Gwendolyn Brooks Center, Quraysh Ali Lansana, the poet and assistant professor of English who directs the center, had just gotten off the phone with Adrian Matejka, the newly hired managing editor of Callaloo.

"The Black literary world is a small world. We all know each other," Lansana says. "We all support each other." In fact, he argues, it's a necessity.

"Yeah, it's crazy, I know. We're competing against multinationals. But they're not interested in poetry or in taking too many risks even though they have money to do so. We simply believe in what we do. Small presses and university presses make sure that what is happening in literature is made available to those who seek such knowledge. This is crucial. It's also thankless - it can feel disempowering, but never for long," Lansana explains.

There are always highs to balance out the lows, he adds - like the moment writer Lucille Clifton accepted her Hall of Fame award and confessed, weeping, that of all the honors and awards she had received in her lifetime, "this was the first that had come from her own people. …