Mosaic 15


The Wonderful World of Tony Medina
Poet and educator Dr. Tony Medina talks with Cave Canem fellow Jacqueline Johnson about the current state of poetry.

Original Notes of A Native Son
James Baldwin’s friend and editor Sol Stein talks of their early days at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, NY.

Poet, educator, and scholar E. Ethelbert Miller slowed down just long enough to discuss literature, scholarship, and Howard University. by Remica Bingham

Boogie Down Productions
Five Bronx poets, five Bronx talents featured in the chapbook Shout Out: Caridad De La Luz/La Bruja, John Rodriguez, Anita Garcia/Rokafella, Jessica Roman, and Victoria SammartinoShout Out is published by Pepatián, a South Bronx-based organization dedicated to supporting, presenting, and creating contemporary Latino art. For more information visit

A History of African American People (proposed) by Strom Thurmond by Percival Everett & James Kincaid
The Oldest Orphan by Tierno Monenembo
Some People, Some Other Place by J. California Cooper
Who Slashed Celanire’s Throat by Maryse Conde
Wild Like That: Good Stuff Smellin Strong by Tish Benson


“We from the Bronx, New York, sh*t happens…” – Fat Joe

If you’re reading this issue in page order, as many do not, let me warn you, particularly if you call Harlem home—James Baldwin’s formative years came in the Bronx. The DeWitt Clinton High School graduate’s early writing experiences took place while a staffer for the school’s newspaper, the Magpie. Now, we Bronx folks are not claiming Baldwin as our own—thoughts of the Great Librarian Riots of 2005 are too much even for us to fathom. But facts are facts. Baldwin’s love of writing and literature were forged in the Boogie Down.

And though the Bronx can lay claim to many legit homegrown literary voices: Cynthia Ozick, Abraham Rodriquez, Edgar Allen Poe, E. L. Doctorow—it’s still Baldwin’s influence that may have the longest impact on the literary cognoscenti emerging from the Bronx. In this new edition of Mosaic poets and educators Tony Medina and E. Ethelbert Miller both site Baldwin’s influence.

In the works of five young Bronx poets: La Bruja, Rokafella, Jessica Roman, and Victoria Sammartino are hints of Baldwin’s influence—an unflinching mirror of truth. Even the amusing “Spidermanizm” by John Rodriguez lays out how to deal when you get to the “end of your rope.”

I’m probably feeding into another stereotype. Poetic influences being “appropriated,” sampled if you will, by Bronx artists but it’s these cross-boundary influence that stir originality inspiring others to get it done.

“The Bronx keeps creating it…” –KRS One