Dr. Haki Madhubuti is to black poetry what a mimeograph machine is to a black man contemplating the audibility of his own voice, circa 1967, in a basement on Chicago's south side. He is a crafting tool of "tough notes" and "action books," an interjector of African-American institution, a carrier of kind words to those who have been bought and sold their own disenfranchisement. As founder, editor and publisher of Third World Press (TWP), Madhubuti has sustained the oldest operating black publishing company in America. Among those who have contributed to the American literary caldron via TWP are Gwendolyn Brooks, America's first Black Poet Laureate, poli-poet and Beat/Black Arts pioneer Amiri Baraka and with sprouting literary jewel (and former Source Magazine editor) Bakari Kitwana.
In the tradition of his previous 23 TWP titles, Madhubuti's latest address, Tough Notes: A Healing Call for Creating Exceptional Black Men is a compassionate and steadfast beaconing of black men. Madhubuti, who has long discarded any desire for name-calling and blame-rendering, offers Tough Notes as much more than an antithetical diatribe of "the white man." What makes these notes tough is the prevailing air of protection and block-building, proactive as the purchase of a mimeograph in Chicago circa '67. At the invitation of Spirithouse, Inc., a Durham-based dropout-prevention organization and home to Big Drum Press (whose authors include Phillip Shabazz, r.c. glen, Howard Craft, and shirlette ammons): Madhubuti will tender his tough notes on Friday, Nov. 21, 6 p.m. at Lyon Park Community and Family Life Center, 1313 Halley Ave, Durham. 688-8111, (ext. 288), www.spirithouse.org.