Safia Elhillo  is well-known for her spoken word poetry and is the author of The January Children (University of Nebraska Press, 2017) and the chapbook The Life and Times of Susie Knuckles

Elhillo has been praised for her work and has been the recipient of several prestigious poetry awards.


Her poems have appeared in many publications and Elhillo is also a founding member of Slam NYU, the 2012 and 2013 national collegiate championship team, and was a three-time member and former coach of the DC Youth Slam Poetry team. She is a Cave Canem fellow and serves as poetry editor of Kinfolks Quarterly.

Follow her on Twitter here – https://twitter.com/mafiasafia?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

Adrian Denton’s Recommended Books: ‘Unseen: My Journey’ by Reggie Yates

From Grange Hill to Top of the Pops, Reggie Yates has been on camera nearly all of his life, but it’s as a documentary filmmaker – and a pretty fearless one at that – where he has truly been making his mark, investigating everything from gun crime in Chicago, to life as a refugee in Iraq.


In his first book, Unseen, Reggie takes us behind the scenes on his journey from TV host to documentary storyteller. Using some of the key moments and extreme circumstances he has found himself in, Reggie examines what he has learned about the world, and himself as a person.

Beginning as a brief exploration of Reggie’s relationship with the camera and life growing up on screen, Unseen explores the journey Reggie has taken in the documentary world. Initially resistant to documentary making, Reggie was convinced his point of view as a young black working class man with a history in music, children’s TV and entertainment would not make his films remotely credible. Through conflict and challenges on screen, the understanding gained from the very thing once seen as a weakness would become his strength on camera, as the eye of the everyman and voice of the audience. Unseen unpicks the stories behind the fascinating characters and situations Reggie encounters across a series of films, as well as chronicling the personal growth through each testing shoot for Yates himself.

Check out this Halfcast podcast which features Reggie discussing the documentaries that inspired his book –

Article sourced at: https://www.penguin.co.uk/books/1114510/unseen/#jW4DpT3BGQsOTZwg.99

Writer of the Week: Tomi Adeyemi

Tomi Adeyemi is a Nigerian-American author and creative coach.  She is known for her West-African and Black Lives Matter inspired YA novel ‘Children of Blood and Bone.’


Tomi Adeyemi graduated from Harvard University with an honors degree in English Literature, then studied West African mythology on a fellowship.

Fox 2000 has purchased the film adaptation rights to the book. Reportedly the deals for the publishing and film rights were approximately seven figures: which would make it one of the biggest deals for a Young Adult novel.



Bobbi Sykes was an Australian poet, author and civil rights activist who fought for Australian Aboriginal rights.

As a juvenile, Sykes experienced a difficult life; expelled from school at age 14 and later became pregnant after she was sexually assaulted.


Sykes’s early poetry was published in 1979 in the book ‘Love Poems and Other Revolutionary Acts.


Sykes later received a PhD in Education from Harvard University in 1983 becoming the first black Australian to graduate from a United States university.




A dazzling debut novel from an exciting new voice, The Mothers is a surprising story about young love, a big secret in a small community and the things that ultimately haunt us most.
Set within a contemporary black community in Southern California, Brit Bennett’s mesmerizing first novel is an emotionally perceptive story about community, love, and ambition.
It begins with a secret.
“All good secrets have a taste before you tell them, and if we’d taken a moment to swish this one around our mouths, we might have noticed the sourness of an unripe secret, plucked too soon, stolen and passed around before its season.”
It is the last season of high school life for Nadia Turner, a rebellious, grief-stricken, seventeen-year-old beauty.
Mourning her own mother’s recent suicide, she takes up with the local pastor’s son. Luke Sheppard is twenty-one, a former football star whose injury has reduced him to waiting tables at a diner. They are young; it’s not serious. But the pregnancy that results from this teen romance and the subsequent cover-up will have an impact that goes far beyond their youth.
As Nadia hides her secret from everyone, including Aubrey, her God-fearing best friend, the years move quickly. Soon, Nadia, Luke, and Aubrey are full-fledged adults and still living in debt to the choices they made that one seaside summer, caught in a love triangle they must carefully maneuver, and dogged by the constant, nagging question: What if they had chosen differently?
The possibilities of the road not taken are a relentless haunt. In entrancing, lyrical prose, The Mothers asks whether a “what if” can be more powerful than an experience itself. If, as time passes, we must always live in servitude to the decisions of our younger selves, to the communities that have parented us, and to the decisions we make that shape our lives forever.

Recommended by MAHOGANY BOOKS – https://www.mahoganybooks.com/9780399184512

Writer of the Week- Christopher Priest A.K.A Jim Owsley

Christopher James Priest, a.k.a Jim Owsley, a.k.a Priest, is an American writer who is known for being the first African-American editor of mainstream comics.

He first began writing for Marvel’s ‘Falcon’ comics and was also assigned as editor for the ‘Spider-Man’ comics during the mid-80’s.


During the mid-90s he contributed his experience and talent towards DC’s subsidiary company, Milestone Media.
Milestone Media was formed by a coalition of African-Americans and included comic artist’s Denys Cowan and Michael Davis.

After a decade-long absence from comics, he returned in 2014–2015 to write a Quantum and Woody miniseries for Valiant Comics.
He was chosen to write the DC Rebirth version of Deathstroke in 2016 and became the writer for Justice League in December of 2017.

Priest has also contributed a story to the Black Panther Annual #1, released in February 2018.

Priest currently serves as a Baptist pastor in Colorado Springs.





BLACK COMIX RETURNS is a new celebration of African American independent comic art and culture, 144+ pages of masterful comic art framed by articles examining their broader historical and cultural context by some of the leading writers and scholars in the field.



In 2010, Professor John Jennings and Dr. Damian Duffy compiled and published a 176 page collection of art and essays celebrating the vibrant African American independent comics community. Black Comix featured over 50 contributors, including Dawud Anyabwile, Eric Battle, Kenji Marshall, Afua Richardson, Larry Stroman, Rob Stull, Lance Tooks, and many, many more. It met high praise throughout the industry and quickly sold through its respectable print run despite interest and demand—used copies now fetch $60-150 on Amazon and eBay.


Flash-forward 8 years: the comic industry has changed a lot since then, and the amount of African American talent continues to grow and amaze. While huge strides in diversity have been made, John and Damian felt the time was right for another spotlight on the topic. Rather than simply reprinting the first edition, considering the number of fresh new voices and changes in the industry, a whole new volume felt necessary.

Purchase Black Comix Returns here – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Comix-African-American-Independent/dp/0984190651


I’ve been following the ‘Raising Dion’ project for quite some time now and I am thrilled to see that Netflix have picked it up!

The series is based on commercial and music video director Dennis Liu’s short film about an African-American single mother who discovers her young son has multiple, constantly changing abilities and will also be starring Black Panther’s Michael B. Jordan!


For those who are interested in reading the comic book version you can download a free digital version via Indy Planet  – http://www.indyplanet.us/comics/128905/



 Deana Lawson (American, born 1979) received an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2004 and currently lives and works in New York. Lawson refers to the subjects of her photographs as “her family.” Although she is not related to them by blood—in fact, they are nearly all strangers—the pictures are remarkably intimate.


Lawson composes almost every element, often sketching scenes out on paper before working with the camera. Reflecting Western and African portraiture conventions, the works examine “the body’s ability to channel personal and social histories, drawing on the various formal and informal languages of the medium and its archival capabilities,” the artist says. The result is an alphabet of body compositions demonstrating humans’ seemingly limitless variety. The size of these photographs ensures that although they are intimate, they are also confrontational; viewers are invited into the world they depict, but strictly as spectators.


In 2016, Lawson’s photograph, Binky & Tony Forever, was used as the cover art for Freetown Sound, the third album by Dev Hynes for Blood Orange. The photograph is set in Lawson’s bedroom and depicts young love, with an emphasis on the female figure – “the female gaze, and her space, and her love,” in Lawson’s words.