i have a ritual griotic opening in all of my books since another good loving blues

i am flowers of the delta clan flowers and the line of o killens

i was trained by john o killens
the line of o killens

babajohn taught me not only how to write but how to be a writer

babajohn taught me to be a visionary
a literary visionary

what he called a long distance runner
what i call the longgame

babajohn, he showed me the way




came to nyc in the summer of 73 to get into babajohns workshop at columbia and stayed in it till he died in 1986.- for 13 years i followed john o. killens from school to school.

wherever john taught he always stipulated that his workshop would be open to the 'community', to anybody he thought serious about wanting to be a writer

over the years it drew a little literary community unto him.

s pearl, ashanti and wesley were there when i got there in 73.as was sudan, christine and gerry, other folk. joyce came while he was at columbia, brenda and doris at bronx community, adero and barbara at medger evers, jackie i think medger evers too, nunez medgar evers too

one by one my literary companeros drifted into the circle of young writers that gathered around john o killens and followed him from columbia to howard to bronx community to his final resting place at medgar evers.





prestigewise medgar evers was a long drop from columbia and johns reputation had suffered - he was no longer treated as a serious writer.

but for his students he was in his prime during those medger evers years. he had attained grace.

medger evers was not only in his own brooklyn neighborhood it was this microcosm of blacks from all over the western hemisphere

and all these diasporic dynamics played out there - i called it the meeting ground. and babajohn was its master griot




folk who leave john o killens out of any exploration of black literature dont understand the game.

babjohn influence transcend his work.

babjohn institutionalize a progressive black literary infrastructure

babajohn train generations of blackwriters in the longgame

babajohn left behind legions
of literary visionaries

babajohn story yet to be told

in mystical circles the the unwritten knowledge is:

that which can only be learned from the extended example of the masters life.

i have internalized so much of babajohns passions and precepts about writing and being a writer that he is always with me

teaching even in new ground.
i am a traveler who knows the road





"the more important that you have to say the more obligated you are to say it well"

word by john o killens


in my literary youth i aspired to be an intellectual of power who would forge blackfolk into a conquering horde and fling them into battle

power was my thing and field of study and people were factors to be utilized - this was reflected in my work

one day babajohn pull me aside and say "art you a brilliant writer but with a little compassion you could be profound"

all i heard was brilliant - wasnt till many years later i realize babajohn trying to make sure my contribution, as his student, would not be hard and cold but warm and loving

old shaman trying to ensure the health of the tribal soul





  minister primarily (unfinished work)
great black russian
the cotillion

black mans burden
black southern voices
great gitting up morning

and then we heard the thunder



newren lithoodoo post #1

joihn killens online bio from gale

aabl jok link

washpost review of thunder

keith gilyard


last thing i remember:: john dying - last time i see him in brooklyn - folk downstairs on the deathwatch
i ask ms grace if i can go

upstairs in johns sickroom - he thin wasted bedridden, more spirit than flesh at this point

furst he give me advice about a move im making, body shot, mind still good, still the master. then he ask me to set him up in a big lazy boy beside the bed - real careful i put him in the chair, i cover him w/a robe - he say call amazing grace - thats what he called her, amazing

i call ms grace and she come to the bottom of the stairs concerned - i reassure her, tell her john wants her. she comes up and beams at him cause he sitting there so proud of himself for being upright

i like to see he said - i know you do she said

i like to know whats going on around me he said
i know you do she said