CD Wright’s 1979 letter to Ishmael Reed

CD Wright commends the Before Columbus Foundation in a 1979 letter to its founder, Ishmael Reed.

CD Wright to Ishmael Reed 08.28.1979

Dear Ishmael Reed,
I sold the printing equipment in July and moved myself and the Lost Roads inventory to SF this month. Since I have been here I’ve had the flu, the blues, the hives, and a stopped up head. Now that’s all clearing up and I am ready to go back on line, finish my manuscript, continue with Frank’s work, and with Lost Roads, as well as, with some kind of employment. The latter being why I am writing to you. While I am aware the job I aspire to probably doesn’t exist, I’m still applying. As the publisher/editor and sole staff member of Lost Roads I’ve acquired some skills I’d like to put to use: I’ve learned the fundamentals of offset printing, done the typesetting, layout, camera work, stripping, plate burning, design, type and paper selection and ordering, silkscreening; coordinated distribution, edited manuscripts, handled correspondence, written grants, filled out legal forms, tax forms, done the mailing and the billing, etc., etc. I’ve spent my free time perusing the California literary scene, and the only one that makes any damn sense to me is the activity around Before Columbus, Y’bird, and Reed, Cannon and Johnson. With all those irons in the fire – even if all the printing and design work is jobbed out – you still have to maintain some semblance of a staff. Don’t you? If not maybe you have a lead or two for me. After three years as a grad assistant, two years on a grant, and a year running LR I am spoiled – I just don’t want to work for a fool. I want to work for who I want to work for – else I just don’t care what happens. I go to pot.

I have a standard resume if you want to see it.

And I have time at your convenience if you could talk to me about this.

I move into an apt this weekend but won’t have a phone for a few weeks. A message can be left for me at 552-5464 or a card at the LR p.o. would do. Meanwhile I may keep trying to reach you at Before Columbus.

My thanks, appreciation, the best,

CD Wright


Ishmael Reed’s play Life Among The Aryans to debut

“Life Among the Aryans” Opens May 31, 2018 in New York City at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. Tickets can be purchased from Ticketfly:

John Keene speaks on elements of literary style

Keene’s Counternarratives received the American Book Award in 2016. “Literary style is the material articulation, in whatever genre and form, of an author’s attempt to record their vision, sensibility, and apperception of the world.” Speech originally delivered at Association of Writers/Writing Programs (AWP) Tampa Transcript From Literary Hub:

Laila Lalami examines divide between writers and critics

Lalami’s The Moor’s Account received the American Book Award in 2016. From Poets & Writers:

Ishmael Reed to join First Person Festival 2018 in Barcelona

Spanish language coverage from El Periodico:

Donate to the Before Columbus Foundation

If you have ever considered helping
Before Columbus Foundation, now is the time. The Before Columbus Foundation is a longstanding nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting multicultural literature through hosting the annual American Book Awards and countless other events.

All donations are tax deductible.

Checks can be mailed to:

Before Columbus Foundation
655 13th St. #302
Oakland, Ca.

Thank you for your patronage.

Retro images of historic events hosted by Before Columbus

Flyers and photographs from earlier days of the Foundation give a fascinating glimpse into its origins and development.

(From left to right) Founders Shawn Wong, Ishmael Reed, and Gundar Strads

Marlon James wins award from American Academy of Arts and Letters

Eight writers, including St. Paul novelist Marlon James, have won Arts and Letters Awards in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The awards celebrate “exceptional accomplishment in literature”. James is part of the Before Columbus Foundation’s board of directors, and received the 2015 American Book Award (and several other awards) for A Brief History of Seven Killings.

Ishmael Reed’s Konch Magazine publishes Spring 2018 issue

KONCH Spring Issue 2018
Just Us and Jeff Sessions: Evidence by Justin Desmangles
James Baldwin and the Black Italian Nexus by Nancy Carnevale
Letter from Hanoi 11-17 by Susanne Lee
Seven Poems by Lamont Steptoe
America by Horace Mungin
Marvin X Reviews the Film “Black Panther”

New York Times reviews the film Personal Problems by Ishmael Reed and Bill Gunn

“A video-shot story conceived as a “meta-soap opera,” “Personal Problems,” a 1980 collaboration between the writer Ishmael Reed, the director Bill Gunn, the photographer Robert Polidori, the composer Carman Moore and a host of talented performers, is now presented as a work of cinema — proving, among other things, that cinema retains the ability to accommodate the noncategorical.”