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  1. Author: Steven C. Thedford Book: Title: Kwansabas & Other Poetmes ISBN: 978-0975973059 Publication Date: January 17, 2021 Request: I am interested in a book review. The Kwansaba is an African American verse form of praise created in 1995 by Eugene B. Redmond, East St. Louis Poet Laureate and professor of English at Southern Illinois-East St. Louis. The poems honor Kwanzaa, a celebration of family and African American culture, and praise writers such as Richard Wright and Sonia Sanchez. The poetic style of the Kwansaba utilizes the number seven, the numeric foundation of Kwanzaa. Thus, a Kwansaba is a heptastich, a poem of seven lines, with seven words in each line, and written with no word exceeding seven letters. Darline Roy talks about the strict rules of a Kwansaba. The idea was first used by Eugene B. Redmond and refined in the summer workshop of 2015. But there are exceptions to the rule of seven. He agrees that imposing some restriction makes you think about what you are writing. Another example of a kind of poem that has rules is a haiku, a very short form of Japanese poetry in which the first sentence has five syllables, the second line has seven syllables, and the last line has five syllables. In addition, the Kwansaba poetic form embraces its roots from the South African tradition of the praise poem, called the izibongo in Zulu. A praise poem offers veneration to a person, which was popular in the Middle Ages and continues to be embraced in African cultures today. However, the African praise poem is not restricted to this part of the continent and is not uniquely an African motif; it was used during the Renaissance in Europe. Moreover, the praise poem itself is the manifestation of the oral tradition of atavistic songs of the African ancestors. The “Other Poems” featured in the later part of the book are digressive; they may follow the rules of the Kwansaba but sometimes do not offer praise. The subjects of the poems range from relationships to community.
  2. Author: Steven C. Thedford Book Title: Eastside Story ISBN: 978-0975973080 Publication Date: March 27, 2022 Request: I am interested in a book review. Synopsis Egypt James is a beautiful African American girl, who has attended private school all her life. In addition, she becomes a debutante and needs her father to dance with her at the cotillion ball-The Father/Daughter Dance. But, her mother kicked him out of the house after she found out that he was part of the LD03, an organization actively engaged in the human trafficking business, and other illegal activities. Egypt wants to befriend William, a member of the LD03, to help locate her father. William Harris is originally from Philadelphia, where the schools were so bad that his father decided to send him to Atlanta to get a better education. Not only that, his father cannot accept the fact that his son is gay. Shipping him off to Atlanta helps him keep up his "street credit" from the LD03 gang members on the streets of "Philly." Yet, William is determined to gain his father's approval. Egypt meets William while "Working the Corner" for the Eastside High School band in front of the school; he donates 20 dollars to the organization. She thinks that he is fine and would be the perfect boyfriend. She thinks that his affiliation with the gang can help her find her father and she decides to pursue a relationship with the young man. Her involvement with William brings her closer to her father. Yet, the stress of the relationship; being dumped at Christmas, learning that William is a homosexual, being accused of having an affair with a teacher, and thinking that she has AIDS causes Egypt to go into labor prematurely and gives birth to a preemie, Baby James. Egypt is a dedicated mother and attentive to Baby James at the prenatal center, but her mother convinces her to take a break to attend the cotillion ball. Her father shows up unexpectedly at the event and dances with Egypt; she feels like a princess during the Father/Daughter Dance. repast Egypt finds the strength to help the police set up a sting that brings down the LD03 and William.
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