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GHETTOHEAT® reviewed by Simone Carlene Porter, The Flow Magazine, 6/05



Chillin’ on the front stoop on a hot summer day with a glass of “Red” Kool-Aid, watching the people; watching the events unfold. It’s amazing just how much you would see. HICKSON’s GHETTOHEAT® is just that. GHETTOHEAT®. The topics of his raw, unpolished poetry are of the ghetto and its people. The heat, is clearly his unique way of placing the words together in different rhythms and style. HICKSON’s poetry sheds light on subjects that would never come up during a conversation at the dinner table. His collection is not something that has been diluted and edited to appeal to a wider range of readers.


He keeps it “gully”, as we at The Flow Magazine would say. With his words, we’re packing our bags and heading to the realness of the neighborhood. GHETTOHEAT® is a one-way ticket to wake up and smell the coffee, forcing you to come down from whatever pedestal you’ve built for yourself and be confronted with real-life situations, epidemics, and states of mind. In the beginning, the reader is given just a sample of what is to come. As you read on, the temperature is sure to rise and you might even need to go inside and flip the switch on the air conditioner, just to get through the rest of the book.


The characters we meet along the storyline and the struggles they must endure prove to be “too real” for some. Simply stated, if you can’t handle the heat, then get out the damn kitchen. HICKSON is an amazing writer; a true poet. Many have a way with words, but HICKSON has the ability to use his dynamic style of writing to bring forth what people try to cover up and ignore. This book can definitely be used to drop knowledge on those who think they know, but in fact have no idea. Pick it up and be prepared for a ride through the ghetto you’ll never forget. Remember your sunscreen ‘cause it’s hot. Real recognizes real. The Flow recognizes HICKSON.



HICKSON: BRINGIN’ THE HEAT! by Tionne, The Flow Magazine 6/05


There’s always difference...and change comes in an amount we’re not always able to get with. However, when it rains it pours...and when HICKSON decided to pursue his outlet, he created an ingenious way to write and be heard. With GHETTOHEAT®, he’s intended to do what many writers strive for...keep it alive. June 4th 2003, HICKSON became a published writer…and coming next spring, HICKSON will release his sophomore effort, SKATE ON! to continue this vision with much success and further welcoming. With a real voice and a real way of producing what is - he’s here...he’s strong...and he’s bringin’ the HEAT!





My money’s tight - shit ain’t right

Don’t know if I’m gonna make it tonight...

Stomach growlin’ - fridge empty - landlord’s howlin’:


‘Bout to be homeless - livin’ in a tent


Light and gas cut - fucked up in a rut

Shit gots to get better

Son, I need some cheddar!

Can’t get no job

Doors slammed in my face

“Sorry, I can’t help you,” says “MISTER CRACKER”

Mind cluttered and sketchy

Thoughts all over the fuckin’ place

Do I gots to rob and steal to pay these bills?

Get a lil’ meal?


What’s the deal?

Clothes mad dingy

Lookin’ crazy, shabby and poor

Gonna rob and steal tonight


Nigga gots no clout

Feelin’ trapped up in this heat


Ready to scream - ‘bout to shout:


Now a nigga evicted from home

Gots no place to go

Out on Eighth Ave. I roam

Sleepin’ on the street

Pocket full of nuthin’

Still no grub to eat

Shiverin’ in the cold

Prayin’ for shelter



Mmmph, mmmph, mmmph...

The agony of defeat



Tionne: So HICKSON...what is your definition of poetry?


HICKSON: To me, poetry is a creative expression that consists of wordplay, rhythm, emotion and messages, personal and non-personal, which interpreted and delivered properly, others can gain valuable knowledge from. There are many poets who discuss matters such as politics and war, love and other issues that may affect us globally—and that’s great. Personally, I like to discuss what’s going on in my own world, right here in the streets of the ghetto. I write about my life as well as people and their experiences, good and bad within my own community—mainly everyday life situations that pertain to me, and people who are indigenous to me, living in Ghetto-America.


Tionne: In YOUR words, what sets you apart from Hallmark but can league you with Langston?


HICKSON: For one, my language is hardcore at times, being extremely raw, real and riveting. It’s not the typical material about the stars, moon and the universe in which you would normally find when reading a “Hallmark” card. I talk about life—the good, the bad and the ugly! Although I’ve been recently compared to Langston Hughes by a book reviewer, which I feel was an honor and a great compliment, the thought of me being put in that same category as Langston, doesn’t sit well with me, as I feel that he was a genius! Langston is my all-time favorite poet. He was an excellent writer, writing plays, essays, novels, short stories and poetry, the most beautiful, creative and complicated of works; yet he made then all seem so simple—which is very hard to do. It takes a lot of work to make a complex piece seem easy to compose—in which Langston was the master of this technique.


Yet, I can see the similarities between us two. We’re both from Harlem, New York—Langston being apart of the old Harlem Renaissance and me being apart of the new. The social issues that Langston wrote about back then, I’ve also written about today in GHETTOHEAT®—meaning that the matters addressed in the past are still relevant and sadly to say, ongoing; even in modern-day time. We love to write about the beauty of everyday people, our struggles, joys, pains and love for one another—real issues.


Tionne: Trials & tribulations, what was growing up like? And how would you describe bein’ grown?


HICKSON: I come from parents who were teenagers when they had me. My mother was pregnant at 14 and my father was 15 at the time, so you can imagine how scary life was for them in the ‘70’s—“babies having babies”. Although I lived with my mother and visited my father, it was my grandfather who practically raised me, being that my parents were so young. My mother was too young to work, my father was still a kid himself, unemployed, probably unsure of life and who he was going to become back then, therefore, outside of my grandfather’s assistance, I was born a “welfare baby”; in which my mother relied on Social Services to survive. Although I was considered poor, I can always remember being showered by love from my family. My grandfather, knowing early on that my parents couldn’t afford certain things, made it his business for me to want for nothing! He spoiled me very early, giving me the best of everything. He loved me dearly. I was even told that it was he who carried me out the hospital, shortly after my mother was discharged from giving birth to me.


Music was always apart of my life. Real music, not this synthesized, processed garbage that hits the charts these days. I’m talking about real instrumentation, singers who performed live with bands. Legends like Aretha, Marvin, Blue Magic, Miles, Smokey, The Delfonics and many others, played throughout my apartment. This is one of the reasons why music plays a great part within my writing. So, to answer your question, yes, there were many adversities, struggles and hardships, yet I experienced a lot of love as well. As for being grown, it’s when you think as a man/woman, do as a man/woman. It’s when one fully takes care of their responsibilities and handles real business. It’s when one totally knows who they are, are comfortable in their own skin and truly accepts the person that they’ve become—that’s a big part of being grown, in my opinion.


Tionne: With GHETTOHEAT® up and rising, it was 9/11 that inspired you to create the publishing company, how would you describe those times?


HICKSON: A few months prior to the tragedy of 9/11, my grandfather, who I truly loved, respected and considered “my rock”, had passed away. His death had left me terribly depressed and in a state of devastation. Back then I was dealing with a lot of personal issues. Between running back-and-forth to the hospital, visiting my grandfather as he was fading away on his death bed, right before my eyes, dealing with shady relatives whose disposition changed drastically towards me when they’d discovered the inheritance my grandfather left me, one which I never received…being in a co-dependent relationship with a person who didn’t love himself, whose concept of monogamy was much, much different from mine, and working in the fashion industry as a young Black man where racism is prevalent, feeling that no matter how hard I’d worked, they would never allow me to be equal to them, all of this made me become physically, mentally and spiritually drained.


By the time 9/11 came about, I became extremely dark, my state of depression took the best of me, and I literally gave up on myself, wanting not to continue on…. Yet, I fought my demons and did a lot of soul-searching; I dug deep within and found inner strength. In the midst of sending out 473 resumes and only getting one callback, only to find that I was overqualified for the job, I found myself one day, picking up a notepad and beginning to write. “Assed Out” was the first poem I wrote. It was based on my experience of living during this bad time, dwindling my savings, not being able to find a job, becoming homeless, angry and frustrated with life. I would write something new every day out of frustration, whether it was something I was going through, had experienced, witnessed, etc. Basically, frustration was the main root of my motivation. Six months later, I realized that I’d written 84 poems, some being three to six pages long at times, in which I decide to put into book form. Wanting to become an entrepreneur, I decided to self-publish, rather than trying to get signed to a big publishing house or getting rejected by them in the process. I self-published GHETTOHEAT® with the money I received from a settlement I had against the NYPD, when I was falsely arrested by the cops in November of ‘96.


Tionne: Although everyone gets to see the outcome, after you were motivated to publish, what is the process of starting from scratch and getting out there?


HICKSON: It first starts with the writing process, which can be intense. It became exhausting for me to tackle so many of the issues within my book and deal with the complex characters and racy subject matter, because I actually become “possessed” when I write. I actually become each character, in which they can be exhausting and haunting—being hard to shake them. For example, I have a poem titled, “Hustleman”, which deals with a male prostitute. Of course I’m not one and never had been, but I wanted to write about how it would be being an urban, gay male whore—so I had to become one, mentally. I had to take on the mindset of a male prostitute in order to write about such a character in its truest form.


From there, one must do research—tons of it. Whether it’s research for the work or for the creation of your product. Seeking quotes from printers, filing your manuscript and obtaining the copyright for your work from the Library of Congress. Getting barcodes and ISBN numbers. Creating a well-designed website that would be informative and customer-friendly. Marketing and promoting yourself, and your product, which for me wasn’t easy—poetry being a limited market. Although with the rise of poetry events, venues and the success of Russell Simmons’, “Def Poetry Jam”, poetry is not flying off the shelves in stores—it’s the novels! Most readers want a continuous story. Yet, the way I edited GHETTOHEAT®, it actually reads like a novel, which takes you on a mind-boggling journey. Each scenario links together as if you were reading a novel—sort of like R. Kelly’s, “Trapped in the Closet” song. Each series connect together to create a story. I didn’t plan it that way, yet that’s how it worked out.


Tionne: How would you like to respond to the feedback from your work?


HICKSON: Most of the feedback has been positive. Others have been negative. Some folks don’t like to, or just can’t deal with the truth. I write about real people—real scenarios. I get a lot of slack from religious groups who don’t appreciate profanity, or from others who hate slang/ebonics. I have to write about things in its truest form. At times, in the urban streets, people curse, people use slang—I’m guilty of this myself, yet I’ve also found a way to cleverly create scenarios in which people also find themselves within my works, making them ponder about their own actions and hopefully, making them want to change their ways. Recently I had a married woman who expressed her anger towards me in an e-mail, for writing the poem, “Maskerade”, which deals with a gay man living a double life; having a beautiful family at home, yet a secret gay lover on the side. She was irate by my words, wanting to know why would I write about such a thing. Later within the e-mail, she then told me that she’d recently discovered that her own husband was gay and didn’t want to admit it. Reading that poem from my book, I guess was the salt added to the wound. She then apologized to me and thanked me for helping her deal with her issue. The truth hurts, but it will also set you free….





Secrets and lies about the company I keep

Double life I live

Truth mustn’t seep

Meander in dark shadows

Head held down low

Never to be caught

No one will know


SugahDaddy’s sweet candy

A treat so fine and dandy

Arm-n-arm wit’ trophy-wife, Sandy

For public’s eye comes in handy

A three-story house

Filled wit’ much love

Family portrait of wife and kids

Proudly mounted above


Still…I tango wit’ he

Intense passion I can’t shake

Yet I meringue wit’ she

For goodness sake

Dancin’ wit’ both

A risk I take

One for the other

A choice I won’t make



Big and strong

A reputation to uphold

To act as a FAGGOT

Not quite that bold

Men-on-men: an evil, disgustin’ taboo I was once told

Once false move leads me out to the cold

Didn’t ask to be this way…

Why was I born gay?

To be honest about my sexuality

Will there ever be a day?

The mask I wear

A price I must pay



Tionne: Many of us are rejected for not “fitting in” to what mainstream publishing companies see fit as “publishable work”. For poets and other writers of prose today, what would you bring to the table that would inspire them to keep writin’?


HICKSON: I don’t cross over to the mainstream, I let the mainstream crossover to me! There was no way I could’ve written my book with it being watered down. This was one of the main reasons why I self-published, opposed to going to a big publishing company. By doing so, I was able to control the content, marketing and distribution of GHETTOHEAT®. I had total freedom to do what I wanted. I wasn’t, and I’m still not interested in fitting in with the masses. It’s great to be appreciated by everyone, but my work isn’t for everyone. Real recognize real—period! As for the book reviewers, they didn’t have to give me great reviews for me to be satisfied with my work, it’s the critique from everyday people who I value immensely. They’re the ones who are going to be honest with you, as well as help you become successful in the long run anyway. Does it matter if I get on the “bestsellers’ lists”? It helps, but what’s really important is the everyday people and how they view my works. For the record, I’m not interested in a joint venture or getting a big deal from a mainstream publishing house. I’m more interested in ownership.


Tionne: What writer(s) or people have inspired you to do what you, and why?


HICKSON: Well, as I mentioned, I love Langston for his realness, beauty and honesty in his work. As a marketer, I’m impressed with Michael Baisden and Omar Tyree for their hustle—those brothers really know how to promote themselves and their products very well. Yet, I was really impressed with the works and success of Teri Woods’, “True to the Game”, and Sister Souljah’s, “The Coldest Winter Ever”. Those two really wrote groundbreaking, powerful and real stories about people I know, see and relate to everyday. When I saw how successful they were with their projects, it definitely made me think about doing my own. Yet, 9/11 was what really forced me in the direction of publishing.






Can you feel it?

Scaldin’ breath of frisky spirits

Surroundin’ you in the streets

The intensity: S-S-S-S-S-S-S!


The energy - electric sparks

Better watch ya back after dark!

Dogs bark - cats hiss

Rank smells of trash and piss!

Internalize - realize

No surprise - naughty spirits frolic in disguise





Streets is watchin’

Hoes talkin’ - thugs stalkin’


Start speed-walkin’!

Heggies down - rob these clowns

Snatch the stash - jet downtown

El Barrio: Spanish Harlem




Bullets graze - I’m not amazed



Air’s scathin’ - gangs blood-bathin’ 

Five-O’s misbehavin’ - wifey’s rantin’-n-ravin’!

My left: THE BLOODS - my right: THE CRIPS

Niggas start prayin’ - murk-out in ya whip!


Internalize - realize

No surprise - naughty spirits frolic in disguise





Mean hoodlums - plottin’ schemes

A swoop-down - seems like a bad dream

Thugs around - it’s goin’ down


But I’m ghetto - know how to spit

Gully mentality - thinkin’ of reality of planned-out casualty

I fake wit’ trickery: “ASSALAAMU-ALAIKUM”




Flipped script wit’ quickness

Changed demeanor: the swiftness

Not dimwitted - felt fierce flames of evil spirits!

Hid chain in shirt - I don’t catch pain - don’t get hurt

No desire gettin’ burnt by the fire

Thermometer soars, yo, higher and higher!

In the PROJECTS: fight—protect ya neck

Gotta earn respect - defend ya rep 

Or BEAT-DOWNS you’ll collect!

The furor - the fever: my gun - my cleaver!

Bitches brewin’ - slits a-stewin’

Sheets roastin’ - champagne toastin’ - gangstas boastin’:

“The ghetto: nuthin’s mellow

The ghetto: cries in falsetto

The ghetto: a dream bordello

The ghetto: hotter than Soweto!”


Internalize - realize

No surprise - naughty spirits frolic in disguise





Red-hot hustlers broilin’ at the spot

Boilin’ water roars: the lucky crackpot

Streets a-scorchin’ - crackheads torchin’

Stems ignited - junkies delighted

Money’s flowin’ - Pusherman’s excited

The first and fifteenth: “BLOCK-HUGGERS’ JUNETEENTH!”

Comin’ ya way - take ya benefits today

Intoxication - air’s dense - self-medication 


Volcanic maniacs attackin’

Cash stackin’ - niggas packin’ - Daddy Rock’s mackin’:

“The ghetto: nuthin’s mellow

The ghetto: cries in falsetto

The ghetto: a dream bordello

The ghetto: hotter than Soweto!”


BedStuy - do or die: BUCK-BUCK-BUCK-BUCK!

They don’t give a FUCK!

The Bronx - you’ll fry - tossin’ lye: “WATCH YA E-Y-E-S!”

Walk straight - tunnel vision

False move - bad decision

So hot - starts to drizzle - steamy sidewalks begin to sizzle






So hot—got ya mase?


The madness - sadness

Don’t you know the flare of street-glow?


Meltingly - swelteringly: S-S-S-S-S-S-S!



Internalize - realize

No surprise - naughty spirits frolic in disguise









Tionne: Where do you see GHETTOHEAT® and yourself in the next 5 years? Do you want GHETTOHEAT® to grow as a publishing company and add additional poets/writers to its roster?


HICKSON: Funny that you asked. I’ve just signed two authors last month. Damon “Amin” Meadows and Jason Poole are the newest artists at GHETTOHEAT®. They collaborated on a book while being incarcerated together in federal prison titled, CONVICT’S CANDY. It’s about a young, beautiful, pre-op transsexual named, Candy who gets arrested for credit card fraud. Because of the technicality of still having a penis, Candy is forcefully housed with men in the prison. While there, Candy maintains romantic relationships with hardcore men, ones who have girlfriends and wives at home…. CONVICT’S CANDY is based on a true story, which will be out this winter.


GHETTOHEAT® started out as a publishing company, yet has progressed into a multimedia company, in which I plan to produce CDs and DVDs, also. I’ll also be working towards turning my novels into movies, as well as producing plays. I’m in the process of producing GHETTOHEAT® on stage, so I’ll be looking forward to that, also. I’m always seeking new, innovative and risk-taking writers, in which I encourage them all to contact me at GHETTOHEAT.COM. Look forward to seeing GHETTOHEAT® change the game!


Tionne: What piece of your own do you think exudes your passion?


HICKSON: That would be the poem, “Ev’ryday Is A Struggle”, because that’s what I do everyday, struggle. Even on a good day, there’s always a struggle. As a Black man, one will always be faced with adversities. No matter how rich, wealthy and successful one may become, in the eyes of “them”, most will never respect you—one will still, and always be considered, a NIGGER….





No need to worry, dear


“MS. WHITE WOMAN” in fear

She persists to rudely stare

Lookin’ at me funny wit’ shifty eyes


Just ‘cause I like hip-hop

Wear hoodies, boots and baggy jeans

Doesn’t equate to bein’ violent and mean

She continues to clutch her pearls

Like I’m gonna snag her bag

Embarassin’ me in front of my gurrrl

So busy to size me up

She didn’t bother to use discretion

Of the well-dressed WHITE MAN

Nor question or flinch

When he snatched her bag out her hand

It was easy—a cinch!





Tionne: What motivated you to write it?


HICKSON: Hunger, passion, 9/11, wanting to be heard.


Tionne: Now, forthcoming is your second unpublished work, SKATE ON!. Coming from the man himself, what will you project this time? Tell us about it.


HICKSON: As you know I’ve written a novel called, SKATE ON!. SKATE ON! is a coming-of-age tale of three teenage girls from the Polo Grounds projects in Harlem, New York, learning life in the streets while going to The Rooftop Roller-skating Rink. Although the skating rink is used as a backdrop for the story, it’s really about life in the 80s and how the three girls grow up and interact with each other. I’m actually releasing SKATE ON! shortly after the launching of CONVICT’S CANDY.


Tionne: What have you learned in the industry that some may not have thought to be?


HICKSON: That it’s not easy selling books! It’s hard work, especially for a new author and most definitely for a poet. As I said, poets don’t get a lot of love in the stores, in reference to sales. If you’re an unknown/up-and-coming poet, you have to literally be in the stores to sell your work. I suggest being very personal at book signings. I also suggest that you do whatever it takes righteously to promote yourself, because you will get lost. Bigger authors, no matter what, will always gain attention, and at times, overshadow a new author’s project. So promotion is key. Persistence helps, also. I learned not to take or accept “no” as an option, when being turned down. Stay in the people faces—eventually you will wear them down. Also, that there isn’t always unity amongst other Black writers, mainstream and urban. Due to competition, tension comes into play. First you have writers who compete against each other, period. Then, you have some contemporary writers who dislike urban writers, due to them not respecting the material being produced by urban writers, as well as with being jealous of the large amounts of money urban writers make from the same material, not being respected by some contemporary writers.


At one time it was a wave of contemporary writers who ruled in the late ‘80s, early ‘90s. Writers like Terry McMillan, Walter Mosley, and Alice Walker, whose works dominated the shelves. Now, you have writers such as myself, and others who are really changing the game, and have shifted the focus a little. Personally, I don’t consider myself as an urban writer—I just write, but due to my subjects, I’m often pegged as so. Yet, there will always be a time when the trend will change, perhaps the focus will shift back towards contemporary writers. Either way, I’m ready! I intend to stand amongst them all.


Tionne: So as a writer...what is the goal of your lyrical voice?


HICKSON: The writing process is still very new to me as I’m self-taught, and have never gone to school for journalism, or have taken any creative writing courses. My goal is to always be honest, no matter how great or ugly the truth may be. To convey messages that one would gain insight from and to hopefully, empower a person. I don’t write to necessarily please people—I just write. I document what’s going on in my world or what’s happening within my community—I discuss real social issues. Whether it’s teen pregnancy, AIDS awareness, domestic violence, homosexuality within hip-hop, love, drug abusive, obesity or sexual addictions—I write about it. A person may not always agree with the subject matter that I bring forth, yet he or she will gain lots of insight from my words.



The only way to write is to just write! He’s made moves, he’s becoming known up & down the East Coast and is recognized nationally. HICKSON is proof of dreams & innovation. The Flow Magazine thanks HICKSON for allowing us to shine light on his journey, and we support him in his endeavors to bring the heat to the literary world.








GHETTOHEAT® | P.O. BOX 2746 | NEW YORK, NY 10027 


































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