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When I turned 59, I looked at that as the first day of my 60th year, so I've been 60 for the last 365 days, in my opinion. So I've been thinking all this year, I'm 60 - this is the time when I need to get some stuff done.
My father always taught by telling stories about his experiences. His lessons were about morality and art and what insects and birds and human beings had in common. He told me what it meant to be a man and to be a Black man. He taught me about love and responsibility, about beauty, and how to make gumbo.
I would have been completely brainwashed by this lopsided and racist view of the world if it weren't for my father. He was a deep thinker and an irrepressible problem solver. He was a Black Socrates, asking why and then spoiling ready-made replies.
I took up writing to escape the drudgery of that every day cubicle kind of war.
All of the philosophers I studied were white (with a few Eastern exceptions), and, for that matter, they were all male. Africa, the cradle of civilization, seemed to have no footing in the highest form of human thought.
When I went to school, there were no Black philosophers, at least none that I was aware of, who were recognized by Western universities.
My father cared about the world he lived in, and so he admitted his confusion about his place in America because he didn't want me to make the same mistake in my life.
I've always loved science fiction. I think the smartest writers are science fiction writers dealing with major things.
I don't ever know where I'm going. Because one of the wonderful things about writing, which is different than working in programming, you don't need to know. You could just write and discover where you're going. And it's a great deal of fun.
A lot of people... kind of make heroes that are separate from us, people who are, you know, like... John Wayne and Errol Flynn and, you know, Denzel Washington... people who are different, who are larger than life.
Poetry teaches us music, metaphor, condensation and specificity.
I think that people don't know how to do anything anymore. My father was a janitor. He could take a car apart and put it back together. He could build a house in the back yard. Today, if you ask people what they know, they say, 'I know how to hire someone.'
At one time if you were a black writer you had to be one of the best writers in the world to be published. You had to be great. Now you can be good. Mediocre. And that's good.
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