Intimate Conversation with Bruce George, Co-Founder of Def Poetry Jam
“The Bandana Republic , a Literary Anthology by Gang Members and Their Affiliates.” by Bruce George, Founder/Managing Editor, Louis Reyes Rivera, Co-Founder/Editor and Hall of Fame Football Legend/Actor Jim Brown has written the Foreword.
"The Bandana Republic is the most provocative, researched, educational, opinionated piece of work that I've ever read . . . In its own provocative way, The Bandana Republic makes you think, reflect, cry. I recommend to all of you, and to all people who purchase this anthology: read it, learn from it, try to draw your own conclusions. What you have in front of you is a reflection of every revolutionary, every victim that ever lived in this country. Color, gender, race, religion . . . it does not matter. Only the individual dealing with correctness, fairness, love and caring, multiplied a billion times, will ever bring about the proper change in human behavior. Read this anthology, and then check yourself." -- The Foreword by Jim Brown
The Bandana Republic is an intergenerational, multi-racial anthology edited by two former gang members turned cultural workers. The Bandana Republic showcases the creative impulse that, along with violence, has always been a part of membership in urban gangs.
Black Authors Network, join host Ella Curry as she has a one-on-one with Bruce George, Co-Founder of Def Poetry Jam. Let's find out what it's like to become a famous writer and poet!
Ella: Bruce, where are you from? How did you start your writing journey?
Answer: I was born and raised in New York City , and I guess I started writing at the tender age of nine yrs old. My writing was strongly influenced by the fact that I was very much a loner and needed an outlet to express all of those pent up feelings that most if not all young people experience. So my writing was more along the lines of poetry, quotes and short stories of my experience.
Ella: Bruce, tell us about your passion for writing.
Answer: I have always had a passion for expressing myself via poetry, prose, quotes etc… as a result of being raised by a single parent (mother) and not having any siblings around to bounce my feelings off of. In the beginning my writing served more as a therapeutic outlet as opposed to a creative outlet. But as time had passed I started to develop the creative end and thus I was fast forwarded to where I am today.
Ella: Please finish this sentence: I am Powerful because...
Answer: “I am Powerful because I’m a child of God and was created in his image. I’m powerful not because of whom I am, but because of whose I am.”
Ella: Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955) states, "If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts. Was there ever a point in your career, when how your life didn't match the theory? And how did you change the facts?
Answer: I feel everything in life is in divine order and that applies to my career as well. My life has always matched that divine principle. If something does not fit right with my spirit then I discard it and move in another direction. Of course this applies to my career moves as well as my personal life.
Ella: What do you love most about this book?
Answer: My book “The Bandana Republic..” showcases the poetry, prose, short stories and quotes from current/former gangs members. They are the main characters in the book. And what I love about them is that they were courageous enough to express their most inner thoughts which entails letting their guard down and allowing themselves to be an open book (pardon the pun) for others to explore and experience which is a feat for them since they are so aloof by nature.
Ella: What makes your book stand out and would entice a reader pick it up?
Answer: In terms of my book the first thing that people gravitate towards is the colorful bandanas on the cover. The cover has about eight different colored bandanas that are laid out in a beautiful tapestry. Due to the fact that gang violence is on the rise across the country and around the world, I feel that a lot of people are buying the anthology just out of curiosity. People want to know what’s in the mind of a gang member. What drives them? Why do they do what they do?
Ella: Ultimately, what do you want readers to gain from your book?
Answer: We would love for people to get a better understanding of people in gang culture. We want people to have a wider perspective on them and why they do what they do and who they are. Our hope is that after a person reads the book they will be less biased against anyone whom they see or perceive to be in a gang. We want readers to become more aware of the social conditions that lead to a person joining a gang in the first place.
Ella: What is the one most surprising thing you have learned in creating books?
Answer: What I have learned but am not surprised about is the amount of resistance that publishers have towards any literature that challenges the status quo. You would think that since the “Comstock Laws” of the 1950’s was settled by the Supreme Court publishers would be more receptive towards views and opinions that don’t fit the contours of the powers that be.
Ella: What would you say has been your most significant achievement as a writer?
Answer: My most significant achievement as a writer I feel is the connection that readers have to my work. People relate to my words! People feel a strong sense of identification with my way of expressing my train of thought. To have people love your work is very rewarding.
Ella: What advice would you give a new writer?
Answer: My advice to any and all writers new and old is to be true to your voice. Also allow yourself to grow by increasing your range. We all know where we need to grow and develop. It’s very important for you to read as much as possible so you can have more to draw from as well as to incorporate into your own work.
Ella: What can we expect from you in the future?
Answer: God willing you can expect many more creative anthologies as well as my own personal book about my life etc… Also you can expect to see my imprint in TV, film and theatre as well. Stay blessed!
Thanks BAN and Ella for having me stop by and chat!
Bruce George, Co-Founder of Def Poetry Jam, Founder of The Bandana Republic
Brought to yo by Ella Curry, president of EDC Creations