Friday, December 19, 2014

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Dr. Lorraine Monroe has been a teacher and professor of education for decades, and has made a significant impact on the way that children are educated and teachers are taught to teach in New York City.

Dr. Monroe is the founder and Executive Director of School Leadership Academy, an educational consultant, and was the Chief Executive for Instruction at the NYC Board of Education. She founded the Center for Minority Achievement at Bank Street College and is a member of the Board of Trustees at Columbia University Teachers College. 

I spoke with Dr. Monroe after she’d just given a talk about the schools that she oversaw, and how their transformative mission requires them to fight the many ways that Euro-American schools poison African-American children. She spoke of the necessity of getting city kids out of the city and into nature, and in particular to a healing camp that provided meditation that they loved, a camp whose quiet restored their serenity and gave them the blessing of stillness.

Monroe also spoke of learning and teaching compassion by taking care of hurt or abandoned animals as means to help children become better citizens, and she emphasised the importance of, as she put it, putting the feet where you want the feet to go, and planting the seeds where you want the seeds to grow—that is, taking children who are the victims of the American political-economic-social-educational system to visit colleges and universities so they will be more likely to see post-secondary education as a natural part of their own futures, thereby transforming them into victors in their own lives and communities.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2014

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Darryl Lenox is one of my favourite comedians, and while his routines are hilarious, I respect the intellectual weight he brings to his work that arises from his education, his socio-political perspective, and his international experience.

For twelve years we got to claim him as an African-Canadian, but he’s originally from the US and to the US he has returned. He’s spent 15 years touring and headlining comedy clubs, researching human behaviour and calibrating his comedic lasers.

But no matter where Darryl Lenox goes, he’s hilarious. He’s had his own hour-long special on Starz Network called Blind Ambition, a reference to his own serious eye problems that led him to work with the Third World Eye Care Society that provides eye exams and donated eye glasses to people in developing countries.

In addition to appearing on the Conan O’Brien Show, A&E's Evening at the Improv, BET's Comic View, The Best of Just For Laughs Comedy Festival New Year's Eve Special, and Comedy Central Jamie Foxx's Laffa Polooza, Lenox has performed at the HBO Comedy Arts Festival and the comedy festivals of Boston, Chicago, and Vancouver, and won the Seattle Comedy Competition and Best New Play at Vancouver Fringe Festival.

Monday, December 15, 2014

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Almost twenty years ago in my then-rôle as a high school English teacher, and while teaching some stories and poems by South African writers, I reflected upon the fact that for decades in apartheid South Africa, students had studied literature written only by English and Boer writers, never by actual South Africans. It struck me as perverse that a colonial minority could overwrite an existing and vibrant culture with its own narrow world-view.

And then I came to a shattering realisation: as a non-Native Canadian, I was no different than an English or Boer school teacher in South Africa. I had gone through twelve years of public school and two university degrees without having once been required to read the words of a Canadian writer—and by Canadian, I mean one whose ancestry in Canada pre-dates European conquest and Indigenous destruction.

At that moment I decided that I needed to delve into Canada’s Aboriginal literary canon. That wasn’t easy, since the people whose advice I sought—from librarians to bookstore managers—had no answers. One told me point-blank that First Nations people had no actual body of literature, since “they have an oral culture.” Eventually someone suggested I speak with a professor in the Native Studies Department at the University of Alberta. That instructor recommended an anthology edited by acclaimed author Thomas King, and a 1996 collection of short stories called Traplines by someone named Eden Robison.

Traplines stunned me. The four short stories told the harrowing experiences of urban and rural teenagers in contemporary British Columbia.

In the title story, young Will Tate is torn apart emotionally by an offer from his English teacher. Having lost her own son, she offers to adopt him, giving him an escape his abusive brother and alcoholic parents. But how can Will face betraying his own blood, despite their monstrous betrayal of him?

In the mystical, darkly-comedic “Dogs in Winter,” a teen girl protagonist struggles to escape the legacy of her mother, a serial killer who preys on men. In “Contact Sports,” a boy is knocked around like a pinball by his older cousin, who could be either his saviour, or a slick sociopath, or both.

But of all the stories, none affected me more than “Queen of the North,” an inspiring and tragic story of a sensitive, intelligent young woman who is transformed by her uncle’s decade-long sexual abuse into a violent, drug-abusing catastrophe. I loved the eloquence, intelligence and emotional intensity of the collection, and so did my students. Some, inspired by reading the stories, crafted their own excellent creative writing or made positive improvements in their lives.

Eden Robinson is a thirty-something West Coast writer of the Heisla and Heilstuk nations from Kitimat, BC. Traplines was as a New York Times Editor’s Choice and Notable Book of the Year; it also won the Winifred Holtby Prize for the best first work of fiction in the Commonwealth. Robinson’s first novel, Monkey Beach, was nominated for the Giller Prize and the Governor General’s Award of 2000.

This episode’s conversation is from deeps in the archives of the Grand Lodge of Imhotep. I spoke with Robinson way back on December 16, 2005 for a celebration of indigenous writing at the Edmonton Public Library and co-presented by the University of Alberta bookstore. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

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Please nominate THE ALCHEMISTS OF KUSH for CANADA READS 2015! Deadline is Nov. 30!

Okay, folks. Please nominate THE ALCHEMISTS OF KUSH as "a book to break barriers" which is this year's theme for CBC's Canada Reads.

If TAOK gets on the 15-longlist, that will be a major boost for me. But if it gets on the 5-shortlist, that's a career changer.

Please support by sharing, tweeting, and of course, by nominating!

All you have to do is:

Tweet "I nominate @MinisterFaust's ‪#‎TheAlchemistsOfKush‬ for‪#‎CanadaReads‬" OR

Post "I nominate @MinisterFaust's #TheAlchemistsOfKush for #CanadaReads" to

Email "I nominate @MinisterFaust's #TheAlchemistsOfKush for #CanadaReads" to

Or you could be super-keen and do all three. THANKS!



Wednesday, October 29, 2014

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MF GALAXY podcast+vlog coming DECEMBER 1!

ATTENTION! In December I'll be launching my podcast/vlog MF GALAXY!

Fresh out the gate I'll have the first 8 half-hour podcasts. My guests will include (among others):

  • The Walking Dead director Ernest R. Dickerson
  • Comedian Darryl Lenox 
  • Authors A Lee Martinez and Robert J. Sawyer 
  • Mass Effect voice actor and improv genius Mark Meer 
  • Bob the Angry Flower creator Stephen Notley 
  • Stage and MadTV madman Ronald Pederson, and 
  • Screenwriter and Concrete Park creator Tony Puryear!

The podcasts will be free, but I'm hoping folks will subscribe for $1 or $2 a month, or better yet $1 a podcast (details to follow).

Please share on FB, Twitter, etc. If you want to be alerted when the page is up, leave a note in the comments with your email address.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

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Activist science fiction?

Strangely enough, it hadn't occurred to me until just yesterday that all of my books (if one takes my War & Mir trilogy as a single work) are in part or in large measure about community activists.
In The Coyote Kings, Hamza and Yehat run an intermittent “Coyote Camp” during summers where local (largely newcomer or second-generation Canadians) can play street hockey, launch model rockets, build trebuchets, put on plays, and do other amazing boffo stuff.

In my Kindred-winning and PKD-runner up political satire Shrinking the Heroes (originally published as From the Notebooks of Doctor Brain), the L*A*B (League of Angry Blackmen) not only supply security for their neighbourhood of Langston-Douglass, they run programmes such as “Free Breakfast for Shorties,” “Africa Medallions for Homies,” and “Free Fades, Flat-Tops, and Afro-Picks for Soul Brothers.”

In The Alchemists ofKush, Brother Moon and company run a youth organisation called the Alchemists (AKA the Street Falcons) aimed at teaching African histories, entrepreneurship, the arts, martial arts, and community organising itself to young from a wide variety of backgrounds (Somalis, Sudanese, South Sudanese, Ugandans, Rwandans, pioneer African-Canadians, and more).

In War & Mir, on the alien world of Qorodis in the country of Shr Koioon, after a bitter experience in a massive agri-gulag, Harq attempts to build an inclusive union that will stop excluding Humans.

I can’t say I’d intended to write “activist fiction” in most of those cases (although I’m delighted to find out I did) any more than I’d intended to write what academic Lisa Yaszek informed me was “domestic science fiction”—that is, novels that include a focus on life in the home. To me, writing about the home (including cooking) seems totally obvious and natural. Why do any writers exclude such basic and central aspects of life from their work?
But in the case of War & Mir, a revisionist space opera and non-comedic political satire, I consciously set out to explore the work of activists, which to the best of my knowledge is almost completely absent in the canons of science fiction and fantasy.
Those genres, so concerned with titanic struggles of good and evil, seem to operate on the political delusion that smashing the villains will create a better society, rather than merely creating a vacuum for more villains to fill (and leave previously-existing social ills including racial and gender supremacy in service of economic exploitation to continue reaping profits and destroying individuals, communities, and nations).
I attempted to address that delusion (though briefly) in the Alchemists’ oath, which included a devotion to “replace/elevate” (a phrase I got from a Grand Puba line in Brand Nubian’s anthem “Wake Up”). One cannot make a better world by destroying evil alone. One must create good that is better adapted to the environment (or change the environment) so that evil cannot thrive and good can reproduce itself.

While there are non -SF/F classic novels dramatising activism (John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, Richard Wright’s Native Son, Mongane Serote’s To Every Birth Its Blood, Andre Brink’s A Dry White Season, among others), I’m curious to know other which—if any—SF/F novels address activism (Ursula LeGuin’s The Dispossessed dramatised an already existed anarchist society, rather than activists trying to change their society or create a new one)—and how they do so.
So please educate me!

Monday, September 08, 2014

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Minister Faust named Writer in Residence at Canada's second largest university

Canada's second largest university, the University of Alberta, has nominated me as the 2014-15 Writer in Residence.

Valued at $50,000, the cash equivalent to the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the residency entitles me to write my own work (which includes finishing my War & Mir trilogy and creating several screenplays) and to help writers (from novices to professionals) of the greater Edmonton community to advance their writing.

To the best of my knowledge, I am the first Kenyan-Canadian to be made Writer in Residence at any university or college in the world, and one of the very few African-Canadians to become a Writer in Residence at any Canadian university.

I will be hosting four literary salons called AUTHORPALOOZAS, featuring at least sixteen Alberta writers from various disciplines (novels, poetry, song lyrics, comics, video games, plays, journalism, blogs, and more), who will come on stage to read from their work and/or be interviewed by me.

I will also be vlogging, posting original interviews with acclaimed novelists such as Robert J. Sawyer and comic legend/TV literary host Rick Green, on their approaches to writing.

I'm honoured to be the Writer in Residence at my alma mater, where I earned my BA English and ADBEd English, and look forward to helping build E-Town's literary community. We already have hundreds of outstanding writers in many disciplines--I'm hoping this year we'll channel our energies so that we all benefit.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

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1. Africa is not a country.

2. Africa is 55 countries and 1 billion people. But if Africa *were* one country, the GDP per capita would be higher than that for India or China. See Vijay Mahajan's Africa Rising.

3. This poster grossly misrepresents the experiences of 1 billion people in 55 countries. See the world's leading multi-disciplinary, statistical survey of Safety & Rule of Law, Participation & Human Rights, Sustainable Economic Opportunity, and Human Development of Africa's 55 countries as prepared annually by the Mo Ibrahim Foundation.

4. This poster continues the standard White liberal positioning of a mythic, monolithic "Africa" as the ultimate contrast for the White techno-civilisation: as a sprawl of unrelenting misery and deprivation, and therefore a place to focus White liberal pity (which is to say, a racist illusion of superiority masquerading as compassion), rather than addressing realities of, say, water desalination, business and technology, leadership, secondary education, post-secondary education, fashion, animation, video games, the construction of the “Silicon Savannah,” Kenya’s Konza City, or any number of other stories that would be standard reporting about modern Western countries or Japan.

5. Canada and United States contain plenty of misery and deprivation specifically related to water scarcity—some of it caused by colonial racism, capitalism and racism, or climate change and capitalism. There is no need to create and distribute a racially, economically, and politically misleading image to discuss the ALS challenge or water scarcity.

Stop reposting content embodying the standard White liberal vision (i.e., racist misunderstanding) of the realities of 55 African countries and 1 billion people, and replace such material with accurate, broadly representative stories, demonstrating actual problems, yes, but also, actual everyday life which includes excellence in every sphere of human activity.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

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Join me for the launch of my new novel, War & Mir, Volume I: Ascension, a revisionist space opera like The Phantom Menace on meth.

Corporations dominate the third world, second world, and first world.How long will it be until they control the entire solar system?

WHERE: Happy Harbour Comics, 107th Street + 104th Avenue across from MacEwan U  downtown.

WHEN: July 18 (Wednesday), 7:30 - 8:30 PM


Thursday, March 01, 2012

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AFRICENTRIC RADIO, 2012 February 29: Ralph Nader on the Global Threat of Energy Inefficiency + David Barsamian on Politics and Alternative Radio

Listen to/stream the February 29, 2012 edition of AFRICENTRIC RADIO for:

Minister Faust’s exclusive conversation with Alternative Radio founder David Barsamian in advance of his speech for the Edmonton Public Library’s Freedom to Read Week, a free event this Saturday night at the Stanley Milner Branch.

Ralph Nader on medicare and the global threat of energy inefficiency

A commentary by journalist Mumia Abu Jamal on one of the most significant revolutionary thinkers of the 20th Century, the Martiniquan psychiatrist and national liberation insurgent, Frantz Fanon!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

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Irfah Aden: Whoomp, there she is! The Somali National Women's Basketball Team

By Irfah Aden
I would not call myself a sports enthusiast. And lord knows I’ve never broken a sweat intentionally. But I feel compelled to share this story. I’d like to introduce you to the Somali National Women’s Basketball Team.

While this image may appear to depict a run-of-the-mill basketball team, the Somali National Women’s Basketball Team is anything but ordinary. They recently competed at the Arab Games, where they won two thrilling matches against Kuwait and the host nation, Qatar.

This was no small feat, and while they did not win any other matches, they will return to Somalia as national heroes. Somalis all over the globe have been inspired by the team’s perseverance and courage against challenges that would make the most confident daredevil faint-hearted. In fact, these women have sparked a pride in our people and a renewed hope in the possibility of a peaceful and prosperous Somalia.