In England

I arrived in Manchester, England this morning after spending all night and most of the day yesterday trying to get here. All is well. My friend Josephine Metcalf, who is the main organizer of this trip, met me at the airport. The skies were cloudy with a few drops of rain, but otherwise nice and warm. I’m staying at a hotel in the city’s center, near the University of Manchester. Tonight and tomorrow I’ll be taking part in a literature conference. We’re hoping to catch a talk today by Martin Amis—one of England’s most renowned writers—on the Literature of Violence. This is right up my alley, as they say. I’m also going to enjoy a dinner tonight with SuAndi of the National Black Arts Alliance. SuAndi is an international performance poet based in Manchester. Accompanying me is Barbara Becnel, co-author of “Redemption” with Stanley “Tookie” Williams, the former Crip leader who turned his life around while on Death Row and then wrote books to help get kids out of gangs. Unfortunately, the state went ahead with his execution, despite much community support to let Stanley live and continue his healing and transformative work, even from behind bars. With books like “Redemption” and my memoir “Always Running,” Barbara and I will address the rise of street gang memoirs in recent years and their value in the current state of literature. c/s

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