“Poetry is a way to touch and impress people without engaging their intellects, I can shoot right past their intellect and touch them where they live,” said Omowalé-Kétu Oladuwa, writer, co-founding producer of the Big Apple Jazz Club, and the founder of the Identity Counts Cultural Collective and the Rootfolks Poets Press. The latter is the creative arm that released his second self-published book, “in the tradition — all/ways moving freedom forward,” available for purchase at RootFolks.com.
Oladuwa’s new book pays tribute to, “the people who have seriously influenced my path, my journey the last 50 years, [from] family members to literary and political luminaries,” Oladuwa said. Poems are dedicated to those guiding individuals and photographs adorn the pages. (There’s a black-and-white pic of a little-kid Oladuwa with his father, in a New York Yankees baseball cap, with that Ketu look of focus on his much younger visage.)
Like with all of his work, “tradition” bears the theme of identity. “If you do not have an identity that you’re rock solid on your square, it won’t matter what you say or what you do, it’s not going to stand,” Oladuwa said.
He’s been a poet 50 years. “I’ve made poetry, not essays or short stories, my medium, not so much [because] the narrative of the story but for the sound of the words [that have an impact] on the spirit,” he said. “You’re informing your nervous system [about] messages that you may not intellectually understand.” As previously mentioned, the poet wants to “shoot right past” the practical, the reason, the scientific method in all of us and hit the vulnerable spirit. Transforming the reader into a performer can do that; Oladuwa’s broken, staggered stanzas form mimics the natural intonation, the stutters and the stops, of natural speak, of a performance artist orating.
“Poetry is a living art form. For it to come alive, it must be heard,” Oladuwa said. “In the book, it’s fine. But you really have to hear the intonations, you have to hear the pauses, because poetry is really between the words.”
“tradition” was crowdfunded; with only 28 patrons, Oladuwa exceeded his goal of $1,185, by a couple hundred dollars, in about two and a half weeks. “The crowdfunding…(laughs)…blew me away,” the poet said, so much so that he’ll return to it again. For his next project, however, Oladuwa is thinking of finding a publishing company that prints on demand. His next poetry book will be online and he’ll need to print when needed.
Oladuwa printed 100 copies of “tradition” and he’s about half-way through his inventory, having sold copies across the country--New York, California, Florida, Colorado. He anticipates being into his second printing by mid-March.
The book sells for $20. “Send me $25, and I will ship it to you. $20 and you can go and pick it up. (Laughs.)”
In self-publishing, Oladuwa said, the quality of the printing, along with the dope ratio of the writing, is all. You might be left with a lemon once you’re book returns. This is the second time he has used the online company, DiggyPOD, for printing.
Crowdfunding, online printing, printing on-demand has made it easier for Rootfolks Poets Press to extend itself, to scout works from other writers to publish, the next phase in the company’s life. Oladuwa will be starting his search locally first. “There’s a lot of talent in this town.”
“in the tradition — all/ways moving freedom forward” can be purchased at RootFolks.com.