So Many Books, So Little Time

So Many Books, So Little Time

By: Haki R. Madhubuti


Frequently during my mornings of pain & reflection

when I can’t write

or articulate my thoughts

or locate the mindmusic needed

to complete the poems & essays

that are weeks plus days overdue

forcing me to stop, I cease

answering my phone, eating right, running my miles,

reading my mail, and making love.

(Also, this is when my children do not seek me out

because I do not seek them out.)

I escape north, to the nearest library or used bookstore.

They are my retreats, my quiet energy-givers, my intellectual refuge.


For me it is not bluewater beaches, theme parks,

or silent chapels hidden among forest greens.

Not multi-stored American malls, corporate book

supermarkets, mountain trails, or Caribbean hideaways.


My sanctuaries are liberated lighthouses of shelved books,

featuring forgotten poets, unread anthropologists of tenure-

seeking assistant professors, self-published geniuses, remaindered

first novelists, highlighting speed-written bestsellers,

wise historians & theologians, nobel, pulitzer prize, and american book

award winners, poets & fiction writers, overcertain political commentators,

small press wunderkinds & learned academics.

All are vitamins for my slow brain & sidetracked spirit in this

winter of creating.


I do not believe in smiling politicians, AMA doctors,

zebra-faced bankers, red-jacketed real estate or automobile

salespeople, or singing preachers.


I believe in books.

It can be conveniently argued that knowledge,

not that which is condensed or computer packaged, but

pages of hard-fought words, dancing language

meticulously & contemplatively written by the likes of me & others,

shelved imperfectly at the level of open hearts & minds,

is preventive medicine strengthening me for the return to my

clear pages of incomplete ideas to be reworked, revised &

written as new worlds and words in all of their subjective

configurations to eventually be processed into books that

will hopefully be placed on the shelves of libraries, bookstores, homes,

& other sanctuaries of learning to be found & browsed over by receptive

booklovers, readers & writers looking for a retreat,

looking for departure & yes spaces,

looking for open heart surgery without the knife.


About the Author:

(Excerpt is taken from;


Madhubuti has published more than 36 books, including Think Black (1967); Black Pride (1968); Don’t Cry, Scream (1969); and We Walk the Way of the New World (1970). His poetry and essays have been selected for more than 100 anthologies. His book, Black Men: Obsolete, Single, Dangerous? The African American Family in Transition (1991), sold more than 100,000 copies. The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities have recognized his poetry, and he has won the American Book Award, an Illinois Arts Council Award, the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award, and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Prize in poetry for Liberation Narratives (2009). His latest book, Taught By Women: Poems as Resistance Language, New and Selected (2020), pays homage to the women who influenced him. Madhubuti is a recipient of the 2022 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize.









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