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Most of My Heroes Don’t Appear on No Stamps
by Ran Walker
Official Publication Date: August 2019 (in bookstores nationwide)
Trade Paper; 92 pages; 4.37" x 7"
POETRY | KWANSABAS
The poems in Ran Walker’s collection use an African-American poetic form called the Kwansaba, which was created in 1995 by Dr. Eugene Redmond. The poems follow a seven line, seven words per line pattern with no word more than seven letters (save proper nouns and foreign terms). All language within the form speaks to aspects of African-American history and culture.
With these forty-nine poems, each chapter of forty-nine lines, Walker offers profound commentary on a wide variety of topics ranging from interrogations of celebrity culture to issues that speak directly to the Black Lives Matter movement. Most of My Heroes Don’t Appear on No Stamps offers readers a chance to engage with these subjects in a fresh new way while embracing a vibrant poetic form not often explored.
“Ran Walker sees and sews these poems
with a sharp quill. Keen eyes. Talent.
His poems are Black, blues, and all
things in crawl spaces in the middle.
Take time to sit with these gems.
Mine them. Mind them. Hear how they
fire like gun blasts on the page.”
—Van G. Garrett, author of Songs in Blue Negritude and 49: Wings & Prayers
“It’s no surprise that [Ran Walker’s] heroes are those who are unsung or those who we only have a surface understanding of. My childhood hero, given his graffiti-slinging name, SAMO is memorialized in all his complexity. A time-traveling Baldwin lingers in between simile. The hashtags who were names, stories, and relatives etched into our hearts float through each page.”
—Erica Buddington, HBO Def Poet and Founder of The Langston League
“The Kwansaba form of sevens (seven lines, seven words per line, no word with more than seven letters) was created by Dr. Eugene Redmond, a poet and cultural critic, specifically to praise African Americans and Black culture. Each of Ran Walker’s Kwansabas accomplish this goal. From the first poem honoring his father, ‘Randolph Rhymes with Landolph’ to the James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and Richard Wright tributes, to the Sean Puffy Combs (aka P. Diddy) poem that succinctly explores the icon’s evolving image from a hip-hop artist to a mogul to a brand, to the Black Lives Matter poems, this book informs as well as delights.
“With a simplistic strength and fighting courage, Most of My Heroes Don’t Appear on No Stamps celebrates Black life. Walker’s Kwansabas are both an examination of the past, yet a kind of foundation for where the Black community can go.”
—Shonda Buchanan, author of Equipoise: Poems from Goddess Country and Who’s Afraid of Black Indians?