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Books & arts

A warrior of the mind

An interview with Neal Hall

Caribbean Book Blog

2010-10-21, Issue 501

http://pambazuka.org/en/category/books/68015

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Neal Hall’s recently published anthology of verse ‘Nigger For Life’ reflects his painful, later-life discovery that in ‘unspoken America’, ‘race is the yardstick by which he is “first” measured and judged’, writes Caribbean Book Blog, revealing ‘his deep sense of betrayal combined with his fervent passion for life and his desire for equality for all.’ Caribbean Book Blog speaks to Hall about his writing.

Meet Dr Neal Hall. A graduate of Cornell and Harvard University, he is an ophthalmologist and reactionary poet.

He recently published a critically acclaimed anthology of verse – ‘Nigger For Life’ – reflecting his painful, later-life discovery that in ‘unspoken America’ (despite hard work and drive) race is the yardstick by which he is ‘first’ measured and judged; it is the benchmark against which his life and accomplishments are metered and thereby accorded diminished value, dignity and equality – all of which are indispensable in accessing choice, opportunity, power and freedom in America.

‘Nigger For Life’ reveals his deep sense of betrayal combined with his fervent passion for life and his desire for equality for ‘all’. His words pierce through in candid, gut-wrenching clarity. He bares his intelligence, wit and dreams.

Dr Cornel West, a professor at Princeton University and one of America’s foremost public intellectuals and a champion for racial justice, hails Hall as ‘a warrior of the spirit’ and ‘a warrior of the mind,’ adding that his poetry ‘has the capacity to change ordinary people’s philosophy on social and racial issues.’

Dr Howard Myrick, a professor of broadcast, telecommunications and mass media at Temple University praised Nigger for Life for its ‘amazing economy of word, conveying vivid images, riveting style, lucid insight and possessing that destined-for-repeat-reading quality.’

It says a great deal about Hall that, notwithstanding his substantial achievements, he has not allowed himself to be tamed into acquiescence by the trappings of material success, nor does he view America through rose-tinted glasses.

His anthology is as confronting as it is illuminating, as disarming as it is thought provoking; as cathartic as it is inspiring.

Whether an ophthalmologist or poet, Dr Hall’s reality is clear-cut – in the eyes of ‘unspoken America,’ he is a Nigger For Life.

I contacted Dr Hall and he kindly agreed to an interview to talk about his book and to share his views on race relations in America, the implications of Barrack Obama’s rise to the US presidency and a host of other related issues.

To read the interview, please visit Caribbean Book Blog.

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