Charmed Life

One day I’d love to write a book just about all the authors I have met or know: who, when, where, why and what it was like to see them in person or what it meant to me at the times. I’d share it with my children and grandchildren, part love letters, part historical retrospective….

Gwendolyn Brooks- very first “famous” author I met, as she was a guest for my organization devoted to women of color.

Nikki Giovanni

Sonia Sanchez

Octavia Butler- Ms. Butler came to the University of Chicago for a reading/talk/special guest appearance at a Speculative Fiction Conference organized by the Race and Gender Studies Center. I was astounded at how few people showed up for a reception with Ms. Butler–free food, free wine and Octavia Butler?!?! I, of course, was there. I was able to sit right next to her and munch on my sorely needed victuals, as a poor undergraduate student who probably should not have been drinking. I most remember her describing how poor she was as a writer, and weird stories about her meatpacking plant job, and how thankful she was to have written a third book to escape all that. She was a lovely, lovely, majestic, magnificent, giving and towering presence I can’t forget.

Dr. Angela Davis

Ginger Mance

John Edgar Wideman

(President) Barack Obama

Maya Angelou


Hilton Als

Pablo Media

Jeffrey Renard Allen

Abigail Thomas

Derek Walcott

Zia Jaffrey

(President) William Jefferson Clinton Clinton- He handed me my college diploma as our class’s commencement speaker.

Toni Morrison– I had heard Toni Morrison speak a few times in large lecture halls, and at Rockerfeller Chapel at University of Chicago. She did not sign books or anything. She ran away from us quickly. I believe in 2003 or 2004, I went to the Old Brooklyn Church for her Love reading and signing with a good friend of mine from college, and I ran into Sapphire. We snuck into the front row right in front of Ms. Morrison. And, when her reading ended, I was the very first person standing in line to have my book signed. I was not going to be like the white man in the back of the church who stood up and snapped a flash-lit photograph of Ms. Morrison–right after the host told the crowd “No photographs.” Come on now. She started reading, caught the flashes of his camera, blinked a few times, and said “Oh, no, please don’t do that.” So, I did not want to hear “Oh, no, please don’t do that,” if I were to bust up to the front of the table where she sat, getting prepared to meet the huge crowd. I was so cautious that I just stood there with my hands folded like a student in the Christmas pageant, waiting for the choir director to give his performers “the eye.” Ms. Morrison gave me a wave and a smile, like “Come on.” I’m sure she thought, like most people do, I was 10 years younger than I am. It kind of looked like the reassuring smile a teacher might give the first student who is ready to put her holiday gift on the desk. So, I got a fresh signature, smile and look in the eye with my autograph on the Toni Morrison novel Love.

Harriette Cole- I was Harriette’s assistant/office manager during the fall of 2003, as I eagerly awaited publication of my first novel. Her encouragement, advice and example are outstanding.

Jill Scott

Paule Marshall

Susan Howe

Peter Jackson

Kenji Jasper

Terrie Williams

Tara Betts

Sophia Quintero

Omar Tyree

RM Johnson

Donna Hill

Pearl Cleage

Eric Jerome Dickey

Jeffrey Renard Allen

Ishmael Reed

bell hooks

Dr. Maya Angelou

Alice Walker

Walter Mosley

Achy Obejas

Bayo Ojikutu

Haki Madhubuti

Quraysh Lansana

Tyhemba Jess

Maryse Conde

Bernice McFadden

E. Lynn Harris

Terry McMillan

Sara Peretsky

Nnedi Okofaro

Sandra Jackson Opuku

Mary Monroe

Darnella Ford


Denise Nicholas

Quincy Troupe

Amiri Baraka

Sam Greenlee

Sharon Warner

Jessica Care Moore

Martha Southgate

Rosalyn Story

Esi Edugyn

Blu Balliet

Frances De Ponts Peebles

Edward Schwarzchild

Singrid Nunez

Susan Taylor

Nick Chiles

Denene Milner

Runako Jahi

Chadwick Boseman

Latasha Nevada Diggs

Rosellen Brown

Colin Channer

Sharon Draper

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3 thoughts on “Charmed Life

  1. Wow, what a list!

    Would love to read that book too (the what, when…how it shaped you as a writer, woman etc.). That would be pretty cool actually. Go ahead and pitch that to your publisher, or do it indie. It’s really a good idea. I love “behind the scenes” books. I wanted to meet Nikki Giovanni since I was a child, although I think I’d just be nervous and weird, so maybe not.

    I remember meeting Toni Morrison when she came out with the book Love (it was at a church too, but in DC). I met a Shay Youngblood at a reading when I was in college, and Chicana author, Ana Castillo. I guess I can count YA author Jason Reynolds too (but that may be cheating since we went to hs together). And “meeting” you via this blog has been pretty cool, so I’d add your name to my list 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hello Candace, Well thank you! I appreciate being designated a little V.I.P. to know 🙂 I am equally as happy to meet you. Yes I am blessed and it keeps getting better. I am sure you have many more authors to meet on your path. It takes so long to get something done that by the time they come out to celebrate it most writers are pretty nice! Keep writing, Kalisha


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