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SEPTEMBER 18

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In 1993, while a high-school senior, I decided I wanted to write poetry. I had dabbled for a while, scrawling love poems for inarticulate homies and rhymes for lunchtime battle sessions. But when my father started lecturing me on the virtues of attending Howard University, he handed me a book called In the Tradition—a collection of some of the most promising black poets and fiction writers of Generation X. I flipped through the anthology and said, “Damn, I wanna do some shit like this.” Later, as I began to understand the finer points of writing, I discovered that I really didn’t want to do something like that. One of the editors of In the Tradition was Ras Baraka, a Howard alumnus (the reason my pops gave me the book). The other editor was Kevin Powell. Best known for his appearance on the first season of MTV’s Real World and his poetry, Powell’s best work has been in the field of hiphop journalism. His work on Tupac and Death Row Records is probably the best you’ll see in any hiphop publication. But those days are behind Powell. He left Vibe magazine to become a full-time writer—a dangerous proposition. Thus we have Keepin’ It Real, a collection of personal essays and autobiopics. Also slated is a memoir, Homeboy Alone. Check Powell out as he reads and signs at 6 p.m. at Vertigo Books, 1337 Connecticut Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 429-9272. (Ta-Nehisi Coates)