Category Archives: Uncategorized

In Tribute: Itibari M. Zulu


Tonight I received an email that the founder of the Journal of Pan African Studies and the L.A. Black Book Expo, Itibari M. Zulu has passed away. He asked me back in 2006 to take over the expo and I accepted. If you’ve read this blog, you know my objectives, goals and plans to build LABBX into a solid literary event for the city of Los Angeles. Despite my best intentions and hard work, it wasn’t meant to be.

Itibari and I would spend time on the phone discussing the results of that year’s expo and began planning for the next. He had a wealth of culture knowledge, even when the topic turned to issues within the Black community. Because of a judgement in error, I ended up relinquishing control of the expo back to Itibari but he enjoyed the effort of our volunteer staff to make the expo a reality and an event authors wanted to attend. Although we didn’t achieve the success we hoped for, Dr. Zulu and I were proud LABBX did well.

Now the questions start. Will there be another LABBX? Would I consider taking the executive director position back? Will it return? For now, I’m not interesting in reviving the expo. I’ve dealt with a lot in the years I took control to ever considering bringing it back. If there was someone else who has the vision and the resources to bring it back, I wouldn’t mind playing the role of a consultant. That seems very unlikely now that this city is in the process of change, and not for the better for Black people.

Thank you Itibari for having enough faith in me to take over the expo. I’ll miss the conversations and advice you shared with me to make sure LABBX stayed true to your dream and to offer a cultural, literary event for the people of L.A.

Charles L. Chatmon
Chatmon’s Books
Former executive director of
the L.A. Black Book Expo

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Posted by on July 7, 2019 in Uncategorized


I Wanted To Be Shakespeare

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This is not a poem or a sonnet, but a confession. I wanted to be like ‘The Bard’, William Shakespeare. For a writer or English major as I was back in college, Shakespeare was the man, the top gun of writers, poets, creative literary artists. I would say that early in my college life I had a pretty good path; I enrolled in courses concentrating on his plays and sonnets, started to ‘borrow’ his style in writing a few practice sonnets, even focused my rough drafts as Shakespearean style short stories (not to worry; there were completely different in style and theme). Why am I sharing this in public? I would guess that for a writer with a long term plan like I had at the time, it was ideal to learn from ‘one of the greats’.

At eighteen years of age, writing was a decision I made. The path was clear, the goal set. In order to be a good one, I had to study the great writers who came before me. I learned from Shakespeare, Hemingway, Hughes, Baldwin and the rest. My literary artist contemporaries stress if order to be a writer, you must read. They are so right. By the time I started college, I had already made my local library my second home, reading stories and non-fiction books by authors great and small. They helped me write my plays and short stories. These writers gave me the freedom to imagine anything I chose, putting my thoughts down on paper.

Today, there are multiple spaces in which to share your thoughts online. A blog such as the one you’re looking at now, social media and even a website to post your content and express yourself to the world. Even with all this technology in our hands, it’s easy to look up Shakespeare, his sonnets and plays, to learn and to imitate his style. The internet as you know has opened the door for new or aspiring authors to give their literary dreams a try. While there may not be a King Lear or Romeo & Juliet, there are millions of stories, poems, sonnets, commentaries for anyone to sit down in their quiet space, concentrate and write. Many years ago, I wanted to be Shakespeare but now I’m just happy being Charles L. Chatmon, author.

It’s always good to have a literary great who inspires you, but please make sure to adopt your own writing style and ideas. Who knows where the next great tragedy or classic tale will come from? If you desire to write and willing to take time to develop that dream, the next great writer could be you.

Charles L. Chatmon
Chatmon’s Books

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Posted by on May 26, 2019 in Uncategorized


Should The World Recognize Aspiring Authors?


Question: should the world recognize aspiring authors?

For the sake of conversation, I say no. Take for example if someone states they’€™re an aspiring singer, the obvious question would be when will their song be made public? If the aspiring singer doesn’€™t know or they’€™re not sure only floating out the indefinite date of ‘someday’€™, then in the world’€™s eyes, this person is not ‘€˜legitimate’€™ in their eyes. This future musical artist has to produce a song in the present in order for us to recognize their published work. Personally, twenty years ago, I talked about publishing a book but I didn’€™t produce one at that time. I guess I was an aspiring author myself. I had friends who advised me on writing a book for public consumption, but in 1999 I had nothing to speak of outside of one column in community newspapers. I didn’€™t fool myself into believing I was an author of a book because I wasn’€™t published.

The words ‘€˜aspiring author’€™ trigger many a scribe today. There is on one hand the accomplished writer who remembers the days before their manuscripts turned into actual printed works. Perhaps they don’€™t want to refer to these future authors because of the experience of waiting for their literary dreams to come true after days and nights behind a desk, typing who knows what for agents, publishers and eventually a reading audience. If anyone told me twenty years ago the truth that I’€™m not a recognized author even though I planned to publish a book, I would have accepted it. It also would have made me work harder to see that dream come true. In modern times, authors will warn you in strong language on social media “€œI hate the term aspiring author! What are you aspiring to? Are there aspiring teachers or aspiring customer service reps? Why the hell should one call themselves an aspiring author for? Dumb….”€ Now although the above quote was paraphrased, it has been known to use the words aspiring author means certain vitriol to whoever says it.

In the example I offered above, a person who aspires to sing is an aspiring singer. Anyone who wants to enter the customer service field is an aspiring customer service representative. Let’€™s look at the root word Aspire to see if there’s any harm in using the term aspiring:


: desiring and working to achieve a particular goal : having aspirations to attain a specified profession, position, etc. an aspiring actor [=a person who aspires to be and is trying to become an actor] an aspiring novelist (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

This harmless adjective only tells the truth. This world will not recognize an aspiring author but the person who aspires to become one is working toward that goal. It is important to understand that this world will not recognize the aspiring author’€™s work until they are a published author. Until that moment happens, all of the news and posts about progress won’t matter if the work isn’t made reality.

What upsets other literary artists with this term is that the word aspiring conflates with the word unknown. Until the publication of my first book, all I could do was perform in poetry readings across the city. I didn’€™t have a published book to my name. To the audience who heard my words and read my poems, I was an unknown author. Established and non-established authors remember the struggle in achieving the accolades or acclaim they’€™ve worked hard to achieve and it hurts. It’€™s a pain no one wants a future author to experience for fear they possibly will be discouraged and give up on their dream. For reasons of their own, they take offense of the term aspiring even if it is the truth for future authors.

Hopefully, aspiring authors understand this piece does not come from an ‘elite’€™ point of view but a realistic look at how readers and the world in general view them in the present. Look at the aspiring singer example above. Singing a few bars on social media doesn’€™t mean you’€™re an established singer, it means you are working towards scoring that first recorded song or album. Aspiring (and other) authors should be offended if they’€™re called by that name. That individual author is taking steps from moving to the aspiring to published stage. If the drive is there, we the reading audience will see their literary works in a timely manner. For in the present, the reality is that they are not recognized by the world yet. As these authors continue in pursuit of their goal, they will be.

Charles L. Chatmon
Chatmon’s Books

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Posted by on May 25, 2019 in Uncategorized


The Drug of Racism (poem)

Note: Here’s a poem written a long, long time ago but still applies today. Hopefully you’ll enjoy it and please let me know what you think!
-The Management

Here in America, we have a number of addictions
Throw in drugs, greed, and include racism
Prejudice is a drug dangerously sweeping the nation
Serious as a world threat or superpower invasion.

Blacks mistrusting whites, whites mistrusting blacks
Sources of communication is what both sides lack
Other cultures and races tossed in the hate game
Freebasing on hate, burning up in flames.

History records uncover this substance abuse
Morals were misguided and social codes unloose
Armies slaughtered races, creations of God
The dead paying a price for blood they trod.

Little children aren’t affected, they’re colorblind
For they are pure in heart, cleansed in the mind
Only when society bombards them in condition
They accept and absorb its racist traditions.

If this is America and her states are united
Then why are its citizens painfully divided?
To stop racist addictions, there must be a start
To ban this drug and treat many hearts.

Charles L. Chatmon
Author & Poet
President, Chatmon’s Books

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Posted by on April 11, 2019 in Uncategorized


Have You Ever Considered? (poem)

Charles L. Chatmon

Charles L. Chatmon, Poet & Author

Note: this is an old poem I’ve kept out of the public for years. It’s a poem of consideration and reflection of the things life brings us. Please, enjoy!
-The Management

Have you ever considered the sun that always shines?
Beaming precious rays, which creep behind
On harsh cold days when you’re about to freeze
The beloved sun sets us at ease.

Ever consider the falling of the rain?
It comes once around and back again
Filling up the soil, feeding our plants
Rain is most valuable, so the heavens do grant.

Have you ever noticed the mountains and trees?
The coolness of a gentle gusty breeze
Calm air passing by cleaning out your soul
Purging out demons nestled deep below.

Do you ever think about your loved ones?
Who care so much of what you’ve done
The affection they show, you must take to strive
For the charity they give can make you feel alive.

Did you ever listen to your conscience inside?
It knows your ups and downs, nothing to hide
Encased within your soul, it holds your potential
To help make your life meaningful and essential.

I hope you will adhere what you’ve just read
Taking nothing for granted but enjoying it instead
Consideration in life still holds its due
The world can be better if you believe it’s true.

Charles L. Chatmon
President, Chatmon’s Books

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Posted by on April 11, 2019 in Uncategorized


Archive: A Blueprint for Deception

From 2014 on a different Thoughts pattern:

This week, due to our new partnership with the L.A. Southwest College English department, the L.A. Black Book Expo joined with the school and its associates, Morningside Park Chronicle and Puente Program for their annual Say The Word celebration of poetry and spoken word. Our segment, not necessarily of that genre was a panel discussion with two lovely ladies, Ms. Robbie Butler (Ms. Single Mom: Yes You Can!) and Cheryl Dorsey (The Creation of a Manifesto: Black & Blue). Our topic was based on Richard Wright’€™s ‘€œThe Blueprint of Negro Writing’€. The title for our version; The Blueprint for Success.

As moderator, I enjoyed the information between Cheryl and Robbie as they talked about their books, experiences and advice to the young people who stayed to hear them both. One point mentioned by one of the ladies stood out in my mind during the conversation in addressing a blueprint for the next generation: be honest. This is something I have to agree with wholeheartedly. When it comes to this art of crafting stories or disseminating information to a reading public, the only requirement as a writer that your audience requires is that you share the facts from your heart what you know to be true, no matter what the subject. In keeping with the tone of the conversation, the true blueprint for success as a writer is to express truth in your writing. It may make a few in power uncomfortable and even as we hear in church, ‘€˜step on toes’€™, but for this twenty-first century literary crowd, the only way a writer can achieve success with his or her fans, is just be honest.

Many people know about James Frey, the author of A Million Little Pieces which put him in the spotlight especially after winning an endorsement from Oprah Winfrey that caused his sales to go up. After it was found out most of what Frey wrote in his memoir wasn’€™t true, the following clip shows you what happens when you cross the path of a person as influential as Ms. Winfrey herself:

Now this would be the ‘death knell’ of a writer, any writer to be placed in a platform such as Oprah’€™s Book Club where she’€™s promoting the work because she believes it and wants it to be successful. Once it’s been revealed it is less than what she or even her fans expected – the trust factor between reader and author are severed, never to be sown again. However, it does take a bit of ‘clearing the air’€™ as Ms. Winfrey and Mr. Frey have done in this clip.

So while reader and author can reconcile on some level, the trust factor, the one quality needed to gain and build a fan base in this competitive market, is hard to get back. To be fair to Mr. Frey, he has rebounded in a way, writing at least two books since that incident. Also to be fair, he’s not the only one as this link reveals and also the following author mentioned below.

Margaret B. Jones ( Margaret Seltzer, real name) is another author who built a trust factor with readers when her book, Love and Consequences: A Memoir of Hope and Survival came out in 2008. When it was released, her account growing up as a half white, half Native American child who became associated with one street gang based out of L.A. I recall when this book was touted on local media in Los Angeles, how this now proved to be unbelievable story captivated the literary world. Ms. Seltzer under her alias was invited to hold book signing in bookstores, interviews on the radio, etc.

In this deservedly scathing article by L.A. Times writer Sandy Banks (penned the same year), she blasts Seltzer’€™s work as truly as it was meant to be – fiction. Part of the blame goes as Ms. Banks mentions, to her publisher who didn’€™t take the time to fact check Margaret B. Jones’€™s background. Unlike James Frey, once she was exposed as €œfully white, grew up with her biological parents in the upscale San Fernando Valley community of Sherman Oaks and attended Campbell Hall, an affluent Episcopalian day school in the North Hollywood area of Los Angeles.€ Even Motoko Rich of the New York Times offered her own critical opinion of Ms. Seltzer’€™s work. This proves you don’€™t have to be Oprah to smell a fictitious book under the category of non-fiction to smell a fake, but once you do and you’€™re a part of media (although they have their own trust issues of their own. Look up Jayson Blair), authors who take the fraud route have no chance of redemption, ever. Trust factor blown, never to recover.

By the way, this is the only video of her on the internet where in her guise as Margaret B. Jones, she describes life in the hood. Six years later (she was even outed that year), we know none of this to be true. Unlike Frey, she has not recovered as an author and perhaps never will.

As I stood hearing Cheryl and Robbie yesterday at L.A. Southwest about honesty in your writing, I wondered in our increasingly growing literary community of writers and authors, how much of our written works is factual and how much is sensationalistic? It’€™s hard to tell and even for publishers, unless they have fact checkers on staff, they can get caught up in the fabrication as well. With this in mind, readers should remind themselves whenever they purchase a book it should come with the mindset of ‘buyer beware’€™. Either the author wrote a book with engaging subject matter they can believe in, or if it’s found the contents of the book are a hoax, their time and money may be lost. It’s all a matter of trust.

Charles L. Chatmon
Chatmon’s Books

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Posted by on February 10, 2019 in Uncategorized


Nice Guy, Your Time is Up

Low-key portrait - half face - sad and angry looking man

Harvey Weinstein
Les Moonves
Bill Cosby
And just last week, R Kelly.

Nice Guy, with all of the #MeToo and #TimesUP accusations flying against powerful men these days, you think you finally have a chance to meet the princess of your dreams, the woman you’ve always longed for but eventually never will have. With scandal after scandal of an entertainer, executive, producer, even dog catcher popping up weekly, you would think women will suddenly notice you, appreciate your gentlemanly ways, turn their desires towards you. Nice guy, I hate to be the one to break this to you, there is no chance….ever…your dream woman will enter your life. Ever.

You have a better chance of surviving a snap from Thanos than to meet your imagined queen, your virtuous woman, your could-be-but-never-meant-to-be sweetheart. While this may be a shock to you nice guy, let me remind you as I have in the past many, many times, the truth is women don’t want you, don’t like you and in 2019 don’t need you. This is a cold, hard reality that you must understand. Their role models may be seen with a ‘nice’ guy but if they haven’t married them or have a relationship, what makes you think you had a shot? Nice Guy, don’t turn into a ‘snowflake’, take this L like a man. Know you did your best by treating women with respect, opened doors for them, paid for dinners, offered your seat or your jacket when the opportunity arose. All of this was in vain as women decided to exercise their new superpowers to turn you down time after time after time. Nice Guy you lost, admit it.

Once upon a time your main competitions were the thugs, teardrop felons, the bad boys who had your intended’s attention and affection. That was before stories about sexual harassment and abuse emerged more and more in mainstream media. By the time the #MeToo and #TimesUP movement is through, you Nice Guys may be the last ones standing but you will never be victorious. Isn’t that a harsh reality to you? You are faced with diminishing alternatives, you know women are starting to grow suspicious even if you offer a compliment so under this climate of distrust, what can you do? At this point Nice Guy, you’d wish you had disappeared when Thanos snapped his fingers. Now that women worldwide no longer want to have to do anything with you, all you can do is live your life and either tragically remain nice or realize it’s hopeless at this point.

Sorry Nice Guy, your best wasn’t good enough.It didn’t matter.

Charles L. Chatmon
Chatmon’s Books

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Posted by on January 9, 2019 in Uncategorized

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