It was an honor to share time with in my view one of the finest and sharp, sophisticated minds to ever set foot on the campus of California State University, Northridge; James B. Golden. I met him following a celebratory gala in honor of another year of cultural progress and education for the Pan-African Studies department at Cal State Northridge. Sitting in my seat, I along with student leaders and alumni gave deference to this extraordinary writer as he shared his stories of personal development, success, and his views on Black culture in the media through his poetic excerpts. His vernacular and prose is a rare find, he speaks truth to power and that power into contemporary issues and music.
A native of Salinas, California, James B. Golden is a poet, intellectual, and literary musician that is known throughout the literary and music world. He is the author of three books: Sweet Potato Pie Underneath The Sun’s Broiler (2009), Afro Clouds & Nappy Rain (2011), and his newest work; The Inside Of An Orange (2012) Mr. Golden received the 2012 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work – Poetry, for Afro Clouds & Nappy Rain. As an emerging student and writer he developed his skills earning earning his M.P.A. and a B.A. in English-Creative Writing, and Pan African Studies Arts & Literature from California State University, Northridge.
For the past decade, he has received notoriety for his writings in publications sch as VIBE, Los Angeles Our Weekly, Clutch Magazine, and Jazz Times Magazine. He is also an accredited editor over several academic journals including the CSUN Pan-African Studies Kapu-Sens Literary Journal and the National Hip Hop Think Tank. Golden has been invited around the nation to speak at various conferences on Hip Hop, Gender Relations, Black-Male-Feminism, and Cultural Medias. I sat down with him to discuss his third book The Inside of An Orange and his upcoming promotional tour.
Tell me briefly about your learning experiences as a young poet at CSUN?
“The English and Pan-African Studies duality through my majors really helped me. Familiarizing myself with the voices of the formal poets and the Black poets. It was great for getting a dual understanding of Black poets and their writings at large.”
Your most recent composition pays homage to many musical patriarchs. Which musical artist is your favorite?
“Whitney Houston for certain. She is the closest thing we’ve ever had to a perfect voice. Definitely Whitney, and I also like Stevie Wonder, and Prince.”
What is your opinion on today’s musical generation? Is the culture progressing or regressing?
“There is a lot to be said for artists and musical genres evolving. To see R&B move from the number one spot to the back burner is a culture shock. For the most part, I am okay with the evolution, but for me it is more about the changing structure of the industry.”
How would you describe your prose as a writer?
“I think that even my articles, poems, and short stories all have the same tone. I’m a very direct writer. Whether I’m doing it about rape or passing gas there is always some sort of inspiration involved. It’s heavy at times, I believe our generation needs people that can eloquently speak and inspire change.”
What is your personal advice to young writers searching for their own style and voice?
“Your voice comes naturally, before finding your voice you must write. Write every single day.”
What is your creative process like when writing a new poem?
“For Afro Clouds and Nappy Rain it was a very depressing process. With The Inside Of An Orange it was a more enjoyable process. I write most of my poems at night. When Whitney died, I listened to all these songs that she made, and I found a way to write about her.”
You won the 2012 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work for Afro Clouds & Nappy Rain what do you hope to gain from your newest product?
“What I really hope to gain is the opportunity to share my work with as many people as possible and let kids of color know literacy is important. It’s important to talk about the situations that affect our communities and speak truth to power.”
How did you correlate the title The Inside of An Orange to the content of your book?
“Before I finished the book I had a few personal read throughs. When I got to the second to the last poem, it was everything that I wanted. “The inside of an orange is sweeter than anything known”. In a sense we are all like oranges with a tough exterior, but a sweet, and decadent center.”
How much do you hear from your readers? Any constant themes within their feedback?
“I get a lot of emails from readers and notes on my fan page. Whenever I go on tour I get a lot of cards from younger audience members.”
How do you feel about the re-election of Barack Obama?
“I was overcome with gladness above all. For me just being able to vote for someone who thinks similar to me and shares my community views is a major inspiration.”
Tell me about The Golden Machine Blog?
“I’ve been running the Golden Machine Blog for awhile. It’s a place for me to share developments in my career things within my life.”
Where are some of your destinations for The Orange Tour?
“I have a few dates spanning around the country. I’m anxious about it. I always perform at high schools, middle schools, and universities. I’m debuting at the Historical Steinbeck Library on November 29th, that’s the kickoff. I’m really looking forward to going to Atlanta again, it’s one of my favorite places. I’ll be in Sherman Oaks in January, and during Black History Month I spend the most time in LA.”
What is a sense that you cannot live without?
“I think that it would be sight. It takes someone special to really look at what is going on within the community. I look at Stevie Wonder and he mentioned to me that he can see, and that deep understanding resonated with me to this day.”
To find more information on James B. Golden visit: www.jamesbgolden.com/
Written By: Joshua Thompson