Manic Readers

Gibran Tariq Ali

For most of my life, I was the guy most wannabee thugs wished they could be. Officially declared a “menace to society”, I was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for my role as mastermind of a series of daring bank robberies in the 70s. Two involved shootouts. One with the police. The other with a citizen in a bank parking lot where I narrowly missed being killed. While confined, I took part in an even more daring prison escape.
Despite this seeming penchant for violence, I consoled myself with the notion that I was merely a poet trapped in a gangsta’s body and oddly enough, this wasn’t far from the truth as I had evolved from a family of teachers, four of whom taught English. As such, I learned, early on, to respect and to appreciate language since my grandmother was very strict and would not tolerate improper grammar under her roof.
From the start, there appeared to be a household conspiracy to convert me into a writer. By the time I was ten, I possessed a private library fit for a scholar, had a new typewriter, a big desk, and plenty of blank paper. By 11, I had mastered the dictionary, was a whiz at Scrabble, and was a honor roll student in school. At 12, I had completed my first novel.
By my 13th birthday, I had discovered hustling and I immediately dropped out of school and adopted “the streets” as my home. By 14, I was in reform school for assaulting a police officer. While there, I was a star journalist, the first black deemed smart enough to work in the print shop and on the in-house newsletter. I served one year and a day.
Upon my release, with hardly any delays, I embarked on a personal crime spree, and at 15, was sent to prison where I was the youngest convict there.
While in the Youth Center, I acquired my high school diploma at 16, wrote my first play, turned militant, and when released at 19, went to New York to join the Black Panthers.
In New York, I discovered heroin. Writing and the revolution would both have to wait as a drug habit left little room for anything else. When I tired of being a junkie, I kicked my fascination with getting high, but years later would emerge as the “alleged” kingpin of a notorious heroin distribution ring.
Finally brought down by the FBI and DEA in 1997, I again was sent to federal prison. This time I would be gone for a decade, but once more I turned back to what I had turned my back on: writing. I studied journalism, started a writer’s colony, mentored other aspiring prison writers, four of whom are now publised, one a bestselling street-lit author. I edited and founded various newsletters, performed freelance editorial services for outside writers while quietly perfecting my craft.
Hailed by some as the greatest prison writer ever, I was interviewed by numerous tv and print outlets. My writings have even been studied in an English class at an university where I was invited to lecture.
While in the Atlanta Federal Pentitenary, I published two novels, but soured on traditional publishing after a deal gone bad with a well-known publisher. I also developed two programs. One, PROJECT UPLIFT, deals with drug-dealer addiction. The second, GIRLSMART, concerns at-risk, teenaged, black girls. This program is a counter to the BET-inspired video vixen syndrome where sistas opt to employ their booty rather than their brains.
If anyone is interested in either of these program, I will offer more data on them as soon as I prepare my website. However, if anyone is interested in my recent novel MATCHMAKER, it can be purchased online at MATCHMAKER has been touted as the ultimate black, female empowerment novel and has received a 5star rating from Ella Curry of The Black Authors Network, and a 4star rating from RAWSISTAZ. If you would like to read the first chapter of the novel, simply go to the website listed above.
With the advent of MATCHMAKER, I can honestly and truthfully announce that I have finally gone from wrong 2 “write!” At last.

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