“James Baldwin envisioned a metaphorical welcome table where all people(s) gather to love and laugh, to politic and swear, to breathe the same air and share what Dr. Nikki Giovanni calls “a good cry.” Patrick A. Howell’s Dispatches from the Vanguard is Baldwin’s dream manifested through art and culture, through porch talks, poetry and visual debates. In this carnival of a book, he manifests what the late great poet Larry Neale invoked—"visions of a liberated future”—with this dynamic treasure trove of Black passion, style, intellectual prowess, wit, grace and soul. Behold this beautiful bouquet of Blackness embracing the living with love and life, honoring the Ancestors with such a cavalcade clarion call continuum. Oh, I can hear Lucille Clifton now, Come celebrate with me…”
"There has never been a time of great uncertainty that didn't produce a windfall of brilliance from the Black community. "Dispatches From The Vanguard" has collected the wisdom, depth, creativity, insight, joy, critique, hope and brazen boldness from the current windfall being borne out of the crisis that is the current administration. And why does a collection like this mean so much? Because it allows us to transcend by way of the words of those voices we value so much. They lead us, they teach us, and they remind us what is possible. This is a book for those who, in the words of Audre Lorde, are 'deliberate and afraid of nothing'"
Public Academic, Author and Activist
"Dispatches" is exceptional - the whole thing. My oldest brother Danny grew up with art and giving to others in his heart. My dad wrote poetry and our mom painted Danny was lucky that those things rubbed off on him... the work he does with Rush philanthropy is a direct reflection of being at our dad's side during civil rights protests at an early age. What "Dispatches from the Vanguard" does is take our current moment and draw an oral history from architects of the culture. From the Black Arts Movement and, before that the Harlem Renaissance to the Global International African Arts Movement."
“Patrick A. Howell deploys the interview as scalpel and bridge, laying out the nuances of our hassled yet still beautiful Black while detailing, through the responses of these artists and intellectuals, resilience for this generation and the next. Here, Africa and its diasporas achieve completion.”
"Dispatches from the Vanguard" is a timely compilation of cultural luminaries. Howell’s honoring of lived experiences coupled with vocal wisdom bridge past to future and illuminate the necessary interplay between education, field artistry, global consciousness, and social justice.
"In DISPATCHES FROM THE VANGUARD, Patrick A. Howell undertakes the role of griot -- storyteller -- in this insightful and hard hitting collection of interviews. Once you start reading this eclectic and intergenerational group of poets, writers, artists, activists and scholars, you simply cannot stop. Thought-provoking and inspiring, DISPATCHES FROM THE VANGUARD is a worthy addition to anyone’s library."
" A strong, no, essential book of conversations with Nikki Giovanni, Dr. Harry Edwards, Abiodun Oyewole, Ishmael Reed, Quincy Troupe, Tori "LA" Reid, Nnedi Okorafor, and a huge host of others. The cast of (mostly) African American writers, leaders, educators, activists, musicians, designers, scholars, public figures, Afro-Futurists, artists, historians of several generations is assembled here as an urgent, achingly literate fuck-you to Donald Trump. But this serves equally well as a fascinating compendium of contemporary African diasporic thought, from figures you know, figures you think you know, figures you ought to know."
professor and former chair of the writing division at the USC School of Cinematic Arts; and an artistic director of the Sundance Institute Screenwriting Labs
"In these troubling and challenging times I am always glad to hear from those who are providing visions of wholeness and collective liberation. Dispatches from the Vanguard is a treasure trove of wisdom, cultural history, and reflection from some of today’s leading Afro-centric cultural workers. I found the mix of voices from older and younger visual artists, poets, writers, directors, and other arts movement workers, artfully woven together by the poetic voice of multi-talented Patrick Howell, truly moving, healing and inspiring. Read these interviews and you too will want to find out more about the work of these creatives and changemakers."
"Patrick Howell's passionate content and delivery takes me back to my own college years at Howard University, where I interviewed the likes of Frances Cress Welsing, Leonard Jefferies, John Henrik Clarke, Tony Browder, and listened to the fired up speeches of Khallid Muhammad, Michael 3X, and Steve Cokely. What a refreshing thought it is to be reminded of the mental strength, courage, and audacity it takes to be 'Black' again with a capital B. Howell gave me an invigorating read and a reminder of how to write for the right to fight."
Dispatches from the Vanguard: The Global International African Arts Movement versus Donald J Trump is an amazing collection of interviews and contextualizing information around each that speaks not only to this point in time but to our roles as human beings to engage in whatever ways we can with the powers that be.
The list of interviewees is a virtual who's who (certainly not complete but definitely among the most compelling) of contemporary art (in the broadest sense possible) and thought (they go hand in hand). To a person these figures show me how better to use whatever talents I may have and how to not waste my energy on pointless hate but use that energy to counter what is happening (and has been happening for a very long time).
In some ways this book is several different books. It certainly speaks and presents a solid case against Trump, indeed, against all that he represents (such as racism, Islamaphobia, sexism, misogyny, destructive excessive capitalism, disdain for human life, and so much more). It also serves as a guidebook for people to understand that no stand is too small to make for what is right nor is any stand too great when we all stand together. While the evil that is this administration is the unifying theme, the ideals are not specific to this time and place but rather almost universal ideals being applied to the here and now.
There is something here for anyone to take away, probably a lot of somethings, at least in my case. Some things will and should make you uncomfortable but hopefully it will be in a constructive way. More often than not you will have 'ah ha' moments where you read something that just makes so much sense you'll wonder why you had not thought of it in that way before.
Read this because of the historic moment we are in but take this information and understanding forward with you for the rest of your life, and pass it along to others through words and actions.