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Street Literature in the 21st Century

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Presentation about background and elements of contemporary Street Literature, at the Maryland Library Association, Ocean City, MD, May 2012.

Presentation about background and elements of contemporary Street Literature, at the Maryland Library Association, Ocean City, MD, May 2012.


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  • 1. STREET LITERATURE IN THE 21STCENTURY Vanessa Irvin Morris, M.S.L.S., Ed.D. Maryland Library Conference 2012 Ocean City, Maryland, USA May 10, 2012
  • 2. WHAT ARE YOUR QUESTIONS ABOUTSTREET LIT?
  • 3. WHAT IS STREET LITERATURE –REALLY? TRADITIONAL STREET LITERATURE
  • 4. WHAT IS STREET LITERATURE -REALLY? LOCATING CONTEMPORARY STREET LITERATURE
  • 5. WHAT IS STREET LITERATURE -REALLY? LOCATING CONTEMPORARY STREET LITERATURE
  • 6. URBAN FICTION VS. STREET LIT
  • 7. CHARACTERISTICS OF STREETLIT Set in and depicting daily living of low-income city residents Fast paced stories, often with flashback sequences Vivid depictions of the inner city environment poverty substandard housing lack of access to civic resources The street as an interactive stage
  • 8. CHARACTERISTICS OF STREETLIT Female and male identity formation (via intense relationships, often romantic in nature)  Protagonists are often young adults (common age range 19 – 25) Navigation of interpersonal relationships  surviving abuse  betrayal in friendships  fantastical revenge plots Commodification of lifestyles Surviving street life – overcoming street lifestyle – the challenge of moving up and away from the streets
  • 9. CHARACTERISTICS OF STREET LIT characteristics are not exclusive. Can blend across genres, such These as: Romance Mystery Speculative Fiction ScienceFiction Black (2003) The Bridge A Wish After Midnight Mind ofMy Mind (2003) (2010) (1994)
  • 10. ELEMENTS OF STREET LITLanguageFormatBook CoversTitles
  • 11. CATEGORIES OF STREET LITMen’s StoriesWomen’s StoriesLGBTQ Street LitPossible sub-genre of Street Lit:  Thug Love Fiction
  • 12. WHO READS CONTEMPORARYSTREET LITERATURE?
  • 13. WHO WRITES CONTEMPORARYSTREET LITERATURE? http://behindthosebooksmovie.com/trailer.html
  • 14. YOU. LIBRARIAN. READ. Recommended Librarian Street Literature Reads  TRADITIONAL CLASSICS:  The Misfortunes of Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe, 1722  Roxanne, Daniel Defoe, 1726  Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, Stephen Crane, 1893  Native Son, Richard Wright, 1940  The Street, Ann Petry, 1946  The Fortunate Pilgrim, Mario Puzo, 1962  Manchild of the Promised Land, Claude Brown, 1965
  • 15. YOU. LIBRARIAN. READ. Recommended Librarian Street Literature Reads  CONTEMPORARY CLASSICS:  Pimp, Iceberg Slim, 1969 (Adult)  Dopefiend, Donald Goines, 1974 (Adult)  Down These Mean Streets, Piri Thomas, 1997 (A/YA)  The Coldest Winter Ever, Sister Souljah, 1999 (A/YA)  True to the Game, Teri Woods, 1999 (A/YA)  Flyy Girl, Omar Tyree, 1999 (A/YA)  B-More Careful, Shannon Holmes, 2002 (Adult)  Let That Be The Reason, Vickie Stringer, 2002 (Adult)
  • 16. YOU. LIBRARIAN. READ.  MUST-READ AUTHORS:  Donald Goines (Adult)  Iceberg Slim (Adult)  Sister Souljah (A/YA)  Teri Woods (A/YA)  K’wan Foye (A/YA)  Treasure E. Blue (A/YA)  Ashley & JaQuavis Coleman (A/YA)  Wahida Clark (Adult)
  • 17. YOU. LIBRARIAN. READ.  MUST-READ AUTHORS for TEEN READERS:  Ni Ni Simone  Kia Dupree  L. Divine  Earl Sewell  Wahida Clark Presents Young Adult  Walter Dean Myers  Sharon Flake
  • 18. RESOURCES REFERENCE TEXTS Honig, Megan. (2010). Urban Grit: A Guide to Street Lit. Genreflecting Advisory Series. Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. Irvin Morris, Vanessa. (2011). The Readers Advisory Guide to Street Literature. Chicago: ALA Editions. Ratner, Andrew. (2009). Street Lit: Teaching and Reading Fiction in Urban Schools. Practical Guides Series. NY: McGraw-Hill. Sweeney, Megan. (2010). Reading Is My Window: Books and the Art of Reading in Womens Prisons. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
  • 19. RESOURCES ONLINE REVIEW SOURCES StreetLiterature.com: Bringing You the Word on Street Lit & Urbanity.  http://www.streetliterature.com Street Literature Book Award Medal List (SLBAM), 1999 – present  http://www.streetliterature.com/p/slbam.html StreetFiction.org: Author Interviews, News & Reviews of Urban Books  http://www.streetfiction.org Urban Reviews Online.  http://www.urbanreviewsonline.com/search/label/Latest%20Reviews Saddleback Educational Publishing: Urban Fiction Series for Teens  http://www.sdlback.com/estore/search/ For more online review resources, see: http://www.streetliterature.com/p/parking-lot.html
  • 20. RESOURCES SOCIAL MEDIA GROUPS Facebook Groups  Urban Hip-Hop & Street Literature Books  Urban Street Lit Book Readerz  Urban Reviews Facebook Group  K’wan’s Readers  My Urban Books Club  Street Fiction Ebooks  Readers’ Advisory Guide to Street Literature