Author and filmmaker MK Asante talks about growing up in Philly

Maya Angelou praised MK Asante's "Buck" as "a story of surviving and thriving with passion, compassion, wit, and style."  Credit: Lee Steffen
Maya Angelou praised MK Asante’s “Buck” as “a story of surviving and thriving with passion, compassion, wit and style.”
Credit: Lee Steffen

When MK Asante was 16 years old, a teacher at the Crefeld School in Chestnut Hill laid a blank piece of paper in front of him: “Write something,” she said. Asante wrote “F—k school,” on the paper and handed it back.

“That’s good. Keep going,” the teacher said. And he’s been doing just that, for the last 15 years.

“Now I was looking at her like, ‘She’s crazy,’” says Asante, now 30. “I’m looking around the class and people are taking it kind of serious, and I’m like, ‘Anything I want, huh? I didn’t know I was allowed to write the things I wanted to say.’”

This week Random House is releasing Asante’s fourth book, “Buck: A Memoir,” a personal chronicle of his one-of-a-kind youth in Philadelphia.

“In [my] poetry books, there’s a little distance. My personal story is wrapped in an abstractness that gives me some distance. But ‘Buck’ is raw. You’re right in it. The subject is me and my life,” says Asante, who now teaches creative writing at Morgan State University in Baltimore — and is the youngest professor ever to receive tenure.

Asante’s experience in this city — as he points out — is indeed as Walt Whitman put it: “I contradict myself, (I am large, I contain multitudes.)” Here are just a few snapshots: He is the son of renowned Temple University professor Molefi Kete Asante, and he attended one of the best private schools in region. And, yet, he grew up surrounded by violence and drugs; he wound up in prison, and lost his best friend to Philly’s endemic gun violence. And, yet, he made his way to UCLA and a flourishing writing career.

These days, he begins his writing classes at MSU with the very same blank page exercise he encountered 15 years ago.

“It’s the best way to get class started,” says Asante. “Just get out. Don’t let the pen stop moving. Let’s open that door in your mind — the one without a filter. We’ve all got something we need to get off our chest, now let’s find it.”

MK Asante, “Buck: A Memoir”
Central Library
1901 Vine St.
Thursday, 7 p.m.
Free, 215-567-4341
www.freelibrary.org


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

New statue of Penn State's Paterno set for…

By David DeKokHARRISBURG, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - Fundraising for a new statue depicting Joe Paterno "as the man he was and not Joe the football coach"…

Local

Future Boston Alliance invites you to #RidetheLine, support…

#RidetheLine aims to show the city, the nation, and the globe our creative impact as Boston citizens.

Local

(Update) Body of missing BU grad Eric Munsell…

The dead man pulled from the water at Boston's Long Wharf Wednesday afternoon was that of missing 24-year-old Boston University alumnus Eric Munsell, Boston Police said today.

National

On newly released tape, 'Squeaky' Fromme says was…

Manson Family member Squeaky Fromme told a mental health examiner in newly released interview the "X" she carved in her forehead was meant to separate her from "the system."

Music

Championship of Collegiate a Cappella: Students who are…

Tickets to this Saturday’s International Championship of Collegiate a Cappella reportedly sold out within 11 hours of going on sale.

Music

M.I.A. talks 'Matangi,' divinity, spontaneity and holograms

"There’s pressure for me to become a theatrical production like 'Glee,' or something" says M.I.A., "It’s like, 'the pressure’s on, bitches.'"

Movies

Tribeca: 'Goodbye to All That' star Paul Schneider…

Paul Schneider talks about his new film "Goodbye to All That," not acting too much and how he'd rather indulge in simple pleasures than play the scene.

The Word

Taylor Swift battles paparazzi daily at Tribeca penthouse

We're entranced by these photos of poor Taylor Swift leaving her Tribeca apartment.

NHL

NHL video highlights: Bruins edge Red Wings in…

NHL video highlights: Bruins edge Red Wings in overtime of Game 4

MLB

MLB video highlights: Yankees rout Red Sox, 14-5

Felix Doubront struggles for second time in five starts

NBA

Jason Collins named to Time's 100 Most Influential…

Jason Collins was named to the list after coming out as the first openly gay player to appear in an NBA game.

NFL

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24…

2014 NFL Mock Draft: Updated, new April 24 version

Parenting

New study: Inside the wage gap between boys…

According to a new study, there's a wage gap between boys and girls, with boys earning more allowance for less chores.

Tech

From Apple TV to Fire TV, big changes…

Apple is set to launch a new generation of it's Apple TV, which grossed over $1 billion in 2013. But competition from Amazon and Google looms.

Style

Katy Perry releases a new Claire’s collection

Katy Perry expands her empire by releasing an accessories collection at Claire's.

Style

MAC & Proenza Schouler collection unveiled

MAC Cosmetics is releasing a new collection with Proenza Schouler.