March 28, 2009

Village Interview: Jose Vilson (The Jose Vilson)

We decided to take a moment to sit quietly under the village's baobob tree to learn more about some of the powerful bloggers of African descent out in the afrosphere.

Our guest today is Jose Vilson. Jose was born and raised on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, New York, and his style represents that amalgamation of raw introspection and smooth delivery. While he's been writing poetry on and off since the age of 6, he says his style was born when he first met Sonia Sanchez. Upon hearing that he wrote poetry, she told him to forget the poems of old and write new words. Ever since, his style changed to something more natural, strong, and exciting.

His blog is The Jose Vilson (BBR #125). I met Jose through our membership in the AfroSpear. He has been a calming influence through some of the volcanic eruptions in our group. Here is what he had to say...

Q1. What were you like when you were younger?

I was one of the geeks. Definitely. I was insecure, imaginative, and intelligent. It was an interesting mix, really.
Q2. Name a famous historical figure, living or deceased, you would like to meet and tell us why.

Living, Muhammad Ali. For a good year and change, I did so much intense research on that man. He lived life with such passion and fervor, and had an insatiable drive. Dead, Arturo Schomberg. I'd probably ask him some of the questions you're asking me now.
Q3. Name a person in your community who is relatively unknown to the rest of the world, who you believe is significant in some way, and that you would like the rest of the world to know more about.

I'd say Fr. Jack Podsiadlo. Fr. Jack Podsiadlo is a Jesuit priest whose life's work consists of helping underprivileged Black and Latino youth become great men. Personally, I can say he was a father figure for me at a time when I needed that uplift as a youth. He also served as president of the Nativity Network, a collection of schools based on Nativity Mission Center, a small Catholic middle school on the Lower East Side. He didn't found the center, but his efforts to spread the message about that model have translated into hundreds and thousands of young men and women getting the opportunity of a lifetime.
Q4. What are two items in your 'bucket list' ... things you want to do or accomplish before you kick the bucket?

I'd like to travel across the world, and I'd like to write a really good book. Simple, yes, but not easy.
Q5. Describe your first experience on the Internet?

I want to say my first experience on the Internet was through my public school. We were writing an e-mail on the computer. As a matter of fact, I think it was on a Mac. I remember getting weirded out by this scraping and beeping noise in the background when my teacher told me, "Oh that's just the sound of a connection being made." Ah, the bad old days.
Q6. Tell us about your current blogging career and how you got into it.

I started out in Xanga in 2003 under ComoSeLlama. I first used it as a journal of sorts, jotting down parts of my life that I found interesting. As I started to build an audience, I started ranting on whatever happened for that day. I found myself particularly vested in blogging when I was unemployed and searching for another venue to entertain myself. But as I got a little older (and got a job), I too had to grow, and so I bought up my own domain and started blogging under my own name from 2007.
Q7. Who are the two bloggers you read the most and why? Include their links and tell us why we should subscribe to their feeds.

-checks my Google Reader- I can without a doubt say my two most read blogs are NYC Educator and Electronic Village. NYC Educator has always been my blogging hero, and with his trusty sidekick, Reality-Based Educator, they give you the realest coverage of education topics and financial / politics news you'll read on the web now. Electronic Village has a way of posting the news without sounding too much like they're preaching at me. It's informative, but not over-bearing. That's important.
Q8. Where are you taking your blog over the next 2-3 years?

I'm taking it wherever life takes me. I'm working on a few projects, one of which we'll see the release of in 2010, a book on the future of teaching. Another book, one I'm working on by myself, is hopefully coming out 2011. The blog itself will probably chronicle my life as it changes not just as an educator, but also as a writer. I've always been the writer who tries to fill in the gaps, and that seems to work well for my readers.
Q9. What is your 'killer post' over the past year ... the post you are most proud of?

Oh wow. My proudest post over the last year (counts 365 days back) has to be my post "Howl If You Hear Me," my uber-dedication to Allen Ginsberg in which I asked various bloggers to contribute one line to the first stanza of my remake of his poem. I'm sure to some I made that post look easy, but I probably worked on it all day. Obviously it was also successful in its own right, but it also elucidates the power of collaboration amongst creative individuals.
Q10. What is your 'biggest noise post' over the past year ... the one that you took the most heat over from your readers?

I can never get enough of this "controversial post" business. I have a few of them actually, but if I had to pick just one, I'd pick the "My Ballot or My Bullet" post. In it, I played Devil's Advocate in response to the fandom for Barack Obama. I understood the excitement that Barack generated, but when I looked at the lessons of Malcolm X (who always stirs up some controversy even posthumously), I wondered how much people really thought about what he was saying in response to elected officials. Some people wouldn't even speak to me for a good couple of months. Then again, I generate one of those "I can't even talk to you right now" posts at least once a month.
You can reach Jose on Facebook, LinkedIn Network or Twitter. I hope that you enjoyed this Q&A session with Jose. Share any of your thoughts or remembrances of Jose or his blog if you have time or incination!


AngelaMichelle said...

great interview! i've been a "fan" of mr. vilson's since his xanga days and try to not miss any of his updates. a blog visionary he is... but then again, as i tell him all the time, i'm more than a bit biased. heh.

RiPPa said...

This was a good read and good feature. I checked out his blog and I loved it. Thanks for pointing me in some good directions Villager as usual.

Unknown said...

Angela - U have good reason to be biased ... the brother is good at what he does!

RiPPa - As I noted in the blog post ... I didn't have him on my RSS-feed until yesterday. He has great writing skillz and his commentary is worthwhile as well...