Memento Mori – A letter from Harlem by X Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts

Writer’s Brief

“When I came home from abroad, death was in style. I don’t remember when I first noticed it; I remember only the moment when a few sightings began to accumulate before my eyes and could no longer be understood as a coincidence. I looked upon familiar scenes and noticed things that had previously escaped me, or perhaps were not there.”

In her letter from Harlem, Sharifa Rhodes-Pitts engages “Memento Mori” on the streets: a new rock and roll pose with a twist of the street; an overambitious trend piece in the NY Times might reach and call it the rise of Afro-Goth.

Reading List

  • Rhodes-Pitts, S 2011, Harlem Is Nowhere: A Journey to the Mecca of Black America.  Little Brown
  • Lewis, M S 2004, Scars of the soul are why kids wear bandages when they don’t have bruises. Akashic Books <>
  • De Pascale, E & Museum, J P 2009, Death and resurrection in art, Getty Publications
  • Holland, S P, Jones, B T 2000, ‘Tupac Shakur and the (Queery) Art of Death.’ No. 1 Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender: Literature and Culture, Winter, vol. 23, pp. 384-393 <>
  • Durkin, K F , Bryant C. D (ed.) & Peck, D (ed.) 2009, ‘Images of Death in Popular Culture’ Encyclopedia of Death and the Human Experience, Sage, California pp.811-813
  • Scalin, N 2008, SKULLS. Sterling Publishing Company, Inc
  • Shneidman, E S 1995, ‘The Postself’ Death: Current Perspectives,Mountain View, CA: Mayfield, 4th edn, pp. 454-600
  • Toop, D 2000, Rap attack 3: African rap to global hip hop, Serpents Tail

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