Thursday, April 24, 2014


Kentucky Derby - May 3rd
Preakness - May 17th
Belmont Stakes - June 7th

Quote of the Day

You can hawk your gold if you’re hungry
Sell your mule when you’re desperate
What can you do with so many poems
Sprouting dead hairs in an empty coffin

    - Marilyn Chin

What's Going On?

I finished reading James McBride's The Color of Water this morning. The book had been on my reading list for a spell. Next on my list is Paul Robeson: A Watched Man by Jordan Goodman and Morowa Yejide's new novel Time of The Locust.

In the mail yesterday was a nice gift from Lolis Elie. He sent me a copy of Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans.

Yesterday at WAMU I met Jen Marlowe. A key person trying to keep the memory of Troy Davis alive. Here is a link to the amazing work she is doing:

I just interviewed Maurice Jackson (Georgetown University history professor) for The Scholars. A wonderful conversation about the history of D.C. black music. Jackson just guess edited the special jazz issue of the Washington History magazine. It's out now...

Jackson always look like he could be playing with Lester Young. I took this picture of him

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

International Arts Night Poetry Reading
at Pyramid Atlantic Art Center
8230 Georgia Ave.
Silver Spring, MD 20912

This event, a fundraiser for Pyramid Atlantic, is part of an international potluck and arts activities night.  Donation:  $10, or bring a dish for the potluck and donation is $5.  Eating and arting begins at 6pm.

Poetry reading begins at 7pm and includes poets from cultures around the world:  Zein El-Amine from Lebanon, Danuta Kosk-Kosicka from Poland, Ashira Malka an Israeli American, Kenneth Forde from Trinidad/Tobago, and Nancy Naomi Carlson who will read translations as well as the original poems in French of Abdourahman Wahberi from Djbouti.  (Abdou was planning on reading himself but has just returned from South Africa not feeling well.)

I’m so excited about this evening of oral/aural travel around the world—I do hope you can come.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or want more information: or (301) 270-8037.


Anne Becker


Me-K photo by Ethelbert

Greetings! Aqueous Books is pleased to announce the shortlist for the Flann O'Brien Award for Innovative Fiction. Congratulations to the following authors:

Don't Trust Anyone Without Secrets by Me-K Ahn
The Executioner's Race by Andrew Bynom
Partisans by Mark Cunningham
Leave a Crooked Path by Simone Hanson
Kinds of Leaving by Nancy Hightower
Water on a Hot Plate: Stories by Murli Melwani

The winner will be announced on April 30, 2014.

The extraordinarily high quality of submissions made selecting even the shortlist a tough decision. Thank you to everyone who submitted to the Flann O'Brien Award for Innovative Fiction. Submissions for the next award will be opening up in May. Check the Submission Guidelines page at for status updates.

Because several of you have asked about the submission status remaining as "New" in the submission manager, the status remains set as new until the submission has been assigned to another staff member. In this case, I am judging the contest and so did not assign these out to anyone else. However, I have read carefully through every submission.

Aqueous Books is looking forward to this month's release, Sibs, the seventh short story collection from Nathan Leslie. You can read more about this upcoming release and the author at

Best regards,

Cynthia Reeser
Aqueous Books
P.O. Box 170607
Birmingham, AL 35217


Tuesday, April 22, 2014

IPS: Local Events

The Political Campaign of Andy Shallal: A Look Back and The Look Ahead

April 28, 2014, 1:00 pm4:00 pm
IPS Conference Room
1112 16th Street NW, Suite 600
Washington, DC

Andy for Mayor photo
Join Andy Shallal, E. Ethelbert Miller, Joy Zarembka, Steve Cobble, and Jonetta Rose Barras for a conversation about:
Did the Shallal campaign for mayor of DC change the landscape of DC politics?
What strategies did the campaign pursue? What was successful? What failed?
How progressive is the progressive DC community?
What funding obstacles did the Shallal campaign have to overcome?
What role did the media play in getting the Shallal message out to the community?
Is DC ready for a dialogue on race, educational reform or income inequality?
Should Andy Shallal run again?
Reserve your 2014 Jefferson Lecture tickets!
The 43rd Annual Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities:
An Evening with Walter Isaacson
The 2014 Jefferson Lecturer Walter Isaacson: The Intersection of the Humanities and the Sciences - headline image

Monday, May 12, 2014, 7:30 p.m.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts,
Concert Hall
2700 F Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.

Register for required free tickets at

Other inquiries may be directed to 202-606-8446 or

Join the National Endowment for the Humanities for the 2014 Jefferson Lecture in the Humanities with Walter Isaacson, acclaimed author, president and CEO of the Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization, and biographer of Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, and Benjamin Franklin, who will speak on The Intersection of the Humanities and the Sciences. The annual Jefferson Lecture, sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), is the most prestigious honor the federal government bestows for distinguished intellectual achievement in the humanities. #JeffLec2014
Preview Walter Isaacson's lecture! - video still

Preview the Upcoming Lecture

In his lecture Isaacson will touch upon the careers of Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Benjamin Franklin, Steve Jobs, Ada Lovelace, Walker Percy, and Edwin Land and others who fused humanistic thought with scientific discovery.

Reserve Your Free Tickets!
NEH logo

"We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there
is such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action."
- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
You are cordially invited to attend a reception and fundraiser featuring Rev. William Barber, President of the North Carolina State NACCP and leader of the Moral Mondays Movement. 

Join national faith, labor and community leaders as we support the largest movement in the South since Selma!
APR. 28, 2014
From 6pm to 8pm
1035 5th STREET NW
Washington, DC

We are raising funds for the NC Moral Mondays Movement and Moral Mondays 11 Week Freedom Summer Organizing Training.

Suggestion donation for the reception is $100. All proceeds from ticket sales will go to support NC Moral Monday/Forward Together Movement and Moral Freedom Summer. Donations are *not* tax deductible.

Forward Together, Not One Step Back!

E at UDC

I'll be reading my poetry today at UDC this afternoon.  Van Ness campus (Metro/Red Line stop).
The program begins at 4PM.
Building 41, A-03  Auditorium.

Birthday Girl on my Father's Day

Yesterday I took my daughter to lunch for her birthday. We had a lovely meal at Acadiana (located at 901 New York Avenue, NW).


Monday, April 21, 2014

I watched an episode of the BBC America series "Orphan Black" yesterday. Check it out! This show is a winner...

Let's name her after Nina Simone...

Not June but today. Today is Father's Day for me. It's the day my daughter was born; my first child entering the world.

In my memoir Fathering Words I wrote the following:

What would have happened if I had become a father at an earlier age like so many other young African American men? Sometimes the bus is crowded and I look at the male faces and know that my life is no different from those around me. Was it the African writer Armah who said the beautiful ones are not yet born? I think about Jasmine, and how I stood tall in the hospital watching Denise give birth and the doctor holding my daughter up to the ceiling like we were all in an episode of Roots.

More than thirty years have now passed. My daughter married - a lawyer down on K Street. I sat across from her and her husband yesterday in a restaurant in Silver Spring, Maryland.

Flashback - another night and I'm holding my daughter and giving my wife a chance to finish her dinner. Time after time the days keep passing and I'm still trying to hold her.


Sunday, April 20, 2014

APRIL 17, 2014

John Feffer

The latest figures on global military expenditures came out this week from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. There's been a minor dip in the global figures, but expenditures are soaring in much of the world—Africa, the Middle East, Asia. We're still collectively spending over $17 trillion a year on war or preparations for war.
Also out this week is the latest UN report on climate change, which tells us that we have a very narrow window in which to avert disaster. Where on earth can we get the money to deal with this looming disaster? We need to show up at the Pentagon and its counterparts around the world with tin cups in our hands—very large tin cups—to get the urgently needed resources.
This week at FPIF, Oscar Reyes takes a look at the latest UN report on climate change and concludes that it's a politically biased document—and yet its urgent message must be heeded. Phyllis Bennis, meanwhile, describes the work that veterans and others are doing to address the continuing impact of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dan Connell looks at the plight of Eritrean refugees, who are suffering from a horrific combination of kidnapping, torture, and ransom. And Jon Reinsch writes about the imperative of apologies for war crimes, beginning with the United States and the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Finally, in this week's World Beat column, I take issue with a recent unanimous vote by Congress to block Iran's choice for UN representative. Ah, I bet you didn't realize that Congress had veto power over the sovereign choices of other countries—or that the Obama administration has gone along with this nonsense.
John Feffer
Co-director, Foreign Policy In Focus

World Beat


It's Our Party

John Feffer
“It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to,” sang Leslie Gore back in the 1960s. That’s how Ted Cruz and Charles Schumer feel about Iran spoiling their us-versus-them worldview by agreeing to negotiate over its nuclear program. That’s how Congress apparently feels about another country exercising its sovereign right to appoint its own diplomats. And that’s how the United States feels about the rules of the global disco. It’s our party—and if you don’t party by our rules, you’re not invited.

FPIF Features

roadmap-for-survivalA Roadmap for Survival 
Oscar Reyes
The latest UN report on addressing climate change reflects a strong Western bias, but it's the most comprehensive tool we've got.
AFRICOM Goes to War on the Sly 
Nick Turse
An AFRICOM official says the U.S. has been "at war" in Africa for over two years.
Promoting a “Right to Heal” from Ft. Hood to Abu Ghraib 
Phyllis Bennis
Veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are holding the U.S. government accountable for innocent victims on all sides of the fighting.
In Praise of Apologies 
Jon Reinsch
When a government refuses to apologize for war crimes, it means it would be willing to commit them again.
Eritrean Refugees at Risk 
Dan Connell
Eritrean refugees face human trafficking, exploitation, and hostility throughout North Africa and the Sahel.

Focal Points Blogasia-pacific

Seymour Hersh Draws Even More Criticism at LRB Than at New Yorker 
Russ Wellen
Who’s more credible: Seymour Hersh or Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdo─čan?
An Open Letter to Aung San Suu Kyi 
Sufyan bin Uzayr
Daw Suu refused to address the plight of the oppressed Rohingya, who originally come from Bangladesh, when she met its prime minister.
Tripping on the Czech Jewish Fantastic: From the Golem to Kafka to Daniel KumermannJohn Feffer
The Jew from Prague who began as a window washer and became an ambassador.

Support FPIF!

To protect our independence, we never run ads on FPIF. We take no money from governments or corporations. We survive on donations from readers like you. We’re a small non-profit with a tiny staff, so your dollars go a long way. Donate today!

And then my God called me - it sounded like thunder....

Ground moving. Too many earthquakes around the world.  A 7.2 quake hit central and western Mexico.  It wouldn't surprise me if Turkey, Iran on China was next.


On Thursday I read with the poet Merrill Leffler. (and Grace Cavalieri ) at the Takoma Park Community Center (MD). I've always admired this guy for many years. Below is the poem he ended his reading with.
Good words to go home with.

Beginnings and Ends

Here is the word
That divides the dark
And here is the word
That is filled with light

Here is the word
That severs the sea
And separates sky
And uncovers the earth

Here is the word
That revels in breath
And here is the word
That cleaves your soul

And here is the word
For singing your love
And here is another
For singing your grief

Here are the words
That will blind your eyes
That will freeze your tongue
That will strike you deaf

And here is the word
To open the dark
And here is another
To empty the light
And here is the last

To carry you home

 - Merrill Leffler


Saturday, April 19, 2014

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Poet Lore and The Library of Congress present a reading by
Sidney Wade photo credit Marion EttlingerChristopher Merrill
revered Burmese poet
U Tin Moe
Wednesday, April 30, 7 PM
Mumford Room, The Library of Congress
101 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20540

 Christopher Merrill will read from his translations of U Tin Moe for Poet Lore's 2014 World Poets in Translation feature, as well as the poetry of three other contemporary Burmese poets, and discuss their poetry in a changing Burma. Merrill is the author of four collections of poetry, several edited and nonfiction volumes, and director of theInternational Writing Program at the University of Iowa.

Audience Q & A and book sales to follow.
Event is free and open to the public. RSVP optional.
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