Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Century of Disaster: Riddles, Lies and Lives -- from Muhammad Ali to Barbie

A Century of Disaster: Riddles, Lies and Lives -- from Muhammad Ali to Barbie

What some of last century's cast of characters -- and the lives they led -- tell us about humanity. By Eduardo Galeano


The summer is ending but look for another exciting episode of the "Bert & Bev Show."
Bev returns from California this week. Much laughter at the house in a few days. So excited about seeing her again. My next book of poems coming out in a few weeks is dedicated to B.


Back from 2 days in New York. I enjoyed my reading at the Cornelia Street Cafe. A chance to meet Angelo Verga who keeps the place going. He gave me a collection of his poems - A HURRICANE IS which was published by Jane Street Press.

Monday night was a wonderful Bennington Night. I read with Elaine Fletcher Chapman, Miriam O'Neal and Joseph Tobias. V Hansmann coordinated the event.

Many thanks for beloved friends who came out to support me:  Grace A. Ali, Susann Thomas, Russell Dillon, Kathy Engel and Sandra Levinson This New York reading also gave me a chance to meet for the first time the writer Cliff Thompson.

Earlier in the day Sandra gave me a tour of her Center for Cuban Studies located on 29th Street.
It's an amazing place. Here is a website link:


Sandra Levinson photo by Ethelbert

Monday, August 25, 2014

Reading - Memories of Summer: When Baseball Was an Art, and writing about It a Game by Roget Kahn.
Cornelia Street Cafe reading in Greenwich Village at 6pm.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

It might be time to be honest with ourselves. Many of the conflicts around the world will probably last for another 10 years or more. What will be the death toll of people killed in wars by the year 2020?  Here in the US income equality and racial problems will continue to dominant our news headlines. We will have to survive natural disasters, future acts of terrorism and random acts of violence committed by people who looked and acted very normal the day before. It seems like a sad state of affairs - but the sad truth is that this is the history of our earth. We suffer because we still cannot find ways to live together. Religion at times seems to be more a veil to hide our hatred and a cross too heavy for us to bear. Many of us continue to struggle to be good human beings. Prejudice and fear continue to remind us that the task is not easy. Even in our personal lives there are moments and days when we give up on love. If life was a game we could hit the pause button and maybe start all over again. We don't live in a age of superheroes or even great leaders - so there is much despair
to share. What are we doing wrong?  Each day I try to answer this question. If this was a math problem I would have to use my fingers and toes. Too many days I look around only to discover that everything adds up to zero. Yet, as the South African poet Dennis Brutus once wrote, "somehow we survive." And maybe this is the miracle - after all the blood on our hands we can still touch and comfort. Hopefully our wounds will heal and the scars will remind us of out history and the future we must avoid. The scars should remind us of the lessons learned and the possibility of peace. Our world does not have to be a dangerous place to live. If we claim to have a faith in God - then we must have a faith in man. Our work begins today which is now.

Friday, August 22, 2014


I spent the day going through old files. A number of people I kept files on are now deceased - others I've simply have not been in touch with for many years.

Here are a few names:

Velina Hasu Houston
Buriel Clay
Melvin Dixon
Lawson Inada
Xam Cartier
Yvonne Gregory
James Spady





African Voices. Volume No.13, Issue 29

I just received the latest issue of African Voices.
It contains the long poem "Tremors & Tempests " that Wanda Coleman and I wrote together.
Happy to see this in print.  Many thanks to Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie the poetry editor.

The Zora Neale Hurston / Richard Wright Foundation 
Calls for Submissions
 for the 
2015 Legacy Awards
The Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards are the premier 
literary awards presented to Black writers by their 
peers. The Legacy Awards in Fiction, Nonfiction and 
Poetry each year honor the most accomplished 
and innovative writing published by Black 
writers from the U.S. and the Diaspora.
All submissions must be made 
no later than November 12, 2014.
"The Hurston/Wright Legacy Award is an especially necessary prize as it celebrates black authors and sheds light on literature that otherwise might be overlooked. I was absolutely humbled and delighted to join such a distinguished list of recipients." 
Esi Edugyan, Winner of the 2013 Legacy Award 
for Fiction for Half Blood Blues
"What an extraordinary privilege to be honored by the 
Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award. Receiving such
an honor will forever be a high point in my career as a writer."
  Fredrick C. Harris, Winner of the 2013 Legacy Award 
for Nonfiction for The Price of the Ticket: Barack 
Obama and Rise and Decline of Black Politics
The Hurston/Wright Foundation
Ten G Street N.E., Suite 710
Washington, D.C. 20002 
STAY CONNECTED   Like us on Facebook    Follow us on Twitter    View our profile on LinkedIn    

They Don't Call It E-Mail Anymore.

I always insist that folks send things to my home address. Today I received a card from my friend Lily Liu.
It was mailed (from across town) to my job last October 2013.





The historic agreement between The Corcoran Gallery of Art and College of Art and Design, George Washington University, and the National Gallery of Art is now complete. Therefore, the new partnership to preserve the Corcoran legacy is officially underway. 

Visitors to the museum will no longer be charged an admission fee beginning Friday, August 22. Hours of operation are now Wednesday-Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The current tour schedule remains the same and can be found athttp://www.corcoran.org/visit/daily-tours

More information on the Corcoran's new collaboration is available here. 


On Wednesday, August 27, Gallery 31 at the Corcoran College of Art and Design will open Joseph Asher Hale: Fathom, an imaginative educational cross-section model of the Earth with its future super-continental landmass Pangea Ultima, speculated to form in 250 million years. Says Hale, "This installation is an extension of my latest work using sculptural models of real and fantastically modified locations to alter the viewer's sense of place, and blur the boundaries between fact and fiction."

An opening reception for Fathom will be held on Wednesday, September 3, 2014, from 6-8 p.m., and from 5-7 p.m. on the same evening, Hale will host an Artist Talk to discuss his work. 
In his NOW at the Corcoran exhibition, Plein Air, new media artist Mark Tribe explores the aesthetics and representation of aerial views in landscape photography through the virtual lens of computer simulation. On this evening, Tribe discusses his new work commissioned by the Corcoran, his artistic practice, and inspiration. 

One of the world's most distinguished metalsmiths, Albert Paley continues to push the boundaries of what is thought to be possible with iron and steel. Join us as he discusses his prolific career, creative process, and his work on view in the retrospective exhibition, American Metal: The Art of Albert Paley

American Journeys - Visions of Place, an installation of the Corcoran's collection of pre-1945 American art, conveys the changing theme of place in the history of American art. 

The Corcoran's European collections are shown on a rotating basis, with an emphasis on establishing relationships between the history of art and the contemporary world it helps to illuminate. Highlights include works by Degas, Picasso, Renoir, and more. 

Sol LeWitt's colorfulWall Drawing #65 enlivens the Corcoran's North Atrium. 

American Metalpresents a retrospective of the art of Albert Paley, one of the world's most distinguished metalsmiths. 


For more information about GW's Corcoran School of the Arts and Design please visit 
For more information on exhibitions and programs in the coming year, visit nga.gov or subscribe to the National Gallery of Art's enewsletter at 


 Like us on Facebook  Follow us on Twitter  Visit our blog
Image credit: 

Joseph Asher Hale, Tuned Mass Damper from Taipei 101, 2012. Digital image. Courtesy of the artist.

 500 Seventeenth Street NW
 Washington, DC 20006  

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Editor's Note:  When we send out articles, we do not mean to imply that we are endorsing those articles, but only that we believe it important for our community to know about the positions being articulated in the articles. Our positions can be found in the editorials found in Tikkun magazine!

My Plea to the People of Israel: Liberate Yourselves by Liberating Palestine

By Desmond Tutu | Aug. 14, 2014 | reprinted from Ha'aretz
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, in an exclusive article for Haaretz, calls for a global boycott of Israel and urges Israelis and Palestinians to look beyond their leaders for a sustainable solution to the crisis in the Holy Land.

A child next to a picture of Nelson Mandela at a pro-Palestinian rally in Cape Town. August 9, 2014 Photo by AP
The past weeks have witnessed unprecedented action by members of civil society across the world against the injustice of Israel’s disproportionately brutal response to the firing of missiles from Palestine. If you add together all the people who gathered over the past weekend to demand justice in Israel and Palestine – in Cape Town, Washington, D.C., New York, New Delhi, London, Dublin and Sydney, and all the other cities – this was arguably the largest active outcry by citizens around a single cause ever in the history of the world. 

A quarter of a century ago, I participated in some well-attended demonstrations against apartheid. I never imagined we’d see demonstrations of that size again, but last Saturday’s turnout in Cape Town was as big if not bigger. Participants included young and old, Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics, atheists, blacks, whites, reds and greens ... as one would expect from a vibrant, tolerant, multicultural nation. I asked the crowd to chant with me: “We are opposed to the injustice of the illegal occupation of Palestine. We are opposed to the indiscriminate killing in Gaza. We are opposed to the indignity meted out to Palestinians at checkpoints and roadblocks. We are opposed to violence perpetrated by all parties. But we are not opposed to Jews.”

Earlier in the week, I called for the suspension of Israel from the International Union of Architects, which was meeting in South Africa. I appealed to Israeli sisters and brothers present at the conference to actively disassociate themselves and their profession from the design and construction of infrastructure related to perpetuating injustice, including the separation barrier, the security terminals and checkpoints, and the settlements built on occupied Palestinian land. “I implore you to take this message home: Please turn the tide against violence and hatred by joining the nonviolent movement for justice for all people of the region,” I said.

Over the past few weeks, more than 1.6 million people across the world have signed onto this movement by joining an Avaaz campaign calling on corporations profiting from the Israeli occupation and/or implicated in the abuse and repression of Palestinians to pull out. The campaign specifically targets Dutch pension fund ABP; Barclays Bank; security systems supplier G4S; French transport company Veolia; computer company Hewlett-Packard; and bulldozer supplier Caterpillar. Last month, 17 EU governments urged their citizens to avoid doing business in or investing in illegal Israeli settlements. We have also recently witnessed the withdrawal by Dutch pension fund PGGM of tens of millions of euros from Israeli banks; the divestment from G4S by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and the U.S. Presbyterian Church divested an estimated $21 million from HP, Motorola Solutions and Caterpillar.

It is a movement that is gathering pace. Violence begets violence and hatred, that only begets more violence and hatred. We South Africans know about violence and hatred. We understand the pain of being the polecat of the world; when it seems nobody understands or is even willing to listen to our perspective. It is where we come from. We also know the benefits that dialogue between our leaders eventually brought us; when organizations labeled “terrorist” were unbanned and their leaders, including Nelson Mandela, were released from imprisonment, banishment and exile. We know that when our leaders began to speak to each other, the rationale for the violence that had wracked our society dissipated and disappeared. Acts of terrorism perpetrated after the talks began – such as attacks on a church and a pub – were almost universally condemned, and the party held responsible snubbed at the ballot box.

The exhilaration that followed our voting together for the first time was not the preserve of black South Africans alone. The real triumph of our peaceful settlement was that all felt included. And later, when we unveiled a constitution so tolerant, compassionate and inclusive that it would make God proud, we all felt liberated. Of course, it helped that we had a cadre of extraordinary leaders. But what ultimately forced these leaders together around the negotiating table was the cocktail of persuasive, nonviolent tools that had been developed to isolate South Africa, economically, academically, culturally and psychologically. At a certain point – the tipping point – the then-government realized that the cost of attempting to preserve apartheid outweighed the benefits. The withdrawal of trade with South Africa by multinational corporations with a conscience in the 1980s was ultimately one of the key levers that brought the apartheid state – bloodlessly – to its knees. Those corporations understood that by contributing to South Africa’s economy, they were contributing to the retention of an unjust status quo. Those who continue to do business with Israel, who contribute to a sense of “normalcy” in Israeli society, are doing the people of Israel and Palestine a disservice. They are contributing to the perpetuation of a profoundly unjust status quo. Those who contribute to Israel’s temporary isolation are saying that Israelis and Palestinians are equally entitled to dignity and peace.

Ultimately, events in Gaza over the past month or so are going to test who believes in the worth of human beings. It is becoming more and more clear that politicians and diplomats are failing to come up with answers, and that responsibility for brokering a sustainable solution to the crisis in the Holy Land rests with civil society and the people of Israel and Palestine themselves. Besides the recent devastation of Gaza, decent human beings everywhere – including many in Israel – are profoundly disturbed by the daily violations of human dignity and freedom of movement Palestinians are subjected to at checkpoints and roadblocks. And Israel’s policies of illegal occupation and the construction of buffer-zone settlements on occupied land compound the difficulty of achieving an agreement settlement in the future that is acceptable for all.

The State of Israel is behaving as if there is no tomorrow. Its people will not live the peaceful and secure lives they crave – and are entitled to – as long as their leaders perpetuate conditions that sustain the conflict. I have condemned those in Palestine responsible for firing missiles and rockets at Israel. They are fanning the flames of hatred. I am opposed to all manifestations of violence. But we must be very clear that the people of Palestine have every right to struggle for their dignity and freedom. It is a struggle that has the support of many around the world. No human-made problems are intractable when humans put their heads together with the earnest desire to overcome them. No peace is impossible when people are determined to achieve it. Peace requires the people of Israel and Palestine to recognize the human being in themselves and each other; to understand their interdependence.

Missiles, bombs and crude invective are not part of the solution. There is no military solution. The solution is more likely to come from that nonviolent toolbox we developed in South Africa in the 1980s, to persuade the government of the necessity of altering its policies. The reason these tools – boycott, sanctions and divestment – ultimately proved effective was because they had a critical mass of support, both inside and outside the country. The kind of support we have witnessed across the world in recent weeks, in respect of Palestine.

My plea to the people of Israel is to see beyond the moment, to see beyond the anger at feeling perpetually under siege, to see a world in which Israel and Palestine can coexist – a world in which mutual dignity and respect reign. It requires a mind-set shift. A mind-set shift that recognizes that attempting to perpetuate the current status quo is to damn future generations to violence and insecurity. A mind-set shift that stops regarding legitimate criticism of a state’s policies as an attack on Judaism. A mind-set shift that begins at home and ripples out across communities and nations and regions – to the Diaspora scattered across the world we share. The only world we share.
People united in pursuit of a righteous cause are unstoppable. God does not interfere in the affairs of people, hoping we will grow and learn through resolving our difficulties and differences ourselves. But God is not asleep. The Jewish scriptures tell us that God is biased on the side of the weak, the dispossessed, the widow, the orphan, the alien who set slaves free on an exodus to a Promised Land. It was the prophet Amos who said we should let righteousness flow like a river.

Goodness prevails in the end. The pursuit of freedom for the people of Palestine from humiliation and persecution by the policies of Israel is a righteous cause. It is a cause that the people of Israel should support. Nelson Mandela famously said that South Africans would not feel free until Palestinians were free. He might have added that the liberation of Palestine will liberate Israel, too.

--Archbishop Desmond Tutu

Archbishop Desmond Tutu on Embracing Israel/Palestine:
Rabbi Michael Lerner's book Embracing Israel/Palestine is a must-read for those who care about peace in the Middle East. It is provocative, radical, persuasive, and if given the attention it deserves, could make a major contribution to reconciliation. Please read this book!
[Available on Kindle from Amazon.com and in paper from www.tikkun.org/eip]


Some folks want President Obama to be all things to all people - an activist, a marcher, a poet and a race theorist - when his primary job, is to govern.

 - Joshua DuBois, a former adviser to Mr. Obama.


It's only a matter of time before another "R" word returns to our vocabulary. That word is "rage."
Any reading of early Baldwin will find this word often used. Black rage is something we might just not be ready for (again). But maybe it's the one word that explains how people feel these days when young black bodies are reduced to black stumps. Rage is not about unemployment or lack of educational opportunities. Rage is that anger without the borders and boundaries. It's fierce and violent. Think of the thunder and the storm; or black mothers weeping into coffins. Count the bullet holes in another black body and the total is rage. The word rage can also be linked to fashion. The sad state of affairs in our nation is that it has become "fashionable" to die young and black. Will Long Hot Summers become the rage again? Will this be followed by black berets? This morning my prayers were looking for answers.