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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A new Michael Jackson album will be released on May 13th.
Epic records will give us - Xscape; eight previously unreleased songs recorded by Jackson.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Visually Speaking: 
A Worldview from Guyana

    Thursday, April 24 | 6:30 pm 
Award-winning photographers and Artists OF NOTE,  Nikki Kahnand Keisha Scarville, both women of Guyanese heritage, will share their artistic visions and global portfolios and talk about their ongoing work to tell Guyana's stories via the image. 

515 Malcolm X Blvd
New York, NY 10030 
 Visually Speaking @ the Schomburg is iis a photographic conversation series focused on highlighting the works and life experiences of photographers and industry insiders through their distinct visual lens and insight.

Download a complimentary issue of   En Foco's Nueva Luz Photographic Journal, Fall 2013.
"A Guyana Worldview: Photographers Keisha Scarville, Nikki Kahn, Roshini Kempadoo, Sandra Brewster."
 © Keisha Scarville

     © Nikki Kahn/The Washington Post

About OF NOTE 

OF NOTE features global artists using the arts as tools for social change. The magazine is a digital space where art meets activism and social responsibility. 

From A Lover's Question

No man can have a harlot
for a lover
nor stay in bed forever
with a lie.

    - James Baldwin


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Black Is Beautiful
Merrill Leffler invited me to read this evening at the Takoma Park Community Center in Takoma Park, Maryland.

TP Community Center Auditorium
E. Ethelbert Miller, Grace Cavalieri, Merrill Leffler

Ethelbert is a man of many many integrated parts, among them, poet, activist, editor of Poet Lore, campaign manager for DC Mayoral candidate Andy Shallal. A major influence in Washington area literary and political circles. Visit his website at and his blog:

Grace is a woman of many many integrated parts: award-winning poet, playwright, reviewer, publisher, and founder/host of The Poet and the Poem, now broadcast from the Library of Congress ( See her website at

Why we must continue to write...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Wednesday, April 23, 7:00 PM

As part of new series, The Washington Post Fiction Editor Ron Charles will conduct an in-depth interview with poet Edward Hirsch. This event is free and open to the public. Reservations are required. Co-sponsored by Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital and The Washington Post.

Location: Hill Center at the Old Naval Hospital (921 Pennsylvania Ave. SE)
Contact: (202) 707-5394
Lauren McCauley
April 14, 2014
Common Dreams
Guardian and Washington Post each honored with Pulitzer for Public Service.

Ewen MacAskill, Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras in Hong Kong to meet NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden on June 10, 2013., Photo by Laura Poitras,
 The Washington Post and the Guardian/US were both awardedone of journalism's top honors on Monday—the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service— for their separate but related reporting on the NSA's widespread surveillance documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Journalists Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill from the Guardian and the Washington Post's Barton Gellman sent shock waves across the globe for their reporting on the leaks—eliciting responses from citizens and governments alike and spurring a new era of backlash against government intrusion.

Following news of the honor, Snowden released a statement thanking the Pulitzer committee for recognizing those involved in the NSA reporting. He wrote:
Today's decision is a vindication for everyone who believes that the public has a role in government. We owe it to the efforts of the brave reporters and their colleagues who kept working in the face of extraordinary intimidation, including the forced destruction of journalistic materials, the inappropriate use of terrorism laws, and so many other means of pressure to get them to stop what the world now recognizes was work of vital public importance.

This decision reminds us that what no individual conscience can change, a free press can. My efforts would have been meaningless without the dedication, passion, and skill of these newspapers, and they have my gratitude and respect for their extraordinary service to our society. Their work has given us a better future and a more accountable democracy.
The Pulitzer committee awarded the prize to the publications for their "revelation[s] of widespread secret surveillance by the National Security Agency," specifying that the Guardian, "through aggressive reporting," helped "to spark a debate about the relationship between the government and the public over issues of security and privacy." They credited the Post for their "authoritative and insightful reports that helped the public understand how the disclosures fit into the larger framework of national security."

The Guardian team broke the first report on the NSA's collection of Verizon phone records and Gellman, with help from Poitras, reported on the wide-ranging surveillance program known as "PRISM." In addition to Greenwald, Poitras, MacAskill and Gellman—who are primarily credited for the NSA revelations—a number of other reporters working at the publications also contributed to the reporting that followed.

Following the announcement, many hailed the selection as a vindication of the actions of both the journalists and the whistleblower, a number of whom have been threatened for their work and are forced to remain in exile for fear of persecution by the U.S. government.

“The stories that came out of this completely changed the agenda on the discussion on privacy and the NSA,” David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker, said prior to the announcement. “There’s an enormous public good in that, and it’s yet to be proven at all that somehow did great damage to national security.”

"I can't imagine a more appropriate choice for a Pulitzer Prize," New York University media studies professor Mark Miller toldAFP. Miller said that the winning team of reporters did what "American journalists are supposed to do, which is serve the public interest by shedding a bright light on egregious abuse of power by the government."

"The real journalistic heroes in this country tend to be the mavericks, the eccentrics, those who dare to report stories that are often dismissed derisively as 'conspiracy theory,'" Miller continued.

On Friday, Poitras and Greenwald returned to the U.S. for the first time since breaking the NSA stories to accept the prestigious George Polk Award for national security reporting.
During his acceptance speech for the George Polk award, Greenwald discussed the intimidation that both whistleblowers and journalists face.

"The only way to deal with threats," he said, "is to just do the reporting as aggressively, if not more so, than you would absent those threats."

It's the middle of April and you realize you're only hitting. 250. You've left runners on base and made too many errors.  Advice?  Keep swinging and wait for the late innings.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014



-- Return

The animals camp out in the farm
of my body, a field of muscle, fat
and bone, sea of nerves; they mend
my vessels, sew back my arteries, sing
my stutter, gallop my mis steps --first a
horse, then the others claim their places,
even snakes and ants swivel and swarm.
I thought the rupture within was all
a human thing – the mother, the father,
the lost girl -- now I understand, the earth
itself is calling and the animals, buried,
scattered, those who rise, snort, bellow,
murmur, hiss; their hooves, wings, fins,
and tentacles seed the soil, serenade
the sea, repair my soul.                                             
                    Kathy Engel  April 6, 2014

Kathy Engel is co-director and co-founder with Alexis De Veaux, of Lyrical Democracies and its Center For Poetic Healing (, currently leading a workshop, "Harlem Narratives," at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. She's an Assistant Arts Professor in the Art and Public Policy Dept. of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Her poems have most recently appeared in Adanna, The Lake Rises (an anthology) and forthcoming in "The Wide Shore."

Monday, April 14, 2014


Well folks say my face is in the window of the Politics and Prose Bookstore. I'll drop by and check it out. The last time I was in a bookstore window was Budapest 2013.

You sit at the dinner table
eating a meal prepared by your wife.

By this time tomorrow you'll
be miles away maybe even a state or two
beyond the night.

In a few years or a day
you won't be a man or father -
just a memory.

When you look in a mirror
you'll see the scars of statistics-
the face your child will learn to hate.

Relatives will talk about the future without you.
Before and after your name will be
a question mark- maybe a dash as in - gone.

The heavy blues will leave lipstick
on your clothes and everywhere 
you turn...

Gone is the food on your plate baby.
That's love stuck between your teeth.

 - E. Ethelbert Miller

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Provisions Library Presents


When a DC citizen enters the federal penitentiary system they may find themselves thousands of miles from family and friends. Windows from Prison seeks to bridge this distance by asking prisoners:

“If you could have a window in your cell,
what place from your past would it look out to?”

Based on hundreds of responses, photography students at George Mason University and Duke Ellington High School collaborated to create the requested images, which were then printed and sent to the incarcerated participants.

These photographs will also be displayed publically and online in order to open dialogues around the sources, impacts, and alternatives to mass incarceration. The project is students, teachers, NGO's, family members of incarcerated individuals, former prisoners, and policy makers.

From April 7 - 21, large-scale photographs will be installed in front of George Mason University’s Fenwick Library along with an interactive information and performance space. Each day will feature film screenings, information sessions, lectures, poetry readings and related activities.

Complete information:

Directed by Mark Strandquist this project was awarded a 2013 Photowings/Ashoka Foundation Insight project grant and a Pollination Project Grant. Project collaborators include Provisions Library, Free Minds DC,  Washington Project for the Arts, and Duke Ellington School of the Arts, and a
multi-discipinary array of departments at George Mason University.


Today is my son's birthday. So much joy over the years...
He continues to amaze me.

Let's go back to one of his highlight moments:

Paul Von Blum
April 11, 2014
“Paul Robeson: A Watched Man” A book by Jordan Goodman. “Paul Robeson,” historian Joseph Dorinson ruefully wrote in the 2002 introduction to his co-edited collection of essays about him, “is the greatest legend nobody knows.”

 “Paul Robeson,” historian Joseph Dorinson ruefully wrote in the 2002 introduction to his co-edited collection of essays about him, “is the greatest legend nobody knows.” When the man who was one of the most striking Renaissance people in American history died in 1976, in loneliness and obscurity, his magnificent athletic, scholarly, artistic and political accomplishments were largely erased from national consciousness, stricken from the media and from history books. This tragic void, eerily reminiscent of Stalin-era removal of enemies from photographs and other Soviet documents, was a deep stain on American history, resulting from the worst excesses of McCarthyism from the late 1940s through much of the 1960s.

The long overdue restoration of Robeson’s stellar reputation, fortunately, began shortly after his death, slowly propelling him back to some public recognition. Several books, plays, films and conferences, especially after the 1998 centenary of his birth, highlighting his life and multifaceted activities, complemented such awards and honors as his posthumous election to the College Football Hall of Fame, the Grammy Hall of Fame and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The belated issuance of a Robeson United States postage stamp constituted an oblique government apology and encouraged people to explore his diverse artistic and political contributions.

The growing literature about Robeson encompasses every feature of his life. Some books and articles are overviews, giving readers an opportunity to understand and gauge the full range of his life and work. Others address particular areas such as his films, music, theater or politics. Jordan Goodman’s new book, “Paul Robeson: A Watched Man,” is an effective and informative treatment of Robeson’s political awakening in the United States and England, and the disgraceful pattern of persecution he suffered, especially during the Cold War years after 1945. Readers who are already familiar with Robeson and seek greater detail about the complex political activities that increasingly became the major focus of his life will find the book especially valuable, though it is also useful for general readers. 
Goodman is a British academic who is particularly well positioned to address Robeson‘s political activities in the U.K., especially in the postwar era. He provides informative detail about Robeson’s close associates and contacts in Britain as he worked publicly for peace with the Soviet Union, which resulted in increased surveillance by both British and U.S. intelligence agencies.

A key focus of the book is Robeson’s most controversial political act, his speech in April 1949 at the World Congress of Partisans of Peace in Paris. Attended by leftist artists and intellectuals from around the world, this event threw Robeson into a political maelstrom from which he would never recover. Goodman discusses the Congress events extensively, providing the background to Robeson’s presentation there, where, in addition to his songs, he observed that “we,” referring to all black and colonized people throughout the world, had no desire to make war against the Soviet Union.

The reaction in the United States was swift and severe. Both the mainstream media and major elements of the African-American press, as well as the black community generally, accused Robeson of disloyalty to his country and maligning the patriotism of African-Americans by claiming that they would refuse to fight in a war against the Soviet Union. Although the press had garbled Robeson’s words, it scarcely mattered because a wide variety of forces were already conspiring to remove him from political visibility and leadership by attacking him with the anti-communist fervor sweeping the nation.

“Paul Robeson: A Watched Man” is particularly strong in accounting Robeson’s political efforts in the late 1940s through the 1950s, when he became increasingly marginalized and persecuted. He strongly defended the Trenton Six, an egregious case in New Jersey in which six black men were accused of murder and sentenced to death in 1948. Robeson sought to make the case the equivalent of the infamous Scottsboro Boys case in Alabama during the 1930s. This episode adds impressive substance to understanding Robeson’s courageous and enormous commitment to fighting domestic racism. It likewise returns this tragic case to public consciousness about the long racist history of American criminal law.
Goodman also chronicles Robeson’s extensive work against colonialism in Africa, particularly his efforts and leadership on the Council on African Affairs, where he worked with such luminaries as Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois and various radical and liberal figures from the black and white communities. Robeson was one of the first prominent Americans to call public attention to Africa, including the monstrous apartheid regime in South Africa. His stance drew strong opposition from the U.S. government, further alienating him. As Goodman notes, it was another blow against Robeson in his ultimate blacklisting and persecution.
One of the most intriguing parts of the book concerns Robeson’s former colleague on the Council on African Affairs, the loathsome Max Yergan, who had served admirably with Robeson and who had had a long and impressive record of progressive political activism. By 1948, however, Yergan’s opportunism led him to burnish his anti-communist credentials by turning viciously against Robeson. Later, Yergan’s political turnabout transformed him into a rabid anti-communist cold warrior and apologist for the South African apartheid regime.
Goodman recounts Robeson’s protracted struggle to regain his passport after the State Department withdrew it on the grounds that “the Department considers [his] travel abroad would be contrary to the best interests of the United States.” This was a devastating blow, both emotionally and financially. As Goodman reveals, this action, which the Supreme Court ultimately declared unconstitutional in 1958, further marginalized Robeson in America.

Goodman also explores Robeson’s relationship with the notorious House Un-American Activities Committee, a disgraceful feature of the postwar anti-communist hysteria in America. One early episode involved baseball legend Jackie Robinson’s appearance as a “friendly witness” before HUAC in July 1949. Robinson was reluctant to testify and spent most of his time commenting on the difficulties that African-Americans faced in a racially discriminatory society. Robinson was strong in denouncing Jim Crow, but he also rebuked Robeson for his (misinterpreted) comments from the Paris Peace Congress. 

Years later, near the end of his life, Robinson expressed regret for allowing himself to be used by HUAC and other conservative forces in the persecution of Robeson. He indicated his increased respect for Robeson’s steadfast commitment in the continuing struggle against American racism. Goodman places Robinson’s problematic testimony in a nuanced historical context, and reveals the influence of Branch Rickey, the Brooklyn Dodgers owner who brought Robinson into Major League Baseball in 1947. Rickey, who was a staunch anti-communist, clearly helped manipulate Robinson into serving as a believable and respected black celebrity in opposition to Robeson.

The same year that Robinson denounced Robeson before HUAC, one of the most violent reactions against Robeson occurred in Peekskill, N.Y., where he had given an annual concert since 1946. The book describes the horrific events in detail. The local press ran hostile stories about Robeson, and local groups, including the Chamber of Commerce and various veterans organizations, called for anti-Robeson demonstrations because of his radical views and activism.
When Robeson arrived in Peekskill that year, he found a massive mob, many shouting anti-Semitic and racist language. The mob threw rocks and attacked concertgoers. Robeson rescheduled the show and once again, ugly racist language and brutal mob violence, with the active complicity of local police, injured numbers of spectators. Robeson himself barely escaped the carnage. Later, Gov. Thomas Dewey claimed that communist agitators were responsible for the Peekskill riot, a grotesque cover-up of the deeply repressive political atmosphere of the early Cold War period.

The most emotionally compelling chapter of “Paul Robeson: A Watched Man” involves his 1956 appearance before HUAC. Robeson was defiant and eloquent, often pointedly questioning his inquisitors about their questionable motivations and reactionary ideologies. Goodman shows meticulously how Robeson drew on his considerable acting talent to express his righteous contempt for a process that, in its essence, contradicted American ideals and constitutional standards.

What Goodman only alludes to in his book is that Robeson testified before HUAC while he was in the midst of a severe emotional depression. Indeed, his courageous stand before the committee evoked positive responses from the progressive and black press, which lifted him temporarily from the emotional darkness that pervaded his later life. That aspect of Robeson’s life is often underplayed or omitted altogether in the growing literature about his life and work. In fact it is all the more remarkable that Robeson accomplished so much even while fighting and suffering from the effects of debilitating mental illness.

This work is a splendid addition to Robeson scholarship. Though limited in scope, it nevertheless provides powerful insights into Robeson’s remarkable life of political engagement and activism. More ominously, it also reveals the pernicious impact of a social order determined to destroy its most effective and outspoken critics. That lesson should not be lost today.