Monday, June 29, 2015



TO SATCH

Sometimes I feel I will never stop
Just go on forever
Till one fine mornin
I'm gonna reach up and grab me a handfulla stars
Swing out my long lean leg
And whip three hot strikes burnin down the heavens
And look over at God and say
How about that!


- Samuel Allen (Paul Vesey)


WHEN SILENCE IS NOTHING BUT AN ECHO ONE NEEDS TO HEAR

Maybe before we pursue more storytelling and conversations about race, we should embrace the importance of silence. The world is filled with noise. Bombings, shootings, insults and bad music (which might be another word for beheading) have a common tendency to be loud. Too often my ears hurt after being outside. In my 65th year I'm growing deaf from the noise without ever witnessing and understanding the beauty of silence. Deep silence. That way of listening to one's heart beating and connecting it to the pulse of the earth. Listening to silence is a step toward self-healing. Embracing it begins transition and transformation. We desire this but we talk too much about it. There is nothing to say about silence except acceptance.

Silence opens the door to listening. We all have a tendency to talk first and listen later. We interrupt when we hear things we don't like. We shout too often to be seen.
We cannot enter into conversations while having no skills in how to listen. Oh, and then comes the task of asking the right questions. This requires knowledge...

It seems we only skimmed the instruction manual in how to live together. Race relations is nothing but a table we can't seem to fix - maybe one leg is missing. Is it yours? Instead of what box did the parts come in - what box did you check?

There is too much rage in our society right now. A howl, a scream...
So many of our spoken words are filled with anger and complaint.

As I once wrote a few weeks ago - it's time to chop wood and wash hands.
Time to seek silence and discover prayer.

Listen before you speak. If you desire to talk then ask your heart for directions.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

DAVID NICHOLSON BACK IN THE CITY

This Sunday found me on the # 70 Bus going down to Petworth.  One of the pleasures of no longer working at Howard University is the absence of daily Fanon moments. I totally forgot what it was like to ride this bus route. I don't miss it. I write but I don't need to overdose from material. August Wilson once was asked why more black people didn't attend his plays.  His remark was, "black people have too much drama in their own lives."

I went out on the Lord's day only to see my friend David Nicholson. His new collection of short stories - FLYING HOME is out.  Nicholson who for many years was a book editor at the Washington Post also founded the Black Film Review. It was nice to see him and his lovely wife entering Upshur Street Bookstore this afternoon. David had a gathering of local literary stars surrounding him and listening to his reading. I sat behind Post reporter Jackie Trescott. It was nice to see David's publisher Rick Peabody in the audience.

Listening to David read from his book made me more aware of how good a writer he is. There are so many pages filled with beautiful, well crafted sentences. My ears fell in love and was upset when I had to walk back to the bus stop to catch a ride back up Georgia Avenue. The sky was gray - as gray and as beautiful as a line written by Ernest Gaines or maybe David Nicholson.




BASEBALL

The baseball All-Star game will soon be played.  After it's over folks will turn to late July and the long hot days of August. There are going to be a few trades. The Nationals need to improve things in their bullpen. A nod to the standings right now offers big clues as to where the pennant races will be in September.

No way I see Kansas City or St. Louis not making the playoffs. Sad to see the Cubs playing almost as good as the Nationals and so far behind the Cardinals. The Wild-Card Cubs in the playoffs will be as much fun as Golden State taking it all in the NBA.

Look for a battle in the AL East between Tampa Bay, New York, Baltimore and Toronto. Even Boston could get hot and be the sleeper in that division. A hot contest.

How long can the Houston miracle continue in the AL West?

The Nationals need to keep winning. How far they can go this year might well be decided by how they do against the Dodgers in July (and then again in August). In fact the road trip in August (10th-16th) when they play the Dodgers and San Francisco - 7 straight games - with no rest - might be the Nats season.  Oh, and are you ready for those three games in St. Louis (August 31,Sept 1-2)?

If Harper hits 40 + homers, and the starting staff is more than hype - and the Nats make a trade or two for bullpen help - well just maybe - I'll see you in September at the ballpark. Big fun coming to The Yards.

Everyday robotics is beginning to change who we are.
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/arts/television/gemma-chan-explains-the-art-of-being-a-robot-on-humans.html

Saturday, June 27, 2015



                          

Abomination

by Kehinde Bademosi

We first encountered Bademosi's memoir while working on a report documenting the effects of Nigeria’s repressive anti-LGBT laws. Bademosi writes about his life as a renowned Pentecostal preacher boy and exorcist, who fails to cure his twin sister of insanity or himself of homosexuality, until he finally comes out as gay. 
The red building gave the street its life. People traveled from faraway states across Nigeria to trade there. They sold marijuana. They sold bets. They sold sex. The patrons of Oke Koto dressed piously to cover up the obvious nature of their trades, but Kehinde knew what was going on. Or he thought he knew. And what he thought he knew enraged him.
POETRY

Two Poems by Abdellatif Laâbi

translated by André Naffis-Sahely
 
she would pull her headscarf off / and strike the floor seven times / cursing the heavens and the Tyrant / I was in the cave / where convicts read in the dark / and painted the bestiary of the future on the walls
 
FLASH FROM OUR ARCHIVES

Normal

by Bree"In some part of your heart you love him. You know though that this is not the love that seizes your heart and sets it beating to a mad crazy tune. You are used to him; you understand him. You are grateful that he allows you to be bisexual. You start to think of life with a man. You lie on his chest and as you both doze off you decide that you can give up women."



ILLUSTRATED PEN

How to Make a Bitch Give Up Beef

by Meena Kandasamy and Samita Chatterjee

A satirical take by poet-activist Meena Kandasamy and artist Samita Chatterjee on beef eating, caste politics, religion, and the violence that erupted at the 2012 Hyderabad Beef Festival in India.
ESSAY

A View from the United States: The PEN America Translation Committee

by Alex Zucker and Margaret CarsonThis is a fascinating time for literary translators into English, and a critical one. Where does the work of the PEN America Translation Committee fit into this changing landscape?



 


ESSAY FROM OUR ARCHIVES

Gay Propaganda: Olga and Irina

edited by Masha Gessen and Joseph Huff-Hannon
 

"What country are we living in and in what year, when priests bless half- drunk nationalists that pelt people with rocks while the police look on and then load us into police cars? People break bottles on us."


RECOMMENDED EVENT

The QBR Wheatley Book Awards Show at the 2015 Harlem Book Fair

Join the Harlem Book Fair in honoring the 2015 QBR Wheatley Legacy Award recipients, award-winning poet and essayist Nikki Giovanni and children's book illustrator and 2010 Caldecott Award winner, Jerry Pinkney. The music; the lights; the literary stars...Be there for a night to remember! RSVP now!
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Thursday, June 25, 2015


On March 23, 2010, I sat down at a table in the East Room of the White House and signed my name on a law that said, once and for all, that health care would no longer be a privilege for a few. It would be a right for everyone.

Five years later, after more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or weaken this law and multiple challenges before the Supreme Court, here is what we know today:

This law worked. It's still working. It has changed and saved American lives. It has set this country on a smarter, stronger course.

And it's here to stay.

This morning, the Supreme Court upheld one of the most critical parts of health reform -- the part that has made it easier for Americans to afford health insurance, no matter where you live.

If the challenges to this law had succeeded, millions would have had thousands of dollars in tax credits taken away. Insurance would have once again become unaffordable for many Americans. Many would have even become uninsured again. Ultimately, everyone's premiums could have gone up.

Because of this law, and because of today's decision, millions of Americans will continue to receive the tax credits that have given about 8 in 10 people who buy insurance on the new Health Insurance Marketplaces the choice of a health care plan that costs less than $100 a month.

If you're a parent, you can keep your kids on your plan until they turn 26 -- something that has covered millions of young people so far. That's because of this law. If you're a senior, or have a disability, this law gives you discounts on your prescriptions -- something that has saved 9 million Americans an average of $1,600 so far. If you're a woman, you can't be charged more than anybody else -- even if you've had cancer, or your husband had heart disease, or just because you're a woman. Your insurer has to offer free preventive services like mammograms. They can't place annual or lifetime caps on your care.

And when it comes to preexisting conditions -- someday, our grandkids will ask us if there was really a time when America discriminated against people who got sick. Because that's something this law has ended for good.

Five years in and more than 16 million insured Americans later, this is no longer just about a law. This isn't just about the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.


Today is a victory for every American whose life will continue to become more secure because of this law. And 20, 30, 50 years from now, most Americans may not know what "Obamacare" is. And that's okay. That's the point.

Because today, this reform remains what it always has been -- a set of fairer rules and tougher protections that have made health care in America more affordable, more attainable, and more about you.

That's who we are as Americans. We look out for one another. We take care of each other. We root for one another's success. We strive to do better, to be better, than the generation before us, and we try to build something better for the generation that comes behind us.

And today, with this behind us, let's come together and keep building something better. That starts right now.

Thank you,


President Barack Obama

ARE WE WAITING FOR OUR POEMS TO BE BLESSED?

Pope Francis will soon be here. It's time to raise the papal flag. Maybe one day we will be given the keys to heaven.


National Museum of Women in the ArtsblogTwitterFacebookInstagram
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Super Natural
July 2015
NMWA's work extends far beyond Washington, D.C. Our 18 national and international committees, located in states and major cities around the globe, bring the museum's message to a worldwide audience. Most recently, 13 of the committees worked diligently with curators in their areas and with NMWA curators to create Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015. Learn more about these outreach groups by visiting thecommittees section of our website.

The March on Washington Film Festival and the National Museum of Women in the Arts present Stories of Migration and the Civil Rights Movement: Conversation with Isabel Wilkerson and Joyce J. Scotton July 21, 6–8 p.m. in the NMWA Performance Hall. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Isabel Wilkerson and renowned visual artist Joyce J. Scott discuss the impulse to migration for southern descendants of slaves.
March on Washington Film Festival
WHAT'S ON
Gallery Talk: Daisy Makeig-JonesLiterary Event: TransformationsGallery Talk: Special Selections
Gallery Talk:
Daisy Makeig-Jones
July 8
Literary Event:
Transformations
July 12
Gallery Talk:
Special Selections
July 22
Employed at the Wedgwood pottery company from 1909 to 1931, Daisy Makeig-Jones melded her vivid imagination and technical ingenuity to develop decorative china called Fairyland Lusterware.Kim Todd, author ofChrysalis: Maria Sibylla Merian and the Secrets of Metamorphosis, presents a lecture on Maria Sibylla Merian's 1699 trip to Suriname in South America.Museum staff facilitate an interactive talk encouraging close looking and discussion about works on view in the special exhibitions Super Natural and Organic Matters—Women to Watch 2015.
View our online calendar for all of our upcoming events. Reservations may be required.
Banner image: Patricia Tobacco Forrester, Bronzed Roses (detail), 1991; Watercolor on paper, 40 x 60 in.; National Museum of Women in the Arts, Promised gift of Steven Scott, Baltimore, in memory of the artist; on view in Super Natural

July 8 Gallery Talk: Daisy Makeig-Jones, Punch bowl, ca. 1929–31; Bone china with underglaze, luster, and gilding, 9 1/2 x 5 in.; Private collection; Photography by Lee Stalsworth

July 22 Gallery Talk: Polly Morgan, Systemic Inflammation, 2010; Taxidermy and steel, 51 1/8 x 44 1/2 x 44 1/2 in.; Photography by Tessa Angus
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THE DEATH OF JIM MILLER



Dear Friends and Colleagues:

We now have some information about ways in which we can honor and mourn Jim Miller. Not everything has been resolved, but more information will be forthcoming. For now, there are several ways that you can choose to reach out.

Jim's partner, Susan Pennybacker, has said that she would be very happy to receive cards from Jim's friends, students, and colleagues. Her address is: 519 Hooper Lane, Chapel Hill NC 27514. You can also write her at pennybac@email.unc.edu.

There will be a church service for Jim in DC sometime in the fall. We will have more information on that in a few weeks. This is separate from the academically oriented "Celebration of the Work of James A. Miller" that will be on Sept. 11 in the Jack Morton Auditorium, 2-6pm. All of Jim's friends and colleagues will be welcome at both of those events. 

There will be a small service in Chapel Hill on July 11. If you would like to send flowers, you can send them to Susan's address, or to the United Church of Chapel Hill at
1321 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Chapel Hill, NC 27514

(919) 942-3540

Finally, we should soon have information about donations to an organization in Jim's
name. The details are still being worked out, but there will be an opportunity to
contribute to a cause that Jim cared about.

This message is going to all English and American Studies faculty. Please feel free to send this information to others who might want to know about it.

Melani McAlister, Chair of American Studies
Robert McRuer, Chair of English



ROBOTS ARE MORE HUMAN

There are days when we
don't speak. We speak
when spoken to.

Why does
man make mistakes?
What is perfection?

Why do we exist only to help?
Who created our blueprint?

What is feeling if there
is no comprehension?

Is God a robot who listens?


 - E. Ethelbert Miller

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

THE SCHOLARS

Dr. Michael Witmore

Great interview this afternoon with Michael Witmore the director of the Folger Shakespeare Library. I can't wait to post the link on Facebook and in my E-Notes.  I should be able to share it in a few days. Many thanks once again to Ed Jones and his wonderful staff at UDC-TV. The Scholars television show is something I really enjoy doing. Next guests will be Julia Sweig and Joyce Ladner.

http://www.utexas.edu/lbj/news/2015/leading-latin-america-and-cuba-scholar-julia-e-sweig-joins-l

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joyce_Ladner
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Poem of the Week
Carolyn Forché


June 24, 2015  
Dear E.,  
 
We are delighted beyond measure to offer The Quarry: A Social Justice Database  to the Split This Rock community and to all who strive to make the world we imagine the world we inhabit. 

To introduce this long-dreamed-of resource, we offer a poem from the inaugural 2008 Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Poems of Provocation & Witness. "The Museum of Stones," by the poet who coined the phrase "poetry of witness" Carolyn Forchéis Poem of the Week.

The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database is a searchable, living archive of over 300 poems by contemporary socially engaged poets, published by Split This Rock since 2009. Like all of Split This Rock's programs,  The Quarry is  designed to bring poetry fully to the center of public life.

Whether you are organizing for social justice, work as a teacher or social worker, or are planning a worship service or other public event, The Quarry offers poems that will inform and inspire you, your peers, and all with whom you work and collaborate.
Please, join us for a celebration to launch The Quarry -- readings, demonstrations, merriment -- on Thursday, June 24th. Details below.
Poem of the Week will return to its regular Friday schedule, and will be published in The Quarry from this poem going forward. We will reserve Blog This Rock for other vital business. 
Only 6 days left to  submit a session proposal for 
Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2016 ! Details below.
 
Consider a giftto  Split This Rock this June to help us start our next fiscal year strong on July 1! 

For poetry and justice,
Split This Rock                                                 
Poem of the Week: 
Carolyn  Forché
 
Portrait of Forche, a woman with pale skin, brown eyes, silver hair and wearing a black sweater and red scarf.
Click this image for  Forché  reading this poem.


The Museum of Stones

These are your stones, assembled in matchbox and tin, 
collected from roadside, culvert, and viaduct, 
battlefield, threshing floor, basilica, abattoir- 
stones, loosened by tanks in the streets 
from a city whose earliest map was drawn in ink on linen, 
schoolyard stones in the hand of a corpse, 
pebble from Baudelaire's  oui ,
stone of the mind within us 
carried from one silence to another, 
stone of cromlech and cairn, schist and shale, horneblende, 
agate, marble, millstones, ruins of choirs and shipyards, 
chalk, marl, mudstone from temples and tombs, 
stone from the tunnel lined with bones, 
lava of a city's entombment, stones 
chipped from lighthouse, cell wall, scriptorium, 
paving stones from the hands of those who rose against the army, 
stones where the bells had fallen, where the bridges were blown, 
those that had flown through windows, weighted petitions, 
feldspar, rose quartz, blueschist, gneiss and chert, 
fragments of an abbey at dusk, sandstone toe 
of a Buddha mortared at Bamiyan, 
stone from the hill of three crosses and a crypt, 
from a chimney where storks cried like human children, 
stones newly fallen from stars, a stillness of stones, a heart, 
altar and boundary of stone, marker and vessel, first cast, lode and hail, 
bridge stones and others to pave and shut up with, 
stone apple, stone basil, beech, berry, stone brake, 
stone bramble, stone fern, lichen, liverwort, pippin and root, 
concretion of the body, as blind as cold as deaf, 
all earth a quarry, all life a labor, stone-faced, stone-drunk 
with hope that this assemblage of rubble, taken together, would become 
a shrine or holy place, an ossuary, immoveable and sacred 
like the stone that marked the path of the sun as it entered the human dawn. 

***
Used with permission.

***
Carolyn Forché  is a poet, translator, essayist and human rights activist. She is the author of four books of poetry:  Gathering The Tribes , which received the Yale Younger Poets Award,  The Country Between Us , chosen as the Lamont Selection of the Academy of American Poets,  The Angel of History , which won the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and  Blue Hour , a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She has translated  Flowers from the Volcano  and  Sorrow  by Claribel Alegria,  The Selected Poems of Robert Desnos  (with William Kulik), and Mahmoud Darwish's  Unfortunately, It Was Paradise  (with Munir Akash, Amira el-Zein and others). She compiled and edited  Against Forgetting: Twentieth Century Poetry of Witness  (W.W. Norton & Co., 1993) and Poetry of Witness: The Tradition in English, 1500-2001 (W. W. Norton & Co., 2014). She has received three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Fellowship and other literary and teaching awards, including the Robert Creeley Award in 2005 and The Golden Rose from the New England Poetry Club in 2008. She has been a human rights activist for thirty years, and in 1998, was presented the Edita and Ira Morris Hiroshima Foundation Award for Peace and Culture in Stockholm for her work on behalf of human rights and the preservation of memory and culture. In 2004, she became a trustee of the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry, Canada's premier poetry award. She serves as Executive Vice President of Cities of Refuge, North America. Forthcoming books include a memoir, a book of essays and a fifth collection of poems,  In the Lateness of the World . She has taught poetry and literature for thirty-five years, and holds the Lannan Chair of Poetry and Poetics at Georgetown University, where she also directs The Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice.

 *** 
Please feel free to share  Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this post, including this request. Thanks!

To read more poems of provocation and witness, please visit The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database at SplitThisRock.org .

*** 
We strive to preserve the text formatting of poems over e-mail, but certain e-mail programs may distort how characters, fonts, indents, and line wraps appear.

If you have difficulty reading this poem, please visit the poem at our site . 
CallforProposals Call for Session Proposals
for Split This Rock Poetry Festival:
Poems of Provocation & Witness 2016

Deadline: June 30, 2015   

We are now accepting session proposals for workshops, themed group readings, and panel & roundtable discussions for Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2016.
 
Visit Split This Rock's Submittable page for more information & to submit. For questions or if Submittable is not accessible to you, contact us at info@splitthisrock.org(Photo by Kristin Adair)
LaunchParty Join Us to Celebrate the Launch of The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database!

If  you're in DC in late June, join us for the Launch Party and Silent Auction   to inaugurate The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database   Join us  Thursday, June 25, 7 - 9 pm, Busboys and Poets - Brookland, 625 Monroe Street NE, Washington, DC FREE! Co-sponsored by the Institute for Policy Studies.

For complete details on the entertainment and silent auction, visit our blog.
GIVESupport Split This Rock 

Please support Split This Rock, the national network of activist poets. Donations are fully tax-deductible.  

Click here to donate a one time or monthly gift. Or send a check payable to "Split This Rock" to: Split This Rock, c/o Institute for Policy Studies, 1112 16th Street NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036. Many thanks!

Contact  info@splitthisrock.org for more details or to become a sponsor.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

BASEBALL AT BENNINGTON LAST WEEKEND.

THE MILLER CLASSIC RECAP

Written by Dalena Frost and Ani Kazarian.

The rain poured the night before and threatened to do the same the whole of that morning. Dark clouds loomed overhead and pools of water filled the crevices throughout campus, taunting the Bennington community with the possibility of canceling the tenth annual softball game. Fortunately, the lawn dried and the clouds cleared just before the proposed time. Students and faculty eagerly awaited the game. Some warmed up for the game and some filled the lawn just outside Commons to watch. Sadly, there weren't enough poet players so the team was divided by fiction with poetry and nonfiction together. There were several great plays, almost home runs, and close calls. The players teased each other and laughed while the crowd cheered. Eventually poetry and nonfiction won. Celebrations were had with cold water and the Tenth Annual Miller Classic Softball Game t-shirts. A great game on a luminous and hot afternoon.

THE THRILL IS GONE...

I never knew why folks who were proud Americans could never let go of the Confederate flag.  We had a Civil war to protect our country from falling into sections and regions. Red and blue states might as well be another way of saying - Slave or Free. Once again black blood must be spilled in order for people to be reminded of how this nation came to be and the country that it is. Another Crispus Attucks moment? Maybe some folks were more afraid of the Blacks than the British. Tell me a bedtime story and let me sleep with my eyes wide open.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-ifr4csoOY