Sunday, October 04, 2015


Nice to see two short reviews of books by David Nicholson and Percival Everett in the New York Times Book Review today. I read Nicholson's FLYING HOME in manuscript. Yes, the man writes with "sensitivity and grace." Everett is a genius; we need to read beyond ERASURE. The next time someone decides to give out one of those lifetime achievement awards give this guy a call. 30 books already?  His new one is HALF AN INCH OF WATER.

Be sure to read "Barberism" by Terrance Hayes in the New York Times Magazine. It's a gem of a poem.

During the month of October I'll be returning to the work of Stanley Crouch. I spent the morning reading ALWAYS IN PURSUIT. The essays made me pull my Ellington out. Oh, the transbluesency of another day.

Saturday, October 03, 2015


Has it been a decade already?  10 years of Busboys and Poets. Wow!  I did one of the first programs there with television anchor Wendy Rieger. Andy still had brown paper covering the windows back then. Over the years Busboys and Poets has been a place not just for food but also intellectual nourishment. I have no idea how many times I've spoken at one of the locations. I do know  the Busboys located at 14th and V Street, NW is where I met Grace A. Ali who would become a very special friend; that was 10 years ago. Today Grace is a digital curator and the publisher of the online OF NOTE MAGAZINE. She contacted Andy earlier in the week and told him she couldn't attend last night's big event. But many folks did turn out - hundreds by my estimation  - including Mayor Bowser, Angela Davis and Bill Ayers. IPS was well represented. I saw enough poets to compile another anthology. It was great to hug the talented Holly Bass again. I gave a long speechless embrace to Philippa Hughes - a person I admire and love dearly. I hadn't seen her in a spell. Oh, and there in the crowd with wife-wonderful was Marc Steiner - the man who hosts one of the best radio programs in the country. Fun to laugh with him and be progressive crazy. Talkin' crazy - I spent a good part of the evening talking baseball with a few folks. So much agreement on who not to let back into the Nats clubhouse next year.

Below a picture of Andy Shallal and Denise King-Miller.

Friday, October 02, 2015

The Magazine of Africa and the Diaspora, est. 1961
Issue 118 - I Can Be Lightning

 118, "I Can Be Lightning," contemplates the power of certain narratives and the impulse to subvert, challenge, or suppress these stories.

For the first time since publishing Julius Nyerere in 1961, Transition is thrilled to present a piece by the president of an African nation. His Excellency President Issoufou Mahamadou of Niger considers how the lessons in both undersung and more familiar historical records might propel Niger and other African nations toward a unified, thriving future for the continent. 
Also in the issue:  Noted anthropologist J. Lorand Matory disrupts the notion of Sweden as a model state with his examination of unexpected intra-cultural fissures that transcend xenophobic or racial lines. Plus, Evan Moffitt discusses the work of Nigerian-born photographer Rotimi Fani-Kayode, whose subversive, vibrant, erotically charged images confronted colonialism, explored sexuality, and bravely addressed the hysteria surrounding the nascent AIDS pandemic of the 1980s.
Issue 118 also offers a range of significant new voices including Robin CosteLewis' lyric tour de force, Ark, which considers the artic exploration of Matthew Henson and what it means to journey toward the philosophical and actual unknown. Kaitlyn Greenidge's Nymphadora of Spring City, 
Click here to view 118 Artists
1929, an excerpt from her forthcoming novel, describes a progressive school teacher's encounter with a boundary-crossing ethnographer, and Otosireieze Obi-Young's rending tale of desire and friendship, A Tenderer Blessing.

118 Featured Article

Bénédicte Boisseron observes that black people and dogs have often been at odds in the fight for freedom and civil rights. Tracing the historical interaction between blacks and dogs, she explores the tremendous impact perceptions of goodness or badness have had from slavery through today's Black Lives Matter movement.
Alejandro de la Fuente, Editor
Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, Visual Arts Editor
Sara Bruya, Managing Editor
Nicole Terez Dutton, Editorial Assistant
Transition Store | Website | Order: 800-842-6796   
November 20th, 2015 - 7:00 pm

Save the Date!!  Join Transition 118 editors and contributors at the Harvard Book Store for readings from the issue. Details to follow.
Submit to Transition
Transition back issues

Limited quantities of select back issues of Transitionfrom the 1990s - 2000s are available through the Harvard Book Store online.

TRANSITION: The Magazine of Africa & the Diaspora
Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, Harvard University
104 Mt. Auburn St., 3R  Cambridge, MA 02138
617-496-1312 | Email | Website



Slowly getting things in order. Working on projects, pushing myself to do more. The key is to develop a productive work schedule and routine.
It's October so I need to prepare myself for my own playoffs.

Reading the work of Stanley Crouch this month. Starting with -
ALWAYS IN PURSUIT: Fresh American Perspectives, 1995-1997

Rain the puddles.
October Spotlight on 
Michael Platt
Michael Platt, High Jumpers. Pigment Print.
Michael Platt is widely recognized for his fusion of digital and conventional photography, drawing, and printmaking as a means to explore/expose "the human particular, the history and experiences of African and African Diaspora culture." His work involves tension between setting and subject, history and identity, and conventional imagery with non-conventional representation.
Michael Platt, Entering Through the Green Door. Pigment Print.
Platt's subjects - "the marginalized and the survivors" - exist in spaces that are discarded - a bare forest, a drained fountain, a crumbling room. The self-described "image-maker" assumes the role of storyteller as the supernatural presence of a human figure stirs spirit back into these forgotten places. 
To see more work by Michael Platt please contact us at 202.234.5112

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About International Visions Gallery and Consultants
Our mission is to promote and provide contemporary multi-cultural original works to museums, private collectors and art enthusiasts by national and international artists. International Visions Art Consulting is committed to encourage cross-cultural exchange with diverse collections of artists from the Washington area and under-represented parts of the world.


Tim Davis, founder

Thursday, October 01, 2015


The President just delivered a statement on today's shooting in Oregon.

And one thing he said is certainly ringing in the minds of Americans across the country right now, no matter their politics:

"We are the only advanced country in the world that sees these shootings every few months."

As the details surrounding today's tragedy continue to unfold, this is something every American should watch.
Watch now.
The President speaks on the Oregon tragedy
Beltway Poetry Quarterly
We are entering the Fall season with a bang! The newest issue ofBeltway Poetry Quarterly is now available.

Beltway Poetry Quarterly is proud to announced the publication of "Nine Women Poets," featuring Elizabeth AcevedoDeborah AgerSunu ChandyMary Stone Hanley,Meta DuEwa JonesFatemeh Keshavarz,Sarah D. LawsonTyler Vile, and Suzanne Zweizig. Authors are represented by a larger number of poems than most literary journals provide, for an in-depth look at the work of a handful of authors from the greater DC region whose poetry we admire.…

What these nine diverse authors share is an intense engagement with the world around them. reflected in poems with a passion for justice, that address gender, race, the economy, and religion. As editor Gowri Koneswaran writes in her introduction: "Some of these poems bear witness to lived experiences that have, at long last, begun receiving critical attention—such as Mary Stone Hanley’s invocation of 'Amadou, Trayvon, Tamir, Michael, Eric, Sandra, all' in the first poem of the issue, 'Black Matters'; Tyler Vile’s candor in speaking about her body as a trans woman in 'Sex Hex' and 'Uterus'; and human rights attorney Sunu Chandy’s juxtaposition of a lighthearted experience among cousins with reflections on migrations across country borders in 'Just Act Normal.'"
The editor continues: "Other poems translate histories we may not know into evocations we can access through poetry—like Elizabeth Acevedo’s 'The Last Cacique' about the indigenous Taino woman leader Anacaona; Sarah D. Lawson’s meditation on the Jewish custom of celebrating a girl’s bat mitzvah in 'Thirteen'; and Meta DuEwa Jones’s 'Black Hymnal,' a poem dedicated to one of the four young girls killed in the 16th Street Church bombing in Alabama in 1963."
We are honored to present such powerful work by nine poets from the greater Washington, DC region. Their poems are accompanied by visual art by eight women artists with strong ties to the DC region: Mignonette DooleySusan GoldmanJudy JashinskyKathy KarlsonKathy KelerSheila RotnerBetsy Stewart, and Ellyn Weiss.

Issues of Beltway Poetry Quarterly are available for free.…

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Beltway Poetry Quarterly is an award-winning online literary journal and resource bank that showcases the literary community in Washington, DC and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic region.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Lawrence Ware and Paul Buhle
September 8, 2015
To ignore race, C.L.R. James often said, in many contexts and many ways, was a disaster in any social understanding; only the ignoring of class would be worse. Or to put it in his own words: The race question is subsidiary to the class question, and to think of imperialism in terms of race is disastrous. But to neglect the racial factor as merely incidental, is an error only less grave than to make it fundamental.

C.L.R. James, .,
During the exhilarating and dangerous late 1960s and early 1970s, no world historical figure of older generations had a more militant defense of Black Power than CLR James. But it was always a vision within a context, and after all these years have passed (along with James himself who died in 1989), the context remains crucial.
He told a British audience in 1970, wondering about Stokely Carmichael, the voice of Black Power, "WHAT HE DO, HE WELL DO!" thus adopting the Caribbean patois. He rarely failed to mention that Stokely had been, in his younger years, also a Trinidadian, and that he remained always a son of the Afro-Caribbean people. In 1968, in response to a Canadian college newspaper interviewer's question over Carmichael's insistence that colonization is a special kind of exploitation that robs the victims of their very identity, James insisted upon the bedrock of exploitation.
That is, "When colonialism is carried down to its roots, it is a form of economic exploitation, as well as racial, because it is the mass of the population that is being exploited economically under the colonist's regimes." James had no difficulty with his fellow Caribbean revolutionary Aime Cesaire, and the poet's crucial delineation of "negritude." For James, as for Cesaire, this quality, developed under the worst possible conditions, was a positive and creative contribution to global civilization.
In that moment, with revolutions abounding, Africans seemed to be moving rapidly ahead, away from colonialism and toward a different form of society. James lived long enough to see much of the progress rolled back. The victory of neocolonialist economics meant the defeat of liberation cultures with fresh degradations, both ecologically and socially, including the predatory nonwhite class that James had learned to understand in the Caribbean. ("The light skinned peoples of the cities," better educated and often in the early leadership of independent movements, but in time, most usually, carrying on colonial business in new ways.)
James spoke from another time, but he remained quite clear until the end of his life that the destiny of the super-exploited, the nonwhite peoples, was to lead the way to the rendezvous with destiny. If the events of the recent [past] have shown us anything, this is the lesson. To ignore race, as he often said, in many contexts and many ways, was a disaster in any social understanding; only the ignoring of class would be worse. Or to put it in his own words, from Black Jacobins: "The race question is subsidiary to the class question, and to think of imperialism in terms of race is disastrous. But to neglect the racial factor as merely incidental, is an error only less grave than to make it fundamental." James is articulating what would later be called intersectionalism. Let us briefly define that idea so that we may understand the implications of James's notion of Black power for us today.
Intersectional theory
Kimberly Crenshaw, professor of Law at UCLA and Columbia University, first coined the term in 1989. While she gave it a name, she never claimed that this way of thinking about systems was new:
    So many of the antecedents to it are as old as Anna Julia Cooper, and Maria Stewart in the 19th century in the US, all the way through Angela Davis and Deborah King. In every generation and in every intellectual sphere and in every political moment, there have been African American women who have articulated the need to think and talk about race through a lens that looks at gender, or think and talk about feminism through a lens that looks at race. So this is in continuity with that.
Let's take a look at how intersectionality works. Imagine you are a black woman. If you align yourself with black men to fight racism, you may encounter patriarchy and misogyny. If you align yourself with white feminists to fight patriarchy, you will almost certainly encounter racism. The problem is: if you only consider power systems individually, you will never get to the root of oppression. Black women, queer minorities, they experience oppression that has previously not been addressed by social justice movements. One is not truly free until all that contributes to their personhood is liberated. For example, a black woman living in a world free of racism still faces patriarchy. Myopic ways of thinking about oppression do not address this complexity.
Crenshaw is a legal scholar, so it was inadequacy in the law that got her thinking about these issues:
    The particular challenge in the law was one that was grounded in the fact that anti-discrimination law looks at race and gender separately. The consequence of that is when African American women or any other women of color experience either compound or overlapping discrimination, the law initially just was not there to come to their defense.
James, like Crenshaw, understands that black power must be understood intersectionally. One cannot think only in terms of race. For him, both race and class must be examined. It is to this intersection that we now turn.
Race and Class
James was first and foremost a Marxist. In 1969 he said, "I do not know, as a Marxist, black studies as such . this is the history of Western Civilization, the history that black people and white people and all serious students of modern history have to know." James, much like Du Bois, saw the question of race through the lens of class. He fully understood that slavery in the Americas was fundamentally a capitalist enterprise. For him, if you dig deep enough, capitalism is at the root of all systems of oppression. Yet, unlike many white progressives, James was never blind to the reality of race.
Acknowledging this, he said, "It is over one hundred years since the abolition of slavery. The Negro people in the United States have taken plenty and they have reached a stage where they have decided that they are not going to take any more." James understood very clearly that racism plays a unique role that fighting class alone would not remedy. He further understood that focusing upon class while ignoring race was akin to lighting a match near a powder keg and hoping it does not explode.
Contemporarily, many think that because incidents of overt racism have decreased, then white supremacy is not a part of American life. That is, since no one has publicly said n*gger recently, that Black people have no legitimate reason to discuss racial bias.
We focus too much on individual acts of racism in this country. Changing the heart of one racist does not undo systems of injustice that ensnare black and brown people.  Part of the reason why institutional racism remains intractable is because well meaning white people work to overcome their personal racism without applying the same vigor to undoing systems that affords them white privilege. We need less emotional expressions of white guilt, and more work on policy that rights the wrongs of the past 300 years. It is possible to treat someone like a n*gger without calling them one.
[Lawrence Ware is a professor of philosophy and diversity coordinator for Oklahoma State University's Ethics Center.
Paul Buhle, the authorized biographer of C.L.R. James, is retired from teaching and has produced a dozen nonfiction art comic books in the last ten years.

Pope Francis’ United States Visit: Thoughts & Reflections 

THE SCHOLARS- UDC-TV E. Ethelbert Miller


E. Ethelbert Miller with Dr. Joyce Ladner


Monday, September 28, 2015


Current Issue

Volume 110, Number 3/4

pl10934-lgIt’s essential to keep in mind that in poetry the music comes first,
before everything else, everything else…. Thought, meaning,
vision, the very words, come after the music has been established, and in the most mysterious way 
they’re already contained in it.
—C.K. Williams (“On Whitman: The Music”)
Cover Caption:  “Halloween, 110th Street, New York, 1968” © Arthur Tress (Web site:

Fall Reading Series

R. Dwayne Betts | Karenne Wood | Yona Harvey

Furious Flower Poetry Center presents four literary scholars on the James Madison University campus this fall. For more than 20 years, we have been bringing lauded writers to Harrisonburg to provide students and the local community with opportunities to experience live readings. All of the readings are free and open to the public.
When and where are the readings? On Sept. 17, Reginald Dwayne Betts visited us, and you can now view his reading on YouTubeBetts, who spent more than eight years in prison, completed high school and began reading and writing poetry while he was incarcerated. Since then Betts’ writing has garnered accolades and awards. He is now a student at Yale Law School, a Cave Canem Workshop fellow, and a Soros Justice fellow. - See more at

Be sure to join us for the next few readings at the following dates and times:
Oct. 6 at 4pm in Grafton-Stovall Theatre | Known for her poetry and for her scholarship in tribal history, Karenne Wood is a member of the Monacan Indian tribe. Her work often explores themes of identity, culture, and language through poetic portraits of historical and contemporary Virginia Indians. - See more at
Nov. 5 at 4pm in Madison 405 | Yona Harvey’s poetry collection Hemming the Water (2013) won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award from Claremont Graduate University, and fellow poet Bruce Lowry characterized it as “combustion and passion ... music and poetry ... often about the heart, but also about heartbreak and struggle and resilience of spirit.” Harvey is an assistant professor in the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh. - See more at
And you will want to attend the keynote at JMU's Africana Conference:
Oct. 30, 2015 at 1pm in the Madison Ballroom | Scholar, educator, activist, and playwrightPeggy Brooks-Bertram lectures on the need to promote the collection and dissemination of African American women’s history and discover those she has called “uncrowned queens.” This event is part of the 7th Africana Studies Annual Interdisciplinary Conference, “Religion, Ruptures, Race and Global Peace.”  - See more at

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Toi Derricotte to Retire as President of Cave Canem Foundation
After nearly 20 years of inspirational leadership, Toi Derricotte will step down as President of Cave Canem's Board of Directors in late September 2015. She will continue to serve on the board as a director. The organization will name a new president in early October.

This past June marked Derricotte’s final year as faculty co-leader of the organization’s iconic retreat, a program she co-founded with Cornelius Eady in 1996. Derricotte shared these thoughts about her changing role: “I feel more complete than ever about Cave Canem and myself. My moving on is an opportunity for other ideas and energy to come forth . . . Langston Hughes said we have to build our own institutions. And we’ve done that. I’m so grateful for my part in this journey.”

Toi Derricotte Tribute Fund has been established to perpetuate her vision of building an enduring “home for Black poetry.” Donations to the fund will help underwrite free retreat tuition for all Cave Canem fellows and supplement a room-and-board scholarship fund benefitting 60% of participants. To contribute,please follow this link or telephone 718.858.0000.

CAVE CANEM FOUNDATION, INC. • • 718.858.0000
20 Jay Street, Suite 310-A, Brooklyn, NY 11201