Saturday, August 28, 2004

Today's Washington Post has a long article on Douglas Brinkley. Brinkley is the author of TOUR OF DUTY: John Kerry and The Vietnam War. I guess this is the book at the center of all the Kerry/Bush/Vietnam discussion the last few days. Brinkley is a person I admire. He's up there with Ichiro in terms of productivity. A good friend -Brinkley wrote the introduction to my collection of poems WHISPERS, SECRETS & PROMISES back in 1998. I still consider it one of the best pieces written about my work. Brinkley not only read my manuscript but also interviewed me prior to writing the introduction.
Don't spend your money on the movie HERO. I was very disappointed. This is a rental for a weekend when you don't have anything else to do.

Well congrats to Michael Glaser for being named the new Poet Laureate of Maryland. This was done on August 2, 2004. Glaser is reading at the Silver Spring Borders at 6:00 P.M. on September 18th. That's the official Grand Opening of the bookstore.
The entire day will consist of literary events and music.

Friday, August 27, 2004

One for the record books.
Ichiro gets hit 200. He becomes the first player in MLB history to have 200 hits in each of his first four big-league seasons.

1st Year: 242 hits
2ndYear:208 hits
LastYear: 212

Thursday, August 26, 2004

I just received a book party invitation from my friend Kitty Kelley. Her new book is THE FAMILY: THE REAL STORY OF THE BUSH DYNASTY.
I expect the party on September 21st at The Warner Atrium to be a media event. Congrats K2.
I plan to be there. Glad it's before Furious Flower. Kelley wrote a nice blurb for my BEYOND THE FRONTIER anthology.
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask.

- Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)

Well no dreams for Bert. Last night was rough at the hospital sleeping with a mask on. Who makes these things? Where is FUBU? Zorro? Anyway, I slept until about almost 3 AM...then couldn't get back to sleep. I had to discontinue the test. I took a cab home around 4AM...did some work and then crashed.

But I've been feeling great all the air pumping into my head has wonderful results. :-)
Guess I'll have to get one of those little units to help me sleep better.

I took the day off from HU to get ready for my trip. Bank for T-checks. I went to the Border's in SilverSpring and purchased a mango smoothie. I sat outside and read the NEA material on Operation Homecoming.

I had lunch again at the Austin Grill. Afterwards I wrote a short statement for maybe the opening reception at Camp Ederle in Italy. I think it reads well. I might post it on the blog when I return. Checking messages there was one from a staff member at NEA. Stars & Stripes publication wants to do an interview with me.

Someone in downtown SS was handing out flyers for fall classes in Yoga and meditation. If you're interested here is the info:
Crossings is a healing center and a learning community located at 8505 Fenton Street in Silver Spring.

OK. Nobel Prize in Literature will be given on October 7th. Make a list. Here are 5 black writers I would give the Prize to:

August Wilson, Wilson Harris, Edward Brathwaite (poet), Charles Johnson or Jay Wright.

Goodies in the mail. PEN/FAULNKER Schedule is out. You can get it by going to their site:
It seems like it was many years ago that I was on the board of the PEN FAULKNER FOUNDATION. I'm glad to be moving forward in my life.

I also received the new lit schedule for American University:

I'm calling Arena Stage tomorrow and confirm my tickets to see Madame Butterfly on September 9th.

The artist Lou Stovall is having a show at Strathmore Fine Art. Opening reception is September 10th. I'll miss it because I'll be doing a reading in Rockford, Illinois.

Oh, the 28th Annual Letelier-Moffitt Memorial Human Rights Awards are September 30, 2004.
This event is sponsored by the Insitute for Policy Studies.

Well fellow" Bennie" Mariela sent me a nice letter and a CD that I can't stop playing:Papa Noel & Papi Oviedo - Bana Congo. Cuban rhythms. You can read Mariela's blog by going to:

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

I ran into Meta DuEwa Jones at the cleaners. So good to see her again. She's a professor at George Washington University who moves and talks at a high energy level. It's great. We started talking about several things at once. We almost forgot about our clothes. Meta is giving a talk at the upcoming Furious Flower Conference on the poetry of Margaret Alexander and Elizabeth Alexander. Her presentation is on September 24th (James Madison University). Meta drove me home and we sat around talking about Cave Canem, trends in African American literature, and countless other stuff.
I see young scholars like Meta moving the criticism of African American literature forward. It's important to have folks looking at poetry and not just the novel. The upcoming Furious Flower Conference next month is going to be a very important event. I think every young African American poet should try to attend.

Bank. Post Office. Barber. Cleaners. I'm getting ready for my trip overseas. I was invited over to WAMU radio in the early afternoon and did a show with Kojo Nnamdi. A 1/2 hour of good fun. I read a few poems from HOW WE SLEEP ON THE NIGHTS WE DON'T MAKE LOVE.
Over the years Kojo has been a wonderful supporter of my work as well as the work of other writers in the area.

Sleep Center tonight. More tests. I'll get to wear a "mask" and see if I sleep better. Ah...I can smell that good oxygen filling my brain cells.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Ken Burns has a new film: Unforgivable Blackness: The Rise and Fall of Jack Johnson. It will be shown at the New York Film Festival in October.
Name and bio information just added to the Operation Homecoming site. If you want to know why I will be making a trip to Italy click on the following:

I'm up to almost 200 blog entries. Ichiro is at 198 hits. It takes as long...

The best part of the HU job is that you get to meet new students at the beginning of the school year. Folks get lost in the library and stumble into my work area. I don't have an office...never did. If I had an office would I keep my door open? Whenever I take a job as a visiting professor I have to adjust to a door.

with the invention of the door man changed the western world.
suddenly any man who had a door could rearrange the universe
to suit himself/include himself/or exclude himself;
society was invented.
- Thulani Davis

I met two nice students this morning. One was interested in photography, so I introduced her to the work of Deborah Willis. The other was from the Twin Cities...she walked in as I was finishing a short essay about my recent trip there.
Minnesota folks are cool. If I played baseball I would accept a trade to only the Twin Cities, Seattle or San Francisco. Call me Curt Flood.

I completed work on my workshop outline for Italy. I think it will go well. I want to package a good amount of information into 2 1/2 Hours.

In preparation for my interview with historian Ira Berlin I started reading John Hope Franklin's THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION.

Monday, August 23, 2004

This morning was an email day. A chance to touch base with friends across the country. I also spent time talking to an HU student who wants to produce "The Toilet" on campus. That's an early LeRoi Jones (Baraka) play. Homosexuality is hinted at in the work. I thought a good forum or discussion should be organized around the production. Many people often focus on "The Dutchman" and "The Slave" by Jones (Baraka).

I had a phone conversation with Kim Roberts (editor of Beltway On line magazine). She talked about the upcoming celebration of Walt Whitman's work next year.

Today is the first day of school at HU. The yard is packed with folks. Another year. I've been at Howard for 36 years.

This morning was an email day. A chance to touch base with friends across the country. I also spent time talking to an HU student who wants to produce "The Toilet" on campus. That's an early LeRoi Jones (Baraka) play. Homosexuality is hinted at in the work. I thought a good forum or discussion should be organized around the production. Many people often focus on "The Dutchman" and "The Slave" by Jones (Baraka).

I had a phone conversation with Kim Roberts (editor of Beltway On line magazine). She talked about the upcoming celebration of Walt Whitman's work next year.

Today is the first day of school at HU. The yard is packed with folks. Another year. I've been at Howard for 36 years.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Downtown Silver Spring is a spot everyone seems to be discovering. I took the bus there around 10AM. The new Borders was open. I purchased a copy of Yusef Komunyakaa's TABOO which is dedicated to Zoe, Reetika and Jehan. I also purchased a little book that will help me speak Italian overnight. It fits nicely into my cargo pants. While in the store I ran into Jabari Asim and his wife. Asim is an editor at the Washington Post Book World.

I checked the new Borders for copies of my books. It's something I encourage all authors to do when these places open in your neighborhood. Of course they didn't have my books or other local authors. They did have a large collection of Black books...unfortunately the world has gone Zane crazy. The shelves in bookstores mirror the food chains in many of the malls and strips. Same stuff. Pizza with toppings. Quick read books. Microwave literature.

I sat outside Borders and read the newspaper and TABOO. Just before my belly spoke I wrote a poem and then went into Austin Grill. They have live music. It was country and it was so good I later went back into Borders and purchased a copy of Hank Williams Jr. 20 HITS.
Blues and CW is how I feel these days.

It's amazing how many different groups and organizations are in the community. I went to my friend Kweli Pitt-Bey's group. Moorish Americans. OK...checkout website:

I'm going up to the new Borders that opened in Silver Spring, Maryland yesterday. I want to see what their poetry section looks like. On Friday night folks were standing in front of the store waiting for it to open. It looks like it might become a popular spot.

New book catalog out from the Library of Congress. W. Ralph Eubanks the director of publishing is doing a good job. You can see what to buy by going to:

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Ichiro 4 hits. That puts him at 372. If he can end the month at 380 I think he will have a crack at 400 this year. He should be over 200 hits next week.
I talked with my friend Melissa during the early afternoon. I watched the men's Olympic basketball team. Sad. A team with no good outside shooters. I also looked at the Redskins. Hmmm. They still need a good offensive line. If they are going to make the playoffs this year they will need good defense and special teams. The QBs don't look good.

Another death reported in the news: Herbert Hill, the NAACP labor director in the 1950s and 1960s. He spoke out against racial discrimination by Unions. I'll remember him as the editor of ANGER AND BEYOND: THE NEGRO WRITER IN THE UNITED STATES (1966).

I can't believe I'm still in my upstairs office trying to clean my desk. I really need an assistant.

Well, tomorrow I'm going to get some more rest.

Went and saw the movie Collateral. Some of the dialogue isn't bad.

Foxx is becoming a better actor. He should be ready for the Ray Charles movie.

I'm going to relax this weekend. I have to prepare for the Italy trip...outline my workshop ideas.

I enjoyed my visit yesterday to the NEA office. Great staff down there. Gioia is doing an excellent job.

The latest issue of SPEAKEASY magazine is out. Fall 2004. It's a publication of the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. I contributed a short piece to the Forum on Fear and Imagination. The other writers participating are: Luis Rodriguez, Janet Fitch, Geoff Dyer, Naomi Shihab Nye, Aleksandar, Wang Ping and Robert Creeley.

Ariel Dorfman has work in this issue. I love the line he repeats in his essay:

The world does not have to be the way it is.

Friday, August 20, 2004

I'm so glad it's Friday. I had two good morning telephone conversations. One was with Jon Peede who works at NEA. I plan to see him this afternoon when I visit the Endowment to discuss the trip to Italy.
I also spoke with Jessica Circus at the DCJCC. We are getting Windows & Mirrors back on track.
That's the cultural project I started a couple of years ago. The purpose was to highlight the shared traditions between Blacks and Jews. Next program will be on October 4th.

It looks like my interview with Danticat will take place on Friday, September 17th at the Anacostia Museum.

September is going to be a busy month. I have two television shows to record, a reading in Rockford, Illinois and the Furious Flower Conference. I'll be riding down to FF with friends Carolyn Joyner and Jamie Walker.

I just received the flyer for The Nora School Poetry Reading Series:
I'll be reading with Kenneth Carroll there on October 14th.

A sad note...Robert Browne died. His Obit was in the New York Times on August 15th.
Browne was an economist who founded the Black Economic Research Center in 1969. That organization published The Review of Black Political Economy. I met Browne in the 1980s when he was a senior research fellow in African Studies at Howard University. On many occasions I would drop by his office just to laugh and tease the guy. He was a beautiful person and will be missed. Love and prayers for his family.

The WALK FOR LITERACY 2004 will take place on October 9, 2004.
Register Online at

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Bennington work done. I can do some leisure reading for 2 evenings. I did my morning jogging and also went to the nearby park. My son was in the middle of doing his basketball practice. We played a quick game...quick for him. I hadn't been out on the court in several months. I've been staying in shape. Blood pressure is excellent.

Breakfast with Naomi at Tryst in Adams Morgan. We talked about creative writing; she returned her Mark Strand book (REASONS FOR MOVING DARKER).

I had lunch with Linda (a former Humanties Council board member) at The Islander on U Street.

It feels so good to just clean my desk again.

I just downloaded Brenda Marie Osbey's "Notes From France." Osbey is an African American poet living in New Orleans. She was writer-in-residence at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France.

I pulled John Hope Franklin's THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION from the shelf in the Center. This will help me prepare for my upcoming interview with Ira Berlin in September.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Ichiro hit in the head by a pitch tonight. :-( The only way to stop the guy...have we seen this before?

I spoke with Meri Danquah on the phone this afternoon. It was good to hear her voice. She's heading over to Ghana. The girl is always on the move.

I met Miriam at Mayorga in Silver Spring for a chat and some juice. Good to be out.

One last Bennington packet to do.

Breakfast with my buddy Naomi tomorrow.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

I spent the entire day down at the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities. I've been a commissioner for several years. Today we looked at applications from arts organizations serving residents East of the River. It was good to see what folks are trying to do; some with limited resources. Many arts groups need technical assistance. It's fun working with the staff at the Commission. The day went by quickly...

I'm getting more info from the NEA about my upcoming trip to Italy. Looks like I'll be flying out to Venice on Saturday.

I've almost completed my Bennington work.

I need to sit down and get to work on other projects. It looks like that 12 hour flight overseas is going to be an office in the air.

Oh...look at that scoreboard tonight. Ichiro with 4 hits already and the game is in the 6th Inning.
Hmmm. 400 baby. He should have 200 hits by the end of this month.

Monday, August 16, 2004

I spent the early morning in the HU stacks trying to find a law book for my daughter. The English Department was having a meeting with their graduate students in the library. I met a couple of them. It's always good to see what new scholars are up to. I spoke briefly with Dr. Victoria Arana. She's very heavy into Black British Writing. She just edited a book with Lauri Ramey:
BLACK BRITISH WRITING. You can order it from VHPS/16365 James Madison Hwy/Gordsonsville, VA. 22942. You can order by phone: 888 330-8477.

I completed my paperwork for my 2005 reading at St. Mary's College.

In the mail today I received a letter from Libbie Rifkin (Folger Shakespeare Library) informing
me that the Folger is going to place some of their recording readings on their website. Libbie wanted permission to use a poem that I read on October 24, 1995. That's the day I was awarded the O.B. Hardison Jr. Poetry Prize.

New magazines out: Black Issues Book Review. India.Arie is on the cover. I'm thinking of a number of people that could be on the cover instead. BIBW seems to be following in the steps of Ebony magazine. Hip Hop cover girls and guys. If I was running the journal A. Van Jordan, Brenda Marie Osbey, Afaa Michael Weaver, Lorenzo Thomas, Elizabeth Alexander, Thomas Ellis would be on the covers. I would put Joanne Gabbin on the current issue since she has the Furious Flower Conference coming up.
Don't get me started.

I had a nice meeting at the Anacostia Museum this afternoon. A workshop with teachers who will be bringing their students to the museum when school opens. Someone asked why a certain writer was not included in the exhibit. Please. Hush now...Don't Explain.

Czeslaw Milosz gone. Check NY Times for article/Obit. Sunday, August 15th.

Humanities Magazine has an interview with fight doctor Ferdie Pacheco. Now that's a surprise.

My friend CoCo sent me Michael Franks CD: The Art of Love. Thanks CC.

I met with Michon Boston today. We have to prepare for our next television production. I'll be interviewing historian Ira Berlin in September. We will be talking about the Emancipation Proclamation. I'll work on the questions /reading on the plane ride to Italy.

Back home. You know you're getting old when your son drives to the airport to pick you up.
Much to do now...clean the desk. Get the Bennington packets back to students by Wednesday. I might have two ready to go in a few hours.

I accepted the NEA invitation to travel to Italy to visit with US troops coming back from Iraq.
I'll leave at the end of the month.

Ah...back to jogging in the morning.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

I'll be leaving Minneapolis in a few hours. Last night I went to dinner with Rohan Preston. A very cool guy. He's a poet, critic and photographer. He's also the theater critic at the Star Tribune. Ro and I laughed and talked about the state of things. The conversation was good and so was the food. Ro gave me a copy of SWEETIE MANGO SUITE. It's a poetry chapbook he published last May.

In the airport or on the plane I'll put together my outline for my talk tomorrow at the Anacostia Museum. I'll be giving a group of teachers a tour of the "All The Stories Are True" exhibit.

I have a stack of D.C. Arts Commission proposals to read tonight. I also want to put two Bennington packets in the mail tomorrow. Mucho work.

Saturday, August 14, 2004

Around Noon I walked from St. Paul across the Mississippi into Minneapolis. I needed a good walk just to clear my head and relax. I sat in the Blue Moon Coffee Cafe (near S.39th Street) and read the newspaper and worked on two Benningon packets. In the St. Paul Pioneer Press I discovered a column by my friend Harriette Cole. Harriette is a Howard graduate and is the author of VOWS: THE AFRICAN AMERICAN COUPLES GUIDE TO DESIGNING A SACRED WEDDING CEREMONY and JUMPING THE BROOM: THE AFRICAN AMERICAN WEDDING PLANNER. In JUMPING THE BROOM there is information about my wedding ceremony (second marriage) that took place in 1982.

So what's going on in New Jersey?
Well, I'm going to take a "morning vacation" before heading back to DC tomorrow. My reading last night went well.
It was at the Givens Collection site on the campus of the University of Minnesota. The Givens Collection of African American Literature is a wonderful special collection. You can access information about it by going to the following site:

The curator is Karla Y. Davis. A very nice woman. A couple of years ago the collection was run by Kathi Neal. I like what Givens is about. As a literary activist this was like a "homecoming" reading. A couple of years ago I donated some letters and material (Clarence Major items) to them that were part of my personal library. I'm thinking about giving them some additional material, maybe photographs and audio tapes.

The poet Andrea Jenkins opened the program by giving a welcome and also reading a few of her poems. The title of her small chapbook is TRIBUTARIES. Jenkins introduced Archie Givens Jr who introduced me. The Givens Collection is named after Archie's father.

I read first from FATHERING WORDS and talked about writing the memoir. I also read my prose poem "The Fifth Inning" and a few selections from HOW WE SLEEP ON THE NIGHTS WE DON'T MAKE LOVE. I like to read the work of other poets at my readings. I read a couple of poems by Hal Sirowitz.

I had a good audience. I even met my daughter's boyfriend for the first time. He is doing a summer internship
in the Minneapolis area before heading back to Boston.

After a meal at a nearby restaurant I returned to the residence of Deb and Rob. They have been kind to give me a place to stay for a few days. Deb and I spent the evening talking about some of her book projects. She has an interest in international adoption.

Yesterday I was reading Speakeasy magazine (March/April issue) and came across a good short essay by Kyoko Mori.
Mori teaches at Harvard. Her essay was about what things she needed in order to write. I plan to make copies of this essay and send to my Bennington students. I was moved by the following comment in Mori's opening paragraph:

"I don't think in terms of what I would be willing to give up in order to support a writing life. Quite the opposite: I have very specific ideas about what I need in order to enjoy my life as a writer, and the the list of these necessities has grown considerably over the years."

Friday, August 13, 2004

I had a good lunch. Bart Schneider gave me two of his novels: SECRET LOVE and BLUE BOSSA. Riding around town afterwards I talked with Andrea Jenkins about writing and the things writers discuss when they stop talking about writing. We stopped at Orr Books in Minneapolis. They had ordered copies of my books for the evening reading. While in the shop I saw a new book by Robert Bly. In the back of the store I found some cool postcards to send to friends. I got a nice Che one for my friend Michon Boston. Michon is working on a film about Che. She's my producer for Humanities Profiled on DCTV. The other cards I purchased were Buddhist ones:

Love In The Past - Is Only A memory
Love in The Future - is only a fantasy.
True Love just lives in the here and now.
- The Buddha

I found a couple of good Asian newspapers to send to my friend Don Mee in Seattle.

There's an upcoming HiP Hop Festival( 3rd Annual) coming to the Twin Cities the weekend of August 21 and 22. Thien-Bao Phi who I met yesterday at The Loft will be participating. You can look for him in the upcoming third season of HBO's Def Poetry Jam.

I'm heading out to lunch at the Seafood Palace in Minneapolis. This has been a good trip thanks to National Writers Union members in this area: Andrea Jenkins and Deborah McLaren. Special thanks too for Carolyn Holbrook's help.
She works with SASE.

I'm still thinking about the wedding...Alexs and Soo Jin's theme song was Maxwell's "For Lovers Only." Many times a song from a wedding stays in your head for a long time.

This morning I prepared for my evening reading. I plan to begin with excerpts from FATHERING WORDS, then poems from HOW WE SLEEP ON THE NIGHTS WE DON'T MAKE LOVE. I'll share a number of new pieces that are going to be included in CIRCUS ANIMAL. That collection won't be completed for a couple more years. It should be fun.
More later...
I really had a nice time at the wedding of Alexs Pate and Soo Jin Link. Warmth and fun. So much love in the room.
It's obvious that Pate and Link are soulmates.

I guess there were about 100 people at the wedding. Among them the writer David Mura and former football star Alan Page. And yes...I got to dance with the bride.

I'm going to work late. I need to prepare for my poetry reading and look at another Bennington packet. I also need to prepare for a talk I have to give on Monday at the Anacostia Museum.

Oh...and Ichiro had 2 hits. 362 average.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

A good day with friends in Minnesota. I did a radio show at KFAI. Read 3 poems. Lunch was at a Chinese restaurant within walking distance fromthe radio station. Afterwards I walked over to the Loft Literary Center with Bart Schneider. He is the editor of Speakeasy. Checkout their website:
I also visited the Minnesota Center for Book Arts and spoke briefly with Dorothy Goldie the executive director. Good to see folks making books by hand. Checkout:

I picked up a couple of magazines and newspaper I was not familiar with: Korean Quarterly and Rain Taxi. Rain Taxi is a book review publication.

I made a few phone calls in the afternoon. Good to talk with Deirdre Cross as well as Annie Finch. OK...time to change clothes and see the bride and that guy she's marrying. :-)

I'm in Minnesota. I'm staying with my friends Deb and Rob. They are both active with the National Writers Union. I met Deb when she worked for IPS.

I arrived in terrible shape. Ear problems. Deb took me to the Fairview Medical Clinic in Bloomington. I had both ears cleaned and purchased medicine for the inflamation. I can hear now...

Today I have a radio interview to do...
In the evening I'll be going to the Pate/Link wedding.

The rest of the time I'll be working on my Bennington packets.'s cold out here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Ichiro - 3 hits. 360 average. I think he needs to finish August at 385 or 390 in order to have a chance to hit 400. He could set the ML record for most hits in a season.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

I'm fighting congestion in my head. Yipes. I can't hear. :-( I hope things will improve before I get on the plane to Minnesota.

Many thanks to all my friends in the Twin Cities who have extended their friendship to me. It looks like a good trip.

Love and blessings to Alexs Pate and Soo Jin Link who are getting married this week.

I've been working on my Bennington packets. The key is to give each of my five students an entire day of attention. This way I can get things back to folks on time.

Donald Justice died. In the New York Times it mentioned that he had been offered the position of poet laureate. Justice declined because of health. I guess this is why there was a delay in naming a poet laureate the last time.
Justice completed his COLLECTED POEMS prior to his death. It will be released by Knopf this month.

If there is going to be another U.S. poet laureate who is African American here are my picks:
Yusef Komunyakaa, Marilyn Nelson, Jay Wright, Michael Harper, Lucille Clifton and Sonia Sanchez. I think one of these individuals will be selected for the position before 2014.

I just got an IM from Robert Fleming. Let me go chat with him. Robert wrote The African American Writers Handbook.
Yes, I did mean worst not worse when talking about HellBoy!. Bend the language whenever possible.
Anyway I was upset to read (New York Times) about Thulani Davis no longer being with the Village Voice. She's a good journalist and poet.

I'm packing and getting ready to head to Minnesota. Departure tomorrow morning. Maybe I'll get myself a Twins cap for my head. TC baby.

Bennington packets to read this week.

Monday, August 09, 2004

HellBoy is one of the worst movies I've seen this year. I tried to relax last night...boy what was I thinking when I went to the video store.

Keep an eye on Alan Keyes in Illinois. He is running against Obama. Keyes knows how to move an audience. Look for folks against abortions to rush to his campaign. This Senate race could be a very important one. The focus will now be on ideas and not just blackness. Keyes is also against affirmative action and gay rights.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

A tremendous amount of work accomplished today. I have a box indexed and ready to be taken to Emory & Henry College in Virginia. It feels good to be putting my personal papers in order. It's a chance to develop a comprehensive bibliography. So many things I've don't remember anymore.

Bennington packets are arriving...
I guess it's time to put my teaching hat back on.

Saturday, August 07, 2004

My friend Sally sent me a CD of The Hilliard Ensemble with Jan Garbarek. The title is OFFICIUM. Beautiful music. I feel surrounded by the walls of my brother's monastery.

This morning I met with Jon West-Bey. He is interested in building an American Poetry Museum in Washington, D.C. We had a productive talk at a cafe in DuPont Circle.

I spent the early afternoon visiting with my daughter. We took a walk along 14th Street. I wanted her to get to know her new neighborhood. It was fun. It reminded me of Saturdays in Greenwich Village with my brother. I think one of the joys of fatherhood is when you look over at your daughter and notice that she's an adult getting ready to build her own world.

I received a brochure from poet Marilyn Nelson. She is the founder of Soul Mountain Retreat in East Haddam, Connecticut. It's a retreat with a special mission:
Nurturing African American poets. Summer residencies are reserved for graduates of the Cave Canem poetry program (
For information contact:

On Friday I borrowed from the Howard University Library HENRI CARTIER-BRESSON AND THE ARTLESS ART by Jean-Pierre Montier. This is a large book. It contains many of those Cartier-Bresson gems.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Ichiro 3 more hits. 359 average.
If he can get to 380 before the months ends he could hit 400 this year.

More on Cartier-Bresson:

Even in his later years, when he more or less abandoned photography to draw, he remained an astonishing live wire who liked to say that his approach to life had been shaped by Buddhism. His wife, the photographer Martine Franck, described him to the Dalai Lama as "a Buddhist in turbulence."

(NY Times/August 5, 2004)
Henri Cartier-Bresson dead at 95. :-(
What is left to see after looking at his photographs? He gave us back our sight.

"All photographs taken today are either directly or indirectly influenced by Cartier-Bresson."
- Philip Brookman, Corcoran Gallery of Art

Ah - the decisive moment.

I have the new James Baldwin stamp. :-) Get yours.

Two new CDS today:
Duke Ellington - Piano in the Background (This is good stuff!)
Patti LaBelle- Timeless Journey
Ichiro Watch: 3 hits yesterday. This guy can hit 400. Look for folks to start talking about this near the end of August.

Wil Haygood did a good job in the Washington Post yesterday. He wrote about the friendship between Sol Stein and James Baldwin. A book of their letters was recently published. I've been checking the Post Office looking for the new James Baldwin stamp. No luck yet.

I'm going back to the New England Quarterly to read the essay on Phillis Wheatley by Astrid Franke. I've almost completed the reading of Mattison's THE WEDDING OF THE TWO-HEADED WOMAN. The main character Daisy is a woman who helps people get rid of their clutter. It's the right book to read while I'm in the middle of my August Project. It's been good sorting and discarding. My basement is shaping up. Everyday I find something. A few days ago it was a 1990 letter from Charles Johnson, a review of one of my books by June Jordan. The last time I was downstairs I found a copy of an Essex Hemphill manuscript. I'll have to check and see if it contains any unpublished poems.

In the mail there was a book by an old friend Margaret Paris. She is a writer and photographer who teaches at Georgetown University and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts. Margaret's book is EMBRACING AMERICA: A CUBAN EXILE COME OF AGE. It's the story of Elena Maza a child refugee of Operation Pedro Pan (1961).

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Ichiro went 5 for 5 against those Birds yesterday.
I felt good too after getting a physical. My parts are still working. I just have to work with the sleep issue. There was an excellent article about sleep disorders in the New York Times (Science section) yesterday. One of the best I've read. It was funny too.

I met yesterday with Linda Sullivan (Writer's Center) and also Del Hornbuckle (Provision Library).

Today I'm heading downtown to record a program for the Voice of America. I'll be joined by Dolores Kendrick (poet laureate of Washington, DC).
I guess security will be tight in this city until after the elections. I think the bombing incident in Spain are making folks take precautions prior to our elections. I hope we can avoid the chaos of 1812. One building that I think needs to be protected is the Iraqi embassy on P Street. I feel it's symbolic of the new government in Iraq. We can't just think about only the monuments and the White House. The war against terrorism is like the war against drugs; this is going to be an ongoing battle. I'm beginning to feel like I'm already visiting Israel. Go figure...

Monday, August 02, 2004

Yesterday's New York Times had a very good article about the new National Underground Railroad Freedom Center which is opening in Cincinnati this month (August 23rd). The center's executive director is Spencer R. Crew. Crew once worked for the Smithsonian. I've never been to Cincinnati but might put it on the short list of places to visit next year. Here's the website for the new Center:

The National Museum of the American Indian will open on September 21st in Washington, D.C.
There will be a six day opening celebration.

I've been getting a lot of work done thanks to my friend Julia Galbus being in town. She is doing research on Stephen Henderson as well as me. I've been forced to pull old files. Whew. It coincides with my August Project of doing extensive cleaning. I forgot about so many things. One is an environmental organization I help start back in 1990-91. I also shared with Julia my file on "Windows & Mirrors." That's the project I started a few years ago with the DC Jewish Community Center. It was an attempt to highlight the shared cultural traditions between Blacks and Jews. Galbus research will hopefully show how I function as a literary activist. Her upcoming paper at the Furious Flower Conference at James Madison University has the title "What Does The E Stand For?"

Got test results back from the Doc today. Da Bert is not well. :-( Will get more tests for sleep problems; will have a general checkup tomorrow. Let me know if anyone has spare parts. :-)

Alice Mattison's new novel came in the mail today. THE WEDDING OF THE TWO-HEADED WOMAN. Her opening paragraph will pull readers in:

"Nothing distracts me for long from sex. A friendly, intelligent man makes a funny remark, almost for his private benefit. He thinks nobody hears, but I laugh. For a moment shared understanding exhilarates us both; then I go further. I feel a yen to place my hand on his bare thigh, to see what he's like with no clothes on."

Congrats to Alice! Mattison is a fellow faculty member at Bennington.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

There's a good essay review on Robert Lowell in the latest issue of The New England Quarterly (June 2004).

I've started my August Project 2004. It means major cleaning and discarding of stuff at work and home. I want to place a daily focus on getting better organized for thirty days. A key goal will be to eliminate clutter.

Yesterday was an important day for both of my kids. I was a proud papa. My daughter moved into her new apartment. Even though she had own place last summer in SC, this is her first real space. She has it fixed up very nice. Funny how children become so neat when they leave home.
Well, it now feels as if my daughter is on her own. Her next big step in life will be to prepare for law school.

Yesterday was also the day my son finally had his breakout game in high school basketball. It was the game his former AAU coach was waiting for. Even though his team loss (again)
in their second summer league championship game, one saw my son playing hard and not giving up until the final seconds of the game. Many scouts and coaches were talking about him. He hit for 14 pts in the second half...20+ game. I did think of Michael Moore's film 9/11 when someone from the Navy basketball program expressed an interest in him.

Rick, Jody and I met at Cosi on Saturday and selected work for Poet Lore. It took the entire morning. We did "interview" a wonderful person interested in maybe joining the magazine staff.

Later in the day (at Cosi) I met with Candice Thomas. What a lovely young writer with good poems and fiction. She might be a person to watch...

Today is going to be crazy. I have to take my morning run, read the newspapers, attend a Writer's Center board meeting, draft a letter of support for someone up for tenure at a school out west, and participate in an evening salon dedicated to Sterling Brown.

Let me get started.