Saturday, January 31, 2009

Poetry: NEW BOOK OUT

Today I received 2 copies of POETIC VOICES WITHOUT BORDERS 2 edited by Robert L. Giron.
You can obtain this anthology from Gival Press: www.givalpress.com

This book features the work of 150 authors. Poems are in English, French and Spanish.

Here are a few of the contributors:
Jody Bolz
Grace Cavalier
Denise Duhamel
Dana Gioia
Joy Harjo
Philip Levine
E. Ethelbert Miller
Naomi Shihab Nye
Richard Peabody
Kim Roberts

Rachel Robinson is working at building a Jackie Robinson Museum in Manhattan where the Jackie Robinson Foundation has its offices. Everyone should make a contribution...

2009 marks Robinson's 90th birthday.
Economic News:

Starbucks is going to close 300 more stores. This will affect 6,000 employees. Over the three months that ended December 28th, 5 percent fewer people visited Starbucks and those who did spent 4 percent less.

Howard Schultz the founder is reducing his $1.2 million a year salary by $10,000. In March the company will introduce new breakfast combination meals.

Countdown to Black History Month. What will the Post-Racials do? Hide until March?

OUR NATION'S NADIR, OUR TIME OF CHOLERA?

Say goodbye to Coca-Cola Classic. After nearly a quarter-century, Coca-Cola is dropping the word "Classic" from the name of its signature cola, parting with one of the most lasting consequences of its failed experiment with New Coke.
- The Wall Street Journal, January 31- February 1, 2009.

There is always the possibility that the Obama Administration will fail in trying to improve America's economic condition. Consider the state of our society and world if after 8 years Obama's popularity rivals that of Bush in his last years. It's time to think about the unthinkable. It's also a time to "refresh." This means looking for new ideas and concepts and embracing the future.

First we might need to acknowledge that we have entered a transitional stage in US history. Our symbolic political and cultural switch from analog to digital. Of course many of us are not ready for this change. The future will find many of us sitting in the dark without a converter box. Many of us will not be able to convert to the future. Our religious and political beliefs might hold us back. Think of a world without Jesus or Prophet Muhammad. Think of a world without race conflicts or too many race conflicts. It's what Hendrix meant when he speculated what would happen if 6 turned out to be 9.

Let's project our transitional era ( our time of cholera) to last from 2010 to 2020. Let's begin to face the changes that are coming and the changes we need to face.

- Moving from a society of work to a society of leisure. There is going to be less work to perform in the future. Why are we still on a 5 day work week? What impact will robotics have on the service end of our economy in ten years? It's time for work/share in some industries. Ask yourself why are you working and what is your contribution to society right now? Does America need you? What are the jobs of the future? What jobs are becoming obsolete?

- Population control? Look at the most recent story. A single-woman has 8 children after she already has six. Let's do the ethics before we do the math. Sooner or later someone, or an organization or political party is going to bring back Eugenics and "nasty" ideas. This will once again target people of color. The new cultural majority in the future US.

- Prison reform and penal colonies on the moon? Many of our future citizens are going to live and die behind bars. What new scientific experiments will be "tested" on inmates to "correct" them for return trips to our society? How much can we defer crime with high-tech equipment? Do we give everyone a "bracelet" at birth? Do we monitor their life movements and if they register too high in the "crime" zone - recall them? Do we isolate the "crime gene" before birth?

- Natural disasters and new migrations. People are going to be on the move - forced to leave areas because of floods, earthquakes, etc. We can already see how this can change the politics of a state. The future might just be Montana. Some major cities might just "die" because of the economic strain we currently see lasting ten years or more. New ghost towns will emerge during this time of cholera as some industries disappear.

- A change in our moral compass? We need to rethink the role of the individual in society. What will be the new definitions of family and marriage? How do we measure the importance of human life against that of robots or outside contact with another life form? How will governments change in how they govern? What is the role of government? When is democracy not a good thing? What is beyond the church and state?

- The fusion of man and machine. Cyborgs and terminators? What does being black have to do with it? Questions we need to ask before we party like it's 2020. What will the new music sound like? What if we lose our capacity to listen? What if the next 10 years is nothing but the deep and heavy blues? How much can one man or woman carry? In these days of cholera maybe even Bessie Smith can't get out of bed. Oh, pity the lonesome guitar player or the first black president singing a new version of the St. Louis Blues.

Friday, January 30, 2009


FROM NEA TO PWP:

Congrats to an old friend and a wonderful human being. This is good news.http://www.nj.com/entertainment/arts/index.ssf/2009/01/powell_named_acting_chairwoman.html

Can he Steele the Republican Party? Or will he slow dance with his eyes close?
WHAT NEEDS TO BE DONE DURING THE UPCOMING WEEKS - The opening of crossings into Gaza. Shipments of food and understanding are needed.
PIRATES AGAIN:
They recently hijacked a German tanker loaded with liquefied petroleum. Sooner or later there is going to be a big accident and the entire coastline of Somali is going to suffer. This is the third ship captured during the month of January in the Gulf of Aden.
ON THE HORIZON

It's just a matter of time before an organization (or two) begins to organize a March on Washington to "save" jobs. There is just too much hurting taking place around the nation. Sooner or later the media will discover a "face" of the unemployed. For a historical moment that person will claim center stage. Who will be the next major political image after Obama? Who is the hungry media ready to promote and consume?

Good Economic News: The Big Screen

Movie attendance so far this year is up as much as 10 percent. Box office receipts for the four-day King Holiday weekend were up nearly 25 percent from last year.

When people fear for their futures, they like to gather in a dark room and stare at a screen, holding hands against the gloom.

-David Carr, The New York Times, January 30, 2009.

We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth, and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.

- Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1/17/61
Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.

This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children...This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.

- Dwight D. Eisenhower

Association for the Study of African American Life and History

83rd Annual Black History Luncheon

Featuring Keynote Speaker: Michael Eric Dyson

11AM.
Saturday, February 21, 2009
Omni Shoreham Hotel
2500 Calvert Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20008


Marrying for looks is like buying books for their pictures - a good idea, if one cannot read.

- Yahia Lababidi

Thursday, January 29, 2009


A VERY BIG LOSS: Harlee Little. Love you more than words and pictures.


Family and friends will gather to remember Harlee Little, an outstanding human being, artist, photographer, teacher, and friend.

Repast: TBA

WHEN: Saturday, February 7, 2009 at 1:00 pm

WHERE: Rankin Chapel at Howard University (2371 6th Street,NW Washington, D.C. 20059)

For More Information Call (202) 806-7280

In Lieu of flowers you can send contributions and checks payable to the

Harlee Little Memorial Fund
6925 Willow Street, N.W. Box# 12
Washington, D.C. 20012
DIARY MARKER

Washington Meets Wales - a festival of Welsh writing, 18-24 March 2009.

You are warmly invited to a drinks reception to welcome Welsh writers to Washington, on:

Wednesday 18 March, 7.00-8.00pm
Hotel Tabard Inn, 1739 N Street, NW

Welcome reception and readings in the company of Tom Anderson, Catrin Dafydd, Fflur Dafydd, Owen Sheers and Eurig Salisbury
RSVP by 9 March 2009 to post@academi.org

Some of the best young Welsh writers will be performing their work in Washington DC in March 2009 as part of a week-long celebration of contemporary Welsh literature in the US capital.

Washington Meets Wales is part of the wider Wales Smithsonian Cymru 2009 program of activities and events, which includes Wales as a guest nation at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in June 2009.

As a taster to the festival, Academi, the Welsh National Literature Promotion Agency and Society for Authors, with support from the Welsh Assembly Government, has organised a series of literary activities around the city. The writers taking part are Tom Anderson, Catrin Dafydd, Fflur Dafydd, Owen Sheers and Eurig Salisbury.
THE KNOWN WORLD JUST GOT SMALLER:

http://www.google.com/goog411/

THE END OF THE KNOWN WORLD


Ugh. The Washington Post has decided to end Book World. They are going back to that old tired format of running 3 or 4 reviews inside other sections of the newspaper. One slice of baloney now and then? The loss of Book World could be seen in the forecast as soon as you saw David Nicholson, Jabari Asim and Marie Arana moving on. What will the end of Book World mean? It might mean no space for the review of poetry books. Fewer black books being reviewed. Oh and what about the literary calendar? Will we hear about readings around town after they happen? What can we do? Well, starting today if anyone has a book review, I will post it in my E-Notes. Just send it to my address: emiller698@aol.com.

From time to time I will list books in my E-Notes. Pick one and send in a review. If the Washington Post is going to end Book World then we need to go in search of the New World.

The Post plans to keep Book World online as a distinct entity. Not the same. Here is what executive editor Marcus Brauchli had to say:

The advertising in Book World didn't justify the amount of space that we dedicated each week to books coverage.

If only poems were ads.



Tricycle's Daily Dharma
Dusk on the River
There's a Zen story in which a man is enjoying himself on a river at dusk. He sees another boat coming down the river toward him. At first it seems so nice to him that someone else is also enjoying the river on a nice summer evening. Then he realizes that the boat is coming right toward him, faster and faster. He begins to get upset and starts to yell, "Hey, hey watch out! For Pete's sake, turn aside!" But the boat just comes faster and faster, right toward him. By this time he's standing up in his boat, screaming and shaking his fist, and then the boat smashes right into him. He sees that it's an empty boat.

This is the classic story of our whole life situation.

--Pema Chodron, Start Where You Are
from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith.
IS THE END NEAR?

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/2009/01/29/opinion/opinion_30094418.php

The Lone Ranger

Unlike Clayton Moore
I sleep with my mask.


- E. Ethelbert Miller
Morning hours and I just read the introduction to Hayan Charara's anthology Inclined to Speak: An Anthology of Contemporary Arab American Poetry.

LIT NEWS:

The University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival
June 7 through July 24, 2009
A short term, noncredit writing program for adults.
The Festival offers 140 workshops across the genres.
Email: iswfestival@uiowa.edu

Tinker Mountain Writers' Workshop
June 14-19, 2009
Hollins University, Roanoke, VA.
Visit: www.hollins.edu/tmww

HOCOPOLITSO
Frank McCourt reading from his work.
Friday, February 20, 2009 at 8PM
The Jim Rouse Theatre
5460 Trumpeter Road
Columbia, Maryland 21044

Tribute To Reginald Shepherd
Thursday, March 12, 2009 at 7PM
Lillian Vernon Creative Writers House, NYU
58 West 10th Street ( Between 5th and 6th Avenue)
Admission Free

Radical Precision: The Poetry of Stephen Dunn
Friday, April 17, 2009 at 7 PM
Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Tribeca
97 Warren Street ( at Greenwich Street)
Admission Free

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

TALK TO ME BUT LISTEN TO WHAT I SAY:

Obama is moving quickly to change how the US has been doing things the last 8 years. Direct contact and dialogue with Iran and North Korea needs to be strongly supported. As I've mentioned in previous E-Notes we need to treat other nations like adults and not children. How long can one tell a nation they won't get an allowance if they are caught with nuclear weapons (again?) in the bathroom at school?

If you want to know how wars begin without protest simply follow how the US is increasing the level of troops in Afghanistan without any real public discussion. Obama seems to be changing the basketball nets and moving the game from Iraq to Afghanistan. How long is Karzai going to be in charge of things? I was reading where VP Biden returned from the country and said the situation was "a real mess." But soon we will have 60,000 troops in the middle of this mess. Pass the opium if it will make things clearer. I'm dazed and maybe I'm hearing too much silence around what the new president is doing. Addiction will do this. How many of us are walking around with Obama Fever? What are the symptoms? Looks like another war is about to give me a butt rash.

How tough will Obama get with Israel during the next few weeks? If the US can't halt the Israeli bombings of Gaza - what can we do? How conservative will the new government of Israel be?
The US needs to push for the borders to Gaza to be opened. Food and not just humanitarian aid need to be given to the Palestinian people. If we are going to talk about economic development in the region - start now. How much food has spoiled because it's not being permitted to move across the border into Gaza? A hungry belly will never know peace.

One has to be pleased to see Obama taking an active role in trying to solve some of the world's conflicts so soon. Cuba and the embargo has to be next on his agenda. We need to be having direct talks with Cuba in 2009. With the state of the US economy we need to promote trade with Cuba for the sake of American workers. Can you see Raul in a new car from Detroit?
War is hell, but that's not the half of it, because war is also mystery and terror and adventure and courage and discovery and holiness and pity and despair and longing and love. War is nasty; war is fun. War is thrilling; war is drudgery. War makes you a man; war makes you dead.

- from The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien
North Country Institute and Retreat for Writers of Color

February 26- March 1, 2009 at Medgar Evers College, CUNY

Rolling admissions through February 2009.

Workshops offered in the following genres: Fiction and Poetry.
Teachers can earn professional development credits.

Faculty for Winter 2009
Tonya Cherie Hegamin – Fiction
Aracelis Girmay - Poetry

What the Fellows are saying…

"This was my first experience in a true writers' workshop. And it was outstanding... " - Holly E., Columbia, Missouri – Fiction Fellow

“The NCI retreat was a fabulous experience... having the chance to be exclusively with other folks of color allowed for a certain kind of safety, idea development and freedom of expression...” – Amalia A., California –Poetry Fellow

“The Retreat was everything I hoped it would be! Our instructor gave us exercises and readings that made us seriously consider not only the craft of writing, but also our personal development as writers…” – Rochelle S.,, Georgia – Fiction Fellow

Past NCI Faculty include:
Jeffrey Renard Allen, Martin Espada, Indira Ganesan, Sandra Jackson-Opoku, Victor LaValle, Tony Medina, E. Ethelbert Miller, Greg Pardlo, and Sonia Sanchez.

If you are interested in participating in an upcoming retreat call 718.270.6983 or email writers@mec.cuny.edu.

Tuition fees vary based on location. Applicants’ materials must include: a cover letter expressing reasons for wanting to participate, two letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with their writing, and a sample of writing.

A non-refundable application fee of $25, payable to Center for Black Literature, should accompany the application. Applications will be reviewed as received until all spaces have been filled. Fellowships available. Tuition is $400 for the MEC retreat. Additional sponsorship provided by the Office of New York State Assemblyman Hakim Jefferies.

The Center for Black Literature
Medgar Evers College, CUNY
1650 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11225
Phone: 718.270.6983
www.mec.cuny.edu/blacklitcenter

TUNE IN every week to
"Writers on Writing" with Dr. Brenda M. Greene
SUNDAY's, 7:00 pm - 7:30 pm
WNYE 91.5 FM

MR. MILLER GOES TO CHATTANOOGA

For Immediate Release
Contact: Barbara Kennedy, 423.757.2897

Black History Month Celebration Feb. 2 - 3
Award-Winning Poet E. Ethelbert Miller Visits Baylor School

Award-winning poet E. Ethelbert Miller will celebrate Black History month with Baylor School students Feb. 2-3.

Miller will speak in the alumni chapel Monday, Feb. 2 from 9:50 a.m. – 10:20 a.m., and again at 11:40 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. He will also visit classes throughout the day and will participate in the school's annual African American Read-In from 1:25 p.m. - 1:35 p.m.

He returns to visit morning classes Tuesday, Feb. 3.
A prominent member of the Washington, D.C. arts community, Miller is Director of the African-American Resource Center at Howard University, chair of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and former chair of the Humanities Council of Washington, D.C. He is the author of numerous poetry collections, including Whispers, Secrets, and Promises (1998) First Light: New and Selected Poems (1994) and African American Poetry for the 21st Century (2002).

In his first memoir, Fathering Words (2001) Miller traces his steps from the South Bronx, college at Howard University, his experiences as a father, and how his family and friends shaped his life and career choices. His second and most recent memoir (2009) The 5th Inning finds Miller turning to baseball in search of the metaphor that will provide the measurement of his life.

A frequent guest on National Public Radio, Miller recently read an opinion essay featuring the new presidential first family that aired Jan. 25 on NPR's Weekend Edition: An Image Of Obama Family (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99851361)
Other recent NPR interviews include:
Jan. 4, 2009: Civil Rights Poets Wrote Prologue For Change
Weekend Edition - Sunday (LIANE HANSEN, host)
Poet E. Ethelbert Miller speaks about Harper's and Hughes' work and what it means in this time of change in America.. .
Nov. 2, 2008: What Words, Walt Whitman, For Election Day?
Weekend Edition - Sunday (LIANE HANSEN, host)
"The day after our national election for president, one will be able to go outside and hear America singing," writes poet E. Ethelbert Miller....
Sept. 21, 2008: E. Ethelbert Miller: Baseball, Memoirs and Secrets
Weekend Edition - Sunday (LIANE HANSEN, host)
June 15, 2008: Poet E. Ethelbert Miller on Fatherhood
Weekend Edition - Sunday (LIANE HANSEN, host)

For a complete list of NPR interviews go to: http://www.npr.org/search.php?text=Ethelbert+Miller
Quote of the Day:

We have easily published the largest collection of bad poetry in the history of mankind.

- Robert Young, chief executive of Lulu Enterprises in Raleigh, North Carolina. The New York Times, January 28, 2009.
Our past shadows us, sometimes hiding behind our backs, other times entering the room before us.

- Yahia Lababidi

OBAMA ON THE HILL

I'm so happy Obama decided to keep the "ball" and run with it. The problem he is going to have in DC is with the Democratic Congressional leadership. Pelosi wants to play the same old games. It's a new day not just for Republicans but Democrats too. Lady P has no idea about how to use power. Somebody please give this woman a handbook. Is she up for reelection?

Here is a short essay I wrote several days ago. Instead of keeping it in my files I decided to include it in my E-Notes:


THE TRACKS OF OUR TEARS

Jesse Jackson crying on a cold night in Chicago should be an omen. If you want to know where we are going as a people simply following Jesse’s tears. Did they begin in Memphis back in 1968?


As I write this essay I’m listening to Annie Lennox singing “The Hurting Time.” This is a good anthem for the start of what we might one day call the Obama Era. It’s either that or the Second Great Depression. The Pan Africanist Walter Rodney once gave a talk at Howard University in which he told listeners not to become too excited with black people move into leadership roles such as prime minister. When you see a black man as your prime minister you know that the job has become a black man’s job. Nobody really wants it and the real power is hiding somewhere else.


It appears that Barack Obama is coming to power when U.S. power seems to be declining. The shoe throwing at George Bush in Iraq is another omen. Has the image of our nation been this low since the Black Sox scandal? From Shoeless Joe Jackson to Jesse Jackson the question is still the same, “Say, it ain’t so Joe. Say, it ain’t so.”


A crying Jesse Jackson is also a speechless Jesse Jackson. Al Sharpton has a radio show. Cornel West has a CD, Travis Smiley has Travis Smiley and so the important question must be resurrected again – “Who Speaks for the Negro?” Despite all our claims to the oral tradition we still have problems deciding who speaks for the race. If you think Barack Obama speaks for black people then you’re as silly as someone on the progressive Left thinking the man speaks for progressives.


The election of Barrack Obama revealed once again how religious African Americans are. Everyone was praying first for his safety and then praying extra hard for his victory. When Obama won the U.S. presidency it was as if Jesus had returned. Such joy on the faces of black people everywhere. Even Black Republicans realized they too had soul. Colin Powell probably did an old Jamaican jig the next day. It seems as if we have gotten this far on faith. Now what? As we count the tracks of our tears we must not forget that King’s dream was not that we simply reach the mountaintop but that we build the Beloved Community.


This will be impossible without first embracing the philosophy of non-violence. It will be impossible without a renewed moral commitment to generosity and compassion. African Americans have lost their moral compass. Where is the black music that equals the vision of Barack Obama? One would have to go back to John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme.” We culturally lack artists who are visionary.


The world needs a young James Baldwin. Baldwin was not just a writer but a public intellectual. His vision of America is one that even surpasses King’s. If you want to know what the Civil Rights Movement was really about then you read your Baldwin before you read your King.


Baldwin saw the racial struggle inside America to be the equivalent to a lover’s struggle. And here we find Michelle Obama’s comment during the campaign to be so important. She openly confessed that she felt America was finally loving her back.


Unless African American leaders and intellectuals change their vocabulary they will not be able to make any contribution to the future of America. They will become as obsolete as the telephone booth and everything else that is succumbing to the global technological revolution.


The challenge we face is learning how to love our race as well as others. Funny how we try to “claim” Obama when it was really Iowa that’s responsible for believing in the dream. Are there blues singers in Iowa?


How do we learn to “share” Obama? In these days of greed it might be impossible. So, we face another challenge here too. Obama’s election creates a new paradigm. It doesn’t solve our “black” problems. Instead we are faced with new constructs and a higher math. If we are to build a Beloved Community then we have to be as creative as Buckminister Fuller. We have to go back and listen to our Sun Ra records. It’s not about the White House – it’s about understanding that Space Is The Place.


Unless African American leaders and thinkers find new words and “invent” the race all over again, then we will witness the “death” of the Negro as we once knew it. The comparison of Obama to Jesus is one that is quick to make. Look at any photo book of the the recent campaign and it seems as if the man is wearing a halo at times.


But what if Obama was really closer to Prophet Muhammad. What if he was the “seal” of the prophets? What if no one was coming after him? Either we get it right this time or we fail. No more crying – the fire next time?



- E. Ethelbert Miller
January 2, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

EL HAJJ OBAMA?

http://www.alarabiya.net/articles/2009/01/27/65087.html
ARE THOSE YOUR BOOTS OR MINE?

Snow falling and I'm feeling so postracial right now.
But Lord, what should I do about this skin?
Institute for Cultural Diplomacy Programs – March 2009:

The Academy for Cultural Diplomacy
Berlin, March 2nd – 6th, 2009

The UK Meets Germany: A Forum for Young Leaders
Berlin, March 23rd – 27th, 2009

The United States Meets Germany: A Forum for Young Leaders
Berlin, March 30th – April 3rd, 2009


The Institute for Cultural Diplomacy (ICD) is pleased to announce these three programs taking place in Berlin, March 2009. All programs are currently accepting applications.

The ICD is an international, not-for-profit, non-governmental organization focused on the theoretical and practical promotion of cultural exchange as a tool for improving relations in all areas. To learn more about our activity, please visit: www.culturaldiplomacy.org.

The ICD Programs have been developed to facilitate intercultural exchange at the grass roots, civil society and political levels. They bring together Young Leaders from across the world for an analysis of cultural diplomacy, an exploration of the relationship between their cultures, and to create a sustainable network between likeminded individuals. Following the completion of the programs, the participants are encouraged to use this network to develop their own leadership initiatives in the field of cultural diplomacy.

The follow-up initiatives are supported by the ICD through an online forum and personal consultation, and allow the ICD principals of inter-cultural relations based on dialogue, understanding and trust to spread much further.

The Academy for Cultural Diplomacy offers individuals of all backgrounds to gain an introduction in, or deepen their knowledge of, the field of Cultural Diplomacy. A diverse, inter-disciplinary curriculum featuring leading figures from the public sector, private sector and civil society will stimulate discussions of the salient issues in the field of Cultural Diplomacy today. The program is designed to complement more traditional academic studies in the area, as well as accommodate individuals from a professional background.

Further info: www.culturaldiplomacy.org/index.php?en_icdacademy_introduction
Enquiries: academy@culturaldiplomacy.org


The UK Meets Germany: A Forum for Young Leaders will comprise a series of high-profile seminars and workshops, which will look at both the historical and current relationship between the UK and Germany, as well as the potential of cultural exchange as a means of improving cooperation in academic, corporate and political contexts. The programme will also include follow-up initiatives, such as the publication of a collection of articles, which participants will be invited to submit after the Forum.

Further info: http://www.culturaldiplomacy.org/index.php?en_program_ukmg_introduction
Enquiries: ukmg@culturaldiplomacy.org


The United States Meets Germany: A Forum for Young Leaders is designed with the intention of bringing together young, influential people from both sides of the Atlantic in order for them to gain insight into cultural diplomacy, exchange ideas and experiences and learn from influential players already working in the field. Participants will develop contacts on both a social and professional level, and participate in challenging discussions. The Forum will therefore produce a dynamic, informed group of Young Leaders who are aware of the potential for cultural diplomacy and have the necessary resources to organize their own initiatives. It is hoped that these participants might cooperate on independent initiatives together in their future. Ultimately the USAMG Forum will improve understanding between the US and Germany, and improve future cooperation and exchange between the two countries.
Further info: http://www.culturaldiplomacy.org/index.php?en_program_usamg_introduction
Enquiries: usamg@culturaldiplomacy.org
THOSE GOLDEN SYMBOLS ARE THE ONLY GOOD NEWS THESE DAYS

Well McDonald's is doing well. They will add 650 more outlets by year end. McDonald's serves 58 million customers a day - two million more than a year ago. Why are they doing well? Improving the menu, remodeling dining rooms, extending hours and adding snacks and morning items. They are also doing good overseas. People are going to McDonald's as they cutback on going to other types of restaurants. Dining out is one of the first things customers cut during hard and difficult times.
Brandeis University plans to sell its art collection because of a decline in operating budget. Brandeis is facing a budget deficit of $10 million. How many other colleges and universities will begin doing things like this? Sell the art and let's eat? Sell Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol - what's next? The books of Richard Wright? Everything is a commodity and nothing is sacred. What's the price of the ticket to keep this ship afloat? How many suicides tomorrow? What's the going price of a coffin these days?
Quote of the Day:

Now my job is to communicate the fact that the United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world, that the language we use has to be a language of respect. I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries.

- President Obama

As I mentioned in an old E-Note, keep an eye on Susan Rice the new U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Look for her to emerge as the "star" of the Obama Team.


I will listen. I will engage. And I will work to advance the United States interest, recognizing that in many, many instances, our national interests are best advanced when we are working hand in hand with that of others.


- UN Ambassador Susan Rice
Ice melting in Iceland and things are getting Hot Hot Hot:
The Ice government collapsed on Monday. Personal savings have been wiped out and joblessness has soared. Protests are also mounting throughout Europe. Keep an eye on Ireland, Britain, Spain. Eastern Europe countries are in worse shape. If people take their anger to the streets we might see the fall of a number of governments. Will migrants be targeted as scapegoats? Raise race and raze race? Will young anarchists emerge? Will there be attempts to try socialism and fascism one more time? How long will Americans believe in Obama? Class warfare on the horizon? Terrible times. Will we get to 2010? That's my 6th Inning. Either you hit or you throw the ball.

Without the generosity of the poor, the rich would surely perish.


-Yahia Lababidi

Monday, January 26, 2009

NYERE NEWS:


Nyere Miller Tabbed Commonwealth Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week
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1/26/2009
Widener senior guard Nyere Miller (Washington, DC), coming off two nearly flawless games, today was named Commonwealth Conference Men’s Basketball Player of the Week.

Miller went on a tear last week, averaging 21.0 points on 13-of-15 shooting and hitting 11 three-pointers in a pair of Widener victories. He scored a season-best 25 points Tuesday against Arcadia, shooting 8-of-8 from the floor and tying a career best with seven 3-pointers in a 73-51 win. He followed that Saturday with 17 points and four 3-pointers in Widener's 80-77 triumph over Messiah.

It has been another banner season for Miller, who is second in the country and first in the conference with 4.14 steals per game. He also is 16th in the conference with 10.6 points per game, second with 2.43 three-pointers made per contest and third with a .405 three-point percentage.

Widener (13-4, 4-1 CC) sits atop the conference with victories in three straight games and eight of its last nine.

Miller’s play continues one year after breaking the school record with 92 steals and being named MVP of the Commonwealth Conference Tournament. His played helped the Pride win a second straight league crown and clinch a third consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance.
GRACE CHURCH

Greetings, all.
Please join us for an evening of jazz this Tuesday, January 27th at 7:30pm.

Project Natale delivers "...diversified jazz...warm and exciting sounds" starting at 7:30pm. Join us at 6:30pm for a conversation with the artists over light supper.

Come again next week for "Langston and His Legacy" on Tuesday, February 3rd at 7:00pm. Holly Bass, accompanied by a six-piece jazz band, will perform excerpts of "The Weary Blues" as well as her own original poetry and the work of other black American poets, highlighting the influence of Hughes' work on contemporary American poetry. Funded in part by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Childcare is available both evenings.

Grace Church is located at 1041 Wisconsin Ave., between M and K streets.
Two hours of free parking is available with Grace Church validation at the AMC Loews Georgetown theater, a block away at Wisconsin and K.

I hope you can join us,

David Bujard
TODAY'S NEWS:

http://www.mansfieldnewsjournal.com/article/20090125/OPINION02/901250342
HUMOR ME
I was reading the statements made by a number of "leaders" in The Wall Street Journal last Wednesday. It was a page of advice and hopes for the Obama Presidency. If Obama was to listen to these folks he would have nothing but big problems for four years. I read what each person had to say and was amazed by how narrow their thinking was. Everyone wrote about their personal issues or the things that define who they are. Few statements had a Buckminister Fuller reach. Sarah Palin was still talking about Alaska and Al Sharpton was talking about race.
Go figure. George McCovern was just being sweet when it came to the Middle East and other regions in the world. Should America simply provide milk and cookies to everyone? Geez -where are the new ideas? How can we talk about alternative energy and not talk about social and cultural alternatives? What is the alternative to poverty and homelessness? A tax cut?
SUGGESTED READING?

Nothing to Fear: FDR's Inner Circle and the Hundred Days That Created Modern America by Adam Cohen. The Penguin Press. $29.95.
HARD BALL?
If Obama wants to get his economic stimulus bill passed he is going to have to play hardball. The problem is with the House on the Hill. This is where we have to ask ourselves - what is Lady P doing? If she can't pull together a coalition then she is failing at her job. In an old E-Note I mentioned the need for Congressional leaders to give Obama some yards after the catch. The Democratic leadership seems to do nothing but drop passes when it comes to getting something done. Obama needs to dine and wine, lunch and punch the moderate Republicans. He also needs to look at the communities they represent. Did they vote for him in the November election? Have those voters write letters to Congress and put pressure on their representatives. At the same time one respects Congressional conservative leaders who have principles. But let's not talk about the size of government and tax cuts (for who?) when our nation is falling apart. Are we seeing the death of capitalism on a global level or are we morphing into new structures? Even a word like socialism seems dated and one we should try not to bring back. The challenge we now face around the world is how do we continue to play this economic game without looking at the scoreboard. Turn your cap around. We need rally hats. Can't anybody play this game?

SPORTS

It's not baseball season yet but one wonders if the Nationals will have another losing season. Can a city suffer another bad team? One person the Nationals should give a contract to is Pedro Martinez. How many games might he still have in his arm? Even 8 wins would be a contribution to the club.

I would be naked if I had no romance in my life. Where do poems come from? Desire? The blues? I happened to turn the television on yesterday and got pulled into the movie Loving Leah. I thought it was a good love story and a nice cultural one too. It pulled one into Jewish traditions and was very instructive. It also dealt with several types of love, the relationships between mothers and daughters, as well as the love between brothers. I also liked Loving Leah because the city of Washington was also a star; another reason for leaving Brooklyn.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Interesting organization:

www.theprintedblog.com

Check it out!
PICTURES FOR YOUR OBAMA FILES:

http://www.pixcetera.com/pixcetera/birth-of-a-presidency-behind-the-scenes/46268?feeddeeplinkNum=0&icid=KE_MEDIA_GALLERY
DON'T LOSE THIS INFORMATION. KEEP IT WITH YOU AT ALL TIMES:

WWW.WHITEHOUSE.GOV
O week 1:

Weekly Address: Remarks of President Barack http://www.truthout.org/012409Bvideo
Ethelbert on NPR:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99851361&sc=emaf
Artists and activists should try and obtain a copy of National Endowment for the Arts, A History 1965-2008. This book is edited by Mark Bauerlein and Ellen Grantham. Contact the Endowment for a copy: www.arts.gov or 202 682-5400.

The book is a comprehensive account of NEA.

January 25, 2009

Tricycle's Daily Dharma

The Precepts
Buddhist practice requires the undertaking of five basic precepts as the minimum commitment to not harming others through our speech and actions. These precepts are recited regularly to remind students of their commitment.

The precepts are:
I undertake to refrain from killing and harming living beings.
I undertake to refrain from stealing and taking that which is not mine.
I undertake to refrain from causing harm through sexual misconduct.
I undertake to refrain from false speech, harmful speech, gossip, and slander.
I undertake to refrain from the misuse of intoxicants or substances such as alcohol or drugs that cause carelessness or loss of awareness.

The positive power of virtue is enormous. When we don't live by these precepts, it is said we live like wild beasts; without them, all other spiritual practice is a sham. Imagine trying to sit down to meditate after a day of lying and stealing. Then imagine what a different world this would be if everyone kept even one precept – not to kill, not to lie, or not to steal. We would truly create a new world order.
- Jack Kornfield,

A Path with Heart from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book.
Read this Daily Dharma on tricycle.com
LETTER TO A FRIEND
I sent the following letter to my friend Michael Steppat in Bayreuth:

Hi Michael,

Good to hear from you. The Obama election is a changing moment in historical time. Our challenge is to stay ahead of history. New ways of thinking are needed. We are seeing the "death" of so many things but the challenge is to create and believe in the new. This often requires deep faith and a trust in the things unseen. I feel there is a "crack" in black intellectual thought right now. People have no vocabulary to explain the present. No vision to imagine the future. The present is a dangerous place to live. Without the creation of "intellectual arks" we won't survive. I can't even find 2 thinkers I can believe in yet. Just call me Noah as I continue to read, search and wait. Is that a storm on the horizon?

Ethelbert
THE BEST VIDEO I'VE SEEN IN 2009:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Us-TVg40ExM&feature=email
BLACK ALERT?

OK, we only have one more week to decide. We need to take a vote on whether we should celebrate Black History Month in 2009. Post-racial is the new craze and the economy is bad. Can we "afford" to be black and talk about blackness? Can we do Black History Month and not feel guilty? Might it be cheaper to bring back "passing" in America? Would this be the equivalent of a black tax cut?

Whoa...so much thinking to do. So little time. Well - here is a conference idea we should explore before folks start counting down to the last Black History Month; or the end of blackness as we know it.

MICHELLE OBAMA AND THE NEW BLACK AESTHETIC.

Here are some panel ideas:
1. How does Michelle Obama redefine the concept of beauty within and outside the race.
2. What happens to us when Michelle wears red?
3. Can the First Lady also be a new "Black Madonna" for poor people around the world?
4. The images of hair in the photographs of Michelle Obama.
5. When does dark and lovely equal power?

I think the above ideas should be examined by today's scholars and pundits. This is my hope for those thinkers who find themselves trapped on a tightrope.

BLACK ALERT and then we all fall down, only to RISE AGAIN. Blues for beginners?

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Person in the News to Watch:


Benjamin Netanyahu. Will he become the new Israeli Prime Minister? Elections are February 10th. Is this what the war in Gaza was all about? Tough guys and hard lines? Peace has to be placed on the agenda. Israel and the Palestinians might have to look to new future leaders - nothing sadder than recycled politics, distrust, hatred - oh and wars. What card do we play now?
THINGS TO WATCH:

The financial meltdown appeared near to claiming Iceland's government, as the ruling Independence Party called Friday for elections in May - two years early - amid increasingly violent protests and the fracturing of its coalition. If the government is voted out, it would be the latest victim of the global financial crisis - so far.

- WSJ
New Book:

UP FROM HISTORY: The Life of Booker T. Washington
by Robert J. Norrell
Belknap/Harvard Univ. 508pp. $35.

Did you see those statistics in The New York Times next to Charles M. Blow's essay? A couple slapped my head and kicked me in the groin. How can you duck the following?


Black teen boys reporting being raped - 7%


12-to-17 year old black girls who are obese - 28%


Black children who had used alcohol before age 13 - 31%


The stat that began a conversation between my daughter and I was this one:


Black women who agree that it is sometimes necessary to discipline a child with a "good hard spanking" - 94%


So you know the question Fox News wants to know - Will the First Lady spank a butt or two while in the White House?


Of course E'Bert has his own questions:


- How much verbal abuse comes before a spanking?

- Will a black nanny spank a white child like she would her own?


OK - in the middle of blogger this I can see my mother going into the other room to get the strap. I'm outta here...stats can't help me now!
NYERE NEWS:


Men's Basketball Holds on For 80-77 Triumph Over Messiah
Email to a Friend Print
1/24/2009
(boxscore)Widener built a 15-point lead and held on for dear life in an 80-77 Commonwealth Conference victory over Messiah at Schwartz Center.

Things looked good for the Pride (13-4, 4-1 CC) thanks to a 17-6 run over 7 1/2 minutes for a 73-58 lead with 6:02 left. Sophomore Chris McDevitt (Doylestown, PA) scored five points in that span.

But Widener would not hit a basket the rest of the way, having to withstand a furious comeback by Messiah (4-13, 2-3). Drew Sneeringer paced a 14-2 spurt with six points to bring the visitors within 77-74 with 41 seconds to play. Andy Hawk capped the run on a layup.

Senior NYERE MILLER (Washington, DC) hit two free throws for a 79-74 margin with 38 seconds remaining, but missed two on the next possession. Jamie Yoder (Lancaster, PA) followed with a 3-pointer from the left corner with 14 seconds to go for Messiah and a 79-77 game.

Junior Bobby Edmunds (Linwood, NJ) nailed 1-of-2 from the stripe with 11 seconds left for an 80-77 contest, giving Messiah one last chance. But Widener’s defense stepped up and Yoder missed a desperation 3-pointer from 30 feet at the buzzer.

MILLER ended with 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting with four 3-pointers for Widener, which shot 54 percent (28-of-52) from the floor. Senior Matt Sosna (Stratford, NJ) netted 10 points with junior Jamarr Johnson (Pittsgrove, NJ) and freshman Jack Brennan (Stratford, NJ) adding nine apiece.

Colton Reitz scored 15 points off the bench for the Falcons, who shot 54 percent (28-of-52) from the floor and owned a commanding 40-17 rebounding edge. Sneeringer and Tyler Storch netted 13 points apiece, Yoder poured in 12 and Hawk had 11 and nine rebounds for Messiah.

Widener’s victory keeps its one-half game ahead of Elizabethtown for first place in the conference.Widener on Monday steps out of league play to visit Immaculata, beginning at 7:00 pm.
SPORTS:

Making it to the PGA Tour requires a long and expensive apprenticeship, ideally stating with national Junior competition, then college golf in a top program with the best coaching and facilities, then three to five years or more of competition on the developmental tours, typically requiring a stake of $70,000 to $100,000 a year.
Here are a few names in today's newspapers that you might want to Google. Now and then it's good to get some background history to today's news.

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin
Sayid Qutb
Charlie Sifford
Shasta Averyhardt
BLACK BOX: Don't forget to check it, but don't box yourself in.

So there I was down at NPR talking with my editor about future programs. Bam! I get this wonderful idea of doing a program for Black History Month. The title is "Black No More." It's about how every household (starting this February) has to have a "convertor" box in order to receive black programs. Too many of us have problems hooking the device up but thanks to a "Black" president we are given an extension until Malcolm X's birthday in May.

Nah - could never happen. Could it? I'm feeling so Carter G. Woodson today. I'm so there.
Is there a movement already to make Obama's birthday a national holiday? Sounds like Tom Joyner time or best T- time with that guy with the smile. We are either in a recession or a depression when it comes to black intellectual thought. Time to refresh and think NEW.

Are too many black people thinking "only" dark thoughts? Lights please. Now that Obama is president where is our Edison and Einstein? I need to get going before someone decides to organize another one of those - black survival or where do we go from here?conferences. Feet don't fail me now.
Pacific Northwest Writers Association
Contest Deadline February 20, 2009
Visit: www.pnwa.org for details.

POE BICENTENNIAL is this year. New Edgar Allan Poe biography is out. The author is Peter Ackroyd. The title of the book is Poe: A Life Cut Short.

Friday, January 23, 2009


This week the boxer Jose Torres died. He was 72. A former light-heavyweight champion and writer. He was the author of Sting Like a Bee: The Muhammad Ali Story. Torres had a record of 41-3-1. He died in Ponce, Puerto Rico. I remember him losing his title to Dick Tiger in 1966.

Friday night. Listening to Jr.Walker & The All Stars. Will spend a couple of hours answering email and getting back to a few folks.

Today I went downt to NPR and recorded a commentary that will air on Sunday morning. Let me know what you think.


DON'T MISS. CHECK THIS OUT:

http://i.gizmodo.com/5137670/1474-megapixel-inauguration-panorama-is-a-treasure-trove-of-candid-captures

Treve de blues - Leon Damas


Yesterday was such a sweet day. I met two beautiful people from France. One was Sandrine Poujols ( a scholar) and the other was Marcel Bibas. Bibas is the nephew of the great poet Leon Damas. We sat in the African American Resource Center remembering Damas. I told Bibas about how I answered the phone one afternoon and Damas invited me to read poetry with him at the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library. It was such an honor. Damas had once given a reading with Sterling Brown. If you can find an old Black Box tape you can listen to these readings. Priceless.

Damas was very close to my mentor Dr. Stephen Henderson. He had such love for the man - and many who met him did. Negritude - ah Negritude. Where would we be without Cesaire, Senghor and DAMAS!
To be playful is not to be trivial or frivolous, or to act as if nothing of consequence will happen. On the contrary, when we are playful with one another, we relate as free persons, and the relationship is open to surprise, everything that happens is of consequence, for seriousness is a dread of the unpredictable outcome of open possibility. To be serious is to press for a specified conclusion. To be playful is to allow for unlimited possibility.

- James Carse

No need to debate about being in a post-racial period anymore. Robert Downey Jr has been nominated for an Oscar (Best Actor in A Supporting Role) for his work in Tropic Thunder.



This is so funny. All this discussion about Obama being black and now we need to have conferences about Downey not being white anymore. If Downey wins the Oscar will he accept in blackface? Stay tuned. Oh, what will our black pundits say now. Guess someone might have to "spike" their drinks.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Quote of the Day:

The digital transition will move millions of people from decent analog reception to terrific, high-definition reception. Many will be able to stop paying for TV service; when digital TV becomes the new basic cable and satellite services should in turn, feel motivated to provide a better deal for their subscribers.

- Rob Pegoraro, The Washington Post, 1/22/09
NYERE NEWS:

http://www.widenerpride.com/awards.aspx?aow=32
More Liz Links:

http://www.ebonyjet.com/culture/literature/index.aspx?id=11324
The End of Black History

What until you see the sequel. More slavery and no Civil Rights?

Something else to place on the O Agenda?

When was the last time a US President gave a speech inside a US prison? When was the last time a US President toured one?

Prison reform is needed in the US. Too many young black males behind bars and invisible. I don't hear any discussion about their future. We talk about trying to prevent young people from going to jail but what about the people already there?

Are any of these young men being promised "green" jobs upon their release?


SPECIAL TO THE E-NOTES:


Power to the Peaceful: America’s First Inaugural Peace Ball

By Rob Okun

It had been Barack Obama’s day but the night, at least in one corner of Washington, D.C. belonged to the peace community, a moment to celebrate the sweet taste of victory. Not even the frigid Washington evening could cool the sizzling heat emanating from the nation’s first Inaugural Peace Ball, a night of inspiration and celebration. Nearly 1500 activists and optimists from around the country streamed into the grand hall of the Smithsonian National Postal Museum to sing, dance and give a shout out to joy. Indeed, “our time had come.”

Amidst the flowing gowns, tuxedos, colorful African vestments, and splashes of (code) pink, social justice voices led a call and response spanning more than 40 years, crossing the political desert in the aftermath of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Sister-troubadours Joan Baez, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Holly Near, Toshi Reagon, and Angelique Kidjo took to the stage massaging weary hearts, supporting tired legs, and tickling eager dancing feet. Meanwhile, sisters of conscience Alice Walker, Eve Ensler, Amy Goodman, Laura Flanders, and Kimberlé Crenshaw encouraged us to find balance, deepen commitment, and celebrate a common humanity.

To a pulsing beat, musician-activist Michael Franti and Spearhead moved down the chakras—head awash with both the burning light of injustice and possibility; heart beating in unison with brothers and sisters around the fragile planet; and loins aflame with the energy of love. This was one ball Michelle and Barack Obama would have benefited from attending. It generated at least a four year supply of renewable energy powered by grit, commitment, savvy, groundedness and boundlessness, all at celebratory full throttle.

At the heart of the Inaugural Peace Ball was impresario Anas “Andy” Shallal, who organized the event “as a challenge for the peace community to reclaim its rightful place in the mainstream.” Owner of the Washington progressive community’s flagship Busboys & Poets—much more than a restaurant, cultural center and bookstore (although it is all three)—Busboys is a microcosm of a healthy community where a United Nations of the soul can break bread together. Shallal seized the paradigm-shifting moment of Barack Obama’s election to create an event to help catalyze the peace movement “to set the political and social agenda for the future of our country and our planet. We can no longer afford,” Shallal said, “to be cynical or to find comfort being on the fringe.”

The mood all evening was relaxed and hummed with expectation. When he hears the reports of what went down on the night of his inauguration—and hopefully he will—President Obama would be well-advised to ask for a briefing paper.


Harry Belafonte, honorary host for the evening, would have welcomed the new president onto the stage but likely would have reminded him—as he did John Kennedy a half-century ago—that even though we worked hard for his election, we weren’t going to give him a free pass. We are going to agitate for our agenda. Activist before entertainer, the legendary Belafonte still has fire in his belly. At 81, his voice was strong as he admonished the throng at the Peace Ball, “If [President Obama] fails it’s because we failed. If we succeed, he’ll succeed.” We have to keep the pressure on, he said. Appreciated from the stage for his long service to the movement, Belafonte said no praise was necessary. “I am having the time of my life…and I love making mischief.”

Feisty and funny, Dick Gregory, full white beard and shock of white hair, is still one of our prophets of conscience and biting humor, one of the movement’s great uncles. Introduced in song by his daughter, he reminded the crowd that the peace community doesn’t need validation from the corporate media. “You are so important. What you do is so critical,” he said, pointing out at the sea of faces in the great hall. “The change is not [President] Obama; the change is us.”

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alice Walker offered a message that holds a key to help the peace community to endure. To be peaceful, she encouraged her audience find a way to be centered each day. And “deeply revere the feminine, the goddess.” The time is past, she pointed out, for only patriarchal religious imagery to be offered at inaugurations.

When playwright-activist Eve Ensler bounded onto the stage, the energy quickened. “I believe in openings,” she said to laughter, “and today was a big opening.” The author of The Vagina Monologues remains hard at work putting the issue of violence against women—and Africa—in a highlighted place on the social justice agenda.

At the center of an evening of celebrating that went on for six hours, was hope and possibility, buzz words of the Obama campaign. The hall sizzled with electricity: excited first-time meetings, reunions of old friends, whoops of joy—“Yes, We Did!” coupled with “Thank God he’s gone!”

Joan Baez’s set included Bob Dylan’s “Forever Young,” dedicated to the Obama family. Later, introducing another song, she told of traveling with Dr. King in Mississippi. He was an hour and a half late to deliver a sermon because he’d been taking a nap. “You wake him, Joan,” Baez recalled being asked and the young singer tentatively stood by his bed, starting in on “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.” Dr. King rolled over and said, “I believe I hear the voice of an angel. Sing me another one, Joan.” The Peace Ball was the kind of night Dr. King would have no doubt said, “Sing me another one, Joan. Tell another story, Harry.”

After eight years of the Bush regime, it was time to sing and tell stories, to feel our connection to generations of activists gone by. Ossie Davis would have loved the Peace Ball, so would have Grace Paley and Studs Terkel, to name a few. It reminds us to continue the struggle: to know our feet are meant for marching and dancing; our voices for protest and singing; are hearts for beating fast facing the winds of injustice and slowly in the quiet of meditation. This is our moment. What will we do now when we can finally step away, as Andy Shallal said, “from the comfort of being on the fringe?” We are the change we have been waiting for. Barack Obama is the president we elected. What will we do?

In “Wild Geese,” poet Mary Oliver writes, in part: You do not have to be good/You do not have to walk on your knees/for a hundred miles through the desert repenting/You only have to let the soft animal of your body/love what it loves/Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine…”

We have told ourselves about our despair. Now it is time to tell ourselves about our joy, walking on our two feet, backs erect, through the desert of war to the oasis of peace. We begin, like Barack Obama, today.

ROB OKUN is editor of Voice Male magazine. His essay, “Confessions of a Premature Profeminist” appears in the anthology Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex, and Power,” (Routledge, 2008). He can be reached at rob@voicemalemagazine.org.

FROM AMIRI BARAKA:


The New INAUGURATION ISSUE OF UNITY & STRUGGLE Amiri Baraka' historic newspaper, came out a few days before the great event, the inauguration of President Barack Obama

We will send you 1 Dozen issues for 5$.
Analysis of President Obama's election victory and what it means.for all of us. contributions by Marvin X, Ed Bullins, James Early, Jubilee Shine, Rich Quatrone, Kofi Natambu, Pili Simanga, Langston Hughes, Fernando Suarez del Solar, Jamil Mangan, Union del Barrio, Quincy Jones and new summation of the election by Amiri Baraka, "We Are Already In The Future".

Send check or money order to AB 808 S.10th St. Newark, NJ 07108

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

HOW MANY YEARS? HOW MANY PICTURES?
This link says everything: High quality pictures of the inauguration :
www.boston.com/bigpicture/2009/01/the_inauguration_of_president.html
MORE OBAMA POETRY:

http://thedefendersonline.org/2009/01/20/poetry-of-change/
TRACK YOUR OBAMA:

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/promises/
News from my friend Pornpinol Kanchanalak in Bangkok:

www.nationmultimedia.com/2009/01/22/opinion/opinion_30093835.php
THE POEM:

Everyone has a comment on Elizabeth Alexander's poem today. Many have comments about her "performance" or lack of. I found everyone comparing her words to Whitman, Frost and Angelou. However, one name that was not mentioned was Gil Scott-Heron. First, Alexander's poem should be connected to the closing lines of Barack Obama's speech. Can we get a coda here?Obama quotes George Washington -and it seems like a Valley Forge moment. It's Winter in America. Alexander's "Praise Song for the Day" echoes this:

In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

Now let's bring in Gil and his deep voice, singing:

And now it's winter
Winter in America
Yes and all of the healers have been killed
Or sent away, yeah
But the people know, the people know
It's winter
Winter in America
And ain't nobody fighting
'Cause nobody knows what to say
Save your soul, Lord knows
From Winter in America

The Constitution
A noble piece of paper
With free society
Struggled but it died in vain
And now Democracy is ragtime on the corner
Hoping for some rain
Look like it's hoping
Hoping for some rain

We seem to be trapped in winter right now. It is cold outside.Alexander's poem is not a blueprint for the future. It isn't the visionary poem I was thinking she might write. Others will do this. I found Alexander doing what Obama did in his address. Alexander stands in front of us as mother and comforter. An ordinary woman in extraordinary times? This complements the humility expressed by Obama. For a moment Elizabeth Alexander is not a Yale professor she is a woman going about her daily work. She hears the music created by the people. If her words seem more prose than poetry, it's because she is saying it plain. This is a praise song in which the words of remembrance do the heavy lifting. Alexander's poem informs us to celebrate the moment in its Buddhist and sweet Christian dress. Incorporated are the basic teachings of all good people:

Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."
Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

If we are to pursue King's dream then we must continue to believe in the Beloved Community.
Alexander reminds us of this. Yes the mightiest word is love. It seems to be Divine Love- for the poet yesterday told us to look beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light.

Maybe here is where Elizabeth Alexander becomes not Gwendolyn Brooks but Lucille Clifton. As I listened to Elizabeth recite her poem yesterday - I thought of the light that had come to my friend at this historical moment. I thought about how Aretha had the hat but Alexander had the poem.

And the poem guided us towards the light, and we were all moving forward - as one and as Americans.

In the Spring of our beginning - Anything can be made, any sentence begun.