Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Just Punt

If I had to select a new coach for the Washington Redskins it would be Jon Gruden. You have to love this guy...

However with the team being in such a mess I see someone passing to Lovie Smith. It's like electing Obama with an economy that's about to collapse. If you're successful in keeping things in order - no one will give you credit. Black man for hire? Play calling by the butler?  We should know before the Super Bowl.


December 19, 2013
Library of Congress
E. Ethelbert Miller in conversation with U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey.


5.1 magnitude quake hits Japan 80km from Fukushima nuclear plant 31 Dec 2013 A shallow 5.1-magnitude earthquake has hit eastern Japan, the US Geological Survey says, but there are no local reports of any damage. The quake hit at 10.03am (1203 AEDT) in Ibaraki prefecture, 146 kilometres northeast of Tokyo, the agency said. The tremor was 9.9 kilometres deep, USGS said. Located roughly 80 kilometres southwest of the Fukushima nuclear plant, the quake was strong enough to gently rock high-rise buildings in the capital.
Japan's homeless recruited for Fukushima radiation clean-up 29 Dec 2013 Seiji Sasa hits the train station in this northern Japanese city before dawn most mornings to prowl for homeless men. The men in Sendai Station are potential laborers that Sasa can dispatch to contractors in Japan's nuclear disaster zone for a bounty of $100 a head. This is how Japan finds people willing to accept minimum wage for one of the most undesirable jobs in the industrialized world: working on the *35 billion, taxpayer-funded effort to clean up radioactive fallout across an area of northern Japan larger than Hong Kong.


Is it the last day of the year or are we just living on the edge?  Today I had to check the map to locate Dagestan. Time to start vocabulary building in 2014. Is it my imagination or is Chechnya now the center of the universe? Africa continues to make me weep. Mandela's spirit looks down on us and maybe we should all stay in small cells until the apartheid in our blood no longer keeps us separated from love. The 21st Century is quickly becoming known for religious conflicts around the world.  God help us. We keep comparing and talking about God the way young boys discover their sexuality in school bathrooms. When did prayer become nothing but masturbation? How can we be holy yet so destructive? What type of God would permit such violence in his name? After so much sin what is left to confess?
The 29th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Program will feature Nicole Lee as the keynote speaker.
Lee is the President of Trans Africa

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014
7:00-9:00 PM
Baird Auditorium
National Museum of National History
10th Street and Constitution Avenue, NW

Lee's topic is: "Lifting the Torch: The Legacy of Nelson Mandela.

Nicole Lee

The E Box

The next E-box is almost ready for shipment. This one will be going to Lorrie Wilson in Milwaukee. I will try and give out 4 E-boxes in 2014.

The E-box consists of books taken from my personal library and given to a writer or reader who is a lover of books.

Below the next E-box sitting by the door getting ready to fly to Lady Wilson.

Monday, December 30, 2013

THE SCHOLARS: Interview with Dan Moldea



Artists for Andy - 2014

Artists interested in attending a fundraiser on January 13th for Andy Shallal (for mayor of DC) should write to me at:

Andy Shallal photo by Ethelbert


The curse of Albert Haynesworth?  If you want to know when things went downhill for Shanahan just go back to the Haynesworth "problem" and how it was handled. After Haynesworth came the stab of McNabb.
The media quickly turned against Haynesworth and ate the cookies that were given to them. It was difficult to do the same with McNabb because it was like having a problem with Sidney Poitier. At the end of the day people who have control problems won't like jazz.

Don't expect the Washington Redskins to go anywhere until they have a few players who are going to the Hall of Fame. The entire defense needs to go. The other problem is that some of the more articulate players on the team are not making key plays when they need to. Don't say "we" after the game when it was "you."
You dropped a key pass - you didn't cover the receiver who made the touchdown.

So who will be the new coach of the Redskins? When things are a mess look for a black man to be selected for the job. Ethelbert - are you reading race into this?

Alessandra Gelmi

Interview: Alessandra Gelmi 

The end of the year and the news coming out of Russia is not good. 2014 might turn her back on us.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

PAUL BLAIR dead at 69



A friend sent me this link yesterday. It captures the essence of what my work has been about all these years. How do we live in a world and continue to seek love and intimacy? How do we live each day with or without desire? Why do so many of us die alone? Why is a broken heart a first grave? What is the mystery behind love that it can resurrect us to believe again and again. I would like to believe loving is easy and only living is difficult.



Wissal Al Allaq and E. Ethelbert Miller

I came across this picture that was taken (2009?) upon the release of a collection of my poems translated into Arabic. Here I am with translator and friend Wissal Al Allaq. We first met years ago when I was visiting Yemen. At that time Wissal was a young college student. Who knew we would stay in touch and make a presentation at the Abu Dhabi Book Festival so many years later.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


E. Ethelbert Miller and Greg Orfalea

I just happened to be looking for some information this morning and came across a picture I had never seen.
The above photograph finds me talking with my friend and fellow writer Greg Orfalea. I have no idea when or where it was taken.

More about Orfalea:


Hey - wasn't that Grace and Ethelbert having lunch at Busboys and Poets yesterday?  Two people laughing and looking forward to another year of friendship. Sitting in the same place where they met many years ago.

Naming Names...

Reading the article below is just another reason why DC residents should vote for Andy Shallal for Mayor.


Too many D.C. politicians seem to be flying on the same plane. Maybe it's time for voters to put their masks on and turn to their neighbors. Tell people to vote for Shallal: www.andy4dc.com

Change is in the Air. Fly Shallal!

Tricycle Daily Dharma December 28, 2013

Traveling the Path

The Buddha found what he had to see by sitting still, but even he had to travel to get to that point, to see through the other roads that would lead nowhere and come finally to the understanding that the truth we’re looking for is no further than the hair on our arms. The lives of each of us, the Buddha was saying on his path, are a journey toward recognizing where we’ve been all along.
- Pico Iyer, “The Long Road to Sitting Still”

Friday, December 27, 2013


One could easily overlook the ad for the Mandela movie in The New York Times today. But something made me chuckle about how things are packaged and consumed. The Mandela ad was simply Idris Elba holding Naomie Harris. Just another love story. Winnie and Nelson. Imagine showing some aspects of South African apartheid in the movie ad. Around Washington the promotion of the Mandela movie simply has Elba and the word "Troublemaker" behind his head. Nothing heroic about that title. Imagine releasing a film about George Washington and calling it "Rebel."

It's almost Oscar time. If the movie Mandela wins no mention will be made to the cruelty of apartheid. We've already reduced Madiba to a few quotes. What will we remember 27 years from now?

Now on Moyers & Company
 Full Show: The Pope, Poverty and Poetry

Bill talks to best-selling author and historian Thomas Cahill about why Pope Francis has conservatives up in arms, and to former Poet Laureate Philip Levine about how his years working on Detroit’s assembly lines inspired his poetry.

Don't Miss...
Grid Map 15 Wins for the Progressive Movement in 2013
While Washington was stuck in the politics of obstruction, grassroots activists around the country scored some major wins for economic justice, civil liberties and democracy.
  Inequality: An Essential Reader
Everyone seems to be talking about inequality. If you’ve got questions, we’ve (hopefully) got the answers.
  BillMoyers.com’s Most Popular Videos of 2013
Here’s a look back at some of Bill’s essays and interviews that were popular with visitors this year.
  Q&A: Main Street's Pain Is a Result of a Policy Failure
Economists Dean Baker and Jared Bernstein have written a new book about how to cure what ails the American economy.
On Democracy
Campaign Cash Rules Drown in the Bathtub
What little power the government still has to regulate campaign finance donations is being eroded by funding cutbacks, intimidation and bureaucracy.

Image Credit: Peter Krogh © 2012 Moyers Media. All rights reserved.
Source_Logo in JPEG
Front Cover REVERIE CoCo Harris trying

REVERIE: Ultra Short Memoirs

ISBN-13: 978-0982922880
Trade Paperback: 6x9, 188 pages
eBook: most formats (Kindle, NOOK, etc.,)
eBook Digital Edition ISBN: 9781452406169
The multiple Pushcart Prize nominated collection of ultra short memoirs, telling the stories of our lives, a hundred words at a time.
Featuring the works of:
Nancy Prothro Arbuthnot, Beatriz Badikian-Gartler, Valerie D. Benko, Jean Bonin, Bobbie S. Bryant, Jean Butterfield, Diane Caldwell, Helen Carson, Adam Cheshire, Casey Clabough, Beth Lynn Clegg, Ellen Dworsky, Michael Estabrook, Kathy Gilbert, Carmen Gillespie, Richard Goodman, Bobbie Hayse, Ashley Henley, Jessica Heriot, Meredith Hoffman, Jean Horak, Stephanie C. Horton, William L. Janes, Marilyn June Janson, Jamie Johnson, Carol Kanter, Evelyn Lampart, Gina Marie Lazar, Catherine Lee, Janine Lehane, Gerald A. McBreen, Aileen R. McCready, Leota Mccown-Hoover, Callie Melton, Jasminne Mendez, E. Ethelbert Miller, SueAnn Porter, Diana Raab, Lori Rottenberg, W. Clayton Scott, Don Segal, Judith Serin,Elaine Dugas Shea, Missi Smith, Diane Spodarek, Emily Fraser Voigt, Pavelle Wesser, Changming Yuan and Sally Zakariya

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Program on Inequality and the Common Good

"Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills." - Pope Francis, TIME Person of the Year, Nov. 29, 2013

"The problem is, that alongside increasedinequality, we've seen diminished levels of upward mobility in recent years. A child born in the top 20 percent has about a two in three chance of staying at or near the top. A child born into the bottom 20 percent has a less than one in 20 shot at making it to the top. He's 10 times likelier to stay where he is." - President Barack Obama, Dec. 3, 2013
Dear E. Ethelbert,
By now you know that Inequality comes and goes from the mainstream news cycle. Right now it's a hot topic, especially since TIME named Pope Francis Person of the Year. Check out Pope Francis's comments on Inequality to the right. (Not to be outdone, another well-known guy, Barack Obama, has also been chiming in on the subject.)
But with or without the fanfare, IPS's Program on Inequality and the Common Good keeps a laser focus on inequality. And when inequality comes into the news cycle, often it's because of our behind-the-scenes work.
It takes hard work to keep the conversation going. That's why we need *your* help during this holiday season. You can donate HERE (use the red donate button).
Our “Program on Inequality and the Common Good” focuses on two interconnected themes:
  • Supporting movements to reverse extreme inequalities of wealth, and
  • Building a just and sustainable transition to a new economy.
We do this through direct campaigning, research, coalition support and media and communications. Highlights of 2013 include:
  • Creating new tools for the movement to Divest from Fossil Fuels and Reinvest in the New Economy.
  • Organizing around the Intergenerational Impact of Inequality. See the “New Politics of Inherited Advantage.”
  • Piloting a model local organizing project—theJamaica Plain New Economy Transition—to build community resilience in the face of ecological and economic change.
  • Promoting the new documentary “Inequality For All” starring Robert Reich.
  • Enlisting the high net worth members ofWealth for the Common Good to publicly divest from fossil fuels and shift money to renewable energy.
We hope you’ll consider an end-of-year contribution to the Program on Inequality and the Common Good. You can donate HERE (use the red donate button).
On behalf of our team,
Chuck Collins
P.S. See additional information about our 2013 program work HERE (PDF). Questions about our work? Stock gifts? Questions? Please reply to me directly.
Our Work
The work of Inequality and the Common Good
The Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies focuses on the dangers that growing inequality pose for U.S. democracy, economic health and civic life.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


An International biannual Journal of English Letters
ISSN 0972 – 611X

Chief Editor: Nibir K. Ghosh, Agra (India)
Vol. 13, No.1 January 2014

Celebratory 25th Issue

Global Community & Cultural Connections
Jonah Raskin
I do not remember how long I have known Nibir Ghosh or how long I have written for Re-Markings, though I do remember meeting the editor in California on a lovely summer day. We spent a pleasant afternoon together. I met his wife. We had something to drink. We enjoyed the view. I had no expectation that our brief rendezvous would lead to what I consider a productive literary relationship. I know that it has been good for me. I hope that it has been good for Re-Markings. It must be because Nibir invites me to write for the journal and publishes what I write, too. My connection to the journal is personal. I don’t think that I would go on writing for it year after year if I did not know Nibir and respect his work. I probably wouldn’t write for it if it were published in, say, Seattle, Washington, or Orlando, Florida. I write for it because it’s published in India and printed in India, and because most of its contributors are Indians. Writing for Re-Markings gives me the feeling that I am part of a literary community that is halfway around the world from where I live in California. This is important to me. To fully explain why I would probably have to tell the story of my life and times. Suffice it to say that I want to be part of a global community and to have cultural connections to India.
Re-Markings is one of my major literary lifelines. Writing for the journal keeps me connected to Nibir and it gives me the sense that I’m connected to readers, teachers, and writers in India. I understand how difficult it is to be an editor. It has enabled me to appreciate Nibir Ghosh’s role as editor of Re-Markings which is now celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary -- a long time for a journal to go on publishing creative, brilliant and original articles. Bravo Re-Markings. Kudos to Nibir Ghosh and everyone else who contributes. I extend my hand in greetings and celebration.
·        Jonah Raskin serves on the advisory board of Re-Markings and is a regular contributor. Chair of the Communication Studies Department at Sonoma State University, California, U.S.A., he is the author and editor of books about Jack London, Allen Ginsberg, and the literature of the British Empire.
Celebrating Cross-cultural Conversations
Tijan M. Sallah
I am a latecomer in my association with the journal, Re-Markings, but I see much to admire in its intellectually vibrant pages and much to be hopeful about in valuable efforts to foster global scholarly and intellectual conversations on culture, politics and the new literatures in English. With its twenty-fifth issue, Re-Markings  can claim to be a confident establishment, comfortable in its roots and its ambitions. I see great promise in Re-Markings – in the ideas of peace and social justice through literary discourses that are flowing through its pages—and in the wonderful platform it is providing for the world's literati and thinkers to converse with one another about their literatures and cultures, and the underlying connections. The world is one – this is even more obvious when one considers the earth from a cosmic perspective. It has become closer with cross-border technology and information flows. Distances are being compressed by technology. Cultures, long separated by the hindrances of geography, are now meeting and speaking with other, and in that conversation are finding a common denominator – the amazing similarity and humanity between them. The world has become closer because journals such as Re-Markings are helping that happen. I wish Re-Markings  another 25 years of success. May it continue to be more vibrant as we age. 
  • Dr. Tijan M. Sallah is Gambian poet, writer and biographer. An economist by training, he has taught economics at several American universities before joining the World Bank, where he manages the agriculture, irrigation and rural development program for East African countries.
Creating A One-world Atmosphere
James R. Giles
I have had the privilege of publishing criticism and fiction Re-Markings over the years.  The experience has been pleasant and rewarding in each case. The submission process has been thoroughly professional, and the appearance of my materials in the journal has been clean and attractive. I am grateful for my association with such a diverse and important international journal.  I have profited from looking over the other materials in the issues of the journal in which I have been fortunate enough to appear.  The critical essays have been consistently provocative and informative and the creative pieces fascinating. Mr. Ghosh is a talented and energetic editor devoted to making Re-Markings a wide-ranging and challenging journal. I congratulate    Re-Markings on its anniversary issue and look forward to its future contributions to the scholarly and creative communities. It is the kind of publication that truly creates a one-world atmosphere.
  • Dr. James R. Giles is Presidential Teaching Professor of English at Northern Illinois University, U.S.A.
Beyond Canonical Boundaries
Walter S.H. Lim
With the launch of Re-Markings' 25th celebratory issue, I wish to congratulate Dr. Nibir Ghosh for his leadership and vision in anchoring an important journal in South Asia that deals not only with local and Asian literary and sociocultural matters but also with international cultural relations in a globalized world.  While Re-Markings identifies New Literatures in English as its special area of emphasis, indicating the journal's instinct to move beyond the boundaries of the canonical, its ecumenical spirit is evident in its coverage of subject matter as diverse as American literature, comparative diasporic literature, and the topicality of the Nobel prize for literature.  I recall well my involvement with Re-Markings through Dr. Ghosh's invitation for me to contribute articles on Shirley Geok-lin Lim and Li-Young Lee, two first-generation Chinese American authors from Southeast Asia, and on the award of the Nobel literature prize to Mo Yan.  As we enter the second decade of the twenty-first century and become part of an inescapably interconnected world, we find ourselves also at a historical moment in which valorizations of nation-centered literatures are questioned by writings that embrace hybridity, internationalism, and the breakdown of compartmentalization. It strikes me that Re-Markings' openness to the implications of transnational literary production and cultural interactions positions it as a journal of deep relevance for those of us who embrace the idea of the importance of world literatures. Re-Markings will continue to resonate in the twenty-first century.  
  • Dr. Walter S.H. Lim is an Associate Professor of English Literature at the National University of Singapore
Voice of Vibrant Democratic Participation
Jane Schukoske
Congratulations to Chief Editor Dr. Nibir K. Ghosh, Editor A. Karunaker, Executive Editor Sundeep Arora, and the editorial staff, advisors, contributors, readers and other supporters on the publication of the 25th issue of the journal Re-Markings, a forum for cross-cultural literary analysis, creative writing, review and other features. As a refereed journal, Re-Markings sets a high standard for its authors and provides consistently high quality to its readers. In India and abroad, this journal promotes reflection and intellectual engagement with others.

Facing rapid changes in how and with whom we communicate, we can appreciate and model the contribution of writing to the making of meaning and to the understanding of others. Literary analysis provides a vehicle for examining the meaning of stories in their social and political context. Such analysis is of growing importance in our plural societies in which we encounter so many stories and contexts.

Re-Markings engenders cross-cultural dialogue that promotes mutual understanding. This value of the Fulbright exchange program remains relevant since its inception in India in 1950. Inviting colleagues to seriously engage with academic policy debate, Dr. Ghosh often writes Re-Markings’ editorials that situate the volume within the context of timely institutional issues. These include the interpretation of academic freedom and the need for inclusion in curriculum of the many voices of vibrant democratic participation. The journal thus celebrates not only literary analysis and creative writing, but also the challenges of teaching about literature and the values it conveys.

There is something delightfully fresh about Re-Markings. After I read my issue, I always have the urge to write. I send my sincere hope and best wishes for a long life of the journal!

·        Jane Schukoske, former faculty, University of Baltimore School of Law, served as Executive Director of U.S. Educational Foundation in India, New Delhi. She currently is CEO of S.M. Sehgal Foundation, Gurgaon, Haryana.
Cultural Blueprints and  Better Architecture for Living
E. Ethelbert Miller
Many years ago I wrote about the importance of a common language holding people together. The heart does not need to pursue translation - it only needs to love. There are no borders or boundaries when a poem is read. I think what Nibir Ghosh has done with the journal Re-Markings over the years is the equivalent of providing us with cultural blueprints. Any discussion of literature should remind us that we are human and have the capacity to do good in the world. I was happy to contribute a few words about the novelist Chinua Achebe in a recent issue of Re-Markings. It was Achebe who taught us that "all the stories are true." The work Nibir has been doing with Re-Markings over the years explores this idea. Literary criticism serves as an overcoat protecting one from the rain of ignorance. Magazines build community. India has always been at the center of world culture. In Re-Markings east once again meets west. The result is not just intellectual cultural exchange but the establishment of a better architecture for living. 
  • E. Ethelbert Miller is Board Chair of the Institute for Policy Studies (a progressive think tank in Washington, D.C.) and the director of the African American Resource Center, Howard University, Washington, D.C.
Creating Literary Camaraderie
Anisur Rehman
The act of bringing out a journal is not a random act if one knows what one wishes to do and how. When Dr. Nibir K. Ghosh initiated his project he knew as much. His editorial in the first issue of Re-Markings (Vol. 1, No. 1, March 2002) spelt out his aim in unambiguous terms: “The avowed purpose of the present endeavour is to create a climate of opinion congenial to critical inquiry and intellectual debate.” I understand Dr. Ghosh made his choice with good discretion and with better reason in order to achieve the best that he could.

In India, academic journals have had their short and long lives and have served short-term and long-term purposes, but none has stood the test of years like Re-Markings, and none has survived the trials of editorship like Dr. Ghosh. Over a decade, this journal has emerged as a forum for socio-literary exchanges
Re-Markings is now a formidable mehfil of writers, critics, commentators, reviewers, and readers—all brought together in the true spirit of companionship. During all these years, I have seen the scholars growing with the growth of this journal and I have seen them making way for the new ones to join. As I have watched this, I have also wondered if there was something special that kept them together. I did not have to strive hard for an answer; it lay in their striving to grow with each other to create what I should like to call a literary camaraderie deserving certain respect. While Re-Markings gave them a platform, they found their mooring and all of them, together, made a cumulative impact in the domains of literature, society, art, and culture that every generation, and every age, strives to build in its own inimitable way.

My association with Re-Markings has two facets: academic and personal. I made my tiny contributions now and then but when I look back while writing these lines I realise how little have I really delivered between then and now. I wish I could do more.
  • Dr. Anisur Rahman is Professor of English at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi.
Hope of Redemption
Jitendra Narayan Patnaik
Unlike scores of Indian literary journals which are regularly irregular in terms of the periodicity of publication or which die down after a few issues or turn into business houses that facilitate smooth passage through the corridors of Ph.D industry, Re-Markings comes out without fail in March and September every year, is marching gloriously into its silver jubilee number and is ruthlessly scrupulous about the quality of articles selected for publication. Kudos to Nibir and his team for making all this possible. Journals like Re-Markings do offer some hope of redemption from the depressingly poor quality of research and teaching in most of the institutions of higher education in India.
  • Dr. Jitendra Narayan Patnaik is UGC Emeritus Fellow, Ravenshaw University, Cuttack (Orissa).

This celebratory 25th issue of Re-Markings is devoted to Langston Hughes and is guest-edited by Amritjit Singh of Ohio University, Athens.

For details: contact: Nibir K. Ghosh at ghoshnk@hotmail.com


Next year I want to walk on the Sunny Side of the Street.


Don't you?


Below is an article written by my good friend Joanna Chen who resides in Israel. She will be visiting DC in March. I hope you have a chance to talk with her. Joanna will be reading her poetry at the Writer's Center (Bethesda) in April 2014.


With 40 percent of Israel's teenagers living under the poverty line, at-risk teens need more attention than ever.

By | Dec. 24, 2013 | 5:01 PM |  1
During the recent wave of biting cold that swept through Israel, I sat in my warm home and wondered how Israel’s youth in distress were coping.

While I was volunteering with Elem, a non-profit organization that helps youth at risk in forty Israeli cities, I came face to face with their plight - the scale of which unfortunately remains generally unknown outside Israel: Out of 2.5 million children in the country, an alarming 350,000 children are now at risk.

One of the prime reasons for this is that 40 percent of Israeli children live under the poverty line, roughly double that of most European countries, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. The social protest that flared up two years ago has long since dissipated; talk of funneling more funds into the weaker sections of the population has all but stopped. There have been cuts in allocations of money for welfare, rather than increases. As a result, Israel's government continues to rely heavily on the goodwill of several non-profit organizations to do the job in its place.

Just as in the United States, many Israeli teenagers are at risk in terms of drug and alcohol abuse, prostitution, and violence. According to the most recent Lancet Report (published last year), around 30 percent of American teenagers aged 15 admit to binge drinking. These figures, among others, suggest that an unprecedented number of children in the U.S. are at risk, despite a variety of welfare programs that target teenagers and that also take into account the 'silent' population of teenagers from illegal immigrant families.

In Israel, the largest demographic groups of teenagers most at risk are also from its recent immigrant populations, those whose parents emigrated from Ethiopia and the former Soviet Union. 20 percent of Israel's population is immigrants; but a much higher percentage of all youth in distress in Israel are those from first-generation immigrant families. Their parents may have come the Jewish state seeking a safe-haven, but ask any of the Ethiopian kids on the street how they feel about living here and the answer will probably be the same: We are outsiders, we are discriminated against, we were born in this country but will never belong.

Elem's own statistics cite a 10 percent increase in the use of drugs by youngsters, suggesting that 30 percent of teenagers aged between 12 - 18 have experimented at least once with legal or recreational drugs, often synthetic 'copies' of illegal drugs, that can be readily purchased at kiosks and corner stores. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s call to forbid the sale of synthetic marijuana and cheap methamphetamines has received much attention in the media but no real measures have been taken to date.

Another sector of the teenage population of Israel at risk relates to those living in security-sensitive areas along the border with Gaza or in the far north of Israel, bordering Lebanon. There are various state-run and private organizations that attempt to deal with the burgeoning sense of insecurity and ensuing side-effects that teenagers living in these vulnerable geographical areas experience. But these do little to stave the overall sense of insecurity that these particular teenagers experience, such as post-traumatic stress and a heightened sense of social isolation.

I volunteered for a year and a half with Elem's outreach street work program, venturing out every Thursday night to meet up with kids from the largely Ethiopian neighborhoods of Beit Shemesh. Another group of volunteers centers its street work on the Haredi sector of the city, locating kids from ultra-religious families who have dropped out of school and are facing difficulties finding their place within the strict dictates of this society.

Volunteering, in my experience, is a two-way street: The person who volunteers also gets something out of it, namely the somber awareness that local authorities are not doing enough for the troubled teenagers that have no one else to turn to. Outreach organizations, working hand in hand with local welfare authorities, answer some of these needs, but it is a drop in an ocean of problems that Israel's teenagers face.

Unless more drastic measures are taken, and unless Israel – the state and those Israelis in a position to give without receiving - faces up to this glaring disparity, the situation will only get worse. As a particularly cold 2013 draws to a close, it is high time that Israel takes notice of the youth on its streets.

Joanna Chen is a poet and literary translator whose work has been published in literary journals in Israel and abroad. She blogs at www.joannachen.com

2013 - IF YOU KNEW

The main event of 2013 for me would have to be my daughter's wedding in September. Just a few days ago she officially changed her name. I remember when my sister got married and she was suddenly no longer a Miller. I felt as if she had been kidnapped. I walk around with pictures I took of my daughter's wedding on my cell phone. How different is this from placing photographs on a piano or bedroom dresser? We now carry our children with us everywhere we go.

Yesterday I watched a video of Nina Simone singing "If You Knew." This was the song I selected for my daughter and I to dance to at the wedding reception. All my feelings are captured by the lyrics and mood of this composition. I named my daughter Jasmine-Simone after Nina Simone so everything came together.

Last night I'm standing in the doorway of my house - my daughter and her husband heading home. We spent the last few minutes talking about the movie Mandela which I had seen earlier in the day. I thought of Mandela's daughter visiting him in jail. When he last saw her she was 5 years old - now she was a woman, as much as my daughter is today. Like Mandela I understand how the years pass so quickly and how much is loss - more than a name. If you knew...


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

This morning I started reading Here and Now /Letters 2008-2011  Paul Auster and J.M. Coetzee. This was on a book list I created several months ago. I walked over to the Takoma Library yesterday and borrowed it.

Will go see the Mandela movie today, read Poet Lore submissions, finish cleaning my home office.

I might watch the Golden State Warriors game; always a joy to watch Curry play.

Happy Holidays!