Saturday, April 30, 2005

Things to watch:
The Left movements and developments in South America.

Jose Miguel Insulza of Chile becoming the new head of the O.A.S.

Problems in Togo.
After a trip to the bank I went to College Park, Maryland. I arrived at Vertigo Books before Noon and helped put things in order for the second Muse to Muse program. I then walked over to a small tea place down the street. There I reviewed my introduction for Sarah Browning.She was the poet on today's program. Sarah is the coeditor of DC POETS AGAINST THE WAR: AN ANTHOLOGY. In my introduction I made the following remark:

Sarah Browning is the type of person who changes a city. She is the type of person who opens the door to the Beloved community.

Sarah read about 10 poems before I conducted an interview with her. This is the format for the Muse to Muse series. I want to focus on the writing process and the craft interview. The format is almost like a workshop. After I ask questions the guest poet answers questions from the audience. We had a really good time. So I guess there is going to be something for me to do after Ascension.

I took advantage of being at Vertigo on the last day of April. All the poetry books were being sold at a discount. Years ago, I was one of the founding investors of Vertigo. That was when the store was located in DuPont Circle and Bridget and Todd were making history. So many memorable events...

Today I purchased two gifts for friends and a bag of books. Included among the goodies were the following titles:

PICNIC, LIGHTING by Billy Collins
MY LIFE by Lyn Hejinian

Sarah gave me a ride over to Politics & Prose around 5 PM. I made it to Richard McCann's book party. Everyone was in the house. An All-Star cast for a guy who is loved by so many. Richard teaches at American University. His new book is MOTHER OF SORROWS. A collection of ten stories just out from Pantheon. Richard read from his book and took questions. The line for autographs was too long for me to wait. My son was outside waiting to drive me home. He was wearing his new Widener University shirt. The kid is looking good and ready for college. Tomorrow we might go out and shoot a few hoops in the morning like the old days. fast this all goes.
It's like an author turning a page at a reading. What will take place in the next chapter of my life?

Four more Poet Lore packets arrived today. More work. :-)
I took the MARC train up to Muirkirk Road and was met by Richard Zandler. Richard puts together the jazz and blues concerts at the Monteplier Cultural Center. A nice site.

There was a good crowd on Friday. I opened the first set with the reading of a couple of "old" jazz poems. I also read some work by Sterling Brown and Michael Harper. I was followed by the Charles Covington trio. Charles teaches jazz piano at Howard. Nice music.

Before leaving Monteplier, Richard gave me a CD of Sir Roland Hanna and Davey Yarborough playing Ellington. The tape was produced by the Center in 1999.

Baseball note: Ichiro is coming out of a small slump. Average back up to .355 This next month is going to be a key one. He needs to stay around .375 or.380 to have a chance of hitting .400 this season.

Will the Wizards play basketball tomorrow?

Friday, April 29, 2005

Morning meeting with A. Shallal who is opening in June a new restaurant near U Street. Look for Busboys & Poets to be the place to go.

Percy Heath dead at 81. He was the bassist of the Modern Jazz Quartet (M.J.Q.):
John Lewis, Milt Jackson, Kenny Clarke and Heath.
Wow...what a great evening seeing so many friends. Making thanks to the National Writers Union for honoring me and Hans Johnson at the Bistro D'OC ( I'm speechless...

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

When baseball cards die...
Earl Wilson, dead at 70. African American pitcher who played for the Red Sox and the Detroit Tigers. Boy could this guy hit. A Bob Gibson man. His best year was 1967. He was 22-11 for the Tigers.
Wilson was the first black pitcher for the Red Sox. He joined the team after my Pumpsie Green. Wilson pitched a no-hitter against the Angels on June 26, 1962. He also hit a home run in that game.
Today went well. I had a wonderful time visiting the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. I went to lunch at Aria (13th Street & Pennsylvania Ave, NW) with Phillippa Strum. She is director of the Division of U.S. Studies at the Center.
She gave me a copy of MUSLIMS IN THE UNITED STATES which she edited with Danielle Tarantolo. This book looks fantastic. Good information about a subject all Americans need to know more about. For info go to the Wilson Center website:
The Wilson Center is sponsoring a conference on May 11th starting at 8:30 AM:
If you want to attend register at:

Before leaving the Center I met Fred Bush. Wow...this guy knows a ton of stuff about bull fighting. I was knocked over. I would really like to do a television interview with him. OK...that looks like another project.

The Susan Cheever interview in The Writer's Chronicle had me laughing on the bus. Here is how Cheever responded to the question about how a book idea comes to her:

Well, they each came in a different way. When I tried my first novel, I was working at Newsweek. Every Sunday morning, I would write twenty pages, and the next Sunday, I would start over. It turned out that I couldn't write a book and work at the same time. So I did what, at the time seemed a very romantic idea. I ran off to France with someone else's husband. At thirty-five I thought that was okay.

One more packet of Poet Lore submissions to read this week.
"Love leaves nothing but shadow and vapor/We go on, as is our sad nature."
- Bruce Springsteen.

Springsteen is scheduled to perform May 14 at the Patriot Center at George Mason University, Washington, D.C. His new release is DEVILS & DUST.

The new WRITER'S CHRONICLE (May/Summer 2005)is out from AWP. This one contains an interview with fellow Bennington faculty member Susan Cheever.

Yesterday afternoon I participated in a graduate student's final thesis lecture and defense. I love working with folks in the Howard U Art Department. It's good to sit around and look at art. Sitting in the room at the Ascension Gallery was Sam Gilliam.
Sam is a giant in African American art. I didn't know he was sitting behind me. When I did I joked with him and gave him a belly tickle. You have to do this when you're confronted with greatest. Talking about greatness, maybe that's where Gina L., the graduate student might be heading. It was good to see how much her work developed over the last year. She was examining the blues and her personal story.
Girl Gina had a tough year with the recent loss of her brother in Iraq. It was nice to see so many of her friends come to see her work and give her that hug support.

I got a ride down to the King Library where I met Leshem. We walked over to Legal Seafood and had dinner. Leshem talked about his research on African Americans in the Navy. The guy is a handbook of information.

I turned in early...just crashed. Now I'm back up and seeing what Wednesday is going to wear. I have a lunch date with Ms. P. Strum down at the Woodrow Wilson Center. I also have a late afternoon meeting with Ruth Y.

Thursday I'll be doing a morning radio program on WPFW. I'll talk about Sterling A. Brown. May 1st was his birthday. Oh...later in the day I'm be giving a 5PM reading at IPS (733 15th Street, NW) with poets Reuben Jackson,Lorraine Hutchins, Robert Giron and others. I'll also be honored at a dinner sponsored by the National Writers Union. That will be at the Bristo D'Oc at 518 10th Street. Tickets are $35.

Friday evening I have a reading out at Monteplier...part of their Jazz series.

Saturday is M2M (Muse to Muse), the new series I just started. I'll be interviewing Sarah Browning at 1:30 PM at Vertigo Books in College Park, Maryland.

Saturday evening Richard McCann is having a book party over at Politics & Prose. I'm not going to miss him.

Sunday is May Day and I'll rest.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005 look at page A22 in the New York Times today. Yep...that's my guy. Ichiro.
I think he is one of the best players to ever play the game. Checkout the title of the article - "For Suzuki, Hits Keep On Coming: Pursuing Perfection or. 400 whichever comes first." It's amazing how good he is.
It was funny reading about novelist Steve Stern in the New York Times yesterday. I'm so happy folks are discovering this guy. His new book is THE ANGEL OF FORGETFULNESS.
That must be my name too. I bumped into Steve when I came downstairs from my hotel room at the Virginia Festival of the Book (a few months ago).Steve was in the lobby by himself. I nodded at him. He said, "Ethelbert, you don't remember me, do you?"
I gave Steve that look black actors made famous when they first walked across the screen. I knew Steve's face but couldn't download his name because my head is really old equipment. I met Steve last year when I was in Israel. We walked to the Wailing Wall on a Friday night and had dinner with a friend. If I was making a movie and wanted someone to play a novelist I would select Steve. He's a literary darling.
Good to see this guy getting more public attention. See, New York Times, April 25, 2005, B3.

I'm having fun reading Kevin Young's JELLY ROLL.

Yesterday I received a nice card from my dear friend and literary scholar, Julia Galbus. It's the type of card you keep as a reminder of what a good friendship is. I always remember my father saying "a person has many acquaintances but few friends."

Norman Mailer sold his papers to the University of Texas. As a literary activist I love hearing about things like this. My papers are going to Emory & Henry College in Emory, Virginia. One can access a listing of some of the things already there by going to the E&H website and clicking on the Kelly Library's special collections. I have a number of boxes ready for future shipment.

I completed the preface for Katherine Burke's new book. Katherine runs The Annapolis Publishing Company. She is getting ready to publish WILD WASHINGTON: ANIMAL SCULPTURES A TO Z. Hey, wait until you see this. It's a real cool book. It contains pictures of all the animal sculpture around DC. Each entry has a poem written by Nancy Arbuthnot.

I have a thesis meeting at Howard this afternoon. This evening I'll be getting together with Leshem, a friend I met while in Israel. He is visitng the US doing research.

I need to start pulling together my questions for an interview with the writer Edward P. Jones. I interviewed Jones on June 24, 1992. That's when I had my own radio show...back in the day. E.P. Jones fantastic collection of short stories was just out. LOST IN THE CITY should be required reading. Jones won so many literary awards last year for THE KNOWN WORLD, I thought the guy was Tiger Woods. It will be good to sit down with him again.

Monday, April 25, 2005

I met with Miriam Pemberton (IPS) this morning at Cosi on 14th Street near the McPherson metro stop. It was good to listen to her talk about her research. She is the peace and security editor for "Foreign Policy in Focus" at IPS:

When I arrived on Howard's campus I went looking for a meeting that never took place. :-( Bonk on my day.
I did talk to a couple of students in my office. Many folks are trying to graduate and make plans for the future. I like this time of the school year. Sweet Amber, Zu-Bolton's daughter also dropped by to chat.

Well, I'm heading home to do some more yard work. Where are my brother monks? :-)

Sunday, April 24, 2005

I spent the day working in my yard. It felt good. More work to do tomorrow.

Prof. Joyce Joyce has been doing a good job editing the Temple University Faculty Herald. The March 29th issue (Vol. 35, No.5) has a good article by Dr. Victoria Arana. The title is "The Wide, Wide World of Howard U." I found the piece informative and funny.

Peter Davis did an excellent job editing POET'S BOOKSHELF:Contemporary Poets on Books That Shaped Their Art. He has 81 poets in this book.
I'm included and the books I selected were:
THE BIG SEA by Langston Hughes

One can order the book from The Barnwood Press:
It sells for $14.95
Some of the poets in the book are: Ai, Tony Hoagland, W.D. Snograss, Gerald Stern, Timothy Liu, Wanda Coleman, Joy Harjo and Russell Edson.

In the latest issue of American Poet one will find the lovely poem "Milkweed" by James Wright:

While I stood here, in the open, lost in myself
I must have looked a long time
Down the corn rows, beyond grass,
The small house,
White walls, animals lumbering toward the barn.
I look down now. It is all changed...

Saturday, April 23, 2005

A good day. It started with a morning meeting with Kasia J. We met at the Cosi on G Street, not far from the King Library. Kasia is from Poland. She's into translation theory. We had a good theoretical discussion. I met Kasia at the AWP conference in Chicago last year.

Around Noon we walked down to the Poetryfest sponsored by the D.C. Public Library.
God is a poet, so we had nice weather and a good crowd of poetry lovers. The Library closes the street and puts a stage up. Ken Carroll was the master of ceremonies. He introduced Wendy Rieger (Channel 4). Wendy is a buddy and she was excited to read some of her favorite poems. She was looking beautiful and set the tone for the afternoon...
Woody Smith talked about Walt Whitman. I read with Lee Briccetti and Cornelius Eady.
Lorree Slye a vocalist sang and made everyone take note that you'll be hearing about her again.
Sarah Browing was there to talk about Poets Against the War. Sarah is my next guest on the new series I just started: M2M (Muse to Muse). Come see her on April 30, 1:30 PM at Vertigo Books, 7346 Baltimore Ave, College Park, MD. Call for info: 301 779-9300.
Former Mayor Marion Barry read a few poems; there was a panel discussion about poetry hosted by Jo Reed. Young people took centerstage during the open mic session.
I left before things ended in order to join Wendy and a few of her friends for lunch over on 7th Street. We laughed and talked until the rain came.

I caught the train at Gallery Place and headed home before 5PM. In my bag were two books of poetry I purchased at the Fest: JELLY ROLL by Kevin Young and WINTER MORNING WALKS by Ted Kooser.
Ornette Coleman was in Minneapolis yesterday performing at the Walker Art Center.
Ornette is 75. The guy plays harmolodics and breaks rules. I always found the guy interesting, similar to Anthony Braxton, Marion Brown and Sun Ra. A good thesis topic for someone might be looking at the early poetry of Jayne Cortez and seeing if there's a Coleman influence. It could be like writing a paper about Toni Morrison and Henry Dumas. This is what I call making literary probes. It would be ideal to have an institute of young scholars that could do this type of research.
Ichiro won't hit .400 this year. He needed to get off to a very good start.Right now he is hitting .353. He would need to have a couple of 3 hit games before this month ends to have a crack at it.

Nets can defeat Heat if Carter can continue playing like an All-Star. If the Wizards can defeat Chicago they have a slight chance to make it to the NBA finals.

The Nationals are beginning to play like a team that was once the Expos.
Willie Randolph - manager of the year after being forced to wait so long? Hmmm.

I'm listening to the Jackson Five this morning. "Never Can Say Good-bye" Go figure... "There's that anquish, there's that doubt..."

Fort Bragg, N.C. Hasan Akbar convicted in that grenade attack against his fellow soldiers. The first time since Vietnam that an American has been prosecuted on charges of murdering a fellow soldier during wartime. An Army psychiatrist said that Akbar might have suffered from "the blues." I think this is more than a case of the blues. The blues ain't nothin but a good woman on your mind. I think this might be a case of what I call triple identity. African Americans who are Muslims, Black and American. It was revealed in this case that Akbar didn't want troops to kill Muslims in Iraq. This case needs to be really examined. Prayers go out to the families that lost love ones...
The Akbar case has HBO written all over it. If my name was Ellison or Wright or Ernest Gaines I would be writing about Akbar. I really want to know what this guy was thinking. Is this an example of Bigger goes to war? Did he just snap or did he really plan to achieve "maximun carnage" against other Americans?

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Archie Givens Sr Collection of African American Literature is celebrating its 20th Anniversary. Last night was like an Oscar night with only Halle missing. The love couple was in the house: Alexs Pate and Soo Jin. American idols. I love them madly, I love them sane, I love them all the time.
Alexs introduced me a little after 7PM. I gave my talk "When Love Turns Into Letters"
to a wonderful audience filled with folks like John Wright,Craig Rice,Wendy Lougee, Margarat Hasse, Barbara Ward, Karla Davis, Karen Roloson and Archie Givens (Da Son).
Even Mom Givens was in the audience. I had fun talking about the 200 June Jordan letters I recently donated to the collection. It was a talk that even made me laugh.
I think June would have loved the craziness of some of the moments. I'm happy that I've been able in some small way pay tribute to a lady divine.

I have a number of other items in my files that I plan to give to Givens.

Flying home I read three of the stories in I GOT SOMEBODY IN STAUNTON by William Henry Lewis.

So why do you have to wait so long for your luggage at the airport? They should run the baggage claim area like the pizza folks. Late luggage and I should be able to go to claims and get a coupon for a free meal at the airport. I was waiting so long for my luggage to appear I could have had a meal. I was hungry too.

So I'm back home and my son is walking around looking cool and handsome for his prom.
He told me he just informed his college coach (Widener U) that he wanted to wear his number 13. That's his lucky number and day of birth.

I'm listening to Earth Wind & Fire - Greatest Hits. I feel good...

Poetry Festival in front of the King Library tomorrow at 12 Noon. Don't be on time.
I had a fine time in TC. I love Minneapolis. It was great seeing old friends. I left on Wednesday afternoon. I read A WOMAN OF MEANS by Peter Taylor on the plane. I was met at the airport by Deborah McLaren and Spiderman (her son). She took me to her home where I had a good conversation and meal with her husband Rob and special guest Cool Papa Rohan.

I stayed at the Holiday Inn (Metrodome) which is close to the University of Minnesota campus.

On Thursday morning, Taiyon and Grant who work at the Givens Collection, escorted me to KFAI radio. It was great meeting T & G. If DuBois was with us he would have spoken highly of them as the Talented 10th. Jules N (my Bennie) did the radio interview. Also on the program were authors Margaret Vaillancourt and Ann O'Fallon.
It was nice seeing sweet Lynette again. She works at KFAI and joined the show to ask questions along with Jules.

After the morning radio show, Jules, Grant, Madame Taiyon and I went and had Indian food. Before the afternoon ended I had a chance to visit the Walker Art Center's new $67 million Herzog &de Meuron addition. Be sure to check this place out if you have travel plans this summer.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

A nice evening at the Folger Shakespeare Library last night. I was invited to judge the National Poetry Recitation Contest. This is a wonderful event for high school students. It's an NEA and Poetry Foundation project. Dana Gioia continues to do great things as NEA chair. I judged the contest with the Honorable James Moran ,a US member of Congress and Dr. Gail Paster, the director of the Folger Library.

In the audience was John Barr, the president of the Poetry Foundation. We had a chance to talk briefly during the reception.

Stephanie Oparaugo took home first prize. She is a student at Benjamin Banneker Academic H.S. in D.C.

In the audience was Heea (Reetika's mom). She gave me a ride home and so we had a lovely time talking about a number of different things. I just love Heea.

I have a number of things in my bag. I'm taking them to Minneapolis today. I have the recent issue of Poetry magazine (April) and the new collection of short stories by William Henry Lewis. The title is I GOT SOMEBODY IN STAUNTON.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

"I always thoughtI was going to be Willie Mays but couldn't hit the curveball."
- George Bush

Monday, April 18, 2005

The interview with Roger Wilkins went really well this morning. We taped it at his home in SW Washington. The program, Humanities Profiled, will be aired on local television this summer. Wilkins is the author of JEFFERSON'S PILLOW: THE FOUNDING FATHERS AND THE DILEMMA OF BLACK PATRIOTISM. We talked about George Mason, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Focus was also on the Declaration of Indepedence and the writing of the US Constitution. Wilkins shared his views and opinions on a number of issues, including Watergate, DC education, and
the contributions of his uncle Roy Wilkins.

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Ichiro had a good day. So did the Nationals. My day was OK. I gave a talk/reading at the Foundry United Methodist Church. I was invited by Deryl Davis and Rev. Nancy Webb. The church is located at 1500 16th Street. It's right across the street from where I lived with my first wife back in 1974. It's also the church Bill Clinton attended during his presidency.

I read excerpts from my memoir FATHERING WORDS. I read poems about my brother going into the monastery and talked about family and religion. It was a nice afternoon.
Afterwards I walked over to 20th and P and had a meal at the Sala Thai restaurant.
It was empty because it's a downstairs place and the weather was so nice outside.
Everyone was sitting outdoors. I was by myself so I just had a quiet meal.

I'll complete my Bennington packets tonight and put them in the mail tomorrow.
I'm ready for my interview with Roger Wilkins tomorrow.
I'm tired but pushing myself. It will be good to see Minneapolis this week.
Excerpt from Anne Waldman's "Verses for the New Amazing Grace"

And if the planet cease to spin
Sad universe go silent, dark
Ancient poetry's echoes will make a din
Rekindle the primordial spark

O I bow down to Christ's thorny crown
All sacraments meant to heal
The Buddha's smile, old Yahweh's frown
And Allah's consummate zeal

But Poetry's a Goddess sent
To save a wretch like me
She strums the strings of life's desperate edge
With her haunting melody.
Don Blasingame died. He was 73. I remember having his baseball card. He was a second baseman:Giants, Red, Washington Senators. He managed in Japan...

I watched most of the Nationals game last night. A qood squad. I loved watching Frank Robinson yank those relief pitchers. If the guy can't get an out, find someone who can. What I saw yesterday was a team that's going to lose a lot of games down the road. The bullpen looks very weak. Nationals are going to have to score runs.

Ichiro had 3 hits last night. Seattle only had 3 hits. Go figure.

I spent yesterday down around DuPont Circle(Cosi). I worked on my last Bennington packets.I also dropped by Provisions Library. I bumped into Vige. Great seeing her, she had spring and maybe summer written all over her face.

Back at the house we had a small birthday party for my daughter. She will be 23 on Thursday. Later she went to a club downtown with my son. Both adults now...
My life is now entering another stage. I need to think of things like retirement, fixing up the basement, getting cable. He He...I decided not to have it in order to prevent my kids from watching too much television while growing up. But now it's MillerTime. :-)

Friday, April 15, 2005

I'll be giving a reading at the new Atlas performance center (1333 H Street, NE) on Monday, April 18th at 7:30 P.M. I think I'll read some of my published fiction. Who knows...

Talking about new things, I want to get to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis this week. Checkout the story about it in the New York Times (B31, April 15, 2005).
Information from the University of New Orleans:

Ezra Pound Center for Literature
Brunnenburg Castle
Merano, Italy
June 6- July 7, 2005

An opportunity to study the poetry writing and the works of Ezra Pound.

Madrid Summer Seminars
July 4-29, 2005
See course offerings:

Contact person: John R.O. Gery:
Sarah Browning and I had a nice breakfast at DOMKU. It's a new bar/cafe located at 821 Upshur Street, NW in Petworth. Good food and people.

So many neighborhood places opening...

Atlantic Monthly magazine is moving from Boston to Washington.

Alicia Ostriker has a new collection of poems just published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.The title is NO HEAVEN. ISBN: 0-8229-5875-9. It sells for $12.95.

Lucille Clifton and Mark Doy are reading together in Paterson, New Jersey:
Hamilton Club Building, 32 Church Street, corner of Ellison Street.
Saturday, May 7, 2005 at 1:00 P.M.
Ichiro was stopped the other day. :-( He had 2 hits last night. I'm waiting for him to have a couple of three/four hit games.

Nationals won their opener. Many of the folks in the stands didn't look like the serious baseball fans. It was more the crowd that wants to come to a happening or put a couple of fingers on history. I'm glad the team is in first place even if it's just the start of the season. Washington needs its sports team to complement the growth and new image the city is building. The Wizards making the playoff is another positive thing. I don't see the Redskins going anywhere unless they get more out of the QB position. They also need a star punt/kickoff returner. I think they have an easy schedule this year. I'm still going with New England being back in the SuperBowl.

I have a poetry reading on Sunday at the Foundry United Methodist Church (16th and P St) at 1:30 P.M.

I'll be interviewing Roger Wilkins for my next television show on Monday.

I'm listening again to Alice Coltrane's TRANSLINEAR LIGHT.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

I watched the movie Kansas City last night. This Robert Altman film is a classic.
Belafonte should have been given an Oscar along with Jennifer Leigh. The movie presents the best jazz on the screen. I remember when Kansas City came out in 1997.
The film uses real jazz musicians....some of the best. I had been playing the CD for several years and never had a moment to catch the film. I love the story. Hey- go rent it and give me a shoutback. Belafonte plays the character Seldom Seen. What a name. Of course you know the rest of it...
Seldom seen but often heard. The name of the character plays so well against the music which is almost nonstop throughout the film. Here is a movie in which black life is contrasted with white life. And guest what? Black people are not in the film to save white people. What Altman examines is the issue of invisibility. That's why it's important to note that a white character tries to commit a crime by using blackface...only to be caught by Seldom Seen. Seen (Belafonte) is upset by the Amos and Andy insult more than anything else. The point is that the white criminal thought he could make his whiteness invisible. He couldn't and so he paid the price.
Kansas City is a film worthy of study. I can't wait to discuss it with Belafonte next month during our interview.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I received a note from J. Coles at the Libaray of Congress inviting me to "An Evening with Ted Kooser" on May 4th at the Cosmos Club. I've read some of Kooser's work. It will be nice to hear him read.

There was something finally in the news about the tragic case of Sgt.Hasan Akbar. He is the soldier charged with two counts of first-degree murder. Akbar killed two men and wounded 14 others. He is the guy who threw two grenades at his fellow soldiers. Why? Did he snap from being teased for having a Muslim name? Did he not want to harm fellow Muslims in the Iraq war? So many questions. This sounds like a script for HBO.
I had a morning meeting with Malia (IPS) at the Savory (314 Carroll Street).

From the latest review of Jose Canseco's book JUICED in The New Yorker:

"In one way or another, we've always been juiced. When coffee and tea were new in the Western world,they were seen as powerful (and often dangerous) mind -and body-altering substances."
Whew...where did yesterday go? Why does today seem tired too? Yesterday I had an IPS executive commitee meeting.Things are going well. Checkout what we are doing at:

I had a nice talk with HU student Brandon Edwards. He is graduating next month. Interested in being a documentary filmmaker. Good spirit...

Gina and I went down to the HU bookstore and caught some poems by Thomas Sayers Ellis. Nice to see him back in DC. It was also great to hear him breathe poems off the page and fill our ears. THE MAVERICK ROOM is his new collection.

I had dinner (Thai) with Wendy R. over at Tenleytown. It was great seeing her again.
She will be the guest host for the upcoming DC poetry festival on April 23rd. Don't miss. 12 Noon until 3 PM in front of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, located at 9th & G Street,N.W.

I just received a nice note from Ai. I told her about the passing of Ahmos Zu-Bolton in my last email. I'm going to get an essay about Zu off to Eugene Redmond so that it can be published in his DrumVoices Revue. I'll try and write that in June. Grace Cavalieri just sent me a couple of letters Zu had written to her...

I have the latest issue of Poets & Writers. My dear friend Renee Shea wrote another cover story. This one is about Andrea Levy. In this May/June 2005 issue, Sven Birkerts has an essay on the memoir. A must read for me. Birkerts is a fellow Bennie.
It will be good to see him in June.

It's spring and writers are writing. My how we blossom.
A petal here...a petal there.

Monday, April 11, 2005

A good morning meeting with John about IPS. Things are moving forward quite well.

I met with Gina L. and members of her committee in the HU Fine Arts building. Gina is completing her thesis work. We will be getting together next week to listen to her talk about her paintings. I know it must be difficult trying to concentrate on school after losing a family member in Iraq. So much healing for all of us...

The James A. Porter Colloquium on African American Art is going to be held on Howard's campus, April 14-16, 2005. I looked at the list of presenters and found myself whistling. I can't remember the last time I saw some of these folks: Teixeira Nash, Keith Morrison, Akili Ron Anderson, Juliette Harris and Rebekah Mosby.
It's all good. I might sneak over on Saturday morning just to see Deborah Willis.

I spent time on the phone laughing with Wilfred Samuels (University of Utah). Wilfred is doing another paper on my work. This one will be given next month at the ALA in Boston. Samuels asked me a number or questions about my relationship with my mentor Stephen Henderson. I need to pull a few things from my files and send to him tomorrow.

Tonight I'll watch the movie Kansas City. It will be the 4th movie (in three days) I've seen with Belafonte in it. I'm taking notes.

I received a nice email from Mohammed Naseehu Ali. He has a story "Mallam Sile"
in the latest issue of THE NEW YORKER magazine. April 11th issue, page 66.
I met Mohammed at Bennington a few years ago. His first book of stories will be published in August. The title is THE PROPHET OF ZONGO STREET. Bennington packet back in the mail. Four more to do before Friday.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

So there I was turning from the basketball game to watch golf. Tiger will do that to a black man. Funny how race will pull you into a sport. I felt like I was listening to Joe Louis on the radio, or waiting for Jackie Robinson to steal a base. I was sitting in my living room watching a guy make history - and this was the Known World.

My Mini schedule for the upcoming week:

IPS meeting tomorrow morning with John. Thesis meeting at Howard with Gina.

Tuesday is an IPS board meeting; phone conference. Bob O'Meally and Thomas Ellis are on Howard's campus.
I have dinner with Wendy R. in the evening.

Wednesday, Tayari Jones will be at the HU bookstore in the late afternoon.
Wednesday is my son's 18th birthday.

Thursday a meeting at the King Library to complete plans for the upcoming April 23rd poetry festival sponsored by the DC Public Library. Noon to 3P.M.
Evening meeting with Monica.

Friday breakfast meeting with Sarah B.
Ichiro had two more hits. I had a very productive day too. Yesterday I completed work on my June Jordan talk. I'll be making my presentation on April 21st at the Givens Collection, University of Minnesota. That's where I donated all the letters June wrote to me from 1975 to 1999. Anyone doing serious research on June will want to examine this material.

I watched ISLAND IN THE SUN and CARMEN JONES with my daughter yesterday afternoon. It was like old times. We laughed at some of the dialogue in Carmen Jones. I was knocked over by the speech delivered by Belafonte at the end of Island In The Sun.
In that film he plays a black labor leader. Belafonte's film roles were very positive and seem to echo the Black Power period more than the Civil Rights Movement. It's like watching Jim Brown running over people.

I have to run down to WPFW around Noon (Sunday) and do a program on WPFW. I'll read poems from the new collection I'm working on, ON SATURDAYS, I LOVE TO SANTANA WITH YOU.

Depending on the weather I might walk down to DuPont Circle or sit in a cafe somewhere. I'll take a few books to read and maybe one Bennington packet to work on.

So who's going to be Pope?

Other things to watch during the next few months:
China's international (economic) movement into Africa and South America.
Miami Heat being upset in the playoffs
The Nationals hanging around first place in their division. I caught the end of yesterday's game and this looks like a wonderful young club. If they can keep winning they will become believers...look out.
Folks calling for a serious military pullout from Iraq.
Michael Jackson's conviction of maybe a minor offense. Look for a Martha Stewart type jail time and a new album by next year. Someone is probably getting ready to market a BAD 2 album soon after his release.
With all the Obits so far,look for a major personality to die in a car or plane accident. So many deaths this year. :-(

Oh...and look for Ichiro's face to begin appearing in a number of publications and on television.

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Ichiro is hitting .533. The interesting thing to note is that he had 2 walks yesterday. This means the guy is being even more selective about what he is swinging at. If he can keep his average around .500 into May then he will be off to a good start in trying to hit .400 this year.

Friday, April 08, 2005

I just watched the old movie ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW with Harry Belafonte, Robert Ryan and Shelley Winters. Some good black and white shots. The screenplay was written by John O. Killens. I like the Belafonte cool character. He is only singing one song. It's a jazz tune and Harry is playing the vibes. I found the ending to be weak but the movie was done in 1959. I'll watch a couple of other Belafonte movies tomorrow with my daughter.

I ran into my old Howard U friend Jamil on campus today. He is now the National Spokesman for the Nation of Islam. We talked briefly about the 10th Anniversary of the Million Man March this fall.

I'm doing Bennington packets,and working on my June Jordan talk this weekend. I think we will also have an early birthday party for my son tomorrow night. He will be 18 next week.
U.S. Congress is urging a presidential pardon for the boxer Jack Johnson who was convicted in 1913 under a law that banned the interstate transport of women for immoral purposes. Many believe did was done to Johnson to "send a message" to black men about relationships with white women. The flamboyant Johnson became the first black heavyweight champion in 1908.

Home news: My daughter will be running this fall in the 30th Marine Corps Marathon.

The writer Frank Conroy died on Wednesday. He was the author of STOP TIME, director of the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa for 18 years. He was the director of the literature program at NEA from 1982-1987. Conroy's sister Ellen Conroy Kennedy
has been a dear friend for many years. Love and prayers for the Conroy family.

Thursday, April 07, 2005

I had a long day yesterday. The evening however was fun. After eating bad Mexican food on U Street, I sat in the LoveCafe near 15th Street and did some work. Around 7PM I walked over to 1438 U Street and viewed a couple of Independent films. One was a short by Michon Boston. Michon produces my television show, Humanities Profiled. She has been working for a couple of years on "From Ernesto to Che." It's about how Che's life influenced her. Michon had a nice group of supporters siting around two tables. In the house was James Early and his family, as well as the actor Danny Glover. I sat next to my funny friend Willa R. Willa is a young fiction writer I've known since she was about 14. Her parents are art activists from years back.

I didn't get home until 10:30PM. I had piles of work to do but I just crashed. I watched the movie The Incredibles. Nice movie...Good for kids.

So today I have to give a talk on campus around 3:40 PM. Students in the African American Studies department are hosting a small conference at the Bunche Center. I'll be on the "Envisioning freedom" panel. I drafted some prepared remarks.

I'll spend the morning doing email. I'll have lunch with my old friend Leslie M.
We will probably eat over at the Blackburn Center. I still have an idea in the back of my head about doing a children's book that will be a spin on Leslie. Leslie worked at Howard for a couple of years. She was the one person I went to lunch with on a regular basis. I know I'm going to be laughing and not eating this afternoon.
Not even a salad can stop me.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Two more hits for Ichiro again. His average remains at.500.
Bob O'Meally is returning to Howard University to give the Charles Eaton Burch Memorial Lecture. April 12th, 4:00 p.m. in Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel (6th & Howard Place). O'Meally's topic is "This Music Demanded Action": Rereading Ralph Ellison.

I just received a new book catalog from Coffee House Press. They are reprinting Alexs Pate's wonderful novel LOSING ABSALOM. This one comes with an introduction I wrote.It sells for $15. Pate's book brews:
Saul Bellow gone too. This is such a dark year. Everyday the news reveals a new departure. Some of us must prepare to become elders. We have a responsibility to the living and the dead.

Prayers for Peter Jennings.
Ichiro had 2 hits last night. That keeps his average at .500.

Warm weather today...I think I'll dance in the sun. I'm sending prayers and love to everyone.

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Ichiro got 2 hits in his first game. That puts him at .500 If he is going to hit .400 this season he must get off to fast start. If he can push his average to around .600 in the first 3 weeks...then it's going to be a fun year. Not impossible.

My son continues to receive phone calls from various schools. I'm not impressed with schools that knock on your door around midnight. No snacks left. I think he made an excellent choice going to Widener U. I think it will be a wonderful opportunity for him to grow and mature.
I just returned from giving a poetry reading at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. I had a great time.
Amens to Craig Challender and Mary Carroll-Hackett for making the visit possible.
I arrived last night on campus thanks to the driving of MeLaina and Matt (two students from Longwood). They transported me from my home to their school.

In celebration of National Poetry Month, I read my own work as well as poems by James Tate, Stephen Dunn, and Hal Sirowitz. We had a good question and answer period after the reading. Afterwards, my buddy Susan Stinson took me to dinner. We were able to catch the last few minutes of the NCAA championship game.
I telephone my son teasing him when Illi tied the score. But in the end he won with North Carolina. He helped my daughter win $100 in her office I guess she will give him $50.

I'm back answering a batch of emails. One from Annie Finch...she has a new book just out: THE BODY OF POETRY.

Other folks with books are Longwood's Mary and Craig:

WHAT THE POTTER SAID by Mary Carroll-Hacket (write to her at Longwood University in Farmville for copies. She is teaching creative writing there)

DANCING ON WATER by Craig Challender
Published by Pecan Grove Press in San Antonio, Texas:
Pecan Grove Press, Box AL, 1 Camino Santa Maria, San Antonio, Texas 78228-8608.

When I arrived home I discovered in the mail a galley copy of Lynn Sharon Schwartz's new novel, THE WRITING ON THE WALL. Counterpoint will release it this June.

While I was on the campus of Montgomery College (Takoma Park)I met Mayamerica Cortez a poet from El Salvador. She gave me a copy of her book Nostalgias Y Soledades.

So I have much to read the next few days. I want to complete work on the questions for my Roger Wilkins television interview by the end of this week.

The first Bennington packet from one of my students arrived in the mail, so that's going to be more work too. But the weather is nice in there's a spring in my walk right now.

More later...

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Bert's Pope Picks:

Francis Arinze, Nigeria
Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Argentina
Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, Honduras
A cold, ugly Sunday. I met my friend Vige for breakfast at the Left Bank. It was not a morning to walk around. I came back home around 1PM.

This is one of those days when you hit the ball back to the pitcher and don't want to run to first base.
Prayers for the Pope. It will be interesting to see where the new Pope will come from. The Catholic church has been conservative the last several years. There still must be a few "liberation theology" types around. Imagine a radical Pope being elected from South America, this taking place as many of the countries in that region are moving to the Left. Don't be surprise to see an African being placed in the position. A black conservative face would be pushed before a radical white one.
Will the next Pope be Italian? A return to the way we were for many years? When I was growing up in the Bronx, my brother Richard dreamed about being Pope. This was years before he became a monk. I remember him walking around the house with a blanket over his shoulders blessing me...

Two good poems in Dunn's THE INSISTENCE OF BEAUTY are "Achilles in Love" and "Cohabiting."

There will be a panel discussion of my work at the 16th Annual Conference of the American Literature Association in Boston, May 26-29, 2005

Session 22-E , Saturday, May 28th.
E. Ethelbert Miller: Poet, Public Intellectual and Personal Narrative
Moderator: Wilfred D. Samuels, University of Utah
1. "Sense and Sensibility in E. Ethelbert Miller's HOW WE SLEEP ON THE NIGHTS WE DON'T MAKE LOVE." Remica Bingham.
3. E. Ethelbert Miller as Public Intellectual and Literary Activist: An Overview of Interviews." Julia Galbus, University of Southern Indiana.
4. "E. Ethelbert Miller and Stephen Henderson: Spiritual and Intellectual Father and Son." Wilfred D. Samuels, University of Utah.

Respondent: Jerry WardL Dillard University.

I have two readings on Monday. The first is at Montgomery College, Takoma Park campus and the second is at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia. I think my Longwood reading ends right before the NCAA championship game. My son is taking NC but I'm going with Illinois.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

This morning I went to Adams Morgan. I sat in the Starbucks on 18th and Columbia Road. I read the newspaper and then went to the bank. I left there and went to the barbershop. With a clean head,I walked down to DuPont Circle. I stopped in Kramers and puchased Stephen Dunn's THE INSISTENCE OF BEAUTY.

It's raining, so I took the bus back home. I slept for an hour and then pulled my files and started putting poems in order. I have enough for another collection. I have two tentative titles. A number of poems need revision. I can see completing this book project by the end of this year and trying to get it out by the fall of 2007.

Curbstone Press sent me another review of HOW WE SLEEP ON THE NIGHTS WE DON'T MAKE LOVE. The book was selected by Bob Holman and Margery Snyder for their "Top 7 Books to begin your Poeducation..." This ran on

Miller's new book makes a good case for his being Mayor of DC...

Maybe, I could throw a book across homeplate when the Nationals open the season this month. There's nothing wrong with my arm. I keep writing poems and this is my fifth inning. I'm on metaphors not steroids. I'm not going to shrink my parts. Keep the words up is what I say.
He was somebody's father or husband or something, but he might as well be invisible.
- James Tate

Friday, April 01, 2005

My son and I went to the movies and saw SIN CITY. A creative film...the old film noir dialogue. I enjoyed it. Guys are always smoking and the women are dames. Yes, and you fall for a pretty face and it's just your luck it's raining blood. Just don't step in it. You smell her perfume and it's not just for you. She's another guy's girl and he's looking for her. Don't break your fist for this. You can't win.
You just need a drink. Ask her what's she's having...

There was a note in the local media about my son going to Widener University to play basketball. The start of another chapter in his life...

Tomorrow I'll work on my Roger Wilkins interview, wash clothes, and do some leisure reading.