Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Douglas Brinkley will be in DC talking about his new book, THE BOYS OF POINTE DU HOC: RONALD REAGAN, D-DAY, AND THE U.S. ARMY 2ND RANGER BATTALION at Politics & Prose Bookstore, Friday, June 3rd at 7 PM. 202 364-1919

It was nice to see Robert Pinsky using his "Poet's Choice" to talk about Cliff Becker. See Sunday's Washington Post - Book World section, page 12. Pinsky discusses Mark Strand's poem KEEPING THINGS WHOLE:

In a field
I am the absence
of field.
This is
always the case.
Wherever I am
I am what is missing.

When I walk
I part the air
and always
the air moves in
to fill the spaces
where my body's been.

We all have reasons
for moving.
I move
to keep things whole.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Memorial Day. Today, I thought of Gina. Her brother was recently killed in Iraq.
My father, brother, and me never wore a military uniform. My sister married a guy who enlisted in the Air Force. I remember them living on a base in Texas. I had a cousin who was an Air Force military policeman. He was in Thailand during the Vietnam war. I don't think I went to bed thinking about what he was doing. The flag was always down the street hanging from someone's window.
I think my father-in-law is a Veteran. We don't have have much correspondence,and maybe it's because of our own Cold War. Soldiers often fight quiet wars.

I sat on the steps of my house around Noon. In the old neighborhood it would mean sitting on the stoop. My mother didn't like folks doing this. I sat and laughed with my best buddy Bev. Denise joined us for a spell...
Afterwards, Bev and I went up the street and had sandwiches. It was a nice way to spend a holiday. I turned the television on around 3:30 and watched the entire Atlanta/Washington baseball game. The Nationals look like a playoff team. If they can get good pitching after the All-Star break they will be some late games played in DC when the weather has a chill.

Tonight I'll watch Duncan and Parker advance to the NBA finals. The NBA and Stern better hope D. Wade brings the Heat. Pistons/Spurs will not bring big basketball ratings. I'm already turning off the television. Golf anyone?

New Jazz release...For My Father by Hank Jones
Reviewed in today's NY Times (B5)

Good to see that NY Times editorial for Papa Stanley Kunitz on Friday.
Happy Birthday Stan the Man Kunitz...soon to be 100.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

"Why write a book and then talk about it? It doesn't make any sense. I can get another book done in the time it takes to do a book tour."
- Larry McMurtry

"Democracy is not a present you give to people by bombing them."
- Marjane Satrapi
Fourth Biennial Conference of the Toni Morrison Society
"Toni Morrison And Sites of Memory"
July 14-17, 2005
Cincinnati, Ohio

CD: Rhapsody in Hughes 101 by Val Gray Ward
Val recited at the American Literature Association Conference in Boston.

Robert Giron sent me a copy of his new anthology POETIC VOICES WITHOUT BORDERS
For more info here is his website: www.givalpress.com
In this new book one will find nearly 150 poets from six continents. I have a poem in it and I'm keeping company with Joy Harjo, Peter Klappert, Richard Peabody, Jewelle Gomez, Myra Sklarew and many others.

Charles just sent me a copy of Rudolph Byrd's book on his novels:
This is going to be placed on the summer reading list.

Right now I'm completing DAMNED IF I DO by Percival Everett. It's his latest collection of short stories. GrayWolf is the publisher.
I'm back home after a plane, train and bus ride. I had a good Boston trip. Yesterday, I listened to a panel discuss my work. The analysis done by Remica Bingham, Tracie Guzzio, Julia Galbus, Wilfred Samuels and Jerry Ward was excellent. I hope some of the work will be published in literary journals.

The African American Literature and Culture Society is doing good work. Loretta Woodard is the current president.

It's going to be groups like this one that will have to undertake the responsibility
of holding African American literature up to the light. We must establish a criteria for excellence and establish standards for what is good literature. What should we teach?
Why? What work might be excluded from the classroom? Why? Difficult but necessary work. A race without critics will not survive the criticism of others. Oh -It's funny how folks will talk about the Black Arts Movement and overlook that it had a very strong spiritual aspect to it. The center of it was Islam and Malcolm X was at the center of the new consciousness. Malcolm represents not just blackness but discipline and sacrifice. Folks today might claim Malcolm but I don't think Malcolm would claim them. Just go back and read the guy.

We also have to ask ourselves, what happened to the revolution? I don't hear too many people talking about socialism. Can we find the "New Man" inside those kids wearing Che shirts? Difficult to do after the Cold War politics are gone. I still think we should talk more about the Beloved Community. A place where tolerance, respect and love for others become our faith made visible. Our artists must be visionary. It's not about keepin it real. We have to change reality, confront poverty, war, enviornmental destruction, and countless health problems around the world. Time to go and get going.

I met a number of cool people at the American Literature Conference: Robert Dowling, Joycelyn Moody, Bertram Ashe, and Ray Ryan. It's very important for writers to interact with the people who are studying what we do.

Last night David Harbilas, Remica Bingham, Julia Galbus and I walked from The Westin Copley Place over to the Blackfin Restaurant. We had good conversation and food.
David has just released the second edition of his magazine, FOUR CORNERS. The new issue has poems from Denise Duhamel, Laurie Zimmerman, Michael Waters, Tim Mayo and Leslie Clark. I have two poems in it too.

OK...chores to do before the sun goes down on Black Bert.

Friday, May 27, 2005

I arrived in Boston yesterday for the 16th Annual Conference on American Literature.
The conference site is the Westin Copley Place. Just before departing from Washington National Airport I ran into the poet and writer Reuben Jackson. Reuben has always been one of my favorite people in the DC area. He is completing work on a new collection of poems. I encouraged him to send a few of those gems to Poet Lore.

On the van into Boston from Logan Airport, I talked with a woman who taught at Emory.
We had a number of mutual friends, so even thought the weather outside was awful, the ride in from the airport was a good one.

I was very sick last night...so I spent the evening fighting the chills and a sore throat.

This morning I went downstairs to the registration desk for a badge and program.
I ran into Jerry Ward and Aldon Nielsen. Jerry and I sat around and talked for a few minutes and then we went to a meeting of the African American Literature & Culture Society. It's amazing to find about 13 people in a room who are actually shaping African American literature. I met Ms.Moody who is the new editor of the African American Review; also in the room was my former UNLV student Tracie Guzzio.

Loretta Woodward is directing the society. We sat around and made plans for future meetings.

I went to lunch with Julia Galbus from University of Southern Indiana (USI). It was good to get some hot tea and soup.

I have a reading to give this afternoon. On Saturday I'll attend the panel that will focus on my work:
"E. Ethelbert Miller: Poet, Public Intellectual and Personal Narratives."
Panel: Remica Bingham, Tracie Guzzio, Julia Galbus, Wilfred Samuels and Jerry Ward.

In other news...

I was reading in USA Today where 40,000 troops will be placed on the streets of Baghdad. It might be a good idea to reduce the number of cars and maybe give folks bikes. Hmmm.
Sooner or later we might start calling the situation in Iraq a Civil War. We need to begin looking for an exit plan before 2008.

Another poll about H. Clinton becoming president of the US. I really don't think she can win a national election. The Democrats must find a person who can win a few southern states and California. The real debate will be in the Republican Party. A moderate might be a nice breeze of change.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

I received 2 copies of CONNECTIONS (Spring 2005). It's the literary publication of the College of Southern Maryland. Neal Dwyer is the editor.
They selected my poem "Going to Meet the Butcher" for this issue.

Cold weather still here in DC. I wonder what Boston is going to be like tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Breakdown of Fallen U.S. Troops. Soldiers who have died since the war in Iraq began.
Numbers are as of May 23, 2005:

1,100 (White)
191 (Hispanic)
186 (Black)
34 (Asian)
31 (Amer.Ind./Pac.Islnder
36 (Other)

1,543 (Men)
35 (Women)
IPS board meeting this morning. We are making good progress with our agenda. I like how things are going. This is what we are doing right now: www.ips-dc.org

I spent a good portion of the early morning reading Hilary Tham's new book TIN MINES & CONCUBINES. I hope to finish it this evening and submit my book blurb to her publisher.

A couple of magazines to read: The New Yorker, In These Times and The Progressive.

New book out on Charles Johnson's work. He just sent me the book cover.
Indiana University is publishing CHARLES JOHNSON'S NOVELS: WRITING THE AMERICAN PALIMPSEST by Rudolph P. Byrd.
On the cover is a nice picture of Charles at his desk. It was taken by his daughter, Elisheba Johnson.

So the Pistons stopped Wade. If they can keep him under 20 pts it will be a sweep for Detroit.
R. Wallace is good now that people stopped talking about him like he was crazy.
Putting a tall guy on Wade and having a swarming defense to upset his penetration
might be the key.
Shaq can't do it by himself.
So when is Oprah going to have Shaq and Kobe on her show together? Maybe when they are 50 and Oprah is still looking good on the cover of her own magazine?

Ichiro is in his May slump. I'm waiting for a number of 4 hit games soon.
I'm certain they will start coming.

So Mo is back in Philadelphia...can he turn around the 76ers or just his other Cheek. Go figure. How much longer can Webber play? Maybe they should sign T Owens.

Follow the NBA labor problems. Keep in mind that some of the NBA owners also have hockey investments. Look at what happened to the hockey players and their league. Owners will always try to kill a union. The public never sides with the players. They feel everyone is making big bucks. Take time and look into the little issues...it's not all about $$$.
It's always about power.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Flying standby. No Belafonte interview tomorrow. It will be pushed back to a later date. No problem since I have so many other things to do.

Michon came by Howard this morning and we recorded some audio for the Roger Wilkins interview we shot a few weeks ago. It will air on DCTV around the 4th of July.

During lunch I read Richard Hugo "Writing off the Subject" that's included in his book THE TRIGGERING TOWN. I don't agree with a number of the things he mentions in this essay but it's good food for workshop discussion.

***** Other things to think about--**********************************************

Folks are talking about closing Walter Reed Hospital. It's hard to believe. The Hospital is just a few blocks from my home. I think it's about 113 acres or more in size.

My proposal is that the place become the new location for NEA and NEH. I think it would be a great idea to create an Arts & Humanities Complex in Washington DC. The grounds would provide an excellent place for conferences, retreats, etc. It could even provide housing for the poet laureate and visiting international writers.
I've been sharing this idea with friends. Maybe we should start writing our representatives, and getting some press on op-ed pages of newspapers. I'll keep
blogging away at it.

Hundreds of people celebrated the life of Cliff Becker at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in College Park, Maryland. We placed our arms around his wife Leila, and daughter Sahara.
Dana Gioia, chairman of NEA read the following poem by Robert Frost:


Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

A nice morning spent talking to my friend Les from Southern Virginia. Now, I'm heading to College Park, Maryland for Cliff Becker's funeral. The highs and lows of life...a reminder to enjoy the sweetness of things.

I won't participate in the afternoon reading at the Writer's Center...

Time to simply rest. Prayers and love for Cliff's family.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

and if you live in a democracy and you don't use your
power to vote
knowin some would like to turn back the hands of time

shame on us

- Stevie Wonder
I'm listening to Marvin Gaye --"Let's Get It On." 1973 baby! I remember when they played this song on the radio and everyone ran to the music stores.
"If you believe in love, let's get it on..."

Color: Alfre Woodward joins Desperate Housewives tomorrow.
Somewhere in my archives is a tape of Woodward reading my poems along with the work of Ariel Dorfman, et al. What year was that?
I spent the morning doing yard work and running errands to the cleaners and post-office. Around Noon, Melissa Tuckey came by. She just graduated from Mason's creative writing program. She was my first "Muse to Muse" featured poet. Melissa has completed a manuscript that she is now circulating for publication. The title is DRIVING WITH A ONE-ARMED BUDDHA. Melissa is a writer to watch.

I read some fiction by Percival Everett and watched the horses run in Maryland. A good race.

So what's going on in England with the "Happy Slapping" and violence? Youths randomly attacking folks and using their mobile phones to circulate pictures of their victims. This sounds like Clock Work Orange. See New York Times today.

Worst film I've seen this year: Volcano High.
Martial Arts & Hip-Hop. Oh boy...This is awful. No it's awful. Let me say that again...
it's awful.

300,000 people killed by the Tsunami. How do we forget 300,000 people so quickly?
Gov. Schwarzenegger named Al Young to be poet laureate of California. Congrats to Al.
Forever Young. A very good choice. Will Wanda Coleman be next?

Friday, May 20, 2005

The District of Columbia Area Writing Project (DCAWP) honored Eloise Greenfield on Friday evening at the Metropolitan Day School. This was their third annual awards reception. I was the first recipient in May 2003, Ishmael Reed was the second in 2004. I spoke at the awards ceremony and said the following about Greensfield:

"If Washington is known for its monuments, then its monuments must also include the writer Eloise Greenfield. She has written more than forty books. That's an ark of books. One could read a book to a child every night and maybe survive the flood of racism that too often engulfs our lives."

Judith Kelly, the director of DCAWP has been doing an excellent job.

Today I received a nice package in the mail from Jilly Dybka. She sent me two copies of her chapbook FAIR TERRITORY. Jilly is a number 1 baseball fan. This woman knows the game.

I received an email update from Bennington. I'll be teaching in June with Timothy Liu.
Since being at Bennington I've taught with Ochester, Shinder, and Gerstler.

I have a meeting in June at the Lincoln Cottage (Armed Forces Retirement Home/Soldiers home. I read the first chapter of Pinsker's LINCOLN'S SANCTUARY: Abraham Lincoln and the Soldiers Home.

In the mail there was a copy of DAMNED IF I DO by Percival Everett. I'll read one of his stories before going to bed.

Joyce Joyce sent me the latest issue of the Temple University Faculty Herald.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Mike Mariani's English class at Lake Braddock High School is a small center of the universe. It's always a place I enjoy visiting every year. How many years is it?
Often while giving a reading somewhere I'll run into one of M2's students. The guy should win one of those excellent teacher awards. He's the Phil Jackson of high school teachers. I shared my new poem with his class. The title is "There Are Oceans Left to Kill." It's a poem about the war. I've received good feedback on it from dear friends like Don Mee and Wendy R. I told students about POET'S BOOKSHELF edited by Peter Davis. A good publication for young writers to stick in their poetry luggage.

In the evening my son and I went up to Silver Spring to have dinner together. We talked about sports, graduation, and working that first job. We ate at a new Chinese restaurant that just opened two weeks ago. Later we dropped by Borders to see what the poets were writing these days. I found a copy of WALKING LIGHT by Stephen Dunn.
I was sold on his essay "Basketball and Poetry: The Two Richies."

I came back home to a package left at my door from folks at the Lincoln Cottage (formerly known as the Soldiers' Home in Washington). I've been invited to a June workshop they will be hosting. We will be discussing how the institution can serve the public. They sent me a book to read. Yes, homework. The title is LINCOLN'S SANCTUARY: ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND THE SOLDIER'S HOME by Matthew Pinsker (Oxford University Press,2003).

I'm still thinking about the death of Cliff Becker...so sad.
Dru Ryan just sent me a copy of his JOURNAL OF HIP-HOP.
Serious stuff happening in this publication. Check. It's on my must read list.

Today's NY Times has an article on poet Stanley Kunitz. He will be 100 this summer.
Norton just released his latest book, THE WILD BRAID, a collection of essays and conversations about poetry. "Touch Me" is one of my favorite Kunitz.
I'll try to get to Howard early this morning. I can't find my Eloise Greenfield file.
I have to give a talk at Lake Braddock High School in Virginia this afternoon. On the subway ride out to Vienna I'll read Hilary Tham's forthcoming book TIN MINES & CONCUBINES. It's going to be published by the Washington Writers' Publishing House.
I've been asked to write a blurb about Tham's collection of Malaysian short stories.

Last night I was putting in order questions for my interview next week with Belafonte. I'll work on it again tonight. Top priority however will be drafting comments to make on Friday at the tribute to Greenfield.

In yesterday New York Times (Sports Section) there was an article about baseball pitchers using steroids. Gee, I knew that and my name ain't Bud. Why the surprise?
Many pitchers probably use steroids when they are working to return from an injury.
They want to heal quicker. Pitchers also will look for an edge in the game just like hitters. I still think the focus should be on young players coming out of Latin America. That's where one might find the use of steriods on players that might not even have a clue. It will also force a young player trying to feed his family to make some difficult choices: Can I bulk up and make the majors? Do I place my future health at risk? Is this my "chemical" way out of poverty and a chance for a better life?

Funny how the Michael Jackson case has moved to the back of the newspapers while the defense is making its case. I always saw MJ as Peter Pan. I was deep into my childhood before I discovered Pan was played by a woman. Was that Mary Martin? Why didn't my parents tell me? Being Peter Pan will get you in trouble with the real world. Should I go back and listen to those lyrics on MJ's BAD album? Hmmm. Will that explain everything? Can I get a witness?

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

My friend Lew Berry took me over to McKinley Technology High School (151 T Street, NE) this morning. Whew...you should see this place. It made me want to return to school.
Mucho money went into this place. Every student who attends moves into a technology program: Bio-Medical, Information or Broadcast.
If you stand in front of McKinley you will have one of the best views of D.C.
Why would someone want to go to Paris?

I talked with a group of students for about 90 minutes. I read poems and talked about my life. Nice kids. I had a great time. It was also fun laughing with Lew again. Before leaving the school I ran into Kora Gibson. Homegirl has that beautiful smile and grace that tells everyone she is getting married next month. The last time I saw Kora she was at Howard. Now she is teaching at McKinley. She has a classroom that transports you right to Africa.

Lew drove me over to the Humanities Council (9th & Florida Ave, NW) for a meeting with James Banner. Banner is working at compiling and publishing The Encyclopedia of Washington. D.C. This will be a major project, pulling together area scholars.
We had a banner meeting and got things off to a good start.

I started doing "summer" cleaning in the Resource Center at Howard. I need to discard a number of old files.

Sad news...I learned today that Cliff Becker (NEA) died. Gosh, he was a great guy.
So much fun to be around. In many ways Cliff was the NEA to me. He was a friend of literature and a friend to many writers. Miss you Cliff. Prayers and love for your family.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

A good day. Good things in the mail too. A lovely gift of CDs from Ann Yoders at IPS. She sent me music by Jacky Terrasson as well as T. Monk.
OK, I'm set for the week and maybe beyond Memorial Day. Thanks AY.

I also received a package from Wendy R. She sent me a copy of DISSECTING THE HEART by Rosita Boland. Boland is a poet and a journalist with The Irish Times. Maybe Wendy will talk about Boland's work when we do the next MUSE TO MUSE on August 27th.

I spent the late afternoon with Susan B. Lent. She is doing work around Sudan. Checkout her website: www.burgesslent.com
I met Susan several months ago, thanks to Wendy.

Poet Miriam Nathan is going to be presenting some of her art work on Sunday, May 22nd from 1-6PM, at 1339 Franklin Street, NE. It's a group show highlighting the work of 16 artists.
"News is what people want to keep hidden and everything else is publicity."
- Bill Moyers.

There is a good essay on the poet Doris Davenport in HER WORDS:DIVERSE VOICES IN CONTEMPORARY APPALACHIAN WOMEN'S POETRY edited by Felicia Mitchell. The essay is written by James A. Miller.

Monday, May 16, 2005

I placed 2 Bennington packets in the mail this morning. I'll have the last one ready to go out tomorrow.

I had a 11 A.M. meeting with Hanna, a woman writer from Ethiopia. We had a wonderful conversation. We both knew David Earl Jackson who died a few years ago, at the age of 51. I gave Hanna some contact info for writers in the city; hopefully she will be able to connect with some folks.

This afternoon I met with my friend Grace who is putting together the Walter Rodney program. It will be held in late September. Right now Grace has to find sponsors and pull some funds together. Grace has been making phone calls and drafting letters.

Out of the blue I received an email from poet Doris Davenport. Wow...It was great to hear from her. She has a new book out - MADNESS LIKE MORNING GLORIES.

Upcoming this week- I have a couple of talks at local high schools.

On Friday, the DC Area Writing Project will be honoring Eloise Greenfield
6:30 p.m. at the Metropolitan Day School, 1240 Randolph Street, N.E.

Wayne Karlin will be at Chapters Bookstore on Saturday, May 21st at 5PM.
Wayne will be reading from his book WAR MOVIES, JOURNEYS TO VIET NAM: SCENES AND OUT-TAKES. WAR MOVIES is published by Curbstone Press.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

I explained to my son today what BS is. I really need to complete work on this second memoir. As a parent I've seen many things take place at my children's schools that I hope other parents won't have to experience. Folks ask me about the E-Notes and what I sometime leave out. I try to leave out the BS which fills so much of my life. Like today I sat at a table listening to a black guy talk about Harvard.He made it sound like it was heaven and someone had given him the bathroom key. When he discovered I worked at Howard he knew I was colored and perhaps could not trace my family line back to free people of color. He turned and asked me what I did for a living. Before I could answer his friend made reference to seeing me on television.
Suddenly I was no longer an Ellison character. I was visible to the Harvard guy. I thought of what a friend of mine told me when someone asked her about her race. She said "Boston Marathon." Go figure. Fight BS with BS.
Morning and I'm listening to The Best of Joe Cocker. I have a Writer's Center board meeting around 10 a.m. So, that means a train trip to Bethesda. Around noon, I'll have to rush down to Gonzaga High school for my son's basketball team luncheon. This evening I'll have to complete work on my last two Bennington packets. I also need to finish plans for the Dick Barnet course that will be taught at IPS in the fall.

Howard University's graduation was yesterday so the campus will be empty next week.
A good time to clean the office and discard stuff.

Yesterday the weather was really nice. I had a Poet Lore meeting at Cosi from about 8:30 A.M. to Noon. Afterwards, I had a nice lunch with Jo Reed at DOMKU, that cool bar & cafe in Petworth (821 Upshur Street, NW). While sitting in the cafe I ran into a number of friends. That's how it was for the rest of the day. I spent a few hours in Takoma Park talking to a writer I met a few weeks ago.

In the evening I ordered a pizza and watched the Heat defeat the Wizards in the NBA playoffs. Just too much Wade. Just too much. Wade makes the Heat hot water...Shaq might as well just rest until June. I wish folks would stop comparing players to Jordan. Wade right now looks like Bibby when he came out of nowhere a few years ago.
Wade reminds me of a kid who plays point guard right now for DeMatha High School and was on my son's AAU team.

Wade has more control than Kobe. He has an Iverson toughness. Look for Wade shirts to hit the streets this summer and next fall.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Ichiro is back to hitting his groove again. Average is up to .347 Amazing what this guy can do. If he can push his average up to .370 by the end of the month...whew...

The new Poet Lore magazine is out. Editors meeting at 8:30A.M.

Wizards play the Heat at 8P.M.
Just too much Wade. Shaq might as well just keep his suit on. Let Alonzo get his ring? The media is going to be pushing for Reggie Miller- the last hurrah. I hope Seattle can advance. I love Ray A.

I have a Writer's Center board meeting on Sunday morning.

Friday, May 13, 2005

I just got back from attending the 22nd Annual Larry Neal Writers' Award Ceremony at the Folger Shakespeare Library. Whew...22 years. I remember when this started. Neal was a poet,essayist and critic. A key member of the Black Arts Movement. The anthology BLACK FIRE that he edited with LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) is a classic and should be reprinted. From 1976-1979, Larry Neal was the executive director of the D.C.Commission on the Arts and Humanities. I was fortunate to interview him back then. Neal's work needs to be taught more.

The Neal Awards ceremony was hosted by Fox Five News Anchor Michael Gargiulo. In the audience was Ha Jin who recently won the PEN/Faulkner Prize. I hadn't seen him since we were on a panel in Las Cruces a few years ago. The PEN/Faulkner Award ceremony is tomorrow. Tonight, I met Jessica Neely for the first time. She is the new Executive director of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation.

On hand to give out awards were basketball players, TJ Jackson and Kaayla Chones of the Washington Mystics.

My buddy Willa Reinhard took third place in fiction. Nancy Schwalb won second place and Graham Dunstan went home with first prize.

In poetry there was a tie, so two first place awards went to Laura Brown and Carolos Parada. Carlos is works with NAFSA: Association of International Educators.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

" You throw a war and hope people will come.
They do, and they bring signs, they bring rifles,
They make speeches, they build bombs,
And they fight the last war, or protest its arrival."

- David Lehman from his poem "Like a Party"
It can be found in his new book WHEN A WOMAN LOVES A MAN,published by Scribner.
Price $17.00
USAirways office on K Street is gone. Another sign of the times. Soon everything will be done the electronic way.
Today I obtained my June ticket to Bennington.

The new issue of the African American Review (Vol. 38, No.4). It features an interview with Tananarive Due. Essays on James Baldwin, Georgia Douglass Johnson,
Spike Lee, etc.

OK...Youngblood (my son) needs a summer job. Here is his email address if you have information for camp jobs, sales, sport related jobs, etc:


Thank you.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

August 27th is when I will host my next "Muse to Muse" program. It will be at 1 p.m. at the new restaurant BUS BOYS AND POETS (14TH & V St, NW). My guest will be NBC news star Wendy Rieger. Wendy will be reading and talking about Irish poetry. I'll interview her for about 20-30 minutes and then take questions from the audience.
The focus will be on how to read and enjoy poetry.
So What The Fuss. Stevie Wonder is back with what's going to be the summer song and saying. A TIME TO LOVE is finally here.
Folks on the radio, playing it this morning. One listener called in and said she had to pull over and park her car. Stevie will make you do this. Dance music with positive lyrics. Stevie is the 8th Wonder and I only have ten fingers. Who else is out there?
Last night my friend Deb in St. Paul sent me information about the Village of Ethelbert. Ethelbert is located in Manitoba's Parkland Region, 370 kilometres north west of the Winnipeg.
Well guys...see ya. Maybe the E in my name stands for ET. HOME.
Good-bye Takoma Park, Adios D.C.
I've been reading Kooser's THE POETRY HOME BOOK MANUAL. I sat in Savory near the Takoma Metro just reading a few pages and cooling out. I might create my own happy hour there. Maybe just sit and read for an hour before heading home. This will push thinks back to 7 p.m. But it will also provide me with an hour of reading each day.

When I left Savory I waited for the bus. When the bus came people started getting on.
A fight broke out between two guys. A couple of Tyson sneak punches to the head. Both guys were a little drunk, so folks really didn't care if they knocked each other silly. The bus driver just closed the door and rode off. Everyone else was just standing around.
I tried yelling at the guys to just stop the nonsense but I was like Moses holding a cell phone after he came down from the mountains. No one was interested in the commandments. There were no police around, which further explains why getting off at some of these stops at night is not safe for folks.
Finally, the guys just got tired hitting each other and everything turned to words and comments about manhood. Another case of penis sword fighting? Go figure.

Since the bus was gone, I decided to walk home. It only takes me about 15 minutes.
I turned the corner and a beautiful woman smiled and the sun reminded me of how beautiful a day it had been before the fight. So I embraced the beauty and turned my back on the ugliness and wished the fighting would just go away but everywhere folks are fighting and they are using more than fists. So there is a helplessness that one feels and the only strength is in loving and maybe we never arrive home.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A morning meeting with Sanho (IPS fellow). A noon meeting at the Humanities Council.
The weather is very nice today.

A good place to get incense and oils is located at 807 Florida Ave, NW. Taj Fragrances is the name of the store.

If you want to listen to John F. Kennedy's inaugural address here is a link:
In today's NY Times there is an article about how much of the address was actually written by Kennedy. Theodore Sorensen had his fingerprints on a few pages.
A few things came in the mail yesterday. The new release of the novel LOSING ABSALOM by Alexs Pate. I wrote the introduction. The book is published by Coffee House Press.
The package came with "cream" in it. They shipped two other titles. OFF-SEASON CITY PIPE by Allison Adelle Hdge Coke and SOMEWHERE ELSE by Matthew Shenoda. Sonia Sanchez wrote the introduction to Shenoda's book.

I received the new CALLALOO magazine. This one is special issue on Derek Walcott.
Don't miss. You could spend the entire summer reading this one.

I went to the Howard University retirement recognition program. Two people I know departing. One is my department chair Russell Adams and the other is artist Edgar H. Sorrells-Adewale. Adams has a special place in my life. He was always supportive of my career. Ade designed the covers of my last two books. I love the guy's art work.
I'll miss these two A-Brothers when I walk across the campus.
I've been working at Howard for 31 years. So maybe I need to follow these guys.
Something I'm thinking about but right now I have no desire to go fishing.

Wendy Rieger is going to be my next "Muse to Muse" guest. Wendy does the local news on NBC but loves poetry. The focus will be on Irish poetry. Wendy was our guest host for the National Poetry Month celebration we had in front of the King Library downtown. Look for the prgram to be held in late August or early September.

Monday, May 09, 2005

New changes: The Wall Street Journal announced plans to convert its European and Asian editions to tabloid formats. They want to attract younger readers. This is how things begin to go slowly downhill. I remember growing up and reading Time magazine and maybe Newsweek. Life and Look stimulated my imagination. I must be old school.
I still need to hold a good newspaper or magazine in my hands like a lover. I can see all our newspapers becoming tabloids. No wonder the war is still going on.

While some folks change, others will continue to find ways to speak truth to power.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

I took my family to Shirlington, Virginia for lunch. I guess next year (this time) we will probably be in different cities. Mother's Day and Father's Day are often reduced to long distance calls, card and flowers. I spoke with my Mom for a few minutes this morning.

After lunch I stopped in BOOKS-A-MILLION. Not one of my favorite stores. The poetry section was a joke. I did find a copy of Ted Kooser's THE POETRY HOME REPAIR MANUAL. So all was not lost before we drove back into D.C. My son and I watched the Wizards lose to the Heat. It was a good game. Wade put it away in the third quarter. I think the Wizards can make this a good series. Why are folks talking about Nash and Shaq? The real MVP this year is Wade. Shaq was on the bench with fouls and Wade took his game to another level.

Around 6:30 PM I took everyone out to see CRASH. Not a bad film about race relations.
However,I felt the reviews were better than what I saw on the screen. Can we make a movie in California without the police and hospitals? Hmmm.

The upcoming week looks like a slow one. I might just focus on reading and returning my Bennington packets to students. I have a book blurb to write for a collection of short stories written by Hillary Tham. I'll try and get that done by Friday.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Pete Seeger recently celebrated his 86th birthday. Way to go Pete...the songs are endless.
It was good seeing and talking with Ed Jones again. Our interview went well. It was taped at Howard Community College. It will air on television next month. It's a HOCOPOLITSO program. If you want info they can be contacted at: hocopolitso@yahoo.com

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there. It's daddy time next month. Be good and be good to others.
Last night I went to the new Atlas Performing Arts Center to see the production of PRETTY FIRE. It's an excellent play written by Charlayne Woodard. It stars one woman - Erika Rose. Don't miss it. It will make you laugh and remember the joys of growing up. Jennifer Nelson has done a fantastic job with ACTco: www.africancontinuumtheatre.com. Melvin Gerald just became the new managing director.
If you want to make a donation to an organization in Washington, this is the one.
Building a theater takes long range planning and community support. Jennifer is getting it. Hats off to Jennifer and her sister Marilyn who is doing it all in Connecticut.

Picking Nash as MVP over Shaq or Wade is like going with Karl Malone over Michael Jordan. Hmmmm. Remember the ending to that one?

The Wizards will defeat the Heat if Wade can be kept under control. This is going to be a good NBA series. Look for Mourning to lose his cool with maybe Etan. I see Zo getting a technical at the wrong time and maybe losing a game. He He
But Wade is so cool. If I was building a team I would take him before those guys in Cleveland and Denver.

OK, time for me to go to Maryland for my Edward Jones interview.

Friday, May 06, 2005

My friend Adrienne is updating my website. We are adding my new literary series to it. Check: Muse to Muse (M2M):


This will provide me with another outlet to promote writers that I like.
Send feedback if you have time.
The AWP Conference will be in Austin in 2006, Atlanta 2007, New York, 2008 and Chicago in 2009.

"We think best when we bring opposites together, when we realize that all these realities, one inside the other, are somehow connected."
- Charles Simic, The Paris Review, Spring 2005.
"But the great poems seem to me perfect and complete fulfillments of their own energies, even when that sometimes includes roughnesses, leaps. They would not be better changed, which is as good a definition of "finished" as I know. I would however say that a poem is never fixed: each time it is read, by each person, it has a different life, a different music, resonance, and comprehension."
- Jane Hirshfield

From Issue # 3 of MiPo~Print: www.mipoesias.com
Chris Ofili's "Afro Muses 1995-2005" is at the Studio Museum in Harlem.

$23. Carolyn See has a review of this new book in today's Washington Post (C7).
I finally read the Thursday NY Times article about Tyler Perry. Hmmm. I must be missing something.

1. Why has Tyler Perry's plays made so much money ($75 million)?
2. Why did it take so long for Ebony magazine to place Don Cheadle on its cover?
I completed work on my interview questions for Edward Jones. I think the taping should go well on Saturday.

Yesterday I attended the advisory board meeting for the Paul Peck Institute for American Culture and Civic Engagement (Montgomery Colleg/Takoma Park).

In the evening I met with Bridgette Acklin a very nice writer who is putting her work in order. I told her about important literary resources and went over a few poems she had sent to me.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Ichiro is in a slump.Average is down to .328. Too far down to hit .400 this year.
He needs a couple of 3 hit games this month. I get to see him play next month for the first time - Seattle /Nationals at RFK. Priceless.
We should all watch the Tony Blair election in England. How voters respond might shape our policies in Iraq for the next few years. The amount of violence coming out of Iraq seems to be increasing. If we have to increase troops before bringing some home it's going to hurt the Bush Administration's ability to govern in other areas.
Might the push for Social Security reform be a "hood" being placed over the American public? Is it possible to keep the domestic issues on the front burner while wondering what's burning in the house?

OK. BERT WANTS TO KNOW is going to be new part of the E-Notes. Simple questions that maybe someone out there can help me answer. Here are four:

1. Why is Kevin Brown still pitching for the New York Yankees???
2. Why did the Washington Wizards draft Kwame Brown??
3. If Paula A. buys you a cellphone, should you use it to only call her?
4. Is there such a thing as an American Idol and an American Fool?

I had a nice time last night. The Ted Kooser dinner was very nice. Mikki and I were the special guests of J.Cole. I didn't know we were going to be introduced before the program. Other special guests included M. Arana, editor of the Washington Post Book World and J. Peede from NEA. A couple of people came by my table to introduce themselves. They said they often listen to me on NPR and were curious to know what I looked like. Ted Kooser was funny. He told folks he was often mistaken for someone from Middle Earth. I like one point he made during his reading. He said a poet should read 100 poems for every poem he/she writes. I think that a nice point to remember and share with my students. The focus is on reading. The hope is that the reading of more poetry will help improve your own. I often meet young writers who don't read poetry.

I had some good email exchanges yesterday with Charles Johnson out in Seattle. He is completing another book. A nice woman living in Budapest reached me on my cell phone.
We had a fun conversation. She had been reading the E-notes. So I'll do a shoutout right now and say hello again.

I have a meeting today at Montgomery College. I was invited to join the advisory board of the Paul Peck Institute.

My buddy Susan S. in Virginia just learned one of her essays is going to be published in a magazine. I told her to get her work out of the house several weeks ago. Good things taking place in her life. It's so cool to see doors opening up for a writer you know is going to make serious contributions to the literary world.

OK...back to preparing for the Edward Jones interview. I'm trying to ask Ed different questions. If you have some questions you want me to ask him about THE KNOWN WORLD or LOST IN THE CITY, just email me.

Hey, the Wizards are one game from meeting the ShaqDaddy. The key to defeating the Heat is stopping Wade. I think the guy should be MVP this year. Oh, and look at one of my favorite NBA players sneaking his team into the mix. Ray Allen, baby. Is Seattle the surprise from the West this year?
And what about Avery taking Dallas somewhere. I remember when folks thought this guy couldn't be a point guard. Now he is a coach. Avery on you and Averyone else. Later.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

I'll be heading over to the Cosmo Club this evening to hear poet laureate Kooser.
It will also be a chance for me and Mikki (first wife) to laugh and joke about our lives. I guess Mikki is responsible for me being a poet. Where would I be without those "first" love poems?
Stanley Crouch has a profile of jazz musician Sonny Rollins in The New Yorker (May 9th issue).

New Cave Canem Anthology 2004 is out. Someone needs to review these publications and determine the direction African American poetry is going. Hmmmm. I stopped writing reviews a few years ago. Maybe I should get back into it. A summer project?

Little Brown and Company just sent Martha Cooley's new novel. The title is THIRTY-THREE SWOONS. Congrats Martha...see you in June at Bennington.

Lily Liu just sent me a note about the upcoming Third Annual Bilingual Poetry Reading at the Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Library. It will be held on May 25th from 6-8 P.M.

Black Issues Book Review is out. It's the May-June 2005 issue. Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee on the cover. On page 68 there is a review /mention of Percival Everett new collection of stories, DAMNED IF I DO. Everett is a wonderful writer. ERASURE is on my all-time list of personal classics.

I'm working with a friend on a program that will honor Walter Rodney. He was assassinated 25 years ago in Guyana. One of the major intellectuals of the black world. An influence on my life...

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

I spent the morning listening to HU students make research presentations. I have a pile of things on my desk to sort...

It was good seeing Juan Dixon have a big game against the Bulls last night. Maybe the Wizards can advance. It would be great for the city. A second round of playoff games - against the ShaqDaddy and MVP Wade. You can't ask for more.

So the MMM is now the Million More March. Are there still poets inside the Nation of Islam?

Monday, May 02, 2005

At Politics & Prose Bookstore this month:

Victor Navasky. 7 p.m. on May 9th.
Michael Eric Dyson 7 p.m. on May 11th.
Marilyn Nelson 5 p.m. on May 22.

P&P is located at 5015 Connecticut Avenue, NW
You wake because of pain in your chest. It's not a good sign. You realize how quick everything can change. Your think of your brother going to sleep and not waking up again. So you keep your eyes open. What time is it? You turn your head and try to read the time on the clock without the pain stabbing you again. How many elephants are sitting on you?

Bobby McFerrin is singing "Baby, I Love you" with the Wynton Marsalis Quartet. This must be the Magic Hour.

Kenneth B. Clark died yesterday. The psychologist and educator was 90. His research influenced the U.S. Supreme Court to hold school segregation to be unconstitutional.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Wow...I just started a new work style. I good way to increase my productivity. The last two days I've accomplished so much.

Another good story in the NY Times today about Ichiro. Folks will be really talking about this guy around the All-Star game.

In the NY Times yesterday I saw where Wole Soyinka mentioned the problem of the 21st Century will be religion. DuBois predicted the problem of the 20th century would be the color line. I've been telling folks the issue is religion and tolerance for the last several years. Hello. DuBois is outdated as the Philadelphia Negro. The double consciousness idea is also retro. Many African Americans have triple identities. Consider someone claiming to be Muslim, Black and American.