Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Busboys and Poets was packed this evening. Folks came to listen to David Zirin and Etan Thomas (Washington Wizards). Good to hear people discussing poetry and politics.
I enjoyed Etan's poems. It was the first time I heard him read. Zirin is the author of WHAT'S MY NAME FOOL! SPORTS AND RESISTANCE IN THE UNITED STATES.
In the audience were several SNCC people. This resulted in a good Q&A exchange.
It looks like "progressives" have a place to call their own. It was good to see a nice mixture of age and race.

Just before going to the program, I walked over to the U Street Starbucks and purchased the new CD by Herbie Hancock -POSSIBILITIES. Night music for tonight.
With all the coffee being sold by Starbucks I expected better graphics/design on the CD. Well - let me turn my ears on. I'll report back.
I received this note from the poet Brenda-Marie Osbey:

Dear Ethelbert,

Thanks for checking in with me. I'm fine. James drove my Mother and me out on Sunday afternoon. Aftr much tooling about Arkansas and Mississippi, we've settled for now in Shreveport, LA at the Isle of Capri Casino Hotel. Don't have a laptop or notebook computer, just hotel business center access. Have no idea where we'll head from here. Brought only a couple of days worth of stuff. Thanks so much for looking out for me. Tell everybody I'm out and okay. Will try to keep in touch, love.
Very sad to see the developments in New Orleans and parts of Mississippi. I've been trying to get in touch with friends. This is when the blues singer stands on a hill and simply wails and sings about the ways things are lost and gone. Levees breaking and the dead can't swim no more. A woman on a roof and not a man in sight.

I'm thinking about Brenda-Marie, Jerry W, Kalamu, Mona Lisa and so many others. Life, homes and possessions...

I thought God had given us the rainbow sign, no more water...
Information on Gloria Oden's last book:

If you want to order APPEARANCES, you can get it by
going to and ordering from our
distributor at the foot of our home

You also can simply send a check or money order made

1169 Market St. Rm. 137
San Francisco, CA 94103-1521


Ryu Makoto
OK 800 E Notes. This is 801.
The new issue of Black Issues Book Review is out. Why is Serena and Venus on the cover? Inside there are good profiles of Calvin Reid, Howard Dodson and John Hope Franklin. Hmmn. When you think of books do you think tennis first? Please, don't get me started...

I've been bringing old albums up from the basement...Rolling Stones last night.

I just found out from Remica (Rem Rem) that Essence magazine published one of my poems. I'll check it out the next time I'm in the Safeway.

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Wynton Marsalis will be playing at the 2nd Annual Silver Spring Jazz Festival, Saturday, September 10th in the new Downtown Silver Spring Jazz Festival. He perfoms at 8:30 P.M.
"What is sadder than a griot whose village
has been displaced?
- Reuben Jackson
>Walt Whitman's LEAVES OF GRASS: The Sesquicentennial Symposium
>September 22-24, 2005, Ewing, NJ Directed by David Haven Blake and
>Michael Robertson
>Hosted by The College of New Jersey, this three-day event celebrates the
>150th anniversary of LEAVES OF GRASS with scholarly panels, poetry
>readings, an art exhibition, a one-man play, and a performance of Fred
>Hersch's jazz composition LEAVES OF GRASS. Drawing speakers from
>literature, cultural studies, political theory, gender studies, and art
>history, the symposium will explore such topics as Whitman in the 19th
>Century, Whitman and the Arts, and Whitman and the World.
>All sessions will be held at The College of New Jersey. The College is
>conveniently located in Ewing, NJ, midway between Princeton and Trenton.
>There is easy access to I-95, the NJ Turnpike, and Amtrak and NJ Transit
>railway stations.
>Speakers include Sherman Alexie (Seattle, WA), Anita Anantharam (The
>College of New Jersey), Benjamin Barber (Maryland/ The Democracy
>Collaborative), Daphne A. Brooks (Princeton), Lawrence Buell (Harvard),
>Wai Chee Dimock (Yale), Betsy Erkkila (Northwestern), Ed Folsom (Iowa),
>Janet Gray (The College of New Jersey), Kirsten Silva Gruesz (UC, Santa
>Cruz), Matthea Harvey (Brooklyn, NY), David Lehman (New School), James
>Longenbach (Rochester), Meredith L. McGill (Rutgers), Angela Miller
>(Washington University), Kenneth Price (Nebraska), Michael Warner
>(Rutgers), and Ivy Wilson (Notre Dame).
>On Friday, September 23rd at 8 pm, The Fred Hersch Ensemble will be
>performing Hersch's jazz composition LEAVES OF GRASS.
>All events on Thursday September 22 are free and open to the public.
>General Registration for the Friday and Saturday sessions is $50. One-day
>registration (for either the Friday or Saturday session) is $25. Although
>on-site registration will be available, we strongly encourage advance
>registration and meal purchases, which must be postmarked by September 6,
>For information and registration, see
>The program is made possible in part by a grant from the New Jersey
>Council for the Humanities, a state partner of the National Endowment for
>the Humanities. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations in
>this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment
>for the Humanities or the New Jersey Council for the Humanities.
>David Blake
>Department of English
>The College of New Jersey
New book coming out late this year:

The Oxford Book of African American Poetry by Arnold Rampersad (editor)
December 2005. 350 pages. Oxford University Press.

I read Oden's THE TIE THAT BINDS last night and found it to be a wonderful narrative poem. I love her description of her father and the black church. Her father's parsonage was in Yonkers, N.Y. Oden writes about her childhood in a way that is instructional to contemporary poets.
It's funny how quickly one's desk can fill with stuff to do. I'm amazed by the number of manuscripts that jump on my desk and start to dance.

I had some correspondence with the poet Gloria Oden the last two days. I didn't know she was still living. She is 82. Hopefully, folks will give her work more attention. I remember meeting her at the Folger Shakespeare Library back in the 1970s. Yesterday I pulled her book THE TIE THAT BINDS off the shelf in the Resource Center.

I had a work-study student putting Dolores Kendrick's file in order. So much to do.

OK the Herbie Hancock CD should be on sale today at Starbucks. Send reviews.

Monday, August 29, 2005

Early morning and I'm listening to Issac Hayes. I'll bring some more oldies up from the basement later today.

A new season begins at Howard today. Not a busy week for me...just a few meetings.

How many soldiers trying to stay alive another week...counting days until they can return home. On Saturday I talked with a friend whose son has just returned from Iraq. She was talking with such relief that we could have been in church taking Holy Communion and standing next to Jesus. She was so happy to have her son back. I remember walking around Iraq back in the 1980s when missles were being sent from Iran into Baghdad. After a bomb fell next to the hotel I was staying at I thought about the irony of being born in the Bronx and dying in Baghdad. Too many Bs. Bombs too.

Do you have a tattoo
somewhere I should
know about?

E. Ethelbert Miller

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Well I'm back from the ball park. The Nats lost again. :-(
But I did catch a foul ball off the bat of Jose Guillen...only the second baseball I've ever caught. The first time was 1965 in Yankee Stadium.
You know I'll find a way to sneak this fact into the second memoir. :-)
Ichiro is hitting below .300. Not good. No batting title this year. :-(

Saturday, August 27, 2005

For Wilson in August

You notice, you feel, you know, there is a slight chill
in the air. It’s when you open the door or go to close the window in late August. The sun reaching for its hat as if to go. Where? You turn back into the house for a sweater. You need long sleeves for just the morning. And this is how I want to remember- everything. Morning. The two of us standing near a fence talking about baseball – the old Negro league. You tell me the good life is when the seasons change and the work is done. I smile thinking about Cool Papa Bell sliding into bed before the lights go out.

E. Ethelbert Miller
Muse2Muse was sweet. That's a word my friend Susan added to my vocabulary. Wendy Reiger should be elected First Lady of Poetry for the DC area. She did an excellent job reading poems by Irish poets,and talking about what poetry means to her life.
What Wendy does is promote the genre - and she is not a writer. She's like Moyers and we need more Moyers. Folks who love poetry and read it and breathe it into the souls of others. Oh, and there was Andy and his BusBoy& Poets staff just being angels and getting everything in order. Maybe we can take a negative term like Ground Zero and make it positive. Busboys is GZ for me. It's the place you want to go and don't want to leave. Things will be kicking open on your face in the place. Thanks Wendy! Thanks Andy Man!

by Edward Hirsch

Tomorrow I'm heading out to the ballpark to see the Nationals play the Cards.

I received the latest issue of The American Poetry Review - interview with Liam Rector in it.

I went down into the basement and pulled a couple of old albums to play tonight:
Steel Pulse, Isaac Hayes, Carole King,Bob Marley,and Walter Jackson - remember Jackson?

The new Furious Flower II - DVD is out. I have no idea what happened to E. Ethelbert Miller. He was not included. He must be on the colored DVD. There are black poets and colored poets - right?

Word back from my agent today. She loves the memoir excerpt that I sent to her. I hope to write a book that will move beyond FATHERING WORDS in terms of structure and style. More words to come.
Arthur Ashe stamp will be unveiled today. 37-cent stamp.
Ashe is the first African American man to win the United States Open, the Australian Open and Wimbledon. He died in 1993.

Whoaaa Teddy. I didn't know Ted Williams's mother was Mexican. See NY Times yesterday - Sports section.
Now what about Babe Ruth again? OK...let's not spread rumors on the E-Notes.

Hey, Starbucks! August 30th they will release a new CD by Herbie Hancock: Herbie Hancock Possibilities. Herbie has surrounded himself with good friends - Paul Simon, Santana, Annie Lennox and others.

Be sure to check the Library of Congress Concerts this
I want to attend some of the Jazz & Soul Film Series at the Mary Pickford Theater, from October 17 - December 19, 2005.
August Wilson should be given the Nobel Prize this year.

Before coming home last night I went into Busboys & Poets (14th & V Street). The space is awesome.
Program today at 1PM with Wendy Reiger. Come hear poetry...come have fun with Wendy and me.

I walked pass my son's room in the early morning hours. He had taken down his large Michael Jordan poster. End of an era. Good to see my son getting himself in shape for his first year of college ball. On to Widener U for him.
My daughter is getting ready to take her LSATs. She will be running in the Marine Marathon this year. Go Jazz.

Well, I hope to get back into doing more poetry readings outside of DC during the next few months. Just a shoutout to folks in Maine, California and Washington State...send invite - will travel. I have upcoming talks on Langston Hughes in Fresno, Houston and Kansas City.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Nothing else to more words left:

Playwright August Wilson Has Liver Cancer

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson has been diagnosed with liver cancer and told a newspaper in his native Pittsburgh that he is dying.

Wilson, 60, who lives in Seattle, was diagnosed with the ailment in June.

"It's not like poker, you can't throw your hand in," Wilson told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in a story published Friday. "I've lived a blessed life. I'm ready."

Wilson has recently been completing his 10-play cycle chronicling the black experience in 20th-century America — one play for each decade.

Two plays in the cycle, "Fences" and "The Piano Lesson," earned Pulitzer Prizes. The 10th play, "Radio Golf," is now running at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.

Wilson's personal assistant, Deanna Levitin, told The Seattle Times until very recently, Wilson was working on rewrites of "Radio Golf," and that people close to him remain optimistic.

"One of the things I'm proudest of in my career is producing so much of August's work here," Seattle Repertory Theater managing director Benjamin Moore said. "I'm going to believe that since August is such a feisty guy, he'll meet this health challenge like he's met the challenge of writing an extraordinary cultural history."

Wilson has lived in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood since 1990. He and his wife, Constant Romero, a costume designer he married in 1994, have a daughter, Azula. Wilson also has a daughter from an earlier marriage.

"He's taking (the cancer) very well, with a lot of strength and determination," his wife told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "It's so hard when an illness falls on you. He has so many plans for working."

The Pittsburgh newspaper said doctors had recommended drug therapy followed by a liver transplant, but the disease proved too far advanced. Wilson said his physicians told him then that he had three to five months to live.
Wesley Clark in his Washington Post Op-ed piece (today) mentions the idea of recruiting ten thousand Arab Americans with full language proficiency to help assist the military as interpreters. Why not also extend the invitation to people from Tanzania and Sudan (who might also speak Arabic)? There are also many African Americans who speak Arabic as a result of embracing Islam. It's not just about speaking the language but also opening the doors to peace in the region by getting more people involved. We shouldn't need a war to highlight the importance of speaking another language. Language skills should be pushed from day 1 in inner city schools. New charter schools should focus not on just teaching kids, Spanish and French but also Korean and Chinese. OK...let me stop, if I keep going I'll be having young kids translating Neruda before the school doors open.
Here is the link to the June Jordan material I recently gave to the University of Minnesota:

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Provisions Library is looking for a Development and Communications Intern to assist there Director of Development and Communications with grant research, event coordination, Membership outreach and management, press outreach and related activities for the fall semester. They are looking for someone with strong writing skills and an interest in public relations and nonprofit management. The ideal candidate would be available 12-18 hours a week. They are looking for someone who is motivated and self-managed who is interested in Provisions' mission to amplify voices that challenge and redefine the mainstream, exploring the intersection of the arts and social change. Interested candidates should submit a resume, writing sample and personal email/cover letter to the address below:
1611 Connecticut Avenue, NW, 2nd Floor, Washington, D.C. 20009
202 232-0304
So Phil Mickelson is on the cover of Sports Illustrated and it's says THE PEOPLE'S CHOICE. Hmmm
So who is Tiger Woods? GOD'S CHOICE?
"The first violin concerto that I even heard was the Mendelssohn violin concerto, performed by Joseph Zegetti. The second violin concerto that I heard was Beethoven, performed by Jascha Heifetz. The third violin concerto that I heard played was the Tchaikovsky, performed by a female, Erica Morini. And so these were all concertos that, in my tender years, were far out of my reach, but were something that I always wanted to perform. When I was 17, my Russian Jewish violin teacher started me with Mendelssohn."
- Minister Louis Farrakhan
Interview in THE FINAL CALL, August 16, 2005

And did you know Fidel played baseball?
Sad to hear about Walter Reed closing. The place is just a few blocks from my house.
Now the neighborhood is certain to change. I hope there are no more condos coming.
My suggestion is to turn the place into an Arts and Humanities Complex. A place where even the poet laureate could reside. It would be a nice location to place NEA and NEH. Visiting international artists could stay there too. Maybe change the name of the place from Reed to Read.

Folks are talking about the price of gas. Start saving money for those "high" heating bills that will be coming this winter. I had a $500 heating bill one month - that's insane. How are our seniors going to cope with that? Hey - I'm almost a senior. Yipes.

Oh...what is Curt Schilling running for? VP on the Republican ticket in the next election? Win a World Series and you can run a country. Is this the reason he decided to do relief pitching?
Though European nations shipped millions of slaves from Africa over four centuries, archaeologists estimate that fewer than 10 slave shipwrecks have been found worldwide.

from New York Times article "Tracing a Mutiny by Slaves Off South Africa in 1766."
by Sharon LaFraniere.

One slave ship, the Henrietta Marie was discovered in 1972. It is now housed at the Maritime Heritage Society's Museum. The ship sank 35 miles off Key West around 1700.
My next Muse to Muse program is this Saturday. It's Wendy & Me at 1 PM.
Wendy Rieger (NBC News Anchor) will be reading and talking about Irish poetry at BusBoys & Poets (14th and V Street, NW). This can also be a chance to visit what's going to be a cultural hot spot for DC.
For additional info checkout Muse to Muse on my website:
Amy Stolls is reading at American University on September 28th at 8 PM. School of International Service Building, SIS Lounge.
Amy is a literature specialist at NEA. Her new novel is PALMS TO THE GROUND.

So maybe all we really need to do is change the name of the Defense Department back to Department of War. Hmmmm.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Sad to hear that story about Dwight Gooden. :-(
Brock Peters gone...

What's with the P O at 14th and T Street, NW? The line was so long I read three sections of the newspaper this morning.

Much of the day spent at the Community Foundation working with a Creative Communities Initiative team.

Do you remember when Pat Robertson was a serious candidate for Prez? Whoaa...Thank the Lord for not making that miracle happen.
So now Hugo is just a big as Fidel? Look for Muslims to suddenly appear in South America in a few weeks. Call it LatinArabia?

Follow The Amazing SpiderMan cartoon. Parker just took a full-time job with the newspaper and now needs a physical so he can qualify for health insurance. Hmmm
Will he test positive for steroids? Will Spiderman lie in order to get a job?

So the Mayor of DC has a blog too:

So if Bush apologized for making a mistake about the war tomorrow would that change anything? I doubt it. The idea of "immediate" withdrawal is what? Months? A year?
Is troop reduction withdrawal? Let's start talking specifics...

In today's Washington Post, Gary Hart mentioned about the "public trust must be earned." Sounds good but what does that really mean?

I still feel the serious opposition to the war must begin to emerge within the Republican Party. Someone has to speak up. It has to be a person who is not going to be seen as antiwar? What does antiwar mean? Who would really want to be for war?
It's important to strip the language bare. What are we really talking about here?

Why does the media make Cindy Sheehan sound crazy? Can anyone tell me her son's name and when and where he was killed? I wish the media would supply this info on a regular basis. When you read the newspaper stories they often have a high school tone. Somebody writing something for a grade and doing a candybar amount of research.

So Hugo is now the new guy to watch?
We must be getting ready for the fall television series. 24hours. The clock is ticking and Pat is talking to Jack. Is this a rerun?

How can people pray to God and want to kill someone at the same time? What would Jesus say?

Do we plan to send troops to South America next?
Jennifer Nelson is putting together another terrific season with the African Continuum Theatre Company (ACTCo).
Things begin on September 15th with I HAVE BEFORE ME A REMARKABLE DOCUMENT GIVEN TO ME BY A YOUNG LADY FROM RWANDA by Sonja Linden. Directed by KenYatta Rogers
Featuring Deidra Starnes and Michael Glenn.

Subscribe to ACTCo:

OK they are also doing A RAISIN IN THE SUN (next May) but I won't say anything. Mum's the word for me. I wish folks would do some of Hansberry's other work.

Big things happening at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. Look for this place to "hold up" the culture of the city soon. Nelson is a genius and a lady builder as good as Booker T.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

I have an upcoming reading at the Nora School (955 Sligo Avenue, SilverSpring, MD) on September 8th at 7:30 PM. It's a celebration of the POETIC VOICES WITHOUT BORDERS anthology that was recently published by Gival Press. Other poets reading are: Karren Alenier, Christopher Conlon, Robert Giron, Peter Klappert and Gregg Shapiro.

A very good article on health care is in the latest issue of THE NEW YORKER (August 29th) by Malcolm Gladwell.

Two short excerpts:

People without health insurance have bad teeth because, if you're paying for everything out of your own pocket, going to the dentist for a checkup seems like a luxury. It isn't, of course. The loss of teeth makes eating fresh fruits and vegetables difficult, and a diet heavy in soft, processed foods exacerbates more serious health problems, like diabetes. The pain of tooth decay leads many people to use alcohol as a salve. And those struggling to get ahead in the job market quickly find that the unsightliness of bad teeth, and the self-consciouness that results, can become a major barrier. If your teeth are bay, you're not going to get a job as a receptionist,say, or a cashier. You're going to be put in the back somewhere, far from the public eye.

The leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the United States is unpaid medical bills. Half of the uninsured owe money to hospitals, and a third are being pursued by collection agencies. Children without health insurance are less likely to receive medical attention for serious injuries, for recurrent ear infections, or for asthma.

I just received a beauitful picture of Danticat's beautiful baby. Congrats Lady E.
Breakfast with Browning (Sarah) at the Mocha Hut this morning. She is busy as usual.
Nice to break bread with her now and then.

This morning I packed a few more items about June Jordan to send to the Givens Collection at the University of Minnesota. I keep finding things...

Walking around campus,I discover the ROTC units out in full strength - even an Air Force honor guard. When I arrived at HU in 1968 I was a member of the first class in which ROTC was not in formal vogue. Times change and new wars come and ?

Monday, August 22, 2005

It feels good working on my own stuff. I'm sending new poems out. Tomorrow I'm sending an excerpt of my second memoir out to an agent.

"You enter the path of transformation when you begin to practice the things you pronounce."
- Thich Nhat Hanh
Elizabeth Alexander's new book is out from Graywolf Press. The title is AMERICAN SUBLIME.
It sells for $14.
Good News:
Michaelle Jean will become Canada's next Governor-General on October 1st. The 48-year old Haitian born Jean will replace Adrienne Clarkson. Jean is a former Montreal journalist. She is fluent in five languages: English, French,Spanish, Italian and Haitian Creole. She is married to the documentary filmmaker Jean-Daniel Lafond.

Walter Ray has his first book of poems out. Ray is one of those beautiful seniors who is enjoying retirement and staying creative.
Order from Xlibris:
Ray came by the Resource Center this morning and we talked about how to get his book out to folks.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

As we take our children back to school in a few weeks,remember the people of Beslan.
Prayers and flowers.
The Suzanne Marrs biography of Eudora Welty is out from Harcourt selling at $28. I met Suzanne at the White House at one of those Laura Bush gatherings. Marrs teaches English at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi.
The Newseum and the National Archives present:
Blogging: Free Press for All or Free-for-All?
Thursday, September 22, 2005 7PM
William G. McGowan Theater at the National Archives.
I went out to the Wheaton Plaza in Maryland with my son and daughter. We spent $$ on stuff for my son. Whatever happened to the one footlocker? I took so few things when I left for college in 1968. It could have all been placed on an I-Pod. Sweet. Talking about I-Pods - why did Apple take out all those ads in the South Station in Boston? I felt I was eating my lunch under the eye of Big Brother or Eye-Pod.

Things to remember...there are 2 wars. Not one but two: Iraq and Afghanistan. We need a good peace plan for both nations. We also might be witnessing new geographical boundaries developing and maybe new nations or federations created.
That might be the case in Iraq. The Kurds, Sunni and Shites might walk backwards into dividing the country into new shapes. Wars often do this.

It's strange how after 10 or 15 years folks might be sitting around drinking coffee or tea right where bombs were exploding. People will be talking about the war the way some of us remember Watts. Go figure. It's sad to see the human loss. Sons and daughters falling in battle. Which bring up the name Cindy Sheehan. We stand around waiting for someone to begin counting the grains of sand before the beach is filled with too many bodies to count. The President probably got two schools of advice on how to handle the PR around this case. Should he meet with Cindy? One embrace won't change anything except show the human face of Bush. If he meets with her for 5 minutes then it's just for show. If he meets with her for 1-2 hours, what about other families? If I was President I would meet with Cindy but it would be at her home, around her dinner table, without the media. It would be a private dinner with prayers for all our love ones. Is this asking too much?

I love the cover of the new issue of Poets & Writers - James Baldwin looking like an African elder.
One of the people in my P-Town workshop recommended the music of Leela James and Jaguar Wright.
Two films that were mentioned during our workshop were RABBIT PROOF FENCE and GATHERING OF RAGE.

Here are a couple of lines from THE END OF BEING KNOWN by Michael Klein that made me stop and think:

"Our own stories are the ones that are most mysterious to us..."

Klein quotes Beckett- "The day you die is just like any other day except it's shorter."

" was still improvisational as jazz."

"My penis hadn't tried to make a journey to the heart of another person through the tunnel leading into them."

"Truth is relative is really just an homage to memory."

"I can't call it loneliness anymore. I don't know what to call this thing I have."
Much drama heading back to DC from Provincetown. I almost got on the wrong train.
I had to run to catch the Amtrak departing at 4:40PM. I didn't get into DC until 12:30 AM (Sunday).

On the train I read WALKING TO MARTHA'S VINEYARD by Franz Wright. Only a few things I really enjoyed:

How does one go
about dying?
Who on earth
is going to teach me-
The world
is filled with people
who have never died

I did like the poems "Fathers" "Abandoned Letter" "The New Jerusalem"

Franz has a number of lines that stick to your tongue:

I don't want to sleep with you
I want to wake up with you...


I'm writing to you
all the time, I am writing

with both hands,
day and night.

I also read a few pages of Mark Doty's memoir HEAVEN'S COAST.

On the train I spent time thinking about Provincetown. Michael Klein in his memoir called it a Gay Ghetto. It was interesting being a black straight male and checking the vibes. There were a couple of "incidents" that pushed a nerve. Some of it from straight white people who just can't accept blackness and I refuse to call it "my" costume. One's blackness can also be attractive to others who see you as a type and not an individual. So what else is new? I was upset about a black lesbian woman who didn't want anyone to help her with her luggage. She kept saying she didn't need help with her bags when it was obvious she did. A white guy attempted to help her and she refused. I didn't even want to go the route of helping a sister because it was obvious she would see the male in me and not the kindness. So what I'm saying here is that I didn't feel that free in P-Town. I am happy that folks have a place. I did feel folks struggling with loneliness and happy to have a few close friends, a time and place to laugh and collect memories. It was also good to see old gay couples hanging out and talking about how often they have been returning to a community that gives them back a carress.
Not easy in this world and times.

I did enjoy my Workshop and the six people who participated. I hope to stay in touch with all of them. I do feel my workshop days are ending. I want to do other things.
The focus the next four years will be on writing and paying bills. It's like living and being black. Is there anything else I should be doing?

My next upcoming television show will be an interview with journalist Jonetta Barras. We shoot next month.

I'm listening to Wayna singing "Secret Identity." Thanks Hanah for sending the CD.


7th Annual Black l.u.v. festival on September 18th
The Last Poets, Amiri Baraka
4th and PENN Ave. NW

PEN/Faulkner Gala
Theme: Lost & Found
Stanley Crouch, Ha Jin, Tayari Jones, Richard McCann, Rick Moody, Maxine Hong Kingston et. al.
Monday, September 26th
Folger Shakespeare Library
201 East Capitol Street, SE

Thelonious Monk International Jazz Guitar Competition and Gala Concert
Monday, September 19th
7:30 PM
The Eisenhower Theater
The John Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Washington, D.C.

Vermont Studio Center
20th Anniversary Benefit Auction
September 7, 2005
72nd & York
New York City

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

My Provincetown workshop on writing the political poem is going well. Here are some of the questions we have been discussing:

1. What comes to mind when you hear the term political poem?
2. What makes a poem political?
3. Why do some political poems "work" and others don't?

Key terms we defined in order to understand things:

I circulated a list of 10 ways to define a political poem.
(You will have to subscribe to E-Notes in order to obtain this information)

During each workshop session we discussed one of my handouts. We've been looking at essays by Carolyn Forche and Adrienne Rich, as well as poems by Amiri Baraka, Haki Madhubuti, June Jordan and Billy Collins. We workshop the work of two people a day. There are six people in the group. Everyone has been having a good time. Notepads are filling up with information.

Oh, folks did have to answer the following questions in our first meeting:

1. Are you a member of any social or political organization?
2. How would you define yourself politically?

No, folks did not raise their hands and take a pledge.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Try Ethos water. Money goes to the Ethos Water Fund
Help donate 1 million to support humanitarian water projects.

I purchased a bottle in Union Station (at the Starbucks) before I boarded the train to Boston.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Hi, remember me? I'm still in Provincetown teaching a workshop. Things are going well. It's so much fun doing a workshop by myself. Whew...
I needed that change; especially after my last Bennington tour.
I'm back to having fun again. Six people in my class. We discussed an essay by Carolyn Forche today. Tomorrow we will be looking at work that people have made copies of for the group. I've printed out a number of folks will have a good number of things to carry back after Friday.
I'll be giving a poetry reading tomorrow evening. I have my afternoons that's good. I read the New York Times every what else do I need? :-)

More to report - later this week. It's feels so good to chill...

Report from the front is that the Nationals are playing better...

Ichiro has 3 hits last night!

Now, all I need is to write a poem.

Friday, August 12, 2005

I almost forgot about the Baseball God (BG). Maybe the BG (Baseball Game) will look down on the Nationals and bless them. Maybe Atlanta will suddenly fold or wilt from the August heat and we get the pennant race. Suddenly the Nats are not going for the wild Card but for the division title. Yep, somewhere that will begin to happen and folks will turn to their televisions and shake their heads. A young kid might come up from the minors and have that Robert Redford look in his eyes; he might put a team on his back for just a few weeks. You'll never hear about the guy again. Or maybe you're just watching one game and there is that "miracle" play in which an entire team and season turns around. All of a sudden a team gets hot and they can't lose. Balls are finding eyes like a freed hostage.
The Nation magazine has a very good MIDEAST Forum in their DoubleIssue: August 15/22.
Good insightful comments about the war and where it's going by Helena Cobban, Juan Cole, Nir Rosen, and Shibley Telhami.

I wonder what John Ashcroft is doing? Michael Jackson? Mike Tyson? Gerald Ford?
Hot days in August and we sit around thinking about the cool days and ways. Can you imagine Ford playing golf with Tiger Woods? Remember when folks walked around with bandaids on their heads. He He Oh...the good days - when a president could get a pardon, and my neighbor would look out her window and call me a nice colored boy.

It's Friday night...what are all the I-POD girls doing? Are they listening to Ringo?
T. Owens should just do reality television...maybe host his own show. The Eagles would be fools to bring the guy back. Why should Donovan throw the ball to him.
Let's face it Owens is really just an OK receiver. Is Tom Cruise this guy's agent?

I'm still waiting for MLB to reveal that some star pitcher has been taking steroids.
I find it strange that all the guys being mentioned are hitters. We all know that pitchers always like to have an edge. Right? So the logic would be that a name is going to be mentioned between now and next season.

If MLB won't kick folks out, look for fans to boo for a few games and then forget.
The key issue is whether these guys should be elected into the Hall of Fame.That's the tough one. What would Pete Rose do?
Denise took me to all the bases I needed to touch this morning. Post Office, Bank, King Library, and Union Station.

I showed her The Regent, a nice Thai restuarant on 1910 18th Street. Sad to see the place empty around 12 Noon. We ate where everyone else was eating, across the street at Lauriol Plaza. I like to sit at a table near the machine where you can see the corn chips coming out.

Later I sat over at the Mocha Hut on U Street. I read a couple of newspapers. I also took a look at a children's book sent to me from some folks down in Orlando, Florida.
Good Newz Dudez, Inc. The book is WHEN I LEARN HOW TO READ by Nancy Cyann. A book for 3-7 year olds. GND Press: 407 658-0868.

Save the date:
29th Annual Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards
Wednesday, October 19th 2005
National Press Club
Honors given to Judge Juan Guzman & Barrios Unidos.
Was that Wilson hitting a homerun for the Nats yesterday when it really didn't matter? division, no wild fans? The real support for baseball in DC will show when the team is losing. It's important that folks embrace the Nats the way cities hold dear the Cubs, Red Sox and those old Amazin Mets.

I completed all my Bennington work. I felt like Fred Douglass writing the last paragraph to his Narrative.

Now,it's off to Provincetown. I decided to take the train - make this my summer journey. I'll call a few friends when I make it to Boston.

I'm throwing into my bag James Smethurst's book on The Black Arts Movement. On the ride North I'll read much of the material for my workshop. I have six students.
A couple of people I already it should be more a chance to relax and share ideas and resources.

The workshop focus is on writing the political poem. I'm simply putting down my own ideas and sharing more my experiences with folks. I also feel blessed to have been around June Jordan. June is still my model for what a writer should be doing - especially with our nation at War.

I think it's important to move beyond simply opposing the Bush Administration into the much larger issues of global peace. It's not just the human destruction but also the destruction to our planet - the enviornment. It not about being anti-American but trying to organize things that are positive and loving. The struggle is to always improve insitutions and conditions around the world. Even in small ways the artist, the poet must find ways to do good. We must "plant" the good and be sure it grows. We embrace the light and all things that are YES in the world.

I don't want to create work that harms or hates. I do accept the responsibility of being a witness...To always speak the truth to the people. My writing, my life.

Only a few more places I want to travel to in the world. I want to make it to Turkey...

Thursday, August 11, 2005

This morning my wife and I went down to the Giant Supermarket next to the Tivoli Theater.It was our first time there. If you want to know how the city is changing just enter some of these new stores. A row of wines??
Do you remember when the neighbors drank Bud and sat on the corners? In the early morning hours of rushhour you can stand on corners and no longer see Black people.
It's like the play- Day of Absence. You look in four directions and then you look at yourself and count yourself and the number is one.
Maybe we are invisible? Maybe everyone is living in basements under the Condos with lightbulbs in the ceiling. Yes, Ellison - explain this to me? I'll think twice about buying a yam at the Giant. Oh, I hear it's the same way in Harlem when you get off the A-Train. Maybe Garvey returned and sold folks tickets to the Black Star Line...maybe I better get down to SW and see what's going on. Is the boat out there? Is PG County the new Middle Passage? Or is it just a new township and I should pull my Free Nelson Mandela T-shirt from the back of the drawer...

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Great guy Andy Shallal is opening his new space - Busboys & Poets.
Check it:

I can't wait.

I've been listening to Jan Garbarek/The Hilliard Ensembe - Officium, the last two days. Good music for the mind and soul.

I'm planning on doing some new postcards with my friend Julia Jones in Florida. We did some nice stuff back in the 1990s. Ah...those were the good old days.

Yesterday,Katy Otto (Provisions Library) gave me a copy of her book WITH SUNLIGHT INTERFERING. This woman also plays drums. Her group is Del Cielo:

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Today is Reetika Vazirani's birthday.
Friendship is Forever!
I spoke with her Mom this continues, love endures.

Monday, August 08, 2005

Here is the link to information about my next program. I hope you will attend. Tell friends and lovers:
THE FATE OF AFRICA: A History of 50 Years of Independence by Martin Meredith received a good review in the New York Times today. This is a big book - 752 pages.
A survey of what's been happening on the continent. Price: $35.
With no hitting the Nationals could be in last place in the NL Eastern Division by the end of the week. Houston has good pitching. Clemens, Oswalt and Pett don't give folks too many runs. Losing to Houston will also knock the Nationals out of the wildcard chase. This is a key week.

So what would Bert do? The Nationals have trouble putting 2 hits together. I suggest these guys begin to steal more bases. If someone gets on by a walk, they have to get a green light to steal. No hit and run...just plain out get to second base. Fast runners will have to attempt to steal 3rd base. I guy like Guzman gets my green light if he makes it to second. Of course Guzman had trouble this year trying to get to first. Anyway, I like the guy and he is hitting much better the last few games.

Please, please don't play Preston Wilson for the rest of the season. This guy is terrible and he looks lost out in LF. Is this Mookie's nephew? Well, I have family too. Oh, and why is Cepicky back? Can Bennett really catch or is he just stopping the ball. Can this guy throw any runners out?

I love Wilkerson in CF. How many games has this guy saved this year with his glove?
The Nationals is Guillen's team and the guy is wounded. The team will go nowhere without him. Patterson is one of the best pitchers in baseball right now.
OK Frank here is a batting order:

9 -pitcher

Anything you get from the 6-9 hitters is gravy. If the team is going to score runs it's going to be done with the 1-5 hitters.

This team should set a goal of 5 runs a game. If the pitching can stay strong they will win. No room for errors in the field.

The team needs one good middle relief pitcher. Find one good guy who can give you 2-3 innings. Keep the rest of the guys in the bullpen playing catch. Cordero owns the 9th. Only use him when your ahead, not tied.
It all started with Monroe walking over that heat vent and her dress blowing upwards.
That was a metaphor of things to come.

A busy week for me. Sorry to learn about PJ leaving...Cancer taking so many of us.
I didn't watch ABC News all the time but did like the way Jennings would tilt his head after something really silly in the news. It was my introduction to how one could be objective and political- and be professional about it.

We are seeing the end of an era in television. Can you imagine being introduced to Jennings, and Rather on your cellphone? Not the same.
The new communication outlets gives us the news without "filters" or anchors. We can also make our own news. One can say something bizarre in a blog and have it kick the world in the head. Whew...who would want to do that? Still we live in a world where folks want to carry backpacks with bombs and not books.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

In today's Washington Post Book World, poet Robert Pinsky looks at two books in his Poet's Choice column:

Pinsky writes about my poem "Rosa Parks Dreams."
There is a good profile of V.S. Naipual in today's New York Times Book Review.
It's by Rachel Donadio. Check It!
Naipual is one of those writers we need to return to as our world continues to change.

"I have always moved by intuition alone. I have no system, literary or political. I have no guiding political idea."
- V.S. Naipaul

This weekend was the 40th Anniversary of the Voting Rights Act. Key provisions of the Act expire in 2007. Look for people to say the Jim Crow- era is over and we don't need protection. Keep the Vote Alive! Every vote counts. Vote in every election. Teach your children about the importance of voting. Always know who or what you are voting for. An uneducated voter can harm the future of a community.
Be wise. Keep your eyes open at the voting booth. Don't let anyone prevent you from voting. Do I sound like Rev. Jackson? Well it's Sunday.

I pulled Paul Muldoon Poems 1968-1998 from the bookshelf. I'll read a couple of pages on my way downtown.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

My friend Susan drove into the city around 1PM from Virginia. We sat outside on the front steps of my house looking at her new red truck. I love listening to Susan talk and laugh. The sounds of hills on her tongue. I'm certain we will be the best of friends forever.

So the afternoon was big fun.

Now I'm back at work completing Bennington packets. Everything should be done by Wednesday. Ichiro..oh is hitting .301. Oh...

The home AC unit is working and I'm staying cool. Now what else is going to break and cost me a couple of $$$?

So it was MM and RFK...hmmm. Did we expect Hoffa?
"I have never greeted a student by telling her to go f*** herself and shove her hideous poems up her ass."
- James Wright

James was such a nice fellow, what about you Bert?
New York Times Editorial, August 5, 2005

Nearly 80,000 new blogs are created every day, and there are some 14.2 million in existence already, 55 percent of which remain active. Some 900,000 new blog postings are added every day - a steady increase marked by extraordinary spikes in new postings after incidents like the London bombing. The blogosphere - that is, the virtual realm of blogdom as a whole - doubles in size every five and a half months.

May the force be with us.

Friday, August 05, 2005

I'm busy doing Bennington work this weekend. Susan coming up from VA tomorrow morning.

I'll relax by catching some baseball on television.
AC unit repaired. Whew baby...I was burning and turning blacker. Go figure.

You know you're old when you start enjoying the articles in AARP magazine. Condi on the cover of the latest issue.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

The old days:

I have wanted for fifteen years one supreme thing. I have wanted it more than love, health, fame or security. It is world socialism that I want - for I know this alone can banish the miseries of the world I now live in. It will free the factory slaves, the farm drudges, it will set women free, and restore the Negro race to its human rights. I know that the world will be beautiful soon in the sunlight of proletarian brotherhood; meanwhile, the struggle. And I want socialism so much that I accept this fierce, crude struggle as my fate in time; I accept its disciplines and necessities; I become as practical and realistic as possible for me; I want victory.

-Mike Gold " Why I am a Communist (1932)

Recent coup in Mauritania. Former President Taya had jailed many Islamic activists and members of the army that attempted to overthrow him in 2003.
Look for the US to push for increasing aid to Africa. Much of it will be for defense and not combating health issues and feeding people. The focus is to prevent Islamic militants with links to al Qaeda to gain a foothold in Africa. So here we go again maybe building military bases instead of hospitals. Sending Army advisors to poor nations and not doctors.
Oh...Oil was recently discovered off Mauritania's Atlantic coast. Crude should be pumping next year.

The next movie I want to see is "Broken Flowers" with Bill Murray. It you think it's good let me know. Thanks. David Denby reviews it in The New Yorker (August 8 &15).
I worked on my next collection of poems - ON SATURDAYS, I SANTANA WITH YOU. I cut 32 poems from the manuscript. I have a tentative table of contents. I hope to include work on more subject matter. A number of the poems are experimental in terms of language. It's always good to surprise the reader when they turn the page.

Yesterday morning, Rick (Poet Lore) and I visited the Library of Congress and selected photographs to use on future magazine covers. Look for a change from nature and Washingtonian images to a focus on the photographs of famous American poets.
Many thanks to Cheryl in the Photo Division for helping us.

I talked with Julia Galbus (in Indiana) about the interview book we are working on. I also gave her feedback on her Stephen Henderson essay.

Bennington packets coming in...

Good to see the Nationals putting one in the win bracket. They need to have a 10 game win streak in order to get back into the division hunt and wild card chase.
I plan to watch them play the Dodgers on television tonight.

Ichiro back in a slump again. :-( The guy needs a couple of 3/4 hit games.

Meeting with M. Cohen this morning at Savory. Cohen produces the excellent cable program Takoma Coffeehouse.

My buddy Susan will be up to visit from Virginia on Saturday - it will be good to laugh and be silly. Can you believe the summer will be over soon? I just have to make it up to Provincetown next weekend. I'm teaching a workshop on writing political poems. Notes on my desk...Things to Xerox for my students. I'll pull things together on Friday.

Before August closes her eyes I need to start working on my Langston Hughes lectures and a long essay on Ahmos Zu-Bolton. I've been invited out to Missouri to give a keynote talk on Ahmos in November.

OH...and congrats to Jennifer up in Connecticut for getting some of her work published for the first time. Go girl! See you when you return to Howard.

Yes...the cookies are good at the Mocha Hut on U Street. :-) I'll try one of those muffins next. They look good too.

Humanities Profiled update... I plan to interview journalist and writer Jonetta Barras in September. Jonetta is often heard on WAMU radio. I first met her in Columbia Station on Columbia Road back in the 1970s. Her daughter was still playing DoubleDutch inside the womb.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The larger the audience, the more the reading becomes performance. The more the reading becomes performance, the less the poem is the center of attention. The less the poem is the center of attention, the less the poem is heard and understood, so much the less for poetry. And so on.
- Charles Wright

Apology. Apologize.
Everyone is doing it these days.
Let's apologize for slavery.
Let's apologize for the war
Let's apologize for stealing.
Let's apologize for using drugs.
Let's apologize for adultery.
Let's apologize for getting caught.

I saw where wide receiver Randy Moss said he was going to apologize to everyone before the football season started. Moss knows he is going to act the fool after a TD this season. So excuse him now.

OK...I apologize for stealing the cookies that were for my father back in 1958.
I do not apologize for pouring the warm milk down the sink.
I do not apologize for sneaking out of the house to play baseball with Dinky in 1961.
I do not apologize for telling my Italian friends in high school that Willie Mays was better than Joe D.

I am waiting for an apology from JHS 120 in the Bronx for giving me a poor education.
I am waiting for an apology from all the small press magazines that spelled my name
Ethylbert, Eldebert, Ethurbert, Etc, Et, E.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A productive day. FED-EX some material down to NEA. Contacted Widener U to get info for my son, made it to the bank. A letter in support of a friend up for tenure finally in the mail. I also started working on the first Bennington packet to come in.

I spent the rest of the morning talking with Gina Lewis. She is working on a new mural.

I might walk over to the Mocha Hut (on U Street) after work and read for a spell.
I love the hot August days.

Monday, August 01, 2005

So this afternoon after work I ran into Jelani Cobb on U Street and not Langston Hughes or Jean Toomer. Cobb talked about his new book on HipHop coming out soon.
He recently edited the Harold Cruse Reader. JC is one of those young scholars painting the walls that were left undone by earlier race men and women. The guy was always serious. Now what about the rest of us?

I went into the Mocha Hut (1301 U Street,NW) for the first time. Nice place. Not bad for reading the newspaper or a new collection of poems. I'll check it tomorrow and see what the Tuesday crowd looks like.

Talking about new poetry books, I received SUNSTREAMS & SHADOWS by Cicely Rodway in the mail.It's an Africa World Press book. I met Rodway several weeks ago.
Checkout a very good interview with CHUCK D in the August issue of The Progressive magazine. I agree with everything he says.
Was 1988 so long ago?
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back.
With the help of Adrienne, I've started making changes to my website. A new poem added today: www.

I had a morning meeting downtown with Marc Raskin (founder of IPS). Much of the discussion was around fundraising. Support our work:

Please place on your calendar the next MUSE TO MUSE program.
I'll be interviewing Wendy Reiger (NBC News anchor)on Saturday, August 27th at 1PM.
Location: Busboys & Poets, 14th & V Street, NW.
Wendy will be reading and talking about contemporary Irish poetry.
This is my third Muse2Muse program. The others were with Melissa Tuckey and Sarah Browning. See my website:
I'll be adding a picture of Wendy in a few days.