Tuesday, October 31, 2006

My friend Ruth (who lives in Jerusalem) sent me information about the International Poetry Festival in Israel.


I was a Fulbright Scholar to Israel a couple of years ago. I'll be featured in a publication coming out in a few months.
Profile of Suzan-Lori Parks in The New Yorker (October 30th), page 74.
Leah Hager Cohen has a very good OP-ED piece in the New York Times today about the protest at Gallaudet University:

"In years past, deaf people were denied the right to inherit land, to bear children, to receive an education. Today, all too often they continue to be denied the right to access information and to speak for themselves."
Here is a good health site:
It was good to see in the HU student newspaper an article about homelessness in DC. More attention needs to be given to this problem. I've always felt no person should be forced to sleep in the street. I think we should stop using the word "shelter" and talk about homes and apartments for people. The article I read said that 60 percent of all homeless people in DC have some type of drug addiction. Many have mental health problems. If this is the case we must "reach out" to folks.

Today I'm sending out additional letters and information about naming a studio in honor of Reetika Vazirani at the Vermont Studio Center. Pledges are coming in. $5000 is needed.
I hope you will support this project. Checks can be sent to the Vermont Studio Center, P.O. Box 613, Johnson, Vermont 05656.
You can also talk directly to Gary Clark, Director, Writing Residencies, 802-635-2727.
Halloween Advice to All Free People of Color (1849)

Be sure to wear your masks today.
Folks have been looking for runaways.
Carry your papers.

Smile but not grin if stopped.
Run if you see small groups of whites,
Do not stop to determine their age or sex.

Good people will have pumpkins in their windows.

- E. Ethelbert Miller
Sitting near Chambers Street with Momma E

For many years I tried to encourage my mother to sit
outside on one of the benches and enjoy the fresh air
and sun. I think she must have associated bench sitting
with stoop sitting. That was something we were raised
not to do. On Longwood Avenue we would have to slip
pass the drunks who sat on our stoop. These were men
and maybe a woman or two who cursed and said baby
to my sister and I. They reminded us of our Uncle Allen
who was a jazz musician and listened to records in the
back room with my father. My mother always closed
the door claiming the noise hurt her ears. We sit outside
years later listening to car horns, and children going to
school and older people counting the years or simply
mumbling as they pass. My mother lives near the Hudson
where old people and young people are nothing but ships
looking for a harbor. I look into my mother’s eyes and
I see nothing but water. I see clouds in those eyes and
the coldness that comes with age. We sit on the bench
for a few more minutes. This is the type of closeness
you desire from a lover. That feeling of birth. The smell
that conveys warmth and everything you once called

- E. Ethelbert Miller

Monday, October 30, 2006

All the fine women are older. All the wine is gone. Nothing but water for you now. Your pee has a nice glow.
You walk into Busboys and all the other poets look at you. You must be in the wrong profession.
A Spoken Word artist in the corner whispers - "I see dead people." Lately your blackness keeps peeling. You rub some Baraka and Sanchez on your skin. The ash is still there. You reach for the Saul...careful this could turn into a performance. . Behind the book counter Don is holding some Brathwaite for you. You've become your own Middle Passage. Your shadow calls you slave. It's all freedom and catfish from here.
Congrats to Sarah Browning for having her manuscript accepted for publication. Let's plan a big book party for her. Balloons. I love balloons. Momma E said I was a clown at birth. Maybe that's why nothing fits. Where is my red nose? Who stole the elephants? Why is everyday a tightrope walk into sanity?
Another Hip Hop Issue. This one tastes like Callaloo. 6 years into a new century and we can't discover anything new. No wonder half the world wants to go back to the Middle Ages. We keep discussing the same things over and over. Hip Hop is not the cure for cancer or AIDS. It will not develop Africa or prevent my computer from having a virus. We need an Edison to give the world a new light bulb. We need the Wright brothers to be right again. Maybe some of us can fly but too many of us have our pants hanging low. We need to be on the Moon looking at Earth or is it jazz? The answer was always in Aretha's voice not her legs. Do we need politicians with cute names or simply Garvey with a laptop?
Yes, we know it's Halloween tomorrow - but will you WEAR the Mask?
What are you wearing now?
Look in the mirror and don't wink.
Fool someone but don't be a fool.
Not front page news but it would have been front page news if the results were different:

Foreign energy companies agreed not to leave Bolivia. A victory for Evo Morales.

Lula re-elected in Brazil.

Hmmm...makes you wonder who writes and prints the news.
Culture News:

Snoop in the doghouse again. This Rodman act is getting old.
The picture of Michael Jackson on page C3 of the Washington Post today, looked like a Halloween joke. Jackson looks like a skull wearing a wig. Might he introduce the veil for men soon?
Sports news you don't want to overlook:

Sage Rosenfel throwing 3 TDs for the Texans yesterday.

Oakland defeating the Steelers. Hee Hee...now please don't talk about the re(cycle) incident and Ben Roethlisberger. The guy is overrated. I keep telling folks this in my E-Notes. Last year's Steeler SuperBowl victory was a fluke. A Steel? That's the real reason folks are still sleepless in Seattle. Has anyone seen DJ or is it Joel?

It was just a matter of time before Dallas realized it had Bled too much. Look for the Redskins fans to start booing their team by halftime on Sunday. All Dallas has to do is stop Moss and play well on special teams.

Oh - just give Donovan McNabb the Jake Plummer award. These guys can't win when you need a win.
Vertigo. Where did our years go? 15th Anniversary coming up. Wow. I loved the back room when the store was on Connecticut Ave. How many people made friends and lovers just from visiting the space. Before we were busboys and poets we all suffered from vertigo. Bridget and Todd took us "higher" creating a space where we could talk, read, and purchase printed goodies. Underneath this book pyramid were the remains of Common Concerns. Dave Marcuse selling us coffee from Nicaragua before we tasted Starbucks and he took early out to Takoma Park. There Papa Dave became our local Santa. He ran a toy store in the back of Chuck & Dave.
I once saw Michael Jackson there or maybe I was suffering from vertigo and didn't know it then.
So much I still don't know. Hush now...here's Sonia.

Sonia Sanchez.
Saturday, November 11 2 pm.
In honor of Vertigo Books' 15th anniversary, acclaimed poet Sonia Sanchez will read from her poetry. Her most recent work, Full Moon of Sonia, is a groundbreaking CD celebrating her life and work. It fuses a wide range of musical styles with Sanchez' poetry and underscores her contribution to poetry and performance in the 20th century. Sanchez' unique performance style has influenced generations of African-American writers. CDs and previous books will be available.

Vertigo Books opened November 11, 1991 at Dupont Circle with a specialty in international politics, world literature and African American studies. In April 2000, we moved to College Park, MD.

All are welcome to attend our readings but if you wish to have a book signed, it must be purchased at Vertigo Books, rather than at a competitor.
Vertigo Books7346 Baltimore Ave. College Park MD 20740301-779-9300http://www.vertigo-books.com/
I received some photos from my friend Wiletta Ferdinand who lives in New Orleans. Color photos of her neighborhood ( a year later). I thought I was looking at pictures from the Homicide division of some police department. How do we balance anger with sadness? What comes after our prayers? Wiletta also sent me the frontpage from the October 19th issue of The Times-Picayune - Here is the headline- "Boyfriend Cut Up Corpse, Cooked It." Zackery Bowen killed his girlfriend Addie Hall in their one-bedroom apartment over a French Quater voodoo shop.
It seems Katrina sent this guy into madness. Zackery jumped off the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel.
How many more stories won't make the newspapers?
How many people who survived Katrina have now become walking timebombs ready to explode killing family members, lovers and friends?
Lawrence W. Levine died in Berkeley, California on October 23rd. He was 73.

MFA in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts at the University of Baltimore. The deadline for Fall 2007 Applications is February 1, 2007.
mfacreativewriting@ubalt.edu or 410 837-6022
Back to York.
So I'm standing in the little bookstore in Penn Station. I'm in front of the African American section. OK...who is the culprit responsible for all these awful book covers on black books? They are just awful. If the folks on the covers could breathe they would be in bad BET productions. Many of these books should come with a brown paper bag. This stuff is nothing but quickie reads. Cheap looking covers. Black authors should protest. I bet much of the artwork might not even be done by black artists. Remember when folks used the word ghetto? That's what the book section in Penn Station looked like. I boarded my train and headed back south.
Student victory at Gallaudet. Just another example of how young people can change history.
What school will be next? Hmmm.
Social change does not take place in a vacuum. One struggle affects all struggles.

Prayers for the Red Auerbach family. I saw him once. He was at one of my son's basketball games about three years ago. A legend in the house. Cigars for everyone.

Next weekend is going to be a football day for me - Dallas/Washington and also Indy against New England. I still think Brady is the best QB in football. Peyton will play Frazier to Brady's Ali.
Oh...while in York I purchased a copy of THE BEST AMERICAN POETRY 2006. This collection is edited by Billy Collins. Hopefully in the future folks will begin to look at issues of Poet Lore for work.
On the way up to York I ran into Clayton LeBouef. He has a new film project - The R-Word.
It deals with the portrayal of Indian mascots in sports. Here is info: www.the-eagles-group.com
Clayton has done a lot of good work. You've seen him in Homicide, The Wire, The Corner and Something The Lord Made. Love the guy.
Quote of the Day:

"I wanted to clench a tulip in my teeth
and wag my head like a wet dog."
- Tim Seibles
Back from York. I can't call it New York because it's old to me. I stayed at the Chelsea Savoy Hotel. I was the keynote speaker at the Poetry in the Branches, National Institute: A Weekend Intensive for Librarians. The program was held at Poets House (72 Spring Street). My talk was called "Loving Poets and Loving Poems." I talked about my relationship with June Jordan; poems that we wrote to each other. I read June's "Poem Against the State ( of Things): 1975" which I think folks should go back and read - especially during these times of torture and prisons in places you don't know where. My sister and Ginger G came and suppported me. The G and I went around the corner to Santos afterwards. The Mango-Rita is OK.

It was good to see Momma E. We went grocery shopping. I hadn't done that with my mother in countless years. I almost wanted to climb up into the cart and be pushed around. She pushed anyway, and I felt I was 9 and nothing had really changed. Nice to see everyone in the store knows her and give her the fast lane to the food. I visited Momma E everyday I was in York.
We sat on one of the benches on Greenwich Street and she showed me her new ID card. It was the first time she showed me something that had her date of birth on it. Whew. I looked at her card and it said 1919. The only thing I could think of was the Russian Revolution taking place just before she was born. So long ago. I sat on the bench with Momma E and realized we had never really sat this close together - just the two of us. The last day in York I put lotion on her feet and ankles - one of the rare moments I touched my mother. I had never looked at her toes. I always thought they belonged to my father's girlfriend.

Talking about my father...I went into one of the closets in my mother's apartment and pulled a few jazz albums to take back to DC:

All or Nothing At All - Billie Holiday
Miles Davis In Person - At the Blackhawk, San Francisco
Further Definitions - Benny Carter and His Orchestra

Friday, October 27, 2006

OK. I'm heading North. I might send some little e notes tomorrow. No E-MAG this Sunday. Look for a double issue next week.
Nicaragua recently passed legislature calling for a total ban on abortion. They now join El Salvador and Chile as the only countries in the Western hemisphere to ban abortion without exception. Even Daniel Ortega is supporting this. Hmmm.
Thanks Mo. Mo Ibrahim a Sudanese billionaire is offering a $5 million prize for the sub-Saharan African president who on leaving office has demonstrated the greatest commitment to democracy. The prize is going to be called the Mo Ibrahim Award for Achievement in African Leadership.
Mo made his money in the cellphone business. He must know who to call. Hmmm.
OK. No calls so far from the Nationals front office. I'm still hoping they well let me manager next year. Bert knows baseball - that's my slogan for 2007. OK, I'm waiting...
From Jay-Z to E-Z.
I like the Jay-Z commercials for Hewlett-Packard. A nice touch. I wish Jay-Z could help the folks at Coors. Geez, I hate those ads with the ex-football coaches.
OK. Where did this nonsense come from? In the NY Times today (front page) there is an article about how Democatic strategists are concerned that black folks might stay away from the polls in big numbers because of disillusionment over past shenanigans. Do you hear people saying this about any other group in our society? Is everyone staying home in Florida or Ohio? Of course not. Black folks think someone is stealing their vote, so they are not going to vote? Oh, please. This is silly Reconstruction BS. All that is needed is for voting booths to work in black neighborhoods. That's the issue. We want to vote. We want our vote to count. We are not staying away from the voting polls. Why spread this type of nonsense before election day. The next thing you know folks will be spreading Emancipation rumors. Are we suppose to believe that too?
Upcoming exhibit:
TWO HUNDRED YEARS OF BLACK PAPER DOLLS: The collection of Arabella Grayson
Sunday, November 12, 2006
3-5 PM
Anacostia Community Museum
1901 Fort Place, SE
Washington, D.C.
RSVP: 202 633-4875
Crime time:
Here is the link to the new D.C. Police Web site. Know what's going on before you're what's going on.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Congrats to Tyehimba Jess for being awarded a Whiting Writers' Award. $40, 000 should keep the blues away. Leadbelly must be singing spirituals today. Lord, Lord, the kid done good.
LEADBELLY by Jess is published by Verse Press.
Book for your booklist:
Princeton University Press. $ 45.
A discussion by Varnedoe of the Abstract Expressionist movement in American painting.
So who is responsible for the dumping of tons of toxic waste in the Ivory Coast?
Why Abidjan?
Dumping waste is a lucarative international trade.
7.5 millions tons of industrial-chemical waste were exported world-wide in 2003, but only one million tons were disposed of properly.
In Africa many Africans are unaware of why they might be ill. This is criminal.
OK, Terry Pendleton pulled out of the race to be the new manager of the Nationals. OK, that means the job is still open. I think that's a good job for me. The Nationals should hire a poet and literary activist. I have good baseball "roots" that go back to the New York Yankees. I got Hector Lopez's autograph when I was a kid. I once spoke to Jim Bouton. So what if I never did any coaching in the Majors. I live in Ward 4. If Fenty can become mayor of DC, why can't I manage the Nationals? I'll be 56 next month. That's younger than Frank and older than Fenty. I can give the team my best years. I know when to call the hit and run. So give me a call. Hire a poet - not a former third base coach. Hmmm. I might need support from George Will in order to make this happen.
So Mayor Ray Nagin is supporting the re-election of Congressman William J. Jefferson. Shouldn't this tell you something? Geez. What's in Nagin's freezer?
Quote of the Day:

"People always think of New Jersey as something like the back of an old radio."
- Novelist Richard Ford
Growing up in the South Bronx it was never "cut and run." In the St. Mary's projects we mastered the "do-over." Yep. Do it again. We have to do it again. I wasn't ready. Was this cheating? We never called it that. Why cut and run - when you can just say do-over. Well, that's what you can do when you're a child. In the adult world you try not to break things or make a mess. You also have to live with the results. How many people would like to "cut and run" from their jobs or neighborhoods? Let's see a show of hands. Well many of us can't and that's why we struggle to make a way out of no way. That's why so may of us are sufferers.

If you think the war in Iraq will change after the election, you're just fooling yourself. If we send more troops in, it will mean an increase in deaths. If we pull troops out it will mean an increase in deaths (Iraqi). There is going to be a large military presence in the US for a long time. The bases we built are just too big to abandon. What will probably happen is that Iraq will fall off America's radar screen. It just won't be page 1 news. Look how long Afghanistan was off the radar. Now what is troubling is how casual we are about going to war with Korea and even Iran.
What have we learned?

We need a serious discussion about National Security. We need a major overhaul of US foreign policy. Not just for a region but for the world. Where is our vision? Are we driven by political or economic interests? Who is shaping our relationships with various countries? So Ortega comes to power in Nicaragua. Fidel dies in Cuba. What's our new relationship with these nations? Do-over?

The Republican party might be in trouble but so is the Democratic party. You can't govern by simply making a good speech or wearing a nice suit.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

I might not get to do an E-MAG this Sunday. So look for maybe a Double Issue the following Sunday. Some good stuff coming from writers around the world. I can't wait.

We are still tinkering with the changes to the website: www.eethelbertmiller.com
Checkout the trailer for my next book - ON SATURDAYS, I SANTANA WITH YOU.
Let me know what you think: emiller698@aol.com
In the mail:
I received the latest issue of CREATIVE NONFICTION. This is Lee Gutkind's mag. This special issue offers a synopsis of the Creative Nonfiction Movement. I'm packing this to read on the train Friday. I have to go to New York. On Friday evening I have a talk go give at the Poet's House at 7 PM. I'll be talking about the poems June Jordan and I exchanged back in the 1980s.

In the mail the latest New Yorker. Geez...I'm packing bag of books and mags. I won't have room for munchies.

In the mail a complimentary copy of OPERATION HOMECOMING edited by Andrew Carroll.
Also included in the bag from NEA was a DVD of OPERATION HOMECOMING - a film by Lawrence Bridges. I'll watch it tomorrow night.
I spent the day down at NEA. It was good to see Molly Hicks. I think she was one of the nicest people I met while teaching at Bennington. We had time for a quick lunch...

Right now I'm pulling together material on the Dark Room Collective. I'll be talking about the importance of this talented literary group tomorrow in my George Mason class. I pulled from my files correspondence from Tom S. Ellis. One is dated,February 18, 1989. Ellis is celebrating the pulling together of the Spring 1989 Dark Room Reading Series. It started with a March 5th reading with Quincy Troupe and Darryl Allydice. Later in the spring of 1989 such writers as Sam Cornish, Samuel Allen, Derek Walcott and Cyrus Cassells would drop in at 31 Inman Street in Cambridge.

I plan to show in my class a video of the Dark Room reading that Yusef Komunyakaa gave. The tape was shot by Patrick Sylvain. I have to find the exact date of this baby. It must be around 1989 or 1990. Yusef is introduced by Sharan Strange. He is also shown on the tape being given an award by the Dark Room Collective.

I also show the Furious Flower. Volume # 4 tape that features the Collective. My handouts will consist of poems by Strange and Ellis.

I need to catch my breath...slow down and breath.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

A very important meeting is coming up in Beijing, China. The Forum on China-Africa Cooperation is going to be held November 3-5, 2006. 48 African nations will be there. This meeting marks the growing ties between China and the continent. It will be the biggest summit China has held in its modern history. China is expected to offer dept forgiveness, increase investment and more Aid to the African continent.
China is looking for new markets. The 48 countries going to Beijing in a few days should pressure China to stem the violence in Darfur. Let's trade. Let's have Peace.
The new Poet Lore magazine is out. Yes, that's Houdini on the cover. Inside you will find the work of Sarah Browning, Hayes Davis, Nan Fry, Jean Nordhaus, James Ragan, Alberto Rios,
Virgil Suarez, Truth Thomas, Jeremy Voigt and many others.

Send us some poems. We are also looking for people to review poetry books.
So Fenty fired his spokesperson. Hmmm. What might this mean? Is this what happens when doves cry? Maybe it's an indication that F-Man will make the tough decisions and maybe be his own Man/Mayor. What will January bring?

Yes, I would love to manage the Nationals next season. Will my phone ring before Frank Robinson's? Dusty Baker must be using Verizon. Poor guy.
On the campus of George Mason University:

On Thursday, October 26th, Vietnam Veteran, Scott Camil will be on campus, along with Paul Sullivan, a Gulf war veteran who is advocating for veteran's health care, Geoff Millard an Iraq war veteran who is refusing to return to Iraq, Tia Steele, a mother who lost her son in the Iraq war, along with middle east analyst, Phylis Bennis, and Bill Andrews, a representative of War College, who will speak about how the decisions for war are made.

Several students from the middle east will also speak. The forum will be held twice. First Program: 4:15-7:00p.m. Second Program: 7:20-10:00 p.m.

Each program will include all the speakers, with some variation in content.

Place: Mason Hall, Edwin Meese Conference Room. Date: Thursday, October 26, 4:15-10:00 p.m.

Sponsors: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Department of English, Students for a Democratic Society, Students for Justice in Palestine.

Additionally, "The Ground Truth" will be shown in Johnson Center Cinema at 3:00 on Wednesday, October 25.

Ensuing discussion facilitated by Professor Andrew Bickford, GMU Military Anthropologist. Sponsors: Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Soc/Anth Club.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Other numbers ---
Let's be honest. US troops are not coming home from Iraq in any significant numbers during the next two years. That means things will remain the same under Bush's leadership. How many troops will we lose between now and 2008? How many Iraqi people will die? Thinking this way is very depressing. Is this why some folks have difficulty being honest? Some people have two years or less to live. Think about that for a moment. Think of your own family and love ones and then listen to a clock ticking...
So the question we need to ask ourselves is - How many people can we save? Can we secure Peace in 2 years? We need to look at the clock...
Are these numbers correct?

40 percent of Americans are conservatives.
20 percent are liberals
40 percent are moderates
Bad days coming?
So what about federal, state and local budgets? Tax increases will have to take place. Programs for the poor will be cut once again? No one is talking about these things because of the upcoming election. The person coming after Bush leaves office in 2008 is going to have very tough decisions to make. Just think of the cost of 2 wars, various natural disasters, and folks just stealing. We are going to all be sufferers soon. We are living during a period of greed. Folks are getting sweet contracts everywhere you look. But what about the rest of US? We must be living in exile. Why does the sky look so dark? Ask yourself this in early January. Stay tuned.
Quote of the Day:

"There's a reason why so many Republicans are saying nice things about Mr. Obama, and urging him to run. They would like nothing more than for the Democrats to nominate a candidate in 2008 who has a very slender resume, very little experience in national politics, hardly any in foreign policy - and who also happens to be black."

- Bob Herbert
Yipes. A VERY strange picture in today's newspaper (NY Times) . It's a Department of Defense satellite image of the Korean Peninsula. What's going on North Korea? This place banned cell phones in 2004. No internet access....
And N. Korea wants to build nuclear bombs? Why???
Sad news.
Jay Williams was released by the New Jersey Nets. Williams was trying to make a comeback attempt after a motorcycle accident three years ago. I was hoping he was going to make it...
If you want to know what's wrong with the Washington Redskins football team just listen to Brian Mitchell. I've always felt the team lost it's "soul" when Mitchell was "pushed" out. Anyway, the problem is with the coaching and the lack of chemistry on the team. The "real" players for the Redskins were always the "trouble" guys for the owners. The last of those guys was Lavar. Hmmm.
Now- a few comments about yesterday's game against the Colts. I thought the Colts would score 45 points. See my old E-Notes.The Redskins lost this game when Moss lost his head and Portis got kicked in the pee pee. I thought that was funny since folks are always talking about the running game. Well you can't run when someone steps on your....Hee Hee.
Which is the state of this team right now. The Redskins should never have talked about going to the Superbowl before this season started. Yes- this is a team that needs to win pre-season games. Did you really think this team was going to get better than it was in August?? Oh- and let's not blame Brunell. I like this guy. Is he playing defense? Kicking? Let's get real. The Redskins were good about a year ago because of its defense. Today's team can't stop anyone and the price of gas is low. Jason Campbell - Ha Ha. This guy is not going to be the next Peyton or Brady. He is not going to be Vick or Donovan. He's not even going to be as good as Young. How can you tell? Just look at how he holds the clipboard on the sidelines. Does he look hungry to play? Campbell lacks that arrogance and poise you need in a QB. I've listened to some of his interviews and I'm thinking Joe Louis here? Nice guy - but the Redskins right now need an Ali type of lift. Oh ---and when this team scores points Randle El - act like you've been to the SuperBowl. Geez. Oh and why does Frost the punter even have a helmet? A stupid penalty for screaming at the ref. Now the Redskins have a Bye before they play Dallas. Look for the boos to be out after the Bye. Oh...and please no talk about going to the playoffs - this year or next. The Redskins are not as good as the other NFC East teams. This team right now is only as good as Detroit, Miami, Cleveland and Oakland. Right now the Nationals and Wizards have a better future. Fixing the Redskins will be as difficult as Fenty solving the educational problems of this city. Do we blame the coach or the players?
Michael Waters has a new book of poetry out from BOA Editions. The title is DARLING VULGARITY. It sells for $15.50. www.boaeditions.org
I had a wonderful time traveling in Iraq with this guy back in the 1980s. I imagine much of the old Baghdad is gone. I wonder how Babylon is holding up? Congrats - Michael on the new book.
So let's call it a "poetry trailer" for my new book. ON SATURDAYS, I SANTANA WITH YOU
will be released in 2008. You can click on the "trailer" by going to my website:

Sunday, October 22, 2006


Treve de blues
- Leon Damas

Welcome to the E-MAG: A Sunday kind of love.

On Sundays I invite other writers to share my E-Space and contribute their own E-Notes.
Today my guest is Leslie McGrath.

Leslie McGrath for E-Mag: Sunday, October 22

amweaver.jpg (22846 bytes)

When Ethelbert asked if I’d like to contribute to this week’s E-Mag, my gratitude was quickly overwhelmed by a kind of literary terror: my life as an emerging poet feels more full of striving than accomplishment. But I’ve realized over the last few years that a significant part of my striving to become a poet is composed of the quieter graces of watching and listening. I do a lot of both.

Last week, Ravi Shankar (the poet, not the sitar player) and I met for lunch and went over a couple of each other’s newer poems. I’ve known Ravi for about four years now and have watched him become a force within poetry’s small world. He seems to be everywhere as a critic, a poet, an editor (of Drunken Boat) and an anthologist. The anthology, Contemporary Voices from the East: An Anthology of Poems, due out with W.W. Norton & Co. in 2007, is co-edited by Shankar, Tina Chang, and Nathalie Handal, and it includes South Asian, East Asian and Middle Eastern poetry, in translation and in diaspora, from 55 countries.

He and I attended a lecture at Yale by Jerome Rothenberg, whose third volume of Poems for the Millennium is about to be published by the University of California. This volume focuses on Romantic and Post-Romantic poetry. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve read only a few of the poems listed in the six-page table of contents. My reading during my MFA program felt like a two-year game of catch-up, as I’d only studied literature in Spanish while in college. Just getting a sense of the history of poetry since Modernism was an enormous task. I’ve got a lot to learn.

I’ve been reading essays these days, and marveling at how the essayists I love are able to marry lyric writing and prose. Poet Chad Davidson, whose e-mails are *almost* as good as his tender and accomplished poems, sent me a copy of Alexander Theroux’s The Primary Colors, three encyclopedic essays on yellow, blue and red. It’s a fantastic source of arcana, wonderful for kick-starting a poem. I’ve got Lia Purpura’s new On Looking, and Deborah Tall’s A Family of Strangers (both from the best of the independent small presses, Sarabande Books) at my bedside while I finish Milosz’ selected essays, To Begin Where I Am. His essay, “Notes on Exile,” particularly moves me. In it, he examines the rewards and great challenges, both literary and personal, of chosen exile. One paragraph haunts me: “Exile is morally suspect because it breaks one’s solidarity with a group, i.e., it sets apart an individual who refuses to share the experience of colleagues left behind. His moral torment reflects his attachment to a heroic image of himself, and he must, step by step, come to the painful conclusion that to do morally valid work and to preserve an untarnished image of himself is rarely possible.”

Why does this statement move me so? Because I’ve been considering becoming an expatriot. My husband and I recently bought a small piece of land in a green community on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica. We have yet to build a house, but I feel a sense of engagement there that I’ve felt nowhere else but in Ireland. I believe it’s a combination of the untamed natural beauty and the fact that Spanish is the first language of poetry for me. Add to this my increasing sense of dissatisfaction, even shame, at how our government (and many American businesses) has acted toward the rest of the world. Add also my concern that North Korea’s recent nuclear testing may start a nuclear arms race in Asia. (my older daughter was adopted from South Korea. Her grandparents, mother, and three sisters, with whom she is in contact, all live in Seoul.) Add to this a dull sense of dread with regard to future attacks on American cities. It all makes for anguish and fear. It may make for exile.

And yet, despite all this, I’m writing a brief essay on resilience and the different forms it takes in the healing of a life. I’ll be submitting the piece to NPR’s “This I Believe,” which archives and broadcasts statements of belief by a broad range of Americans.

I love the word “resilience,” love the grey flannel feel of it unfurling from my mouth as I speak it. Who knows, I might use it in a poem if I ever finish reading all I feel I must.

Leslie McGrath has worked as a psychotherapist, an options trader and an artist’s model. Her poems have appeared in The Connecticut Review, Nimrod, Black Warrior Review, Poetry Ireland, and elsewhere. Her reviews have appeared in The Cortland Review and Poet Lore. She was the winner of the 2004 Nimrod/Hardman Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry and a Pushcart Prize nominee. She received her MFA in literature and poetry from The Bennington Writing Seminars. She lives in the village of Noank, CT.

The place to go: www.sonnyrollins.com

Be sure to own a copy of WITHOUT A SONG The 9/11 Concert.
Sonny Rollins should be in every home.
Our language keeps changing as new words become part of our vocabulary. More Islamic terms are spoken and discussed in the media. Here's the latest:


The Nigab is a veil worn by a Muslim woman that obscures the face except for the eyes.

So place this word next to hijab (headscarf worn by women).

Saturday, October 21, 2006

The Gallaudet University student protest is very important. The opposition against the appointment of Jane Fernandes is that she does not sign well. There are claims that she permitted professors who do not sign well to continue teaching at the school. The following questions were raised in a good article published in Saturday's New York Times (10/21/06):

"Should Gallaudet be the standard bearer for the view that sees deafness not as a disability, but as an identity, and that looks warily on technology like cochlear implants, questioning how well they work and arguing that they undermine a strong deaf identity and pride? Or should Gallaudet embrace the possibilites of connecting with the hearing world that technology can offer?"
Thank you Maureen Dowd. That was a funny Op-Ed piece in the NY Times about Obama Obama. Much of the Barack Obama stuff is just fluff. We want people to look good so that we can feel good. But what are people doing when the click click is gone? Are they getting bills passed in Congress? One good speech won't feed a community. One nice interview will not find a person a job. We need to demand more from our leaders. I want to see results.
I don't want to read about how a person overcame obstacles and went to school or found a wife.
I want to see "ideas" about how we improve housing, healthcare, and advance transportation systems, etc. It's sad when you can't tell the difference between a celebrity and a politician.
Quote of the Day:

"Playing with Johnny Unitas was like being in the huddle with God."
- John Mackey
What's going on in Budapest these days?
When are we going to read more about the protest over there? Folks are calling for the resignation of the Prime Minister.

On October 24, 1956, 30,000 Soviet troops rolled into Budapest. Those Stalin statues were starting to fall...
Things to watch:
Election in Nicaragua on November 5th.
The return of Daniel Ortega?
I remember meeting him in Nicaragua back in the 1980s. Was that me dancing with Rosario at a party? Everyone was writing poetry back then. I discovered Dario. Miller in Managua. The poet Michael Ryan and I trying to make sense out of what was going on. Returning back to the States together- in Florida- I run into June Jordan. She is on her way to Nicaragua. Little did we know a country would come between us and we wouldn't speak to one another for a long time. Oh - those Ortega days...

Friday, October 20, 2006

2007 is shaping up to be another busy year. I'll be in the following cities:

New York (February 27th)
New York (March 6th)
Milwaukee (April 12th)
Little Rock (May 3)
Jacksonville (June 12th)

Let me know if you will be there too. We can share E-Notes.
Khaled Hosseini the author of the best-selling KITE RUNNER has a new book coming out in May. Look for A THOUSAND SPLENDID SUNS. It will be released by Riverhead Books, an imprint of Penguin.
It was nice to walk into Busboys on a Friday afternoon. Yes - I miss Ginger G. I had a late lunch - well call it dinner with Michon. What a joy to always see her. It was so much fun doing those Humanities Profiled television programs together. I miss working with her. My next Humanities Profiled program will be an interview with Busboys founder and owner Andy Shallal. We will tape in December. My next interview (for radio) will be with the activist James Early on November 15th. This will take place at the IPS office (1112 16th Street/Suite 600). The public is invited.

So many people in Busboys - the center of Wonderland? Lady Nicole (from TransAfrica), Holly Bass (the Diva of Diva), Pam W sitting regal in the corner typing on her laptop as if she was Tubman keeping track of runaways. Oh - and Don with so many books around him. So many hits by the checkout counter - it puts Motown to shame. I purchased a copy of DECONSTRUCTING TYRONE. Yes - the Nats are coming soon. Don is also holding me some Kamau Brathwaite books of poems. It's a good thing poetry is legal and can be purchased over the counter. Can you see folks reading like it was gin and 1935?
Oh - and Pam Pinnock was in Busboys looking stunning with her new look. Why isn't this woman reading books to children on a Saturday morning? What a lovely voice...

So earlier in the day I was reading the long OP-ED piece in the New York Times by Brian Greene (author of THE ELEGANT UNIVERSE) on String Theory. How come this made more sense than the US situation in Iraq? Can't we recognize a Black Hole when we see one?
I need to get back to reading more science books.
Who makes these types of decisions? WHO? WHO? WHO?

Kirk & Tammy Franklin are on the cover of Ebony magazine (November 2006). I like Kirk's music, but why is the cover story about the rebuilding of his marriage after his addiction to porn?Oh-please. On the same cover is a reference to the article - Does The Rev. Jesse Jackson Still Matter? This of course is under the words - The New Black Power ( an article about those political black "image" award winners that are emerging in both political parties). Now - on page 170-171 there is a striking photograph by Vandell Cobb of Jesse Jackson standing amid the rubble of southern Beirut. On the next page (172) is a picture of Jackson with Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. Whew...so much going on. Now let's pretend we are the editors at Ebony. Just for one issue can't we decide no Hip Hop cutie on our cover but instead a photograph of Jesse Jackson in the Middle East? This would have been a nice tribute and celebration of Jackson's 65th birthday if you just wanted to do the People magazine type of thing - Geez - they have a good story "hidden" in the back of their magazine. Why? And why not just have the story be on Jackson in the Middle East and the need for peace in the region. Why "tack" it after "The New Black Power - Election 2006" and hold me hostage with the pictures of Michael Steele and Lynn Swann (without a helmet)? Why?
Who makes this type of decision? WHO? WHO? who?
OK you be the judge in this case. Is W- white or black?

"W pleaded guilty to felony armed robbery after prosecuters dropped a conspiracy charge and agreed to ask for a reduced sentence far shorter than the charge's maximum jail time of 20 years. Judge ---sentenced W to five years in jail but suspended all but 30 days, after which W will be required to spend 90 days in home detention. W also must keep a diary during his incarceration and lecture high school students about what he has learned from the incident."

So is W- white or black? Hmmm.
The above was taken from today's newspaper.
So Cory Booker has been hanging out with the Mayor of New York too? Newark and DC could do the mayor switch and no one would notice except Willie Randolph. The media is romancing the Boy-Mayors : Fenty and Booker. These guys get points for style and I love the tech-gloss and their berries. But at the end of the day - I feel as if I'm listening to Mayor LaGuardia reading the funnies to me. You can show-up at fires or when a child is shot, but what are you really doing? What will they do? Booker gets the Newark whirlybird fixed. What will Fenty do?
This is Bill Clinton politics at its best. Compassion without social change. I suggest all DC residents pull yesterday's New York Times and read the Andrew Jacobs piece on the first 100 days of Newark's Cory Booker. DC let's start counting. I got my fingers and toes out this morning. You do the math.

It's Friday and you just can't do another miracle.
You pass the crowd crying around the open grave.
Your faith makes you curious, so you join the circle
and look into the darkness. Your eyes are failing.
You're tired. You can't tell if the man is dead or
alive. A name you've never spoken falls from your
lips - Lazarus. You say it twice, your voice rising
the second time. Rise Lazarus. Behind you a gasp
and then a question that will following you like
a disciple the rest of your life. But Lord - What if
this is a dangerous man?

- E. Ethelbert Miller

Thursday, October 19, 2006

IPS NEWS. Visit our website: www.ips-dc.org

Torture Victim Barred From Visiting U.S.

By WILLIAM C. MANN Associated Press Writer 5:14 PM PDT, October 18, 2006.

WASHINGTON — Syrian torturers could find nothing to implicate Canadian Maher Arar in al-Qaida or any other terrorist ties. An official Canadian government report agreed with that finding and recommended that Arar be compensated for his 10 months in a Syrian prison. Still, Arar remains on the U.S. government terror watch list. And the United States has not admitted fault for holding him incommunicado for a week, then, five days after his first telephone call, putting him on a private jet and flying him to the Syrian prison.

Arar and his American lawyer, Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, were invited to Washington on Wednesday to receive human rights awards from the rights advocates Institute for Policy Studies.

Ratner came from his New York headquarters to accept for the center, a longtime campaigner against torture and other abuses. Because the watch list will not let Arar enter the United States, he had to stay in Canada and participate by telephone in a discussion of his case and of the U.S. law signed Tuesday by President Bush on treatment and prosecution of detainees.

At the awards presentation, he delivered a videotaped message of thanks in which he described his ordeal, which began on Sept. 26, 2002, at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport and ended with his arrival in Canada in early October 2003.

The award "means that there are still Americans out there who value our struggle for justice," he said. "We now know that my story is not a unique one. Over the past two years we have heard from many other people who were, who have been kidnapped, unlawfully detained, tortured and eventually released without being charged with any crime in any country."

John Cavanagh, the institute's director, told Arar he had asked Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to clear Arar's name and let him come. Gonzales did not reply, Cavanagh said. At the Justice Department, a spokesman said he was unaware of the letter and could not comment.

Gonzales has said Arar was deported to the country where he was born. A representative of the Immigration and Naturalization Service was there when he was put on the plane, Arar said in his videotaped talk, and he said he told her the Syrians would torture him. "She said something like: 'The INS is not the body or the agency that signed the Geneva Convention convention against torture.' For me what that really meant is, 'We will send you to torture, and we don't care.''

Cavanagh told Arar over the telephone that he was selected for the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award "partly for your courage in helping to catalyze the global movement against torture and this term of 'rendition': deportation for torture."

Last week, Canadian Justice Dennis O'Connor issued a three-volume report on the Arar case that made 23 recommendations for policy changes and reparations to Arar, a software engineer. "I am able to say categorically that there is no evidence to indicate that Mr. Arar has committed any offense or that his activities constitute a threat to the security of Canada," O'Connor said. He said it was almost certain that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police had sent erroneous information on Arar to the Americans.

The official U.S. line on Arar, as related Sept. 29 by State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, is "the people who made the decisions at the time ... determined a couple of things: One, that this individual posed a threat to the United States based on the information that they had; and two, that they were able to assure themselves, they had the reasonable expectation that this individual was not going to be maltreated."

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The 30th Annual Letelier-Moffitt Human Right Awards Ceremony at the National Press Club was a well attended and very moving event. Awards were given to Maher Arar, Center for Constitutional Rights and the Gulf Coast Renewal Campaign. Our special guest was Vanessa Redgrave. Go to the IPS website for additional information: www.ips-dc.org

So much work to do...the struggle continues. We who believe in freedom cannot rest.
10 dead in one day. Baghdad is eating flesh.
What if this war goes on for 15 or 20 more years?
I want to think peace is possible but it's like expecting someone else to be on the cover of Oprah's magazine.

Kenya is reporting the first case of polio in decades. Are we going backwards?
There was a 2003 boycott by Nigerian Islamic cleric claiming the inoculations were part of a United States- led plot to render Muslims infertile.
That sounds like the type of stuff I heard back in the 1970s - and I was living in DC.

Talking Africa- It's amazing how every year we seem to focus on just one country or region.
Darfur overshadows the rest of the continent right now. Liberia had a quick media moment with their new female leader... But what about all the other nations?
Quote of the Day:

"Ali kept calling me ugly, but I never thought of myself as being any uglier than him. I have 11 babies - somebody thought I was cute."
- Boxer, Joe Frazier
Jim Fassel had a job with the Baltimore Ravens because of friendship not because he was an offensive genius. It's amazing how in sports you can be a loser for years and always find employement. Does this mirror life? How many NBA coaches get jobs with lifetime losing records? Can you imagine being Secretary of State or Defense and having a losing record and getting a job in the next administration? Hmmn. Will someone let me manage the Nationals next year? I live in the District of Columbia and have no experience in baseball. Oh - I did have a bat and glove when I was small. I caught a ball at RFK this year. Does that look good on my resume? Please hire, I want to be your friend.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Remind me again how beautiful you are.
Remind my words how to dance.
Yes, teach them poetry. Let my words
look into your eyes and taste your lips.
This is what I remember when you walk
away (again). The streets are so empty
without your arms.

E. Ethelbert Miller
The new isolationism - when will it return? So if we want to build a fence on the Texas/Mexican border can't we also stick our heads in the ground and ignore Korea? Hmmm. Can you imagine starting another war right now? Pure insanity...and we welcome it by talking about it like we were taking off a blouse or shirt and getting ready for bed. Who needs another nightmare and more young men and women losing their lives? Is Korea going to drop a bomb on Alaska or California next week? Do they really want to takeover Idaho? How do we define National Security in the 21st Century? Why is a country like the US so afraid of countries with leaders that play the dozens and piss downstream?
Prior to every election you begin to hear stories about "the group" that will determine the election. It's single women this year? Please stop this nonsense. Everyone knows all the elections this November will be decided by black men who own pit bulls, and are between the age of 23 and 29. Many are college graduates and listen to classical music. Don't their vote count? I'm so tired of the voter profile. The focus on soccer Moms, born again folks, Gays or homeowners, etc. Soon we will be talking about the Muslim vote in North Carolina and Louisiana. What graduate student makes this stuff up? Rowe with me baby!
Where is Blade? The IRS wants his blood. There must be a sequel to this. Wesley call home.
Hey- Redskin fans. Replacing Brunell is not the answer. The guy is not playing defense. The problem is setting high expectations for the team. The Redskins are just an average team. Oh - and enough of Campbell being the future QB. The kid is not as good as Brady. Let's get real. It will take him 3 years to lead a team to 8 wins. Oh...and Todd Collins knows the Al Saunders playbook. So what! I can quote Dunbar. I'm surprise Collins is not playing for the Raiders. I should be writing Wilbon's Post pieces. Folks got excited about the Redskins when they defeated Houston? We are talking Houston. They are 1-4. 72 pts this year. Geez. Let's talk about the Howard Homecoming game --was that Brunell at QB on the last play? Nah...
Things to watch:

Eriteria moving tanks and troops into the buffer zone with Ethiopia. This violates the 2000 truce.

30 other nations have atomic programs that allow for a quick shift to bomb-making.
Who's going to blow the whistle?
Da Bert knocked down for a second day. Blows to the eyes and nose. Why do colds think they can go 15 rounds?

Be sure to read Jeff Stein's OP-ED article in the New York Times today. Here is why we are having so many problems overseas. Stein asks a very simple question - Can you tell A Sunni From A Shiite? How many folks in high positions can't do it and don't seem to care? This is where the US arrogance comes in and we don't seem to be correcting it. How much is this simply racism and no one wants to call it that? Call it country-profiling? Do all nations look alike? Maybe this is why we keep treating much of the world like they were children. Ok-Korea, put your crayons and nuclear bomb away. Geez - and then we have the other kids on the block who want to stay up late and mess with US because they know we get upset. No one likes to be teased - especially by a country like Venezuela. So we suddenly associate Hugo with everything that's bad or Left in the hemisphere. We don't even give Hugo credit for thinking because he is nothing but a clone of Fidel. So let's ask another question - Can you tell A Fidel from a Hugo? Turn to the next OP-ED.

Tell me about the young boy who collected feathers so he could fly.
Tell me the story about the lovers who were stars.
Tell me about how Death broke her promise in the back seat of a car.

- E. Ethelbert Miller

Monday, October 16, 2006

Mic Check: Hip Hop Evolves

Saturday, October 28 2 pm.

Join us for a gathering of important, provocative voices: Ta-Nehisi Coates, William Jelani Cobb, Natalie Hopkinson, Natalie Moore and moderator Esther Iverem. Together they will survey and assess the future of hip-hop, perhaps the most important cultural movement of our time. The panel will discuss how hip-hop defined the aesthetics of a generation, the uses and limits of a hip-hop identity (especially regarding black masculinity), and the intersection between arts and activism. We expect a deconstruction done with love and respect.

Ta-Nehisi Coates was once obsessed with Franz Fanon. Now he covers business for Time magazine. Go figure.

William Jelani Cobb is an assistant professor of history at Spelman College, a contributing writer to Essence magazine and author of the forthcoming To The Break of Dawn: A Freestyle on the Hip Hop Aesthetic.

Co-author of Deconstructing Tyrone, Natalie Hopkinson is a Scripps Howard doctoral fellow at the University of Maryland-College Park, where she is also a visiting professor of journalism. She lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband and two small children.

Moderator Esther Iverem is founder and editor of SeeingBlack.com, which is dedicated to Black critical voices on arts, media and politics. Also a poet, her most recent book is Living in Babylon and a collection of her reviews, essays and interviews on Black film, We Gotta Have It, is forthcoming.

Co-author of Deconstructing Tyrone, Natalie Y. Moore is a freelance journalist who has worked for the Pioneer Press, the Detroit News, and the Associated Press. An adjunct instructor of media studies at Columbia College, she lives in Chicago.

All events take place at Vertigo Books unless otherwise indicated. All are welcome to attend our readings but if you wish to have a book signed, it must be purchased at Vertigo Books, rather than at a competitor. Vertigo Books7346 Baltimore Ave. College Park MD 20740301-779-9300www.vertigo-books.com
Today 80 percent of America's beef is slaughtered by 4 companies.
Today 75 percent of the precut salads are processed by 2 companies.
Today 30 percent of the milk is processed by just 1 company.
Not a good day for DaBert. Fighting a cold and a body that's weak. Still I'm doing better than the Redskins. Right? Just check my old E-Notes. Where did this team think it was going this year? Playoffs?? How can a team with no future hall of famers get to the SuperBowl? Not this year or next. What's wrong with the team? The defense- stupid. These guys can't stop the run and can't cover the deep pass. Hello. Good-bye. Is there anyone on the Redskin defense you have to look for before the ball is snapped? Nah. Oh- and Portis is OK. But he's not the great runner. The great runner carries your team. You don't" look" to him to carry the team. It's understood. If you play the run you can stop Portis. Now if this guy can't run against the Colts it will simply prove my point again (and again). The Colts should put 45 points on the Skins and I'm not a Peyton fan. At 2-5 the season will be over. Folks will be fired. Gibbs is a nice guy so you feel for him the way you feel for Frank Robinson. But Gibbs might not be the coach for this team. Oh- and folks keep talking about a 600/700 page playbook for the offense as if they need to go to Oxford to play football. What's that about? The Redskins are an average team. They can't beat Philadelphia, New York or Dallas...so where can they go? Last place this year is my prediction.

Baseball? Yes - the media got its Tigers, Tigers, burning bright. Notice how sports is helping the old cities like Boston, Chicago and now Detroit. The media loves happy stories because they love their ratings before they love covering important news. So we start cheering for the New Orleans Saints and maybe they make the playoffs. But how many people will watch the game in a FEMA trailer? Why should Reggie Bush help us forget about George Bush? I must be missing something here. Is there a fumble somewhere and no one is telling us?
Quote of the day:

"And last night, after everyone had gone on home. I stood naked on my front porch and howled like an old coyote and the old coyotes, beautiful and crazy, howled right back."
-Sherman Alexie

Sunday, October 15, 2006

E-MagLOGO.jpg (6662 bytes)


Treve de blues
-Leon Damas


On Sundays I invite other writers to share my E-Space and contribute their own E-Notes. Today my guests are Nibir K. Ghosh and Afaa Michael Weaver. Ghosh teaches in the Department of English, Agra College, Agra (India) and is the Chief Editor of Re-Markings. He was a Senior Fulbright Fellow, 2003-2004.

weavercopy.jpg (9069 bytes)

Weaver is a poet and playwright. In 1998 he was a Pew Fellow. From 1997 to 2000, he was editor of Obsidian III. He has studied and taught in Taiwan and China as a Fulbright scholar. Weaver has studied Taijiquan for twenty-six years and is a Dao disciple of Shifu Huang Chien Liang. He is a holder of an endowed chair at Simmons College, where he is the Alumnae Professor of English. Weaver is the author of nine collections of poetry.

# 1

In an impressive function held recently in the city of the Taj Mahal, the noted Hindi poet, Padmashri Neeraj released the Tenth grand issue of Re-Markings, the biannual journal of research in English that I edit and publish from Agra, India.

In a short span of five years the journal has gradually evolved as a useful guide to the ever-expanding frontiers of human experience. It has not only provided a perfect platform for addressing specific issues and concerns central to the human predicament in a hostile world but has also been instrumental in creating a powerful climate of opinion to enhance the understanding of our relationship to time, clime and space.

I distinctly remember how, when we launched Re-Markings in March 2002, friends, well-wishers and detractors had warned us about the dangers of extremely high infant mortality rate that beset academic journals in India. Drawing strength and sustenance from the huge reservoirs of trust and faith created by patrons, contributors, subscribers and admirers, this humble enterprise has succeeded in leaving its indelible imprints on the shifting sands of time.

Responding to Re-Markings, Charles Johnson, the recipient of the National Book Award, has observed: “All in all, with its impressive global range and vision, and especially the international writers included, Re-Markings is magnificent, critically and creatively.” Re-Markings offers a panoramic view of the kaleidoscopic range and variety of incisive critical response to British, American, African, Canadian and Indian literatures. Special Sections based on specific events, issues and themes have been a regular feature of Re-Markings.

It is perhaps a happy coincidence that Re-Markings, like the equinoxes, appears in March and September each year. The vernal and the autumnal equinoxes set the globe in perfect gravitational balance and become the harbingers of the Spring of life and the fruits of its Autumn. I am optimistic that Re-Markings will continue to offer, through a clockwork precision of the biannual event, the hope and cheer that one finds in the songs of Spring and the music of Autumn. The Gita says: “Every surface derives its soil from the depths even as every shadow reflects the nature of the substance.”

I am optimistic that Re-Markings will find effective sustenance in what it has to offer.

Early this week my friend Chandran from Hyderabad sent me the text of the Presidential Address that W.H. Auden had delivered at the Indian Congress for Cultural Freedom at Bombay in March 1951. The text brought home to me, an ardent Auden admirer, how Auden could successfully convey through his characteristic simple poetic statements the quintessential reality of the many facets of human freedom. He may have stated in despair that “poetry makes nothing happen” but he was always against ivory-tower poets and artists.

As an instance I would like to quote a few lines from Auden’s address that I have mentioned above. Auden states: “Perhaps as long as artists exist doing what they like, they remind people who govern of what they do not like to be reminded, that the government are people and not numbers.”

In a world where the oppressor is continually on the look out for new reasons and devices for silencing dissent, Auden’s approach to the relationship between politics and art can certainly start “healing fountains” in the deserts of the heart.

# 2

The Quiet Car

In the Acela Express Quiet Car, cell phones are not to be used, and conversations should not be audible. We sleek along at a high speed, so high it seems we are not on the tracks or are not moving at all. We enter the rapid transit silence.

I am taking the train to NewYork for the 10th Anniversary celebration of Cave Canem, the first annual retreat for black poets, poets in the western hemisphere who are the descendants of African people,the majority of whom where brought here as slaves during the Middle Passage. Sitting on the train, I have not heard the news that a Yankee baseball player has died in the crash of his small plane into an apartment building on Manhattan's upper East Side. His flight coach has passed away with him.

The train ride reminds me of the silence we seem to be entering in America, as the machinery of conservatism and global enterprise glazes us over with a web of things that hide the reality of the world. More and more it seems a risky enterprise to break the silence.

The train arrives in the rain. At first I try to stand in the taxi line at Penn Station without an umbrella, but I surrender and go back in the station to buy a slick Staples brand umbrella with a push button. Then I go back to the line in the rain. Everyone waits in order and with a quietness that is surprising.

It is Wednesday night, and I head to dinner with Jim Hatch and Camille Billlops
in their SoHo loft. We have chicken soup and play with puppets. Much of life should be more about play. The silence is getting too serious. After dropping off a framed copy of an interview I did in Beijing last year for the Cave Canem silent auction, I go to lunch with a friend from Taiwan who is at Columbia University doing research. We walk through the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, and it is a beautiful day in New York, prelude to the evening reading by winners of Cave Canem's annual poetry prize.

I sit with Elizabeth Alexander in the audience. Elizabeth and I were the first faculty at Cave Canem, invited there by Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady in 1997, the year before I was named Cave Canem's first Elder.

The reading is a wondrous joy, and Elizabeth and I sit together in appreciation and admiration, whispering celebration to each other. The 10th anniversary celebration takes off like the high speed train, and things begin to whir into a music that makes everything around it a silence. Nothing else matters except this gathering, and the moments gather in depth as they fly.

I have lunch with Honoree Jeffers, Cherise Pollard, and Herman Beavers in the restaraunt under the Empire State Building. We laugh so much and so loudly that I don't want it to end, and now and then I am amazed to recognize that we have spun everything around us into a silence. We seem to have a power.

It is Friday the 13th, and it is the day of the big faculty reading. Those of us who have taught at Cave Canem over the years will read, and it is alphabetical, which means that Elizabeth and I do the bookending that we usually do. She is the first reader, and I am the last. We are fifteen in number and are supposed to take seven minutes each, but I know we wll have church, and church will run overtime. So I begin to draft a series of plans for giving the benediction.

I think of Sterling Brown's "Chant of Saints" and begin to make a list of poets, writers, and activists, most of whom have passed away.We get the word from the building service crew that we are way overtime and that if we don't conclude, we will be concluded by a shutdown of power. I pass the word to Cyrus Cassells and Tim Seibles, who are on either side of me, to let them know I will have to make a quick ending. Patricia Smith is speaking, and as she finishes I get up to do what I must do as Elder, surrender the ego to the better welfare of the community and culture.

My phrasing here is to invoke the gentle reminders Sonia Sanchez has been giving us over the last two days, to remember our responsibility to the world, the world which is under the giant hand of a power that wishes to bear down on us with silence that is malevolence. After reading just two short poems of mine, I begin my Chant of Saints by saying we must honor the Black ArtsMovement. We are given just enough time to finish and file out slowly. It is a chilly walk down the seven blocks to my hotel....but I am not alone.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Listening to the soundtrack from CarWash. Whew...what year was that?

I might try and find some music by Matthew Shipp next week. I need a pair of new ears.

I met Marian Bennett this afternoon. A nice woman running for Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner (4A04). We had a short chat about the needs of the neighborhood. I told her I felt a tree policy and more lights on the streets would be good for our little blocks. I'll might vote for her next month.

Wal-Mart are you sick?
Here is their new policy:
Any employee with more than 3 unauthorized absences in a 6-month span will be disciplined and those with 7 will be fired.
Any employee who is absent 3 times during a 6 month period and doesn't call their 800 number can be fired.

Ecuador picks a president Sunday. Will it be Correa?

Somebody is always making a profit.
Insurance companies are projecting record profits as high as $60 billion one year after Katrina.
Hmmm. We could name quite a number of people who are not living in trailers.

On page 5 of the New York Times today there is a picture of a soldier in Iraq checking a coffin at a funeral for explosives. If you needed a reason why God shouldn't answer our prayers - here it is. Folks dead and knocking on the doors of heaven with bombs. If I was an advisor to God I would use this as an excuse to cutoff diplomatic relations with mankind. Folks will be blowing up heaven if we let them in. And you want to know why Babylon is in Iraq?

Ban is in. He will become the 8th secretary general of the U.N. in 2007. He listed his priorities as reforming the organization, meeting development goals established in 2000, establishing human rights, confronting terrorism, slowing environmental degradation and curbing the spread of AIDS.

Quote of the day:

"...modesty is about demeanor, not about vision and goals. It does not mean the lack of commitment or leadership. Rather it is quiet determination in action to get things done without so much fanfare."
-Ban Ki-moon, the next U.N. Secretary General

Dead at 67 - Johnny Callison, baseball player.
I was at the All Star game in 1964 (Shea Stadium) when Callison hit a three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth inning to defeat the American league. He hit that baby off Dick Radatz (Red Sox). Another childhood memory. Callison had one of those great throwing arms like Clemente.

Well the Kim Roberts show will be on television tomorrow. She is the second stripper in the Duke rape case. This is the type of woman you don't want to meet at a homecoming party.
Bling Bling. Do you really want to watch 60 minutes tomorrow? Why can't we wait for a jury to decide the case?
Saturday morning. I'm heading over to Woodrow Wilson High School to give the keynote speech at their annual Humanities, Arts and Media Academy (HAM). The theme this year is "Humanities: Passion and Profession."

Friday, October 13, 2006


Baltimore, MD (BlackNews.com)

Men waking "singing in hieroglyphics" the sweat from their love making creating a new Nile? Is this possible? To restore black love is as challenging as rebuilding the pyramids. Personal Passion is a poetry and photography collaboration that is symmetry between the visual art and the written word. Of course the women are beautiful, and distracting, however "Personal Passion" is also a mirror to encourage the reader to love and celebrate the erotic.

Black women have not always been proud of their bodies, so Personal Passion is then a walk to freedom. Let's begin with the lady with cuffs. You look at her holding them in her left hand. Do you want to play with her? Or is this a reminder that perhaps many of our men [and women] are outlaws?

Personal Passion, by Jesse Sharpe, brings together photography and poetry (phoetry). One is therefore directed to the image and the metaphor. It is seductive, and the visual connection between the poetry and the photography is not only moving, but requires the reader to look from the photograph to the poem for explanation.

"The poems included in Personal Passion have a fragrance to them. It's a combination of incense and flowers. The sensual tone captures a degree of moisture and one assumes all the wetness is from two bodies and not one."
- E. Ethelbert Miller, poet and literary activist. Director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University.

From a woman's point of view:
Personal Passion is remarkable book of poetry and erotic photography. Jesse Sharpe and his colleagues are able to capture the beauty and sensuality of the women and the tenderness of the men. The work is a journey of love and passion.- Carolyn Johnston, Prof. of American History at Eckerd College

All those who have reviewed this collaboration agree, the best advice is to purchase a copy and to become immersed in it. Personal Passion is such a tasteful tribute of phoetry (photography and poetry) to women, that it is deserving of a both golden quill and golden frame.

Jesse Sharpe is a native Washingtonian (D.C.), and now writes now just a stone's throw away in Maryland, that is if you don't catch him writing on the city's subway. The sequel to Personal Passion, Mannerizmz is due to be released in January 2007.

His other books include Hurry Home (war chronicles), a collection of love poetry in the midst of war; Menfolk Talk'n, poetry and a short story lamenting the destruction of young black boys; Foreplay (hands gliden'n ovah me), erotic poetry; and an amazing children's activity workbook - My Afri-bets Learning Book - that combines poetry, vocabulary building, Swahili, cutting and pasting as well as handwriting practice in one book.

Personal Passion, as well as the author's other books may be ordered online at www.sharpebooksonline.com or from bookstores and other online sources. Email Jesse Sharpe at sharpesolutions1@comcast.net or contact him at 240-375-6033 for reviews, book signings, or more information.
CONTACT:Jesse SharpeSharpe Solutions240-375-6033sharpesolutions@comcast.netwww.sharpebooksonline.com

The video is narrated by Danny Glover.

Africa in the news and on the big screen. Madonna adopting a little one. People having their babies in Africa -and as the 21 st Century continues - it looks like the beginning of "Into Africa" instead of Out of Africa.

What will they wear on Halloween?

It seems almost everyday someone "steals" police uniforms in Iraqi and then goes out to do harm to others. Gunmen in police cars and uniforms stormed the office of an Iraqi satellite television channel in Baghdad on Thursday.
The death toll in Baghdad has more than doubled since summer.
Everyday must be Friday the 13th in Iraq.
Quote of the day:

"The major issue is the idea that civilizations must clash. I disagree with that. My life is a testimony to the fact that civilizations can combine gracefully and Harmoniously if you have a desire to do so. Turkish history, and my books, shows that this coming together is possible.
Turkish culture is made up of East and West."
-Orhan Pamuk
I finished reading Patricia Smith's TEAHOUSE OF THE ALMIGHTY on the bus last night. There were 6 poems that I enjoyed reading and will share with my students at Mason later this term:

"Building Nicole's Mama"
"Listening at the Door"
"Hallelujah With Your Name"
"Women Are Taught"
"Running for Aretha"

Patricia's poems about her son are always priceless.
Early morning...walking across the HU campus to work. It's HomeComing. The campus is filled with tents and it's partytime ( again). The HU HomeComing is much bigger than when I was a student. I guess that's a good thing. I'll walk around later today and see if there's a sign that says Save Darfur! Should I remind someone?

There's an interesting article in the District Chronicles(Oct 12-18) by Hazel Trice Edney. It's about Wal-Mart and the African American community:
$1 million grant to the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation for scholarships and internships for black students
$5 million grant to the National Urban League
$1.5 million to the United Negro College Fund
The question raised in the newspaper article was whether Wal-Mart(the giant retailer) was trying to "buy" the silence of its critics. Wal-Mart has come under criticism for some of its employment practices. What do you think? What should we do?
Jesse Jackson was quoted as saying they were trying to "throw money at us." Hmmm...I found that curious. I always thought there was a pot of gold at the end of the Rainbow.
And he was Black and use to wear silk:


October 19-20, 2006Brooklyn CollegeOctober 21, 2006Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. This conference is designed to restore to the cultural repository the record of and critical response to Larry Neal (1937-1981), poet, playwright, and essayist whose moral vision, intellectual independence, activism and scholarly integrity remain a model and inspiration for future achievement.

The presentations will bridge a substantial gap in the current scholarship on the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and 1970s by documenting the centrality of Neal as a founding theorist of black American cultural studies.

Neal's commitment to creativity and activism provides an early model for critical interdisciplinarity, attesting to the interrelated nature of music, drama, literature and folklore.

For further information contact:http://english.rutgers.edu/conferences/larryneal/

Thursday, October 12, 2006

What's going on at the Center of the World?

Sunday, October 29 at 2 p.m. The Writer’s Center is pleased to host a celebration of the Washington area’s thriving small press community. Editors of several literary journals and book publishers will share anecdotes. This will be an informal gathering and celebration, not a formal panel discussion on the State of Literature. The editors, we're sure, will have some good stories. The program will include writers and editors from Bogg, Dryad, Gargoyle, Gival Press, Minimus, Passager, Potomac Review, Pretend Genius, WordWorks, Washington Writers' Publishing House, and WordWrights!
At the Writer’s Center, 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD 20815. Free admission and light refreshments. For more information on this and other programs, please visit our web site, www.writer.org, or call 301-654-8664.
Yep - We knew this because we write E-Notes. We just don't bet on the horses (or baseball).

Turkey's Orhan Pamuk Wins Nobel Literature Prize
By Bunny Nooryani

Oct. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Turkish author Orhan Pamuk, accused last year of insulting his nation's identity, won the 2006 Nobel literature prize for writing about the interplay and conflicts between different cultures, the Swedish Academy said.

Pamuk's works are published in 34 languages and include the novels ``Snow,'' ``The White Castle'' and ``My Name Is Red.'' In awarding the $1.4 million prize, the Stockholm-based academy said on its Web site that Pamuk, 54, ``has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures.''

In January, a Turkish court dropped charges that Pamuk had insulted his nation's identity when he said the country persecuted Armenians during World War I. His prize adds to pressure on Turkey, coming on the same day that France's lower house of parliament adopted a law punishing anyone who denies that the killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks amounted to genocide.

The European Union says Turkey's refusal to acknowledge that 1.5 million Armenians were massacred during World War I clouds the nation's bid for membership. Turkey says both sides suffered losses in the war and denies that it was genocide.

Born in Istanbul to a secular middle-class family, Pamuk has said he experienced a shift from a traditional Ottoman family life to a more western lifestyle while growing up. He studied architecture and journalism in Istanbul and was a visiting researcher at Columbia University between 1985 and 1988.

`Social Commentator'
``In his home country, Pamuk has a reputation as a social commentator even though he sees himself as principally a fiction writer with no political agenda,'' the academy said.
Pamuk was the first author in the Muslim world to publicly condemn the fatwa against Salman Rushdie, author of ``The Satanic Verses,'' the academy said. He also took a stand for Yasar Kemal, a fellow writer in Turkey, when he was put on trial in 1995.

``While recognized as a great author and novelist, many people in Turkey will think this Nobel prize has a lot to do with politics and overshadows his writing,'' said Suat Kiniklioglu, who heads the office of the German Marshall Fund of the United States, in Ankara, Turkey, an association supporting trans-Atlantic relations and initiatives to strengthen democracy.

Pamuk was among the frontrunners for last year's Nobel prize, even as the legal case against him was going through the courts. The charges arose after Pamuk told the Swiss daily Tages-Anzeiger newspaper in February 2005 that Turks were afraid to talk about the death of 1 million Armenians.

Political Limelight
``Pamuk was in the political limelight last year, but it's better this way, since it becomes an award for his literature as much as for his politics,'' said Julian Loose, Pamuk's U.K. editor at publisher Faber & Faber.

His first novel ``Cevdet Bey and His Sons'' was published in 1982 and describes the development of a family over three generations. His second book, ``The House of Silence,'' which was translated to English in 1998, uses five different narrator perspectives at a family gathering to show social chaos as different extremist groups battle for power.

Pamuk's international breakthrough came with ``The White Castle,'' a novel set in 17th-century Istanbul that shows how ``our ego builds on stories and fictions of different stories,'' the academy said. The book was originally published in Turkish in 1985 and translated into English in 1992.

``Personality is shown to be a variable construction'' in the novel, the academy said. ``The story's main character, a Venetian sold as a slave to the young scholar Hodja, finds in Hodja his own reflection. As the two men recount their life stories to each other, there occurs an exchange of identities.''

Violent Fundamentalism

In the English-speaking world, ``My Name Is Red'' was Pamuk's breakthrough title, published in translation in 2001. An exhilarating detective story set in a time of violent fundamentalism -- Istanbul in the late 1590s -- it turns on a controversial book, commissioned in secret by the Sultan.
Though the text celebrates the glories of his realm, the Sultan has requested figurative, European-style illustrations. It's this that makes the book such a dangerous undertaking. When one of the artists disappears, a suspenseful tale of love and deception develops, a philosophical mystery as much as a whodunit.

``Snow,'' Pamuk's novel about the tensions between Turkey's Islamists and staunch secularists, was picked by the New York Times Book Review as one of the 10 best books of 2004.
Published in Turkish in 2002 and translated to English in 2005, ``Snow'' weaves two love stories with the clashes between Islamists and the secular military in Turkey's eastern-most city, Kar. The book came under intense criticism from both secular and Islamic intellectuals, many of whom called it ``agitating.''

Writers Prosecuted

Turkey has, over the past year, prosecuted about 80 writers and intellectuals for criticizing state policy. While many of the cases have ended in acquittal, the EU has warned Turkey to alter laws curbing freedom of expression or risk a halt to its membership talks with the bloc, which began last October.

While Pamuk escaped punishment, ethnic Armenian Hrant Dink in July received a six-month suspended jail sentence after he made similar comments about the killings of Armenians.
``There's an endless struggle in Turkey between the writer and the political powers,'' said Dogan Hizlan, a Turkish literary critic and a writer for Hurriyet newspaper. ``That was true before Orhan, and it will be true after him.''

The literature prize was first awarded in 1901 and recent previous winners have included Harold Pinter (2005), V.S. Naipaul (2001) and Guenter Grass (1999). It was created in the will of Alfred Nobel, a Swede who invented dynamite. The award is formally handed over at a ceremony in Stockholm on Dec. 10, the anniversary of Nobel's death in 1896.
The Swedish Academy, which picks the winner on behalf of the Nobel Foundation, was founded in 1786 to develop the Swedish language. The academy keeps nominations for the literature prize secret for at least 50 years.
To contact the reporter on this story: Bunny Nooryani in Oslo at bnooryani@bloomberg.net .

Congrats to poet Nathaniel Mackey. His book SPLAY ANTHEM is a finalist for the National Book Award. Good to see him getting wider recognition. Hambone Lives!

Prof. Greg Carr (Howard U) was kind enough to pick-up a copy of James Spady's THE GLOBAL CIPHA. Spady continues to do that groundwork that surpasses what many black cultural institutions are doing. I call it the tradition of J.A. Rogers, Schomburg and Harold Cruse. Just do the work without the committee and the excuses. Spady should help Iverson- maybe his research can bring a championship back to Phillie. Sometimes it's difficult to get your hands on what Spady is doing. The guy was always mysterious. Here is a mailing address where the books must be kept: Black History Museum Publishers, P.O.Box 15057, Philadelphia, PA 19130.

In the mail today was Elizabeth Macklin's translation from the Basque of Kirmen Uribe's MEANWHILE/TAKE MY HAND. This is a new Graywolf Press book. The last time I was in New York, Macklin and I shared a beer in an Irish pub and talked about this book. Good to see it out.

Also in a package was LOVE IN TIME OF OUTRAGE a forthcoming novel from John Hatch.
Hatch is out in California. Contact: circulation@2ndsightbooks.com.
His characters are Catherine and Felipe. Black/Mexican romance during the Harlem Renaissance...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

So the president says we are not going to attack Korea. Whew...now I can get my clothes out of the cleaners tomorrow.

It's amazing how casual we have become about attacking countries. It's no longer thinking about the unthinkable. Let's attack Syria. Let's attack Iran. Let's attack Korea. What's next?
So many countries broken. Every place reduced to a Haiti - after such promise. When will man be given back his sight?

I came home from Busboys with 3 books of poetry:

Nothing I can do but read and write.
I could disappear without a trace tonight. Do you remember those days when the dogs lost your scent?