Thursday, May 31, 2007

More Music:

Join the Young Women's Drumming Empowerment Project.
Summer 2007 Enrichment Program or call 202 213-7810
Will Fred Thompson save YOU?
Please. YOU know the anwser to this question.
I read this guys comments and political positions on the issues - and wept. When did Ronald Reagan ever become one of the major US Presidents? Somewhere there is an entire society that eats nothing but jellybeans. Except the black ones - right?

This seems to be another media hype. Remember when the media wanted to give us Condi and Oprah as the next President? So we'll run with Fred for a spell...

I hope Newt decides to run. One thing he will do is elevate the level of political discussion. Gosh we need this - it can come from the Right or Left.

NEW FARMERS MARKET IS OPENING this Saturday at the northwest corner of 14th and U Street, NW.
The site is in front of the Reeves Center.
Market will be open from 10 AM to 2 PM.
Shoppers can sign up for a weekly e-mail with details of offerings by emailing:

Monday, June 4th - WYNTON MARSALIS will join New Republic literary editor Leon Wieseltier in a discussion of "Where Y'all At? Jazz, Race and Culture."



Sixth & I Historic Synagogue
600 I Street, NW

202 408-3100

Signs that YOU need more sleep:

Trouble retaining information


Minor illnesses

Poor judgement

Increased mistakes

Weight gain
Thanks to Jo Reed I was the guest host of ON THE MARGIN today. The radio program aired on WPFW at 10 AM. My guests were Nduka Otiono (from Nigeria) and Nguyen Quyen (from Vietnam). Nduka is the author of THE NIGHT HIDES WITH A KNIFE and CAMOUFLAGE: Best of Contemporary Writing from Nigeria (2006). A good discussion of Nigerian literature with Nguyen reading some selections of his poems in Vietnamese.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

What might be next for DC? Look for an enforced loitering law soon. Checkout the case (NYTimes -5/30) of Eric Hoffstead who was arrested in New Rochelle. With the growth of outdoor cafes and restaurants in downtown DC - it's just a matter of time. So don't wander around in a public space begging. Panhandlers beware. Is this economic cleansing?
Will all the poor black men disappear like the sons of magicians?

"Do you have a dollar you can spare?"
Quote of the Day:

These days, Uganda's approach to AIDS is ruled by pieties - both religious and secular. The locally devised programs of fifteen years ago have been replaced by a bland package of somewhat conflicting strategies known by the acronym ABC: abstain, be faithful, use a condom. The Bush Administration and the evangelicals push A, the public health community stresses C and no one pays attention to B, because there's no money in nuance.

Andrew Rice - THE NATION ((June 11, 2007)
Washington Post (today) has a profile of Freeman Hrabowski III - the dynamic president of UMBC. Might this guy be coming to HU? Hmmm. Ah the rumors surrounding an American Education Idol.

In DC politics - folks are pushing for a referendum on F-Man's attempt to takeover the school system. Here's the link:
Parren Mitchell dead at 85. Civil Rights activist. Maryland's first black member of Congress - elected in 1970. I remember working on his campaign. There I was a young Howard student standing on a street corner in Baltimore - handing out flyers. Mitchell was a founding member of the Congressional Black Caucus.

How the Nationals bounce back against the Dodgers tonight is key to the season. A couple of wins against teams in first place could make this club look beyond the All-Star game. Wildcard?

Ichiro watch:
Did you see that stat the other day? Ichiro hadn't hit into a double-play in over 180 at bats.


- Leon Damas




Dear Ethelbert,

I started writing this letter in my head after asking you to recommend me to the New England low res program. Your blog today made me think of writing you again. There is a quote Camille Paglia:

"In the last 30 years, postgraduate campus writing programs have spread like wildfire. I'm of mixed mind about them. On the one hand, it's wonderful for aspiring writers to meet and work with fellow devotees of the written word at a time of media infotainment and buzz. On the other hand, an MFA may not be worth the investment of tens of thousands of dollars, unless the applicant intends a teaching career. Writers need more life experience, not more school. I think the money might be better spent on world travel."

I can’t help but to look at the quote in context of myself. Question whether or not an MFA is the right decision, and if so what exactly are my reasons. I question her sentiment though, even as I contemplate doing an MFA program while I finish my undergraduate degree. I question what she says and wonder how strong is the truth in the statement I’ve rushing to do all that I could have done in those eight years in prison in the least amount of time.

Traveling would be great. Two years back, when you asked me about a five year plan, up until that point, I hadn’t thought in terms of years. I came home and told myself I would go to college and just worked with that. Everything else, just sort of happened. Yet, now that I’m about to have a child, now that I have proposed to my girlfriend, the idea of a five or ten or even twenty year plan is not something that I write down at the start of each year. It’s something that I have to continually go back to, because what I do now really does impact more than me.

So, why would I do an MFA program now. I fall into the category of writers who want to teach. Since I was sixteen, I’ve taught people something, be it helping them get their GED, or teaching them about law in my role as a prison law clerk, or teaching them about poetry. Maybe you can count arguing about why Scotty Thurman ruined his chance at an NBA career by not entering the draft the year the Razorbacks won the NCAA’s as teaching.

Still, it’s not that I’ve always been good at it, but I’ve done it. Since I’ve been home, beginning the first summer, I’ve taught poetry continuously. I think I do a decent job of it now, I’ve been invited to teach workshops at Duke Ellington and asked to continue at Maya Angelou after my contract with the Folger expired.

An MFA would help my teaching, in that now I get jobs based on knowing people, and the skill they perceive me having. I’d like that to be supported by a degree and the concentrated study a degree takes. Still, there is the question about the rush, why now. The first answer then, is that I know I need a job of substance in the next two to three years.

I don’t want to complete an undergraduate degree, then work full time while being a student in an MFA program. By doing the program now, I can get away with not working. I have a full tuition scholarship to UMD, and any loans I take out for two years would be solely to live.

Then too, there is this question of MFA or PHD. I like school. When I was young, I never excelled for real. I did good on tests, kept a 3.0, but was one of the kids who talked more than he produced. So graduating with High Honors this past week felt good, having a fourth semester with a 4.0 average was nice. And I want to have the PHD option, but know I wouldn’t consider doing an MFA and then a PHD, because I have responsibilities, and don’t want to do that much school in a row. So the MFA, gives me leverage if I were to do a PHD program, because I could get a job in the field I want to be in as I pursue a doctorate.

I’m reading Rampersad’s Ellison biography now. One thing strikes me, the writers then were much more political, at least Hughes, McKay, Ellington, and Wright were involved in politics heavily. Even more writers worked through programs like the WPA. It makes me wonder when writers began to view teaching as a way to write. So many people now, in Cave Canem and other programs are teaching in the University.

I’m sure that racism played a huge role in black writers not being in Academia until after the sixties, but are there other reasons? It seems that we have abandoned the model that Hemingway, Hughes and others lived by. Is our engagement with the world reduced to the keys of a laptop. I wonder about this, even as I plan a career in teaching. I think, on the one hand, when I say that we’ve abandoned our engagement with the world, I’m being entirely too simplistic. I know many of the poets I admire, you, Yusef, Martin Espada and Rita Dove, just to say a few folks, have traveled extensively, before and after acquiring a reputation as a writer. (Although, I’m not sure when you really began to travel.) Still, even young folks I dig, like John Murillo or someone a little older like Tyehimba, have traveled.

Yet, each writer’s life circumstances dictates to what extent he can travel. There is a novel, Finding Makeba, where the main character really abandons his daughter, because he is stuck with this idea that no black writer of merit was able to have a family and excel in his work. This same sentiment is what most people say when they find out that I’m having a child. It’s always, oh your life will be ruined, you cant travel, and other similar sentiments.

But those sentiments must miss the point. Hughes, Ellison, Wright, they all had to have jobs to support themselves; and though teaching may not have been the job for many of them, I think teaching would have been definitely preferable to the clerical work that Ellison did for a time, and the odd jobs that Hughes took on.

What exactly is my point? I don’t think that the MFA defines a writer as much as gives him or her an opportunity to study writing, in ways that over the years people have done on their own. Ellison apprenticed himself to Wright, and I’m not sure if that process is much different than a low residency program, at its best.

Especially, since a low residency program really allows you to write on your own, not in the constant workshops that I’ve found, in the few I’ve been in outside of Cave Canem, not always the most stimulating affairs.

For the Federal Writer’s Project, Ellison had to read deeply in European and American literature, he had to read criticism. He got paid for getting what was essentially an MFA degree. Probably it was better, in that he also got a political education and sense

of engagement that isn’t part of an MFA program. I want to look at the historical context of the progression of writers of different eras. It seems that MFA programs began to fill a void that maybe political parties that really valued art as propaganda and as a means of educated the people created when they left, a void that the Federal Writer’s Project has created. And it’s like the grants and fellowships have looked to, at least, replace the income that the WPA provided, but it doesn’t.

One day, I was talking to Randall about the low residency program, and he told me that people who haven’t been to prison often misunderstand what seems like a rush to do everything right now that they see in ex-prisoners. He told me that he understands my need to move, because, it was movement that first kept me sane. I don’t know. I think of John Henry, of thinking that if you work but so hard right now, you will be able to rest later, and realizing that later mostly never comes.

What I think, is that for me, working, up until this point, has been about proving something. Can’t just go to school and get all A’s because everyone does that, or some do that. I made the grades and earned a full ride to Howard, only to have it rescinded because of the felonies; or not rescinded, but the committee never decided if they wanted to let me in, and now the money has been distributed. And I understand that’s part of the price to what I did, one that I will be paying for much longer than the eight years, but I’m not sure if other people really care that the price has more to do with the memories.

With the weight of knowing that it’s no way I can be a representative for a whole population of men that have hurt somebody and want to find a way to recover. Can’t be that cause it’s no guarantee I will be one of the fathers they wrote the article in Ebony about. I mean, ultimately, I know I’m learning as I go.

The MFA, if anything, is what I like to think is stacking the odds in my favor. I’d like to teach for the rest of the time I work. I have no idea what the odds are of me being able to manage all of the different things, but I figure, there are other people who found a way to thrive. I went to the Eavan Boland reading at the Folger and there is a line that she has in a poem about Irish Immigrants. It goes, “they would have thrived/ on our necessities.” And I’m sure my ancestors, I’m sure many people I know today would thrive on my necessities. If I can think like them for a few moments each week, maybe I can survive on what I have.

Ethelbert, I don’t know how much of a letter this is. It seems I’ve just been on my rant, but it has helped me clean my thoughts up about the MFA program, and say a few things that I’ve been thinking about the Ellison biography. Anyway, I’m looking forward to sitting down with you. Maybe I can see Grace too and ask her how her grad program is and how she’s enjoying New York.




Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Where have you gone Cindy Sheehan?
Ending a war is not as easy as starting one. Can one person make a difference? I think the challenge we face is building bridges between communities. It's not all about protesting.

Why do people go to war? Why do people hate? I'm struggling to find not an answer but an understanding.

Cindy is fortunate that she has a home she can return to. So many people refugees from the war.

We who believe in freedom cannot rest. The battle for hearts and minds continues.

So Larry Hughes is injured again. This guy deserves the Ken Griffey award.
More Sports:

The media was just waiting for the Duke lacrosse team to win the N.C.A.A. final. Would winning had made everything OK? How much money went into keeping some folks out of jail? Many big time legal cases are won outside of court these days. The battle is now over public opinion. If you have the funds and the access to shows like 60 minutes you can keep your client's butt out of jail. And folks can get on with their lives...
Others become invisible and there are no Hollywood endings.
Whooooooaaaaa...NY Times - page C8. There is a picture of Richard Gephardt. Remember him?
No wonder Michael Jackson was on television last night. Everybody is coming back.

The next few games will determine how good the Nationals are. This could be the baseball surprise of 2007. It would be nice to have a playoff team.

Look for Ichiro to become the hit leader in the AL this week. We knew this was just a matter of time...

I haven't been watching any basketball games. Is the NBA season over yet?
Mistakes being made in Venezuela? What's Hugo doing?
Another Blue day in Baghdad. More US soldiers dead. Are there any quiet streets left in Iraq?
Are women giving birth to bombs? Where do these devices keep coming from?Who is going to be the last person standing?
More about the Doug:

Doug Brinkley's book chronicling the physical devastation and bureaucratic bungling of Hurricane Katrina recently won the 2007 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award.

The author of "The Great Deluge: Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast" is leaving the city where he chronicled survivors' tales of the catastrophe. After 14 years in New Orleans, historian Douglas Brinkley has accepted a job at Rice University, where he will become a professor of history and fellow at the James A. Baker Institute for Public Policy in Houston.

Brinkley, who currently teaches at Tulane and has worked as a CBS News consultant, said he was enticed not only by the opportunity to work on public policy issues but the proximity to his current home. "My family and I wanted to stay in the Gulf South region," said Brinkley, who assumes his new position July 1. "I'll continue spending a lot of time in New Orleans, where we have family, but Texas will be my primary home."

Brinkley's book on the physical devastation and bureaucratic bungling of Hurricane Katrina recently won the 2007 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award. While the author conducted the bulk of the book's research in New Orleans, he actually wrote much of "The Great Deluge" in Houston, where he was forced to flee during the storm.

Despite his impending move to Texas, Brinkley says he will continue to write about New Orleans. He is currently working on a project about the city's racism and education in the 1960s.

In addition to his new post at Rice, Brinkley is juggling several other projects. Former Secretaries of State James A. Baker III and Warren Christopher have enlisted the historian to take part in a commission studying presidential war powers.

He is also editing the private White House diaries of Ronald Reagan, which will be published later this month. A frequent contributor to numerous publications, Brinkley has written biographies on figures ranging from Jimmy Carter to Henry Ford.
An interview with the novelist Charles Johnson:
Why does this life keep playing with my emotions? I depart tonight? Boxes to be shipped out.
On Saturday I end my tenure with the Humanities Council of Washington, Next year the DC
Arts Commission. Time for an Obit?

Takin' the bumps and the bruises
And all the things of a two-time loser
Try to hold on your faith is gone
Just another sad song
Think I better let it go
Looks like another love T.K.O.

- Teddy Pendergrass

We all fell off the bus. One man in front of me was gasping for air. The heat of the day and the bad odor coming from the homeless man was too much for many of us. We ditched our politcs as well as our compassion. I decided to walk home. It was a sad moment for everyone. Where was the homeless man going? Home? What should be done? At what point do you remove people from the street and give them clean clothes, the sweet kiss of soap and water? No one should live like the man I walked away from. The wretched of the earth, black skins and my masks.
We are all hiding from the bad smell of ourselves. And that is why around the world there is so much war and destruction. We die a little each day - the distance between people is the price of the ticket.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Sunday in DC -I walked around the first neighborhood I lived in after moving our of Howard's Cook Hall. Roy McKay and I found a place on Park Row off 14th Street. Who nailed the windows shut back then? Those people are now long gone or dead. A new Mayorga sits where the theater once was -Rumba Cafe made me wish I was married to Frida Kahlo or having an affair with her like Trotsky. I ran into the poet Ken Forde - a guy who we once thought would be our answer to Braithwaite or Walcott. It's 2007 and he talked about his grandchildren like they were those images he once made into magic and placed on the page.
Like Baraka when he was Jones and nothing but a Dead Lecturer - I wish these streets would claim me once again. Impossible to do. The new faces don't speak - another Red Sox cap - and I hide my freedom papers.

Coming the 2nd Annual Capital Fringe Festival - July 19-29, 2007
For more information:

Voices and Vision of tha Bloc: An Exhibition by Ellis L. Marsalis III and A Creative Profile: Artists of the East BAnk
Sunday, June 10th. 3-5 PM
Anacostia Community Museum
1901 Fort PLace SE
Reservations are required: 202 633-4875

In the newspaper (NY Times) an article about Eliot Ness played by Robert Stack. The Untouchables. Was this my father's favorite television show? Why? It first appeared in 1959. By 1963 the show was being attacked for too much violence. G- Men after Al Capone. My father loved Ness. Today people keep calling me Godfather. What would my father think? Both of us trapped inside the loneliness that comes with the territory. Do you have to be cruel to make it in this world? Ness drives a truck through the doors of an illegal brewery. My father laughing and still untouchable. My own children out of reach...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Dear G,

I'm heading down to the cafe tomorrow to wait for Jim Crow.
See you soon.

June in a few days. I've never been a winter person. Back in the Bronx I would be waiting for school to end. Maybe we would be taking field trips down to the museums in Manhattan. Where is my partner? Train doors closing and I'm heading to the next stop. Help me.
They've got a wall in China
It's a thousand miles long
To keep out the foreigners
They made it strong
I've got a wall around me
You can't even see
It took a little time
To get next to me

- Paul Simon

Reading the Ellison biography. Listening to Prince.

Memorial Day. Maybe your first one - your son or daughter reduced to a flag. You place it outside your house. The wind still brings back the hurt. Don't let the sun catch you crying.(Remember that song?)
You take comfort knowing that as far as you can see - the world is safe - but a little empty.

Yes I wish life was everlasting-but
All good things they say never last

Friday, May 25, 2007

Important film on PBS tonight:

THE SLANTED SCREEN: Asian Men in Film and Television
10:30 PM on WETA (Channel 26) in Washington, DC.
Hey - was that Simon & Garfunkel together again?

So LeBron should have passed the ball again - right? Larry Hughes should have made his shot.
It looks like James will have to play some more "Jordan" playoffs games before he can beat Detroit.
Let's do the math. How long will it take for some places to experience peace? Do we wait for a new generation to emerge? What about all these young kids we see in pictures. How do they not suffer from a head full of hate and rage?
Look for new Baghdad cafes to open in about 5o years? How many US soldiers will we have to lose? Benchmark numbers would have to be:

7, 500

OR between 20,000 - 25,000.

What if there was another terrorist attack within the US while the Iraq war was still going on?
Would we have to double our efforts?

Thinking about the Unthinkable...
Lately The New York Times keeps placing interesting photographs on their front page. Today it's a picture of an Israeli attack in Gaza on a Hamas compound. In the picture there are nothing but men standing around looking at the destruction. It looks like one of those old ads on television promoting a soft drink. Is this the Pepsi or C-Cola Generation? Or just another sad day for the Palestinians? Whenever I see a crowd of nothing but men, I keep thinking that maybe I'm stuck in a book like Lord of the Flies.
Coming in September: 19th -23, 2007.

UpSouth International Book Festival
Harlem Stage/The Gatehouse
135th and Convent Avenue
New York
212 651-7100
Kurt Vonnegut - A Celebration of His Humanism

With Amy Goodman and Howard Zinn

Thursday, May 31st at 7:30 PM

New York Society for Ethical Culture
2 West 64th Street

Free and Open to the Public

The liberation of one individual should sometimes define a nation's foreign policy

- Reuel Marc Gerecht
Resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute
My friend Dorothy Phaire has a new site up:

Barnes & Noble had a bad fiscal quarter. Things might get better with the upcoming release of HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS on July 21st. So far they have received
500,000 preorders. They are expected to top one-million by the launch date.

Steven Pearlstein's (see Business Section of The Washington Post) idea of a water taxi on the Potomac is not really new. I was talking to the artist Walter Kravitz about this months ago. I believe WK has artwork folks will be able to view when they come out of the Metro and walk to the new ball park. I remember saying to him - "but what about folks who take a ferry from Virginia and just walk up to the park from the South - the old Robert E. Lee path? "
Folks might also have some baseball cruise ideas too. Stay on a boat for 3 days parked on the river and catch a weekend of games. This might be better than having a luxury box in the ball park. Reading Pearlstein I felt his column was lifted from the movie Deja Vu. Watch those boats.
If Pearlstein is writing about a water taxi someone must already have a done deal. Money floats unless it's in a big bag.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.
- Muhammad Ali
Next World Bank leader - Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist?
I remember having the chance to talk with him ( a few years ago ) in his Senate office about health issues in Africa. This might be a good appointment.
Peace Route?

Friends, poets, lovers of peace,

This morning I received an email from the Washington Peace Center that a young man has begun a 5-day walk to end the war in Iraq, from Charlottesville, where he just received his MA in English at UVA, to the White House. He will arrive in DC Memorial Day, and we've been invited to join the last few miles of his walk.

Will you join me? I'd like to have a group from DC Poets Against the War, to show our support and walk in solidarity. We will meet in front of the Key Bridge Marriott in Rosslyn at 1 PM Monday, May 28th, where we will join Nick.Hotel location: (The Rosslyn Metro is 2/10ths of a mile away.)

Nicholas Kimbrell's press release is below. Please let me know if you would like to join me. It would be great to have a crew of poets to cheer Nick on, especially since his decision to walk was inspired by a pro-peace commencement address by writer John Grisham.

In peace,
Sarah Browning
Ann Darr -Come Fly With Her:

Sunday, June 3 at 2 p.m. The Writer’s Center presents a celebration of the work of Ann Darr, a long-time poetry workshop leader who is now retired. Ann is author of several books of poems, among them, Cleared for Landing, The Myth of a Woman's Fist, Flying the Zuni Mountains, and Riding with the Fireworks.

Several area poets, including Myra Sklarew, Cicely Angleton, Barbara Goldberg, Merrill Leffler, Silvana Straw, and Sunil Freeman will read her poems and share stories.

Admission is free, and we will have a reception after the reading. At The Writer’s Center, 4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD 20815.

For more information on programs at the Writer’s Center, please visit, email, or call 301-654-8664.
I found this comment in the Muslim Journal by Qur'an Shakir Abdul Khaaliq to be interesting.

"When Prophet Muhammed outlined the four things for which a man may marry, love was not one of them. He mentioned wealth, family status, beauty and piety. And he chided that those who are wise will go for the piety, because of the four choices, piety is the one that is enduring and lasting."
The University of Georgia Press has a nice catalog and good books:
Here is a link to the world of my friend Peter- Da Scuba Man. Enjoy:
More Sports:

How good might the Nats be this year? Eleven games under .500 Don't believe any hype until after the All-Star Game. IF this team moves above .500 then they might make people begin to think wild-card. This type of run will help sell tickets when the new stadium opens.
Let's watch. I'm thinking about getting out to RFK in July. The last time I was there I caught a ball. No, I'm not upset I didn't get the manager's job.

So the Bobcats plan to hire Sam Vincent.
Hmmm...a friend of Michael Jordan. No surprise. Jordan continues to make front office mistakes. Golf anyone?

Keyshawn Johnson has retired. Look for this guy to be a success on those sports shows this fall.
ESPN is calling.
Ichiro watch:

It's not even June but look at how Ichiro has moved to the top:

4th in the AL with hits
8 in the AL in batting average
4th in the AL in steals
So a guy by the name of Mr. Frederick decides to light his crack pipe and now we've lost memorabilia that was part of the private collection of Harry Houdini. Yep - that's the sad story out of Cincinnati. The fire where the letters were housed suffered $1 million dollars in damage.
Mr. Frederick is being charged with burglary and aggravated arson. Let's see if he can escape that.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

The poet with the best name has to be Star Black.
She has her work on paper at the Canio's Gallery - 290 Main Street, Sag Harbor
631-725-4926. Reception is on Sunday, May 27th. 5 PM -7PM.
The show is on view through June 27th.

Nothing like a Star.

Another cultural Star is Jennifer L. Nelson. Where would Black theater be in DC without this woman? She is having a farewell celebration in her honor on June 11th at 7PM. The joy will be at the ATlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street, NE.
Ticket price is $50. Call 202 529-5764. Ext 2
Nelson is leaving the African Continuum Theatre Company. Look for her own genius to discover its wings.

June 4-10, 2007
20th Annual Festival of Dance and Music of the African Diaspora
202 269-1600

Talking about Africa...I was walking along Columbia Road and saw a poster for African Liberation Day (this Saturday). I read the list of speakers. I didn't know any of them. I felt as if I had missed the Black Star Line. Who are these leaders that I've not followed? Are these men with African clothes and no ideology? Speak Egypt to me, baby. How many of these guys reside somewhere in Brooklyn? Oh -Africa forgive me if I stay home. I have my incense and my oils - what speech could I hear that would make me build an ark? I video taped the first African American Liberation Day back in the 1970s. I remember Kwame Ture, Baraka , Owusu - where have you gone our Kwame Nkrumah---our blackness sheds tears for you.
My theme song for the summer: Spirit on the Water by Bob Dylan.
I love the lyrics...
My interview with David Mura went well. He has a novel coming out from Coffeehouse Press in the near future.

I plan to relax this evening by reading the new Ellison biography written by Rampersad.

I'm looking forward to the weekend. I plan to sit in my Sun room and drink a nice glass of wine.
I wonder what the other Coloreds are doing these days?
Get a Wyeth? FDA gives the approval of the first birth-control pill that is also designed to eliminate women's monthly periods. How will this affect the linen market? Will people interpret their holy texts in a new way? Still monitor this pill and be sure we're not looking at future strokes and heart attacks. Blood clots anyone?
Not for U? The death of Go Go? The DC Court of Appeals affirmed the 2005 revocation of the liquor license of Club U. Small changes add up if you keep score. A way of life coming to an end.
Shops coming to the first floor of the Reeves building. I might just go outside and start looking for a drum...

Long ships (Limos) coming up 14th street by the end of the summer. The E stands for Equinao?
Halliburton on the move. They will increase their revenue in the Middle East. $80 billion worth of projects over the next five years. Who will benefit from all of this?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

On those Tuesday afternoons after Emancipation:

I completed my research and questions for the David Mura interview. I think it will go well.
I spoke with my Mom and laughed with Ginger G in New York.
Borrowed a copy of SOMETIMES by John Yau from the HU library. This is Yau's early work - book was out in 1979 from The Sheep Meadow Press.
It is said, the past
sticks to the present

like glue,
that we are flies

struggling to pull free...

- John Yau
Haleh Esfandiari.
Why is she being held in Iran?
Esfandiari is the director of the Middle East program at the Wilson Center.
Another story to watch...
What about the rest of the world?

Checkout the picture on the front page of The New York Times today. There is a guy sitting in a balcony chair - feet up and watching the bombing of Tripoli. There is a sad detachment here.
War as movie? Smoke in the distance. Which way is the wind blowing? The picture also upholds the position of the individual. Damn the group or community. Damn the nation. We only seem to care about ourselves.
Suggested reading:
The "Cultural Conversation" with NEH Chairman Bruce Cole, in The Wall Street Journal today.
As you follow the debate around the Immigration Bill, think about how it will affect the following:

- Food Processors
- Restaurants
- Technology (US wants the high-skill foreign workers to keep coming; will a new bill restrict?
- Service Workers (est 500,000 immigrants sneak into the US each year to do service work)
- Agriculture (Half of the 1.8 million crop workers in the US are undocumented)
Finally a very moving essay about grief. See what Jess Decourcy Hinds wrote in the current Newsweek (May 28, 2007). Here is an excerpt that I agree with:

" Our society needs to rethink the way we communicate with mourners - especially since so many people are in mourning these days. Everyone wants mourners to "snap out of it" because observing another's anguish isn't easy to do. Here's my advice: let mourners mourn."

Decourcy makes this very important point:

"Never give advice about how someone should get through the loss. Some mourners go to parties; others stay home with the shade drawn. Be open to the mourner's individual needs. be open to the possibility that these needs will change day by day."
Poet Anne Becker is doing her WRITING THE BODY poetry workshops again.
On line registration:

Anne is also teaching a chapbook workshop - MAKING IT WHOLE at The Writer's Center in Bethesda. Go to :
Upcoming Anniversary Gala:

40th Anniversary Gala, Thursday, September 13, 2007 for the Anacostia Community Museum.

For more information and to receive an invitation call (202) 633-4875 or send an email to
Best name in baseball: Coco Crisp (CF/RedSox).

Good to see Junior Seau playing another year with the New England Patriots. This guy at 38 can still play.

Congrats to Lisa Leslie - pregnant and expecting. She will return to the court next season.

Do we pick our leaders the way we watch NBA games? So Duncan is was Bill Bradley but the guy had good ideas. Obama might be LeBron - nice- but can he govern? Are folks wishing for Gore the same folks who wish Shaq was still playing in the playoffs? It makes you wonder about elections without the buzz. What about the issues? Do we care? Utah Jazz anyone?
And you thought Spiderman needed help. Look at what Big Bobb did to F-Man (DC Mayor). It was Big Bobb who convinced U.S. Sen Landrieu to block the vote on the DC Schools takeover.
This seems like backroom politics with more at stake than just schools. F-Man is going to have to put on the black suit in order to win the things he wants. Nice guys are often 1 term mayors.
Will F-Man give into his darkside? Sequel?

What's going on with the fight against DC crime? Things seem the same to me when I read the newspapers or watch television. I haven't seen any foot patrols in my neighborhood. I have noticed a policeman on a horse next to the renovated McDonalds on Georgia Avenue (across from Howard) everyday. Is this PR leftover from opening day?

Talking summer - what will the Mayor's summer job for youth program look like? This is one project that needs a serious overhaul. I had my children in it and all they learned was how to play cards, and get paid without doing any serious work. Geez, and we wonder why our kids lack skills. Some of these summer programs -ain't nothin but a free t-shirt. It must be the sweat our kids do that measures their growth.
The latest issue of The New Yorker looks good. I came home yesterday and found my daughter reading the article about Abraham Lincoln - his language and legacy byAdam Gopnik. The New Yorker remains my favorite magazine.

Strange to see another "war" photo on the front page of The New York Times. With so many ways to access information people can also screen out what they don't want to see. The result is that people can ignore the various wars taking place around the world. Many people use technology in a limited way. How many of us use the computer to learn from? We feel overoaded at times but this is just a result of not knowing how to interface with the world. Consider how many religious faiths embrace the idea of oneness- now the technology can help us do that. But do we wish to be connected to our brothers and sisters in Haiti or Rwanda or Somalia? Are we our brother's keeper? An old question but one that takes on new meaning in today's world.

Problems like global warming force us to think and be global. Our problem however is that we walk around thinking like it's still the 19th and 20th century. We are still stuck in Cold War politics.

Some of us even want to return as far back as feudalism. King for a day?

I often sit in the cafes and feel that first chill in the air speaking to my bones. I listen to the destruction of language. I feel like I'm stuck in a movie like Bladerunner. The streets of DC filled with rudeness and that boomtown way of living once associated with the west. But what about the "Rest" of us? Who needs the Negro, the poor Latino and poor whites? If you have no skills you're going to be locked outside the compounds. We will become migrate workers trapped in the service industries until the robots come and take the last jobs. And they are coming...

The first wave entering the hospitals , hotels, and fast food chains. Robots even taking those nanny jobs away from old-fashion Caribbean women. A robot companion for the elderly and the baby in the crib.

Life will be reduced down to entertainment. If we get too bored we will explore Time travel to amuse ourselves. We will go back in time and find ways to determine what did OJ do and who killed Kennedy. DNA already permits us to go back in time to solve crimes. It's not simply a question of discovering a parallel world - it's the realization that we can create an alternative one. We can program a duplication. Which gets back to films like Bladerunner and even the Matrix. What if we are the duplication? Replicants. What if we are an experiment in living? What if all this death and destruction is just a "dry" run? A test until we get it right? What if conflicts like the Middle East are just a strain of virus. We can't solve it because it can't solve itself. Unless we wait for some type of mutation to occur. Or consider some of our leaders to be nothing but "drops" introduced into society to heal or create havoc. People "programmed" from birth to affect a society. What if we could remove the following people from history - Hitler, Stalin, etc? What if we could duplicate a "strain" of people who believe in non-violence? They could operate like white blood cells and fight disease. A strange concept? Not really - think about how folks are always waiting for a Messiah. It's like sitting in a clinic or hospital waiting for your blood tests to come back.

Thinking like this begins when you look at a picture on the front page of The New York Times and you wonder - when will it ever end? Not in our lifetime...that's a sure bet. But maybe, just maybe we might be able to break into the "real" world where love is. Did you ever wonder where loves goes after you fall out of love? Maybe it's like someone letting air out of a tire. Your car can't move but the release of your air - might just let someone else breathe a little better.
Remember - Love is ALWAYS In the Air! Put some in your tires - Let's Roll!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Information from my friend Kyra Hicks:
Job with Diane Rehm: position #1210 "Producer"
Folks are getting ready for the 2nd Miller Classic Softball game at Bennington next month.
I just received this email from a writer:

"I hope I'm up to playing in the classic this year and whuppin' up on them poets again."

These games are getting as serious as revision.
Yo Poets!

Coming Up @ Poets House
5/22: The Enigmatic Life of E.A. Lacey: Wayne Koestenbaum & R.M. Vaughan6/11: The 12th Annual Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge (reserve tickets now)
All events take place at Poets House, 72 Spring Street, 2nd Floor, New York City, unless otherwise indicated.

Tuesday, May 22, 7:00pm The Enigmatic Life of E. A. Lacey A Conversation on Queer Literary History with Wayne Koestenbaum and R. M. Vaughan
In 1965, E.A. Lacey published Forms of Loss, the first openly gay book of poetry published in Canada. Poets House presents a talk designed to introduce contemporary audiences to Lacey's work and legend. Drawing upon materials culled from the Canadian Gay and Lesbian Archives, Toronto-based poet and activist R.M. Vaughan will read poems from Lacey’s four published volumes, as well as illuminating excerpts from several unpublished works. Poet-critic Wayne Koestenbaum (author of Hotel Theory) will offer observations about Lacey’s peripatetic existence and expound upon a wider cultural history of hotel-dwelling and the philosophy of “being-here, being-anywhere.”
@ Poets House$7, Free to Poets House Members

Monday, June 11, 6:30pmThe Twelfth Annual Poetry Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge To Benefit Poets House With Kimiko Hahn, Thomas Lux, Major Jackson & Galway Kinnelland special guests Bill Murray & Oliver PlattTickets begin at $250/$225 for Poets House Members. Reservations required.

This unforgettable literary pilgrimage over the bridge that inspired Hart Crane, Walt Whitman and generations of poets begins near One Centre Street and stops en route for readings under Roebling’s famous arches. Upon arrival at Brooklyn’s historic Fulton Ferry Landing, Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Galway Kinnell recites Whitman’s immortal “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” as the sun sets over the waterfront. The evening concludes with a festive dinner at St. Ann’s Warehouse, where actors Bill Murray and Oliver Platt treat Poets House patrons to a selection of their favorite verses.
For additional information, or to make a reservation or contribution, please call (212) 431-7920, x2211 or email

Other Events of Interest:

Tuesday May 22, 8pm The National Arts Club Presents a Celebration of Haiku & Baseballwith Billy Collins, Cor van den Heuvel, Alan Pizzarelli, Ed Markowski & Brenda Gannam
Former Poet Laureate of the United States and bestselling author Billy Collins reads from his recent book of haiku, She Was Just Seventeen. Former president of the Haiku Society of America, Cor van den Heuvel, reads from the newly published Baseball Haiku, edited by van den Heuvel with Nanae Tamura. Also reading are Alan Pizzarelli, Ed Markowski, and Brenda Gannam, who are among the poets featured in Baseball Haiku.
@ The National Arts Club15 Gramercy Park South(20th Street, between Park Avenue South and Third Avenue). Dress Code: Business Attire. Wine Reception to FollowAdmission Free

Poets House is a 45,000-volume poetry library and literary center that invites poets and the public to step into the living tradition of poetry. Poets House's ever-expanding archive of books, journals, chapbooks, audiotapes, videos and electronic media is one of the most comprehensive open-access collections of poetry in the United States. The Reading Room is free and open to the public.
Poets House, 72 Spring Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10012 Reading Room Hours: Tuesday-Friday, 11:00 am-7:00 pm & Saturday, 1:00 pm-6:00 pm Children's Hours: Saturday, 11:00 am-1:00 pm Phone: (212) 431-7920 Website:
A blues note:

"She's as sweet as sour milk."
Upgrade U?
No comment.
Ebony Improvement?

Things are getting better at Ebony magazine. Checkout the June issue. The pictures of black fathers and children says it all. Oh, and what a nice surprise to see the artist profile of Kara Walker. I first saw Walker's work in Minnesota a few years ago. The woman is a "genius" child.
I was talking to my dear friend Lori Tsang last week. She mentioned a number of books she was gettting ready to review. Lori shared the titles with I'm passing them on to you:

The Last Empress, Anchee Min

The Last Chinese Chef, Nicole Mones

The Last Communist Virgin, Wang Ping
Words from the Y: Yvonne Bynoe

Hip Hop's (Still) Invisible Women>

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Look what she said:

"In the last 30 years, postgraduate campus writing programs have spread like wildfire. I'm of mixed mind about them. On the one hand, it's wonderful for aspiring writers to meet and work with fellow devotees of the written word at a time of media infotainment and buzz. On the other hand, an MFA may not be worth the investment of tens of thousands of dollars, unless the applicant intends a teaching career. Writers need more life experience, not more school. I think the money might be better spent on world travel.

-Camille Paglia
Interview from the PhiladelphiaStories - Winter 2006-2007.
We live in a time of apology. Everyone has one or is about to give one. But what is apology without repentance? How do we try to return to our higher state? What are our new values?
And what is repentance without actual deeds of measurement?
Ichiro Watch:
2 hits against San Diego.
I'm sending funds off this week to sponsor the 2nd Miller Classic Softball Game at Bennington next month. It's the big game between literary all-stars attending the Bennington Writing Seminars. Fiction writers against Poets. Hopefully we will have some folks sending in a few E-Notes about the game.
Lately there have been a number of newspaper articles about the changing Washington DC.
I wish someone would explain where all the Boston Red Sox caps are coming from? Is DC now a colony of RED SOX NATION? I've noticed so many people walking around downtown with these caps. Well - call me Pumpsie Green and raise my rent.
Upcoming things to do this week:

Interview with David Mura on Wednesday.
Attending the reading of Philip Levine and Delores Kendrick at the Library of Congress on Thursday evening.
Meeting with Lady Di on Saturday.

I'll also continue to work on my memoir. Excerpts will appear on the new ETube that Adrienne Black is creating for me.

Finish a draft of my commencement speech that I will present to the Booker T. Washington Charter School next month.
A quiet Sunday. I spent time talking to my daughter. We watched some of the Spurs/Jazz basketball game. No way I can watch the Jazz in the finals...

Well in baseball Ichiro has moved into the AL top ten in batting and hits. It was just a matter of time. Where will he be playing next year? San Francisco?

A Writer's Center board meeting tonight. Here is our website:
All these book reviews coming out on the new Ellison biography. Poor Ralph. But how much has the literary world changed?
Words for the weekend:

"We now have endorsed the concept of pre-emptive war where we go to war with another nation militarily, even though our own security is not directly threatened, if we want to change the regime there or if we fear that some time in the future our security might be endangered."

- Former President Jimmy Carter

So this weekend I'm watching the new Spiderman movie in Silver Spring. Right before Spidey goes off to the final battle he passes a big American flag in the background. Hmm. It makes one think if this entire film was about the US and not Peter Parker. We have shaped our conflicts into battles between good and evil. The battle within. The Black Spider increase in power makes one feels good. But what about the responsibility that comes with power? Spiderman is forced to wrestle with this conflict as much as the US has to decide what to do with terrorist suspects.
Oh. and the death of Spidey's buddy Harry reminded me so much of Tony Blair. A friend who is disfigured and who gives his life so that Spiderman and his girlfriend can live. And right there at the end of the film was the poor Sandman (Iraq?) looking so sad and knowing that he did wrong...responsible for the US walking around with guilt for so long. Of course Spiderman forgives because we have to have a sequel - which means ---we who believe in freedom cannot rest. Hmmm.

Friday, May 18, 2007


If the individual cannot exist then who will be the people?

- June Jordan
Look for historian Douglas Brinkley on Sunday -NBC's "Meet the Press." He will be talking about his new book THE REAGAN DIARIES.
Also on the show will be Edwin Meese and Michael Deaver.
More Moore.
Michael Moore's new film "SiCKO" will be in the theaters on June 29th. You know there is going to be big discussion and hype. Moore is exploring the health care industry in this new film. Will this picture influence election rhetoric? It's a film about greed.
I just received a wonderful card signed by students at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School (B-CC). It was fun doing a reading there several weeks ago. The school puts out a cool lit journal - CHIPS. A model for other schools.
DC Writing project is honoring Marita Golden this evening at the Metropolitan Day School in NE Washington. 6:30 PM.
Past Honorees have been:

Sharon Bell Mathis - 2006
Eloise Greenfield - 2005
Ishmael Reed - 2004
E. Ethelbert Miller 2003

Yesterday I spoke with the poet Mari Evans. She's always funny, sweet and simply lovely. Nice when writers stay in touch. It's like the completion of a good poem.
Wednesday May 30, 2007, 6 – 9 pm

The evening will consist of libation and live music by the James Spaulding Quartet.
Musician friends of Baraka will sit in, making this a real jam. Many honorary committee
members will be in attendance, including, of course, our honoree Amiri Baraka.

Place: The Cathedral of St. John the Divine’s Synod
Hall, 111th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.

Price: $150
(All proceeds benefit the Up South International Book Festival)
To order tickets, send checks or money orders to:
310 Convent Avenue (2A)
New York, NY 10031
For more information and/or to purchase tickets call 212-926-8090.

HAKI MADHUBUTI: Gala Honorary Chair, HONORARY COMMITTEE: Orlando Bagwell, Isisara Bey, St.Clair Bourne, Ed Bullins, W. Paul Coates, Iqua Colson, Steve Colson, Patricia Cruz, Ruby Dee, Inez Pickens, Rita Ewing, Danny Glover, Carole Hall, Woodie King, Valerie Kinloch, Rev. Diane Lacey, Benilde Little, Felipe Luciano, Toni Morrison, Sonia Sanchez, Tracy Sherrod, Danny Simmons, Debra Spruill, Susan L. Taylor, Johnny Temple, Richard Wesley, Valerie Wesley, Ted Wilson.

GALA COMMITTEE: Malaika Adero, Irving Hamer, Krishan Trotman, Renee Brown Walters, Ghana Wilson

UP SOUTH Board of Directors: Malaika Adero, Tracey Austin, Patrik Henry Bass, Alexa Birdsong, Marie Brown, Colin Channer, Faith Childs, Linda Duggins, Irving Haamer, Alvin Hall.

UP SOUTH, INC. MISSION STATEMENT: Up South Incorporated celebrates literary and artistic work by established and emerging international artists of color particularly those underrepresented in mainstream media. Its annual Up South Festival presents the best in contemporary literature, film, dance, music and performance art, to stimulate dialogue about art and culture, to provide exposure and attention to artists of color internationally, and to expand the audiences for their work. Up South refers literally and metaphorically to the phenomena of migration and immigration from regions that are rural and south to the cities often north, from antiquity to the present and the sometimes ironic consequences of the forward movement of humanity – especially black and brown people and the importance of language in understanding our reality.
New Links:

Interview with E. Ethelbert Miller Webcast (Library of Congress)Born in New York City, the award-winning poet E. Ethelbert Miller received the B.A. from Howard University. He is director of the African American Resource ...
E. Ethelbert Miller. How We Sleep on The Nights We Don't Make Love ...Free Online Library: E. Ethelbert Miller. How We Sleep on The Nights We Don't Make Love.(Book review) by "African American Review"; Literature/writing ...
The new pick-up line:

Baby, I love you more than the World Bank.

Thursday, May 17, 2007


What do we need from you?

1) WATCH IT...leave a comment
2) SPREAD THE WORD forward the link...

*******WARNING: IT'S LONG AS...WHEN IT FIRST COMES ON DUE TO THE CONTEST REGULATIONS*******-- Kuroji NtuArtist, Educator, Filmmaker & Photographer"Capturing life as it happens" check out a selection of my photography & to check out a few of my short films goto:

It's a "good" feeling listening to black men talking about their art and politics. In the traditon of Douglass, Baldwin and Robeson, we survive, we advance.
The land grab in Venezuela is going to create chaos soon. It's predictable. It's going to be difficult for Hugo to win this one. Taking land from the wealthy only destroys the economy as well as sending a bad message to outside investors, etc. Haven't we seen this before? Land reform is an important issue in many parts of the world. How do we empower the poor without land ownership? But what do you do when people have no history of sharing? A key issue that should be discussed is inheritance. Ah- yes privilege. So you're born rich and live rich. If a person is born poor should they remain poor their entire lives? Land reform? Venezuela might be moving to the end of the alphabet with Zimbabwe.

Are people building socialism again and making the same mistakes? Hugo is going too fast, too soon? A better road would have been a gradual turning over of state-owned land to the poor. Hugo also needs the rhetoric of liberation theology to pull this off. What would Jesus do?
Well it's on the front page of today's Washington Post and it's not an E-Note. Check the story about how DC is moving quickly to no longer being a black majority city. What I think is important to assess are the cultural implications of this. Will Go Go be a music that will only be heard in the new "Townships" of Maryland suburbs? All of a sudden I'm feeling like Bishop Tutu. Reconciliation anyone?
A note from Abdul Ali:

Dear Friends,

Can you help me spread the word about The Amistad's spring issue? We're also looking for submissions for our Fall-- Ars Poetica issue; Information about the next issue can be found on the site In addition to submissions, I'd like to add a few contributing editors to our staff for the next year--as I will be graduating in December and will be serving more of a supporting role with this Journal, thereafter.

Thank you,

Abdul Ali, Managing EditorThe Amistadmanaging_editor@amistadjournal.netHoward University's Online Literary
I might have to look into this soon:

"Aging in Place" is the movement that originated in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Boston and is beginning to move into other cities. The goal is for the elderly to remain in their homes. This keeps them independent and involved in their communities. "Aging in Place" helps to provide grocery shopping service, transportation, community services and household help.
Ichiro Watch:

Ichiro went 5 for 5 on Tuesday against the Angels. This was the 6th time in his career.
Average is now .312
A person hopes during a lifetime certain things will improve. One is the Middle East. A delicate balance - but so important for Israel and Palestine to embrace peace and break the cycle of hate and distrust. Imagine Peace!

Letter to Black America and a Racist AdBy Marcy / مارسي(Marcy / مارسي) George Paz Martin, National Co-Chair of United for Peace and Justice and Green Party US Activist E. Ethelbert Miller, literary activist; board chair, Institute for Policy Studies Prexy Nesbitt, speaker and educator on Africa, ...

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Keep an eye on the economic boom taking place in Northern Iraq- the Kurdish-governed region.
If this place can maintain security it will be another Dubai.
I've always felt the future of international economic development was in the destruction and rebuilding of nations and not simply over the battle for oil.
But what about the health problem? The Dodgers are offering fans in their right-field bleachers all they can eat. What's the deal? Raise the prices on tickets for the worst seats in the park -but give folks free food. These sounds sneaky. See The Wall Street Journal today (Marketplace section).
Keep an eye on developments in Nigeria.
Oil production is down about 30 percent. Protests continue to take place in the Niger Delta (home of the Ogoni tribe). People are also upset with the outcome of the recent elections.
There is a review of Arnold Rampersad's Ellison biography in today's New York Times. I plan to read this book on my trip next month to Jacksonville.

Talkin' Times, I see where Sylvester Stallone pleaded guilty to taking restricted muscle building hormones into Australia. Looks like rocky times for the actor. Will he get a fine? Jail time?
What would Bonds say?

Oh, and what about Opie and Anthony? I don't listen to XM but listen to their excuse for making remarks about Condo Rice and Lady Bush. They want to wrap themselves up inside the First Amendment - please. They claim they can be crazy on the air and use the same type of language they would use with their friends when off the air.
That's the problem. They are on the air and not hanging out with their buddies. We live during an era in which the lines between public and private behavior have been abolished. Or as Dylan once wrote - "even the president of the United States, sometimes has to stand naked." Either we let everything go - or we begin to become conscious of the need of the public good. Why hurt people with speech? It's not funny. It's very dangerous.
My interview with writer Kalamu Ya Salaam can be read at the following site:

See the Fiesta Section.
On my way home from Howard yesterday, I walked past the HU Towers. Students moving in - I guess for the summer session. Gone are the footlockers. I remember when I went off to college everyone had a big footlocker. The rich kids had 2. Now, students move like refugees. Black garbage bags and pushcarts. Things are just thrown into baskets and the back of car seats. Does anyone know how to pack these days? This generation of students seem to be fleeing something.
The way they pack is often how they keep their rooms. There has been a serious decline in order - even when one looks at the little things. But maybe we are also getting the preparation we need for those natural disasters that keep happening without notice; or another terrorist attack. We know how to just throw our stuff into a black bag and run.
So where are my fellow monks? Watching people use their cellphones everyday I think about who is listening. Everyone is talking. Do we really have that much to say? Are we simply addicted to the phone? Are we lonely? Do we miss each other so badly that we have to stay in touch constantly? Oh, and whatever happened to dialing the wrong number? I only talk to three people on a regular basis - Julia G,Ginger G, and my Mom. If my phone rings it's almost always work related. I look at my children and I know they would be lost without their phones.
My son racing down into the basement to save his phone from the washing machine; my daughter talking to a friend while curled up in bed - is this what Bell imagined? Did he know he would put an end to silence? Why didn't he just walk into the next room before making that first call? Now the bells are always ringing. Where are my fellow monks?

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

From the poet Cheryl Floyd-Miller ( A link) :

"If You Want to Be Loved By A Poet ..." RIP Judy D...By BLUE(BLUE) I went to bed each night snuggling up with my then husband and the ideas of these writers as if they were kids bedding. It was a Linus' Blanket Syndrome Judy Dothard Simmons and E. Ethelbert Miller would both break me of. ...Cherryl Floyd-Miller -

As we move into the summer, I am once again looking forward to offering my popular motivational writing workshop, "I Want to Write…But!" Friday June 29/ Saturday 30 and Friday July 13/ Saturday July 14.

I love leading these workshops, which in two days create a nurturing, wonder-full
community, where new, emerging, established, published and unpublished writers discover the spiritual and soul reasons why they write, and the limitless possibilities they may not have yet discovered about their creativity.

I love leading the workshops because I get an opportunity to connect writers to their in dwelling power and genius, and I get to work with writers who are at a point in their lives (creative and otherwise) where they are ready to dive into the deepest parts of themselves, their memories and their past , present and future.

All of this is the stuff of strong writing and we reveal it with laughter, compassion, and some real deal honest talk during the 2 day workshop/retreat.

Among the secrets you will discover-how to write brilliantly in 15 minutes a day! how to live with and learn to love and even embrace the fear that makes writing so irresistible and so scary! how to find the support you need to be a long distance runner toward the finish line of your project! Every time I facilitate these workshops I am renewed and energized
and enlarged as a person and a writer.

I hope you will join us in June or July. Even if you have done I Want To Write…But! already, you may want to come back for the joy of it all (that is a promise I make and keep). The workshops are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days and the cost is $295.Visit my website for details.

Marita Golden
Be sure to read George Will's comments on Barry Bonds in the latest issue of Newsweek (May 21, 2007). This is a good piece on the steorids problem. Will makes reference to Will Carroll's book - THE JUICE: THE REAL STORY OF BASEBALL'S DRUG PROBLEMS. This seems like the book to read. In Newsweek, Will informs us of the following:
-Bonds uniform jersey has gone from 42 to 52.
-Cap size from 7 1/8 to 7 1/4
-Shoe size from 10 1/2 to 13.

PEDs can cause so much damage. Here is a QUOTE OF THE YEAR from George Will's essay:

"The athlete's proper goal is to perform unusually well, not unnaturally well. Drugs that make sport exotic, by radical intrusions into the body, drain sport of its exemplary power by making it a display of chemistry rather than character."
Another new word for our vocabulary?

After "surge" we now have "benchmark" to deal with. So there isn't going to be anymore discussion of withdrawal dates. Just benchmarks. What does this mean? Have you ever gone out with someone with benchmarks? The moonlight comes through the window and you glance at your lover - and there are benchmarks. You wonder whether to keep loving or withdraw.
When was the last time you surrendered to love?
Will our nation stand naked and alone staring at its benchmark? This sounds like more show and don't tell.
Here is a nice profile of the poet Derrick Brown. It looks like Derrick is becoming just as "Sterling" as that other DC Brown:
I received a copy of Christine Allen-Yazzie's new novel - THE ARC AND THE SEDIMENT.
The book is published by Utah State University Press. Congrats Christine.
Leaving those courts downtown I walked over to what's left of Chinatown. I sat in the Starbucks(upstairs) where you can just watch people. One guy was dancing in circles in the middle of the street. A dervish? I see this guy often. A story for some reporter. "You Got Me Going In Circles" is another song from my youth. It has come to this for many people. Circles defining us. Born into the world with nothing we look around and suddenly we are homeless. Too many of us carry our possessions in a few bags.Maybe in the future we will all be Buddhist monks. Is the mumbling I already hear from so many just the first words of chants? Near many of the outdoor cafes we are black The patrons mostly white ignore us or maybe humor us. Plates of food in front of those sitting. Burgers and pizza with toppings. Oh - how many of us would dance for a meal? I've taken to carrying alms inside my jacket. A few coins for anyone who asks. I am not my brother's keeper - just a brother from another planet. How many of us reduced to aliens in our own city? DC reduced to another district of colonization. Years from now there will only be signs and maybe a museum on the Mall talking about us. A graduate paper will be written about those years when the streets were crowded with colored faces, before the coming of economic smallpox. I touch the top of my head. I feel my hair growing back. Buffalo symptons?

Monday, May 14, 2007

John Edwards continues to seek support from Labor organizations. Will this help him win the nomination? Why do so many Americans grow up without any knowledge of US labor history?
I think of how stirkes try to improve the conditions of workers but the media keeps the message from getting out. Where are the poets and working class writers?

Walk around the downtown streets of DC and notice how many homeless people there are.
Why are we so silent about this issue? Why do we not see them? Must someone plagiarize poverty in order to obtain visibility? Must we give every homeless person a Blackberry? Where is Lois Lane and - oh -Clark Kent to cover this story? Does the new mayor of DC wear glasses?
Interview with Natasha Trethewey in the NY Times Magazine (May 13, 2007) The recent winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry talks about historical erasure and historical amnesia. I've seen this happen within my lifetime. It was the major subject I discussed with the poet Ahmos Zu-Bolton in our last conversation. I told him I could see people just forgetting about his work and importance. Sad but if you're one of the blues people you die with nothing in your pockets and just an echo of your song in the air. You become sad everytime you see an old friend dancing on Broadway. Will the real literary critics step forward.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Listening to the soundtrack from BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM.
A tale of 2 cities.
Around noon I sat in the McDonalds across from the Shepherd Park Library on Georgia Avenue.
I had a burger and fries. I sat and read Poet Lore submissions. The place was filled with people out for Mother's Day. What's the cost for a family of 4 or 5? Do you still have enough for flowers? A mixture of working and poor people trying their best to have a day to remember. You notice the absence of men. Black men. Too many black mothers alone? Are we somewhere else trying to be Big Macs? One man sweet but slow walked around unable to sit. He kept asking people for jelly - but it was noon and the breakfast meals were no longer being served.

I walked across to the library around 2 PM. I talked to a few of the librarians and borrowed Walter Isaacson"s biography of Einstein.

I came home and changed my clothes. My son drove the family over to the Washington Harbor.
Georgetown is a part of DC that I try to keep in my past. It's like a college foot locker you've moved too often. I've never even kissed a women in Georgetown. The place rubs me the wrong way like a street with no parking spaces. Anyway - there I was eating at a Thai restaurant that left me hungry after the desert. Outside down by the harbor folks were gathering like it was the Kentucky Derby (again) but there were just a few boats to watch. My son and I watched a dumb guy try to take pictures of woman who shouldn't have been photographed. Father to son - I asked my son what was not attractive about the woman. It's during these types of moments when you realize that you need to quote more than DuBois to your flesh and blood. My son looks pass me at the woman and makes a comment about the woman's legs. I chuckle and say - ah son -check her shoulders- the absence of curves to capture the sun going down.

We continued our walk back to the car. I felt like the good shepherd.
Happy Mother's Day!

I'm watching THE GOOD SHEPHERD. Hats and suits. A world of secrets...
Nothing really changes.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

I'm marking my schedule book right now. November 23 and 24 - here in DC - my son will lead his college basketball team (Widener) into a tournament at Gallaudet. There is also an early season game against Catholic U. Widener will be defending its Commonwealth Conference title.
With no seniors on the team my son will have to raise his game. For his team to repeat as champions he will probably be asked to take more shots. He will have to average about 20 pts a game.

His first summer league game is June 3rd.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Remember those early E-Notes about robotics?
NBC is going to give us BIONIC WOMAN. It's a remake of the 1970s series.
It should be interesting to listen to the script of this baby. How much control will the Government have over the bionic babe? Another sci-fi fall show is JOURNEYMAN. Time travel...Oh and don't forget to television show CHUCK. It's about computers and brains. Download this stuff.
Did you know, in Yankee Stadium they chain you in during the singing of the National Anthem and God Bless America? What would they do during the singing of "Lift Every Voice and Sing"?
Did you see that line in the NY Times yesterday?

"Amy Winehouse is a tease"

Hee Hee...yep.
Name: The Memorial Day Writers' Project
Date: May 28
Place: Washington, DC, adjacent to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
(Constitution Ave. near 21 St.-behind the sidewalk)
Time: 11:30- 5:00
Activity: Poetry, prose, and song
Contact: Richard Epstein (301) 681-3085

In the beginning there was sadness, anger and a thought. The thought needed other souls, minds, and bodies to grow. And they came. They came because of a shared experience; they came with their own unique talents and shared them with other wounded souls. And now they still come a little less wounded, perhaps grayer and more portly. The years have flown by and still they come to the Wall! They still come to remember and we the artist of every persuasion still come to the Tent and the Wall to remember in our unique ways; but remember we do.

Come join us and raise your voices for your brothers and sisters who cannot be with us. The Memorial Day Writers' Project (MDWP) will hold its 14th annual reading on the Mall, adjacent to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, from 11:30 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. May 28. The public is invited to participate by sharing prose, poetry, song or a humorous story as we honor those who served our country.

For more information, contact Richard Epstein (301) 681-3085.

If you would like to read, give me a call or send me an email and I’ll list you on our sign up sheet. If you have a chapbook, bring copies to sell.
Friday 18 May 2007, 7.30pm (doors)
Poetry Cafe, 22 Betterton Street, London
(Covent Garden tube)4.00 / 3.00 (conc)

This month we feature two female writers - one with South African roots, the other with East African roots. Both women represent part of the story of Africa that other people always try to tell, label, or construct, but nobody will ever tell the way we will hear it on the night.

Join us as we experience the fantastic, insightful prose of Zoë Wicomb and the sharp contemporary vision of emerging writer Sharmila Chauhan.

The event will be hosted by Ghanaian writer, Nii Ayikwei Parkes.


Zoë Wicomb:Born in Namaqualand, South Africa, Zoë Wicomb was educated both in South Africa and the United Kingdom. After a stint teaching at the University of the Western Cape, she now works as professor of English Studies at the University of Strathclyde. Zoë is the author of numerous essays on South African writing and culture, and of several acclaimed works of fiction, including the books, You Can't Get Lost in Cape Town, David's Story, and Playing in the Light. Her short stories also appear in The Penguin Book of Contemporary South African Short Stories, The Heinemann Book of South African Short Stories, THE Art of the Story: International Anthology of Contemporary Short Stories. Zoë Wicomb's work has been translated into French, German, Italian, Dutch and Swedish.

Sharmila Chauhan:Sharmila Chauhan was born in London to East-African Indian parents from Zambia and Kenya. Although she is a pharmacologist, she has been writing fiction for several years and has had work published in the acclaimed Tell Tales anthology series. Her work focuses on the experiences of British Asians, particularly those living in London. She is currently working on a novel, provisionally titled Devi.FURTHER INFORMATION
There is a push within the US to End Israeli Occupation. This is an issue that's at the center of the Middle East Conflict. It places the security of Israel in one corner; the Palestinian right to a homeland in another. But what about human rights issues? How do we not take sides in this conflict? How should we move forward? It's going to take a "leap" into the future. Leaders with vision on both sides are going to be needed. In small ways, poets, and artists, must build the bridges between people; we cannot let governments hinder peace. We must elect new leaders who will show compassion.

Too many people dying on both sides of the fence.
90th Birthday Celebration honoring the life and career of Gwendolyn Brooks:
June 7-9, 2007 in Chicago.
Call 708 333-3330 or email: for additional information.
A big GALA will talk place at the University of Chicago on the 8th of June.

Gwendolyn Brooks, born June 7, 1917 - died on December 3, 2000.
I'm reading the promotion packet for Sonsyrea Tate's new book - DO ME TWICE. The book will be coming out in August. Tate wrote LITTLE X. It was a memoir about growing up inside the Nation of Islam. The book was described as "a taboo-breaking memoir about a Muslim girl who explores her freedom through the expression of her sensuality and sex, defying the cultural boundaries that denied her a full life.

Publisher is Strebor Books/Simon & Schuster.

Treve de Blues
- Leon Damas

WELCOME TO THE E-MAG: An invitation into the words of others.

My guest today is Afaa Michael Weaver.


Packing is a slow process for me, one I think mimics the creation of poetry. I cannot just pack. There is the thought of the suitcases, the feel of them walking through the airport, the goodbyes and well wishes when you check them in and hand them over to handlers.

Then there is the utopian image of traveling in utter lightness of being. As the
Japanese swordsman Musashi wrote, “Carry nothing.” Or he wrote something like that, or someone told me he wrote something like that. Utterance goes that way when you are in academia for awhile. You wonder about the sources. Samsonite has its own sources in marketing secrecy. I am moving to a place twelve time zones away for two months. It is an island within swimming distance of its Mainland other place. I am speaking of Taiwan and China. I am going back…again.

So I know now not to try to carry a bunch of books. There is the agony of leaving things. I live and travel alone. So at the counter with a too heavy bag I would have to abandon things. Part of my process is imagining what I can abandon. Not my favorite books. No way. My favorite books can stay at home here until I come back, and there are the horrible but brief thoughts of what would happen were I not to get back. What if I am kidnapped and forced to teach in an obscure town inside the Siberian border. There must be hordes of students there who want to know what people like me must know, the subtle intricacies of what to take and what not to take when we leave.

It comes to that when I have to travel and pack. After making some major decision such as which socks and toothbrushes to pack, I stop to do a few rounds of Taijiquan, or I watch a little television. My Chinese will be in use in a few days, so I try to remember some things without looking at books and walk around a little while muttering to myself in Chinese. Or I just mutter. Isn’t it interesting how that is the German word for mother? I will never get to the airport in time, my common sense whispers to me.

I am reading, too, some of it while in this process of packing.

These I have found more interesting:

The Rational Factory by Lindy Biggs …Did you know that the mechanistic philosophy as it was discussed in the eighteenth century posited the universe as a perfect machine, and that industrial engineers in nineteenth century America thought that the factory and the workers should be perfect machines? There’s more. Southern plantation owners looked to New England mills and the way they managed white women workers as models for African Americans working as slaves?

Go Tell Slim’s Table by Mitchell Duneier Race, Respectability, and Masculinity is the subtitle. This takes me back to the working class world where I lived as a factory worker for fifteen years in Baltimore. It’s the story of mostly black working class men in Chicago. I am thinking of the people I worked with, the men and the women, more and more these days. I miss them sometimes. Academia is so different, but there are lots of working class people in academia nowadays. We are finding each other and coming out of that closet to reveal our worker selves.

Re (Writing) Craft Composition, Creative Writing, and the Future of English Studies.
This is real shop talk for writers working in academia. It’s a book all of us should read as we wonder what in the world is going on in academia and why in the hell we are there trying to teach and write, the impossible simultaneity.

Chinese, a Linguistic Introduction by Chaofen Sun…I am in my fifth year of studying Chinese, speaking, reading, and writing, and this linguist’s overview of the language and its relation to the culture is most helpful and quite new.

Reporting Civil Rights.
This is the Library of America two volume collection, a great bedside book. If ever you think it has no relevance to today, or if you need to be reminded of the courage and the struggle, I recommend this collection. Look back at history and you will see it standing right beside you.

& I am reading poetry. & poetry is reading me.

Back to packing now, imagining the suitcase full within current weight limits. I wonder if that is a way of thinking about the line in poetry. Is my line full within current weight limits?

Travel in the lightness of being. Carry nothing.

Afaa Michael Weaver is the author of those wonderful books of poetry, MY FATHER'S GEOGRAPHY, WATER SONG and STATIONS IN A DREAM.


Kathy Engel has her own collection of poems out too. RUTH'S SKIRTS is published by IKON:
151 First Avenue # 46
New York, NY 10003

This is what the other "E" had to say about Engel's work:

We are so blessed to be along with Kathy Engel on her decades long poetic and activist journey. Her provocative and moving poems rattle, caress, teach, inspire, and remind us that never should we have to extract poetry from our conscience and conscience from our poetry."
- Edwidge Danticat
New Books:

Melissa Tuckey's ROPE AS WITNESS is out from the Pudding House Chapbook Series:

One could walk around quoting Tuckey. For example:

" I still don't know the difference
between love and apparition"


"He said not to worry about separating
the darks from lights at the end of histoy
everything would be pink"
The day before Oprah comes to Howard. Graduation is tomorrow. I'll be on the otherside of town welcoming folks to the PARKMONT POETRY FESTIVAL at Parkmont School (4842 16th). I helped with the judging this year.

Last night it was nice to be out among the poets. We had a reading for WE BEGIN HERE: POEMS FOR PALESTINE AND LEBANON. That's the new anthology edited by Kamal Boullata and Kathy Engel. Kathy was in town. Yesterday morning we did Jo Reed's radio program on WPFW with Melissa Tuckey. Kamal called in from Paris. I met him back in the 1970s when he was living in DC. A group of us got together to put out the magazine Working Cultures. We called ourselves cultural workers back then. A number of us no longer living - Martha Tabor, Gabrielle Simon Edgcomb...
In the first issue of Working Cultures(Spring 1978) Edgcomb wrote this editorial introduction:

So why another product? Because we want to have a space, here in Washington, where cultural workers - poets, graphic artists, photographers, story tellers, designers can show their work, where there is shared consciousness of how the world is, what is to be done, and particulary, what is the task of the cultural worker is. To expose is necessary, but not sufficient. We must also exhort, delight, amuse and help people to carry on the fight for a new world.

We live in the "dark pre-history of class exploitation; in classless society all people will be artists, because of the wealth of subjective human sensibility (a musical ear, an eye which is sensitive to the beauty of form, in short, senses which are capable of human satisfaction and which confirm themselves as human faculties)." Thus, Karl Marx a century ago. We share his analysis, his vision and his optimism.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

I'm watching Stanley Nelson's film SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK - RAISE YOUR VOICE. The footage of the group in Lawrence, Kansas is priceless. WE have to keep singing...
Be sure to place this DVD in your collection.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

ShoutOut to my Phillies:

Does anyone have information about possible summer work/employment for my son?
He will be attending summer school at Widener U and playing in the area summer basketball league. Let me know if you have any contacts in the Philadelphia area. Many thanks.
Send to me at:

Last Friday, John Edwards visited New Orleans to talk about his plans for ending poverty in America and to work with actor and civil rights activist Danny Glover to take action today by helping with rebuilding efforts. Make sure to check out the video from this amazing day. Now, John's asking all of his supporters to also take action as part of our National Poverty Action Day on Saturday, May 19:
Congrats to football player Doug Flutie. He will become the first noncitizen to be inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame. Flutie earned 6 outstanding player awards in Canada.
" Negroes got blindeyetis. A dog knows it's a dog. A cat knows it's a cat. But a Negro don't know he's a Negro. He thinks he's a white man."

- August Wilson (from his play Radio Golf)
Quote of the Day:

Still, it's hard not to miss the music that brought such distinctive and seductive life to the other plays in the cycle. It is Mr. Wilson's point of course, that when people cut themselves off from their heritage, they cut themselves off from the source of their song.

- Ben Brantley's review of Radio Golf by August Wilson
NY Times (5/9/07)
Paris Hilton is facing 45 days in jail. There is a petition going around that has gathered more than 900 signatures. It seems folks want Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to pardon her. Check the reason - "because she provides beauty and excitement to our otherwise mundane lives."

Well - What about all the handsome young black men behind bars?
We lookin' for the PMP. (Pardon Me Paris)
When will it end?
Have you seen the "Hip Hop" commercial for Pepto Bismol? Geez - it's awful and and made me want to...

A reminder of the reading to celebrate the publication of "We Begin Here, Poems for Palestine and Lebanon" edited by Kathy Engel and Kamal Boullata, at Grace Church on Thursday, May 10th, at 7 pm.

The reading will feature local poets Sarah Browning, Wade Fletcher, E. Ethelbert Miller, Richard Schaaf, and others. We'll be joined by editor and poet Kathy Engel.

Following the reading, we'll have a moderated discussion with special guests and peacemakers, Hannah Schwarzschild, a labor and employment attorney in Philadelphia and an activist with Jewish Voice for Peace and Nadia Hijab, who is a Senior Fellow at the DC-based office of the Institute for Palestine Studies, and co-director of its Washington, D.C. office.

For more information about the anthology—or to order your copy—go

Grace Church is located at 1041 Wisconsin Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20007. For public transportation take the blue connector shuttle bus to Wisconsin Avenue and walk south. Two hours of free parking are available (with validation) at Lowe's Cinema Garage, at Wisconsin Avenue and K street.

That morning, from 10-11 am, "We Begin Here" will be featured on WPFW 89.3 FM, on the show "On the Margin" with Josephine Reed. Please tune in! Here are the poets and activists you'll hear from:

Kamal Boullata, co-editor with Kathy Engel of We Begin Here: Poems for Palestine and Lebanon. Painter and writer born in Jerusalem 1942. Living in Paris.

Sarah Browning is founder of DC Poets Against the War whose first book Whiskey in the Garden of Eden is forthcoming from The Word Works in July, 2007.

Alexis De Veaux is a poet, fiction writer, playwright, essayist, and biographer, whose acclaimed biography of Audre Lorde, Warrior Poet (2004) won the Zora Neale Hurston - Richard Wright Foundation Legacy Award. She is associate professor in the department of women's studies at SUNY Buffalo.

Kathy Engel is a poet, teacher, producer, and consultant for social justice and peace organizations. She is theauthot of two collections: Banish the Tentative (1989) and Ruth's Skirts (2007). She serves on the board of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

Martin Espada is author of several collections of poetry, most recently The Republic of Poetry (2006), and professor of English at the University of Massachusettes Amherst, where he teaches creative writing, Latino Poetry, and the work of Pablo Neruda.

Melanie Kaye/Kantrowitz is an activist writer, and scholar whose most recent book is The Colors of Jews: Racial Politic and Radical Diasporism. She teaches comparative literature at Queens College and with the Bard College Prison Initiative.

E. Ethelbert Miller is the author, most recently, of How We Sleep on the Nights We Don't Make Love. He is chair of the board of the Institute of Policy Studies.

Melissa Tuckey is events coordinator of D.C. Poets Against the War and the organizer of the evening's reading and discussion. Her chapbook, Rope As Witness, has just been released by Pudding House Press.
Funny how the buzz is in the air around the Howard campus. The coming of Oprah. The last time you could feel that celeb-storm coming was when Nelson Mandela descended. I also recall one day Muhammad Ali walking around and throwing punches at our silly heads in the afternoon. That was fun. Gosh I felt the guy was huge in a suit. The champ. Many of us simply wish to be in the glow of the celeb. Sometimes we don't desire autographs. We want the hug ,the chance to touch and then spin way into fantasy. We want to throw our hands in the air and thank sweet Jesus for the moment. We then want to run and spread the news. It's different now with cellphones and cameras and everyone wanting to be in the photo. Everyone wants to take a picture and be in a picture. Now picture this - Oprah leaves and we return to our sad lives and bills. We return to our broken dreams and sleepless nights. We are jealous and wish it was us. If we had just a little of what Oprah has- just a little, then we would believe our prayers would be answered. But what do our prayers tell us about our lives? What's missing? Why after praying are our hands still empty?

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

More Than Just Talk.
Please read Bob Herbert's OP-ED in today's NY Times.
The focus is on John Edwards and the fight against poverty in the US. Important stuff.
Read and then VOTE for Edwards for President in 2008.

What we don't see are the post-election riots. Hmmm.
It's important to monitor Nicolas Sarkozy first 100 days.
Start counting. Is Paris burning?
Look to Vertigo - A progressive bookstore. Don't forget those Dupont Circle Days. Hey whatever happened to Dave Marcuse?

Vertigo Bookstore
7346 Baltimore Avenue
College Park, MD 20740

301 779-9300 Just talk to Todd. The guy is a genius - he married Bridget (aka Sweet Baby B).
Did you know?

More than 80 countries criminalize consensual sexual relations between persons of the same sex - including 7 in which the punishment is death.

What year is this?