Tuesday, September 30, 2008


Educate members of Congress. We should immediately contact our members of Congress, whether they voted for or against the bailout, and urge them to embrace this four-point program:

- A stimulus for Main Street: Aid to the real economy
- Make Wall Street speculators pay for the bailout. No more debt
- Shut down the casino: Rein in the unregulated financial sector
- Limits on CEO pay and prohibitions on profiteering from the bailout

Local Media. Influence the conversation. We should write letters to the editor, call in to talk radio programs, put forward op-eds.



What's going on in the South?
Refinery damage and power failures in Texas have created these conditions.
Things might not improve until Columbus day.
Bruce Springsteen has been selected to perform at Super Bowl XLIII (Halftime Show) on February 1, 2009.


Announcing the Audio Issue of Beltway Poetry Quarterly!

Beltway Poetry's first all-audio issue, co-edited by Kim Roberts and Katie Davis, is now available online. The issue includes collaborations between poets and musicians, recordings produced over layers of sound, and "naked" tracks of poets with distinctive voices that lend themselves particularly well to the audio format.

As Katie Davis says in her recorded introduction, these twenty recordings make a "Beltway Poetry Remix" notable for the "pauses, the way a vowel is pulled and repeated, demanding to be reconsidered."

Contributors, Volume 9, Number 4 (Fall 2008):
Karren L. Alenier * Holly Bass * Regie Cabico * Kenneth Carroll * Joel Dias-Porter * Thomas Sayers Ellis * Brian Gilmore * Michael Gushue * Bernie Jankowski * Rod Jellema * Fred Joiner * Reb Livingston * Greg McBride * May Miller * Miles David Moore * Yvette Neisser Moreno * Gaston Neal * Richard Peabody * Mark Tarallo * Hilary Tham

Audio production provided by Alison Gilbert, Grace Cavalieri, Flawn Williams, and others.

A treat for your ears!

Beltway Poetry Quarterly

Notice how the E-Notes no longer have Ethelbert's picture on this site. Where did he go? Have the E-Notes been taken over by a corporation or a machine? Who is typing this? Remember when everyone was always asking Ethelbert about when he slept? How come the guy never looked his age? What was that about? Why did he remain in that one job at Howard? Why did he start keeping all those files on writers? Where are those files now?

Answers are waiting. What did he mean by living the legacy?


What does a Depression look like? When does it begin? Growing up I was taught about how the Stock Market crashed around 1929. The 1930s was the period known as The Great Depression.

FDR saved us or maybe it was WWII. My mother would tell the story about people jumping out of windows. I couldn't imagine that...

I still have memories of a couple holding hands and then leaping from the World Trade Center; so I guess there are reasons why people will leap. Where are we now? Is it greed that got us here? Is this how things finally fall apart? What chapter of the bible are we living in? Who should one turn to? Noah, Moses or Jesus?

The stock market seems like global warming to many folks. You know the earth is going to hell but you have burgers on the grill in the backyard. I was walking around U Street after work yesterday and I couldn't feel the economic crisis. Many of the conversations I overhead were concerned with clothes and office politics. Will the economic crisis trickle down and hit most of us in a few months? Meanwhile, one can ignore that someone is making big bucks right now. One person's misery is another person's opportunity. That's a fundamental principle of capitalism.

It's how money is made. There is risk taking and there is greed. Greed closes the door like a courteous thief.

Once again we come back to the role of government. What should Washington do? No easy answers, so tell no lies. We do know that by Spring 2009 there will be a few books out about how a few made so much from so many. Next year will either come big spending cuts or new taxes.

In terms of National Security we will have to rebuild our military. We will continue to fund the wars.

But let's return to the transforming of America. McCain wants to blame Obama for all of this.

Is he being silly and hot headed or just political? It really doesn't matter. We know the economic world is transforming itself because the political world already has. If you want to know where this is all going - look to how our culture is transforming itself. Can you hear the new music?

What painter has given us a new way of looking at the world? Where is our visionary literature or are we at the end of our narrative?

Create another WPA and I'll tell you what I've witnessed. It begins with a homeless man pushing
a cart. He is everyman. Western Civilization has been reduced to what you can carry on your back. The machines that were created by man have begun to gain more control over society. This is how it begins. The day after the world ended someone began to read E-Notes. A chronicle of our last days? What did the E-stand for? ERASURE?

Monday, September 29, 2008

The Fword Writers :
Creative Freedom tour of UK writers read from new works and the launch of their new anthology, and their own new books.

The original FWords : Creative Freedom project is an Arts Council England Yorkshire signature project created in response to the 200 years commemoration of the Parliamentary Act of 1807 to abolish the British Slave Trade.

Tanya Chan-Sam, Khadijah Ibrahiim, Simon Murray, Seni Seniviratne and Rommi Smith, accompanied by guitarist, Chris Campbell, visit New York, Philadelphia and Washington DC from 19-25 October.

A wide range of styles is evident amongst the writers – from Murray, a hard hitting socially conscience wordsmith; Ibrahiim's lyrical chants, Smith's thought provoking imagery; Chan-Sam's storytelling in direct yet stylish prose and Seneviratne's gentle nostalgic poetry, which evokes both sweet and sad memories.

Creative Freedom: The FWords anthology (the new extended and illustrated limited edition)Addressing a wide range of themes—from the oppression and restitution in 19th-century and contemporary South Africa to wry reflections on the thirst for freedom from a formerly imprisoned poet—this collection is an elegant exploration of the true meaning of liberation and the ironies of modern society. The book also includes photographic images of the work created by two visual artists, Seyi Ogunjobi and Fosuwa Andohin response to the work by the writers; Flags for Freedom – a series of batiks and Paths to Freedom – a series of paintings."Who belongs and who does not belong to 'England's concrete jungle?'

The work of these writers demonstrates not only do they belong, they also feel a powerful freedom to rewrite the story in a manner which makes sense to them."(Quote from the introduction by Caryl Phillips)The Creative Freedom: Fwords Tour is supported by Arts Council England, Yorkshire.


SalonStain Bar,766 Grand street williamsburg, Brooklyn,(L to Grand,1 block west)718/387-7840@ 7pmwww.sundaysalon.com

Hamilton Grange Library, Harlem (tbc)

TUESDAY 21 OCTOBER – Philadelphia
Robin's Bookstore:108 South 13th Street

GW University,Marvin Center , 3rd Floor Ampthitheatre
800 21st. St. NW
The building has entrances both on H Street between 21st and 22nd Streets, and on 21st Street between H and Eye Streets.(Foggy Bottom subway)@8pmhttp://gwired.gwu.edu/marvincenter

Busboys and Poets, 2021 14th St,(corner of 14th and V Street NW)(2 blocks from the Metro Green Line - U Street Cardozo stop)202- 387-7638U Street @ 5pm

For more information on FWordshttp://www.peepaltreepress.com/fwords/fwords.asp
For more information and for up to date information on other FWORD events.Email:kadijageorge@gmail.comFacebook: FWords Creative FreedomMyspace: http://www.myspace.com/fwordscreativefreedom (free FWord dvd's and books available for facebook and myspace friends until stocks last)(plus books, t-shirts and special issue postcards available at all events).www.sablelitmag.org


Countdown to basketball time:

A 3rd straight conference title?


Quote of the Day:

Palin has proved herself to be spectacularly unprepared for a national campaign and embarrassingly inarticulate and unreflective. She is held in protective custody by a campaign that trusts her less and less. A few conservatives have suggested she should be dropped from the ticket.

E. J. Dionne Jr, The Washington Post, September 29, 2008.
Quote of the Day:

Can we now admit the obvious? Sarah Palin is utterly unqualified to be vice president.

- Fareed Zakaria, The Washington Post, September 29, 2008.

Ichiro Watch: The end of the 2008 Season.

213 hits tying him with Boston's Dustin Pedroia for the major league lead. It is the fifth time Ichiro has led the majors in hits.

43 stolen bases (third in AL)

.310 batting average (7th in AL)

This is funny but it's also very sad. It's up to good conservatives to speakout. Maybe select another VP for the Republican ticket?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3kiW0S-LJvI =

If BS were currency, Palin could bail out Wall Street herself.

- Conservative columnist Kathleen Parker


Check the Op-Ed article by William Kristol in the New York Times today. It's the first salvo of what's coming in October; an attempt to defeat Obama. Kristol is trying to get the McCain camp to reintroduce Rev. Jeremiah Wright back into the campaign. This will be an attempt to scare the white voter. They will make Obama look more radical than black. They will say he is an unknown and you have to fear the unknown -right? Kristol must write his column while sitting on the toilet. It's the only way I can see anyone saying the following:

McCain picked Sarah Palin in part because she's a talented politician and communicator. He needs to free her to use her political talents and to communicate in her own voice.

Kristol seems to want Palin to be the attack dog during the next few weeks; starting with the VP debates. Look for Palin and McCain to try and make Obama the issue and not economic problems. So look for the old stories to resurface about past associates. The Democrats will either try to rise above these attacks or things could get very ugly before November gets here.

Oh, and if Gwen Ifill puts pressure on Palin by asking her questions she can't answer - look for race matters to surface after the debates. The McCain camp might hint that Ifill was bias because of her race - they will overlook that's she's a woman. This might be the smokescreen used if Palin comes across looking lost or stupid during the debates. Palin has by now memorized a few zingers to throw at Biden. She will play to win the points in tomorrow's headlines. It's all about the spin.

Things might turn ugly during the next few weeks. Will McCain lose his temper in public? Dirty tricks or just pumpkin bashing around Halloween?

Hey - who is going to be selling Obama masks to go with our buttons and t-shirts?

The Washington Redskins are playing good football. One has to be happy for Zorn. Campbell is finally looking like a decent QB. If Eli can win a Superbowl no reason why Campbell can't. This team is playing good defense. Chris Horten might prove to be a gem.

The New York Mets fell again and can't blame it on the Willies.

Buffalo Bills might replace New England as the team to beat in the AFC.

Favre Fun in New York. How long will this bubble last?

Baseball playoffs.
I would love Manny to face the Red Sox in the Series.
A Chicago Cub win might be good for the nation.
Can the media sell us on the Angels? Will Tampa Bay attract a big market?
Will Philadelphia fans behave or go crazy after a win or loss?


Haile Gebrselassie became the first person to run a marathon in under 2 hours 4 minutes. He broke his own world record in Berlin on Sunday.
He skipped the Olympic marathon in Beijing last month because of the air conditions.


Pirates in 2008. We will never get to the future. Our failure to bring Somalia into the 21st Century has resulted in another international incident. Will this have a James Bond ending?
A Ukrainian ship filled with arms that was heading to Kenya (for their military) is captured by Pirates. Do you take the ship out and prevent all the arms from falling into the hands of terrorists? Do you pay the $20 million in cash the pirates are requesting? Can a hockey mom decide what to do?

Sunday, September 28, 2008


I'm preparing notes for the panel discussion on Obama's book that will take place on Tuesday at Prince George's Community College. Here is the info"


Panel Discussion/Question & Answer

September 30, 2008. 10 AM t0 12 Noon

Prince George's Community College, Largo Student Center, Rennie Forum

Panelists: Nelson Kofie, Ahati N.N.Toure, Karen Willliams Gooden and E. Ethelbert Miller.


Saturday, September 27, 2008



BUDDHA AND BARACK: The words of Charles Johnson.

Love you Wanda Coleman.

NEW from award winning author WANDA COLEMAN: JAZZ AND TWELVE O’CLOCK TALES (Black Sparrow Books, 2008). “For Wanda Coleman, more is better,” says Ishmael Reed. “Each story is a gem. Each story is real.” Phillip Lopate agrees: “These are songs of experience, harsh and beautiful with the sweet allure of disenchantment.”
COLEMAN is working overtime as word warrior at the behest of HARRIET, the Poetry Foundation’s venture into the world of bloggers (www.poetryfoundation.org). Entries by Coleman will appear in September, October and November. Comments are invited.
(Another hot literary Blog is THE WOODEN SPOON!)
For those who speak French--France explores Los Angeles via some of its finest writers, including COLEMAN in the latest issue of URBANISME Review, Paris (www.urbanisme.fr).

*BURNSIDE REVIEW features an interview with COLEMAN (www.bursidereview.org) in its Los Angeles issue, including poems by such fine writers as David St. John, Mob Mezey and Stephen Yenser.

WAVE BOOKS (www.wavepoetry.com) includes COLEMAN among the stellar poetic voices (John Ashbery, Anselm Berrigan, Lucille Clifton, Eileen Myles, Juliana Spahr, James Tate, John Yau and more) in STATE OF THE UNION: 50 Political Poems, available now.

Another fine story from COLEMAN appears in A STRANGER AMONG US: Stories of Cross Cultural Collision and Connection, edited by Stacy Bierlein with forward by Aimee Liu (includes Luis Alfaro, Shauna Singh Baldwin, and others), OV Books, Dept. of English (MC 162), University of Chicago (www.othervoicesmagazine.org).

Coleman's fiction may also be found in the novel Mambo Hips and Make Believe (1999), A War of Eyes and Other Stories (1988), and in her mixed genre collections Heavy Daughter Blues (1987) and African Sleeping Sickness (1990).

Thank you for your time and support!The Staff at GuyJoyce ProductionsAGuySmediavox@hotmail.com

THE VIEWS OF RANDALL HORTON can be found here:

My friend Channapha Khamvongsa sent me information about the film BOMB HARVEST.
Here is a link:

Channapha is the project director of LEGACIES OF WAR: History, Healing, Hope.


What's going on in China?

What's going on in Africa?


I received a letter from Ellis Hanson, chair of the Department of English at Cornell University. His department is searching for a tenure-track professor with a Ph.D in the field of African American Literature.

Candidates should send a letter of application, curriculum vitae, and writing sample of between 4,000 and 8,000 words to:

African-Americanist Search Committee
Department of English
Cornell University
Ithaca, New York 14853-3201

The deadline is October 15, 2008.

Boxer Jack Johnson who died in 1946 might receive a posthumous pardon. In 1913 the first black heavyweight champion was convicted of violating the Mann Act, which outlawed the transportation of women across state lines for immoral purposes. The House of Representatives has recommended the pardon. Johnson became champion in 1908, fled the country in 1913 and returned to the U.S. in 1920. He served nearly one year at the federal prison in Leavenworth, Kansas.


She has been an embarrassment in interviews.

- Bob Herbert, New York Times.

Quotes of the Day:

Mr. McCain wanted to be the true revolutionary in the room, but his is the Reagan revolution, and right now, at least, it's not morning in America anymore.

-Alessandra Stanley, The New York Times, September 27, 2008

To be fair, it had been a very long week for McCain, what with ruling out the debate, ruling in the debate and returning to a Senate from which he has been AWOL so long that it's believed his desk is now being used to store janitorial supplies.

- Gail Collins, The New York Times, September 27, 2008


What John McCain did last night was very white. What's sad is that he might not even be aware of it. Maybe even his campaign people are clueless. You can disagree with a person but don't keep saying over and over that the person doesn't understand the problem or question. How often does this happen in a classroom or boardroom? A white person decides they have to explain something to a person of color. We just don't understand. McCain attempted to keep the old boys club white yesterday. Obama just doesn't understand. It's not that he might have a different view - it's just that he doesn't understand. Well what I understand and I hope the nation does is that it's this McCain type of arrogance that too often creeps into foreign affairs.

People of color (even if they have the bomb) are not ready and just don't understand how the world runs. The McCains of the world make mistake after mistake and then turn around and pretend they are experts. Didn't someone have to whisper the correct answer into McCain's ear during his visit to Iraq? What McCain doesn't understand is that too many of us understand what he was saying last night.

Now was I "reading" race into the debate? Yep! Some people just don't understand...

Friday, September 26, 2008

MICHON MICHON :http://www.eclectique916.com/


Did you ever think McCain was going to skip the debate? Of course not. Now the television ratings will be high on a Friday night. Maybe one bra strap will go unhooked because of this. One more condom saved for another rainy day. Will it determine how you vote in November? I doubt it. Everyone is working on their spin right now and the debate hasn't even aired. According to Palin we already won the war in Iraq. Did you know that Bush? This means McCain doesn't have to mention the word surge a thousand times tonight- right?

Nothing is really over until the black man dances.


Holy smoke! YOU were smoking in that response to my Obama essay. Thanks for the thoughtful and nuanced (and often funny) reply to this piece, BrerBert, and for posting it on your blog. Probe on, Mr. Wizard!

Charles Johnson just sent me a copy of his essay that's in the latest issue of Shambhala Sun (November 2008). "The Meaning of Barack Obama" is written from Johnson's Buddhist perspective. It provided me with an opportunity to develop more probes; ideas that scholars might need to examine under conditions of deep thought and reflection.

Johnson begins his essay by mentioning how the general election in November might be an opportunity to take the temperature of racial attitudes in American at the dawn of a new century.
I like Johnson's medical reference here. I've always felt the major question of the 21st Century is the one that appears in THE SALT EATERS by Toni Cade Bambara. "Do you want to be well?"
Thank you Minnie Ransom. Sorry Dr. DuBois - we are moving beyond the Color Line. Is America well? Do we have "race" fever? Back in 1877 we caught what was known as Liberia Fever. Obama Fever should make us all reach for the thermometer. But what is America's normal temperature? One man's hot is another man's cold.

Johnson writes in his essay that "race is our grandest lived delusion and grief-causing fiction."
I don't know about this. It seems we give race a bad name these days. We talk about race as if it was a bad hairstyle. Do we want everyone to have cornrows? I don't think so. Why don't we look at race as being one of the wonderful things to celebrate instead of something to shed? Why must we see Race as a cocoon and buy into the concept that only butterflies are free? What is this about? I think the struggle is against racism and prejudice and not race. The challenge is similar to the one Ellington faced. How do we keep this Big World Band playing together? Should only white people get to solo? Pass me some more Strayhorn and let's get this composition right.
I thought I heard Johnny Hodges say...

The focus on the belief that the upcoming election is about Obama and race misses the big picture. Obama is more representative of the technological transformation of our society. How his campaign is being run is what will determine the character and the content of our lives. Obama is opening the door to a new form of participatory democracy. His impact on local elections should help us better organize. What he has done is refined his skills as a community organizer and placed it on a national level. Let's bring in McLuhan here and see how Obama represents the new global village. His ancestry is very symbolic but too often we examine it without looking at all of the symbols. Mother from Kansas? How come we don't talk about the Kansas of John Brown? Kansas key to the making of America. Bleeding Kansas as important as throwing tea into the ocean around Boston. Father from Kenya? Where are we always tracing man's beginnings back to? Early footprints always seem to be around Kenya and Tanzania. Indonesia? The largest Muslim populated nation in the world. Obama is influenced by all of this.
America's biggest future challenge might not be race but instead religion. Even Obama seems reluctant to use his middle name. What will it mean if he is elected and sworn in and folks hear his middle name mentioned? What will it mean when he places his hand on the bible and takes the oath? A coming together of Islamic and Christian roots? Obama is not a Muslim but his grandfather was. This will only keep us divided if we are backwards looking. If we look forward we begin to see a new world attempting to move beyond the duality of things. We are moving beyond black and white because even television long ago moved beyond black and white. People are finally able to see color. Whew...didn't it take us a long time? Now we are talking about going digital. Are you ready? No place for racism in a digital world. Many of us will be left behind and might as well be pirates living off the coast of Somalia. Like Palin's Rapture many of us might get left behind if we can't even "imagine" where Alaska is. Which brings one back to Obama and the link to Hawaii. In a symbolic way America by moving further West has now come closer to the East. If you wanted to know who was coming after Reagan (and California), well it looks like Obama and Hawaii. The symbolism here shouldn't be lost and perhaps that's why we need to look to creative writers and poets to help usher in the new era. It's why I advocate that we need to pursue visionary literature and recognize at this historical moment we are the children of Whitman.

Back to a probe. Some scholar(s) need to examine Iowa and the issue of race. Why did so many white people in this state vote for Obama? Was it about Obama's race or was it how he ran his campaign? What really happened in Iowa? Remember how certain places were almost linked to whiteness? Iowa was one of them. Ironic or symbolic?

Obama is the face of our changing world. If we find him exotic it's only because we have always found the exotic in names, places and style. Obama brings it all together under the sphere of the cool. The man is Miles coming after the hot wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The question is whether the rebirth of the cool will coincide with the return of the Cold War. We only have to monitor Russia's actions the next few months. Is it just a matter of weeks before Russian boats return to the Caribbean?

Charles Johnson in his essay writes about how Obama and his wife Michelle are avatars of a new black America. The word avatar has begun to enter our vocabulary. Is it now possible to "dream" a world? Might we be capable of creating the Beloved Community - on line (at least)?
Something to ponder especially when we know that too often worlds collide. Which might bring us back to Johnson's Buddhist principles and beliefs. Maybe race is an illusion as much as this thing we now call life. Which brings me back to those early Obama speeches that came out of Iowa - Now's The Time. Sounds very much like Charlie Parker and Miles.

Obama represents the new music. Many of us can hear it - we just can't play it yet. November is either a major concert or just another dress rehearsal. We could all be stuck in our black and white costumes and going nowhere. Our horns broken by our own hands.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


McCain 64%
Obama 36%

On the map Obama had only won in DC and Hawaii. Guess where I live?

Quote of the Day:

I think this thing is ordained - it's providence. This is a sweeping movement. It's bigger than him, it's bigger than all of us. I think this is going to be such a pivotal moment in history that you can measure time by B.B., Before Barack, and A.B., After Barack. That's what I feel is going to happen.

- Spike Lee

Congrats to Susan Cheever who has a new book out.

Mayor Fenty recently appointed Ms. Gloria Nauden to become the new executive director of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. She replaces Tony Gittens. The media should interview and profile this woman. What is her vision for the arts in Washington? Why was she appointed? Who was on the short list and how short was the list?

The Folger Poetry and Lectures 2008/09 listing:

Special Issue: Muslim Journal, Vol. 34, No.1, October 3, 2008
Tribute to Imam W. Deen Mohammed who recently died.

Palin Watch:

See Doonesbury cartoon in today's (9/25/08) Washington Post. LOL. LOL.

Where Rivers Meet

Words and Music by Chilean-American Artists Francisco Letelier and Jacqueline Fuentes

Letelier Theater
3251 Prospect Street NW in Georgetown
Tuesday, October 14, 7 pm

This event is free but seating is limited. Please rsvp to: emilyh@ips-dc.org. For more details, see the web site of the Institute for Policy Studies.

The Institute for Policy Studies is honored to host this special event featuring poetry and art by Francisco Letelier and music by Jacqueline Fuentes, both Chilean-American artists based in Los Angeles. Join us as these remarkable artists create a vision of possibility through images, words and music.

Francisco Letelier is well-known for his moving visual art and public murals, as well as for his powerful spoken word poetry, which examines and celebrates struggles for human rights. He is the son of Orlando Letelier, the Chilean diplomat who was assassinated by agents of former dictator Augusto Pinochet on his way to work at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC, in 1976. Francisco has carried on the legacy of Chilean culture, creating opportunities which bridge continents and disciplines.

Jacqueline Fuentes is an intense experience, a fusion of love, awareness and revolution. Audiences are mesmerized by the power of her voice and the beauty of her lyrics. The volatile political injustices of her native Chile, culminating with the 1973 coup d'etat, gave a voice to folk music and the plight of the people it represented. Jacqueline was heavily influenced by this movement and by such great artists as Mercedes Sosa and Violeta Parra, not only for the beauty of their music but how it had the power to move so many people. Crossing the boundaries of language, religion, and geography their music formed a collective of inspiration and solidarity.

This event is free but seating is limited. Entrance to the building is in the courtyard. See the Letelier Theater website for more information.Please RSVP to emilyh@ips-dc.org.

This performance is in honor of this year’s Letelier-Moffit Human Rights awardees, the Indian Workers Congress and Francisco Soberón and Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH) of Peru for their courageous advocacy of human rights.

The 32nd Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights awards program will take place Wednesday, October 15, at the National Press Club — visit the event page for more details or to purchase tickets.

The Institute for Policy Studies has hosted this event every year since the assassination of IPS colleagues Orlando Letelier and Ronni Karpen Moffitt in 1976.

Sarah Anderson
Director, Global Economy Program
Institute for Policy Studies
Tel: 202 234-9382 x227
Email: saraha@igc.org
Web: www.ips-dc.org
Institute for Policy Studies
1112 16th Street, NW
Suite 600
Washington, DC 20036

The Palin Watch:

McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin, was canceling her limited campaign events. She told the "CBS Evening News" that the country could be headed for another Great Depression if Congress doesn't reach a solution.

How limited? Very limited. Will Alaska be spared the Depression if we pray?

The Department of Afro-American Studies Howard University


Discussants: Dr. James A. Miller and Dr. Michele Simms-Burton
Moderator: E. Ethelbert Miller

Thursday, September 25, 2008
The Browsing Room
Founders Library

For additional information: 202 806-7242.

A new issue of Poet Lore magazine is coming out in a few weeks.

Subscribe and support poetry. Share this information with a friend.

Last night Jody Bolz and I had a Poet Lore meeting. We selected some wonderful new poems.
Hey Poets! Keep sending us the good stuff. Thanks.
Quote of the Day:

In the past few days, Obama has had the demeanor of a man who fell out a window and landed on a trampoline; McCain has looked like someone who thought he had won the lottery only to discover, en route to the prize ceremony, that he had been sold a phony ticket.

- John Cassidy, The New Yorker, September 29, 2008.
What is tolerance? It is the consequence of humanity. W are all formed of frailty and error; let us pardon reciprocally each other's folly - that is the first law of nature.

- Voltaire

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The World of Poetry According to ?
Maybe one day when I'm my mother's age I'll be invited to The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival for a reading. The festival is this weekend (September 25-28) in Waterloo Village -Stanhope, New Jersey.
Tickets and complete program at


McCain looked so silly today. It was an Al Haig moment. Impulsive to a fault. Suspending his campaign and rushing back to Washington. What is this guy going to do? Stop at Ben's on U and grab a hot dog? McCain is only a senator. No one elected him president of anything. Shouldn't he be also thinking about North Korea tonight?

Obama got it right when he mentioned how a president has to deal with multiple issues at one time. OK - should we vote right now? Obama 08.

Palin Watch:
Another Vogue Moment: Kissinger sitting with Palin.
Smile Alaska.

Quote of the Day:

It's hard to imagine that John McCain and Sarah Palin still want advice from the Unwise Man Kissinger. It's sort of like villagers in those old movies who bring in the wizened witch doctor to shake a stick over them.

- Maureen Dowd, The New York Times, September 24, 2008.

Sometimes I only call to undress you.
Press the buttons of your lips against
my ears. There is a zipper of space
between us. We wear too many clothes.
My hands are suffocating as I write this.
My pants want you to open the door.

- E. Ethelbert Miller

We have to face the fact that either all of us are going to die together or we are going to learn to live together, and if we are to live together we have to talk.

- Eleanor Roosevelt

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

University of the District of Columbia Fall “Literature Live” Series

The University of the District of Columbia will present two literary programs as part of the “Literature Live” Reading Series.

On Thursday, October 2nd, U.D.C. Writer-in-Residence Marita Golden will deliver a lecture:
“Why We Read Why We Write.”

Professor Golden will discuss her reading and writing life and her interviews with a dozen African-American writers from Dr. John Hope Franklin and Nikki Giovanni to Nathan McCall and J. California Cooper on how writing and reading shaped their personal and professional in their lives.

On Thursday November 6th poet Dwayne Betts will read from his forthcoming memoir
“A Question of Freedom.” The reading will be followed by a panel discussion about the high rates of Black male incarceration and ways to prevent imprisonment and recidivism.

Both presentations will be held at 7 pm in building 41 A-03 on the campus of the University of the District of Columbia

U.D.C. is located at 4200 Connecticut Avenue N.W. Washington, D.C. 20008
For more information call 202-274-5553

“Evolutionary Momentum in African American Studies—
Legacy and Future Direction”

A Conference in Honor of Professor Winston Napier

On February 27-28, 2009, Clark University will host a conference in honor of Professor Winston Napier. We are writing to you, as previous participants in the African American Intellectual Culture Series at Clark, to invite your participation in this conference.

The focus of the conference is to honor Professor Napier’s passion for the contributions of African American intellectual culture to advancing and broadening the study of Blacks in America, to deepening our understanding of race through the lenses of humanities, and to laying a sophisticated and multi-faceted groundwork for social and political action. As the founder of the African Intellectual Culture Series (AAICS) at Clark, Professor Napier set in motion and oversaw a decade-long annual lecture series that drew prominent scholars and artists to Clark.

We seek the participation of former participants in the African American Intellectual Culture Series to form the core for panels at the conference. We envision a conference that reaches to the past and articulates priorities for future study and that encompasses the broad span of intellectual inquiry and creativity that has characterized the AAICS. The keynote speaker for the conference will be Dr. Karla F.C. Holloway, who is the James B. Duke Professor of English and Professor of Law at Duke University. Dr. Holloway was an AAICS participant in 1998.

The Saturday session for the conference will include a series of panels on topics related to the conference theme. The topics for the panels are yet very general, but the following list will give you an idea of what we have in mind. We are, however, flexible and will work to arrange panels around themes and topics of interest to those who would like to participate.

1. Opening panel: “The Role of the Intellectual in African American Culture”
2. Literary Theory and African American Studies
3. Explorations of Gender Identity and African American Culture
4. Historical Legacy of Black Arts
5. Bridges to/from African American Studies and other disciplines

We are now in the process of organizing the conference and preparing the schedule of events. It would be helpful to hear from you by October 6 if you would like to participate. Please provide a brief statement describing the topic/theme on which you would like to speak. If you have questions or comments, please feel free to write to either of us.

Fern Johnson and Stephen Levin
Department of English, Clark University

The proposal , which is now being negotiated with Congressional leaders, would give the Treasury secretary the authority to buy any assets from any financial institution at any price that he deemed necessary to provide stability to the financial markets. And it asserts that neither the courts nor any administrative agency would be allowed to question or review those decisions.

We've seen this kind of over-reaching from the Bush administration before. It has usurped far too many powers under a banner of urgency - think wiretapping - and abused those powers. Now, Congress and the American people are being told that unless they quickly approve sweeping executive powers for the bailout, capitalism may collapse. Even if this administration weren't so untrustworthy, rushing ahead would be a bad idea.

Congrats to novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie for being awarded a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Award. Adichie is the author of HALF OF A YELLOW SUN.
In the words of Brent Staples:

Mr. Obama seems to understand that he is always an utterance away from a statement - or a phrase - that could transform him in a campaign ad from the affable, rational and racially ambiguous candidate into the archetypical angry black man who scares off the white vote.
His caution is evident from the way he sifts and searches the language as he speaks, stepping around words that might push him into the danger zone.

These maneuvers are often painful to watch. The troubling part is that they are necessary.

The New York Times, September 22, 2008.
Quote of the Day:

It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?

- George Will, The Washington Post, September 23, 2008



Hey - where did Lady Obama go? Hey Media - where is Lady Obama? I haven't seen this woman since the Democratic Convention. Have you? And those cute little Obama kids...where did they go?


I was reading the latest issue of Politico and came across this statement by Julian Zelizer describing the debate between Carter and Reagan:

When debate night finally came, Carter demonstrated an impressive command of the details of public policy and the issues facing the nation. But Reagan offered a superb performance in front of the cameras.

Americans pick their leaders the way we now select winners on American Idol or Dancing With The Stars. It has nothing to do with knowledge or experience.

Now, let me tell you a joke. The media would have you believe that race is a major factor in the upcoming election. The media will also tell you that many American voters are undecided about who they will vote for. Doesn't this sound strange? I don't think Obama is going to turn white before or after the debates. So if the issue is race what is there to decide?

Do you think it will all come down to the number of votes Ralph Nader receives? It's all about Nader right? So who is going to be the "culprit" if Obama loses. Here is my Christmas list:

- White woman older than my mom.
- Jewish voters in Florida who looked for Sammy Davis on the ballot.
- White men with only high school degrees living in Ohio and believe Obama went to Kent State.
- Cuban American voters in Florida upset with Obama no longer smoking.
- Black people who didn't vote and said their vote didn't count.
- Native Americans living in South Dakota who believed the vote was another broken promise.
- Muslims who didn't vote for Obama because they thought he was a Muslim.

I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.

- James Baldwin

Monday, September 22, 2008


What if the upcoming national election was another 911. A moment that turns or shapes our nation in such a way that we cannot go back to the way things were. The crossing of a border or boundary. A new way of looking at the world or a way of looking at the world without hope. Take your pick. An Obama victory will bring back the Joe Louis leap; the shadowboxing knockout of one's fears and disbelief. A victory will bring back the Jackie Robinson slide underneath a Yogi McCain tag. Republicans as shocked by the call as the daring of a black man trying to steal home or enter the White House.

An Obama defeat and one will believe every white person has a hood in their closet and had a change of heart in the ballot booth. An Obama defeat and blacks nationalists will have new t-shirts to sell, proclaiming how the election was stolen and how black people were turned away from the voting booths in large numbers. Of course some voting machines didn't work. Cornel West will have eight long sentences explaining why you should buy his next book and how the election script reminded him of The Matrix. Maybe I should wait for The Oracle to fix a new batch of cookies. What do you think? Deja vu all over again?


So Sarah will shake a few hands and take pictures with a few world leaders. Look for her to hug Kissinger and understand "instant" foreign policy. Did someone order it to go? Please pass the language tapes since we're trying to learn quickly. Folks better go heavy with the cosmetics. The upcoming debate ain't nothin but a beauty pageant. Smile, say nothing and get elected. Geez.

Polar Bear Moms for Obama.

Why is NBC giving us CRUSOE starting October 17???

After Friday comes Saturday and Sunday. We need a rest from these images.

Quote of the Day:

This is going to sound pretentious, but I try to be a 1950s public intellectual in 2008, in 800 words.

- David Brooks (The Pundit)
Yes, David it does sound pretentious. Very, very pretentious. Too pretentious for me.

Ichiro Watch:

Just a few more games left before playoffs.

This is where Ichiro is right now:
Tied for 1st in hits in the AL (205).
6th in batting.
2nd in steals.
Tied for 6th in triples.

Cool Poppa Jerry got a brand new book:

THE KATRINA PAPERS: A JOURNAL OF TRAUMA AND RECOVERY by Jerry W. Ward will be published by the University of New Orleans Press in November 2008.

You may get information about the book by accessing http://www.unopress.uno.edu/

View the September 22, 2008 issue of note.

Grace A. Ali continues to be amazing...
For Release
22 September 2008
Contact: Kathy Engel 631 537 5792
Bastienne Schmidt 631 537 8859

A Sea of East End Women For Obama for Video Shoot

22 September 2008, Sagaponack, NY:

On Sunday September 14 at a small gathering photographer Philippe Cheng said that he envisioned “a sea of women’s faces” in support of Obama, and to counter the curve ball Palin pick by McCain. The following Sunday, September 21, after less than a week in planning, more than 425 women of all ages, calling themselves Obama Mama’s, from different communities and backgrounds, flooded a Sagaponack, New York, field for a video shoot in support of Obama.

Signs abounded, like “Listen to your Mama, Vote Obama!”, as did enough energy to re-light Yankee Stadium.

The message was clear: If you care about women, vote Obama/Biden.
Men came to support and schlepped. Children held signs.

$1,180 were raised for Vote Ohio Today.
Local singer/songwriter Terry Winchell wrote a new song the night before which the crowd echoed: Yes We Can! Yes We Will!
She was accompanied by ThunderBird Sister singer Becky Genia.

In response to phone calls the day before, internationally recognized cinematographer Don Lenzer joined in, Jackson of Ray Smith and Associates brought their “cherry picker” for the overhead shot, and Mike Clarke and Jim Lawler from Crossroads music showed up with a sound system.

It was a day where community filled the Sagaponack sky and a whole bunch of women made it clear as they joined hands and raised their arms toward the sky, and the cherry picker (!), that they will make sure women get to the polls to vote.

Photographer Bastienne Schmidt said of the experience: “I was totally impressed by the quick succession of having a simple idea and seeing it transformed into an amazing reality of 425 people gathering on Daniel’s Lane in Sagaponack of women for Obama.”
I spoke with Greg Mosson today. Here is what he is doing:

A morning meeting with Andy and Pam at Busboys (14th & V). Much laughter for breakfast.

The new Busboys and Poets will open for dinner - this Wednesday evening. Come visit the new place located at 5th & K Street, NW. This will be third Busboys in the area. Holly Bass will be coordinating the literary events at this site. A sweet home for the Baby Diva who continues to be amazing. Look for Busboys to move next into publishing with their own Imprint. First book off the grill will be Ethelbert's memoir "The 5th Inning." One should be able to taste the sentences and paragraphs of this book in late March 2009.

New Book:

Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918 by Jeffrey B. Perry.

This Columbia University Press publication is scheduled to be in bookstores by November/December 2008.

Memorial for Jason Shinder will be held at the New School in NYC

October 17, 2008 at 7:00 PM.