Saturday, May 31, 2014


Now and then you meet someone you immediately find amazing. This morning I sat in the Phillips Collection's courtyard cafe with the scholar Joyce Tsai. We had a wonderful conversation touching on art, philosophy and history. Joyce is an assistant professor of Modern and Contemporary Art at the University of Florida (Gainesville). She is a Phillips Collection -George Washington University Postdoctoral Fellow.We met on Thursday when the Phillips Collection invited a number of scholars and curators to help plan an upcoming Jacob Lawrence art exhibit. I hope to continue my conversations with Joyce and share some of her ideas in my E-Notes.

Photo by Ethelbert

The Miller Classic

Just a few more days until The Miller Classic is played at the Bennington Writing Seminars.
Poets against fiction writers. This will be the 9th year of softball fun.

Instead of a ring or a book published the writers on the winning team will be awarded T-Shirts designed by Godson - Cameron Jones.

# 52

There is a death that swims inside you
and what is love but this death
something we fail to grasp or hold
as if we were ourselves amazed by
waves of wonder struggling to live.

  - E. Ethelbert Miller
# 51

You are horizon and dream
Where I wish to go and what I wish to believe in

   - E. Ethelbert Miller

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Quote of the Day

“I should have resisted the culture of corruption running rampant in our city."
    - Former Council member Michael Brown.

Note from Melissa Tuckey

I’m seeking poems for Ghost Fishing: An Eco-Justice Poetry Anthology to be published by University of Georgia Press.  Will consider both previously published and unpublished work.  Poems which have not been previously published will be considered for a special edition of Poetry Magazine in collaboration with Split This Rock.  Deadline is July 30th.  
The anthology will include poems at the intersection of social justice and the environment, poems that recognize our human impact on the natural world as well as the political and cultural dimensions of our relationship to the environment.  

I'm looking for nature poems on topics such as migration, exile, gentrification, war, food justice, farming, resource extraction, privatization, environmental health, relations with the nonhuman world, climate change, as well as poems that celebrate our connections to the natural world and to each other, new roots and paradigms: community building, urban gardens, farmer’s markets, healthy foods, homesteading (urban, suburban, and rural), protest, resistance, peace-making.   Other topics that fit within the theme are welcome.  

The anthology will be multi-cultural, international, and will include both contemporary poetry and poems of our fore-bearers.  

Please do share this call with poets whose work you admire, whose work fits thematically. 

Questions?  Send me an email! >  

To submit poems send them by email to <>  as a word attachment with your name & contact info on the poems.  Please note any publication or copyright info on the poems. 

Many thanks & looking forward to your poems!

Melissa Tuckey

Author Tenuous Chapel  
Co-founder & board member, Split This Rock


Wednesday, May 28, 2014

# 50

Gray sky.
Your love
makes me thirsty
for drops of rain.

   - E. Ethelbert Miller


I only had one conversation with Maya Angelou. It took place on November 13, 1997 when I placed 12 African American authors on postage stamps issued by Uganda and Ghana. Angelou that day was extremely gracious. I knew the nation of Ghana was special to her. The support she gave to my project made it a special day in my literary life.


“Race In America: Where Are We Now?” Presidents Day ...
Feb 17, 2013 - Presidents Day Weekend Symposium Begins with “Jackie Robinson Steals ... Presented by EEthelbert Miller,
Reading: To Kill a King
By Joshua Ford
Monday, June 30 at 7:30 pm
Directed by Craig Wallace
Locally Grown: Community Supported Art Festival
Tickets: $10 per person

To Kill a King tells the story of the Memphis Sanitation Workers' strike in 1968, an unplanned work stoppage that began by accident, was prolonged by intransigence and ended in tragedy. At the center of the conflict stand the individuals whose actions large and small helped determine the fates of 1200 strikers and one reverend from Atlanta.

Joshua FordJoshua Ford is a Helen Hayes Award-nominated playwright, whose comedy Miklat premiered at Theater J in 2002 and went on to run at regional and Jewish theaters across the United States. To Kill a King is his first play in twelve years during which time he was busy serving in multiple positions at the Washington DCJCC including director of the Washington Jewish Film Festival and Chief Program Officer. He has continued to write and has been a contributor to The Blog at 16th and Q (,EJewishPhilanthropy and his personal blog  His wife Melissa is also a writer and blogger, and together they are raising their 9-year-old boy-girl twins.

Locally Grown Festival Media Sponsor
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Library of Congress

05/27/2014 03:03 PM EDT

Tuesday, June 3, 12:00 Noon

As part of the week-long LGBT pride celebration in Washington, DC, the Library of Congress in hosting an inaugural event with readings by established and emerging gay and lesbian poets Joan Larkin, Kamilah Aisha Moon, D. A. Powell, and Dan Vera. The event will also feature a display of the Library's rare LGBT materials. Book sales and a signing will follow. The event is free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the Library of Congress Rare Books and Special Collections Division, and presented in partnership with Capital Pride.

Location: LJ-119, Thomas Jefferson Building (first floor)
Contact: (202) 707-5394


Thomas Stanley's new book - The Execution of Sun Ra arrived in the mail yesterday.
I'm reading the book from back to front. Stanley includes an interview he did with Sun Ra in October 1990 near the end of the book. Also before one reaches the back cover there are many interesting Sun Ra  gems - things he once said that our ears can now wear with long pants.

Here is a link to an interview I did with T. Stanley. The Sun continues to rise - why the darkness in our lives?  Can't we touch the light?  It smells sweet and looks fabulous.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Poetry of Sam Hamod

of paradise

sometimes we wonder
why it is
we were sent
into this wonderful
earth, with all the fields, lakes
trees, flowers, fish, deer, skies
so blue, and white clouds floating
puffing themselves across the heavens,
and where did our idea of heaven
come from, especially
since it was already here,
there was water to drink
food to eat from the trees
eggs from birds
grasses whose aroma told us,
“eat, and eat some more,”
and then lie down
for this is paradise, you have
but to enjoy it, and be pleased
have your woman or your man
with you, so that you are never lonely
and share with others
so that you might increase your world
with the happiness you have
from this bountiful place

© sam hamod, 5.23.14

Monday, May 26, 2014


On June 21st the Poets will take on the Fiction writers in the 9th Annual Miller Classic softball game on the Bennington campus.

I remember playing fondly. As I recall I got a hold of a pitch off Tom Bissell and put a mark on one of the dorms. Bennington is a special place.

     - Jeremy Voigt


Countless pictures have been taken of President Obama. The ones that always seem special are the photos taken when he is among African American military troops. There is a special pride that flows from soldier to president and back again. It's Obama as Commander in Chief that pulsates in the captured images. Above is Obama at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.
The extended hands of the President and the soldier is Leonardo Da Vinci at his best. The handshake is one of brotherhood. In the picture are many people taking pictures. There are many hands here. One rests on the President's back beneath an angelic glow.


Saturday, June 28, 2014 - 4:30pm to 6:30pm

The Heritage Center
701 Pennsylvania Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20004

A program of poetry and music by Dolores Kendrick, Poet Laureate of the District of Columbia and featuring the music of SynchroniCity.

RSVP for your free tickets here: 
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delanceyplace header
Today's selection -- from Cubed by Nikil Saval. By the mid-1800s, that strange creature, the office worker, was starting to be more and more prevalent in American cities. The 1855 census recorded clerks as the New York City's third largest occupation, behind servants and laborers. The office worker didn't seem to do or make anything, in fact, he seemed to do little but copy things. But the emerging class of office workers wanted to differentiate themselves from mere laborers, and the best way to do that was through their attire:

"[In America in the 1800s, there was] the sense that office work was unnatural. In a world in which shipping and farming, building and assembling, were the order of work, the early clerical worker didn't seem to fit. The office clerk in America at the high noon of the nineteenth century was a curious creature, an unfamiliar figure, an inexplicable phenomenon. Even by 1880, less than 5 percent of the total workforce, or 186,000 people, was in the clerical profession, but in cities, where the nation's commentariat was concentrated (who themselves tended to work in office-like places), clerks had become the fastest-growing population. In some heavily mercantile cities, such as New York, they had already become ubiquitous: the 1855 census recorded clerks as the city's third largest occupational group, just behind servants and laborers.

"For many, this was a terrible development. Nothing about clerical labor was congenial to the way most Americans thought of work. Clerks didn't work the land, lay railroad tracks, make ammunitions in factories, let alone hide away in a cabin by a small pond to raise beans and live deep. Unlike farming or factory work, office work didn't produce anything. At best, it seemed to reproducethings. Clerks copied endlessly, bookkeepers added up numbers to create more numbers, and insurance men literally made more paper. For the tobacco farmer or miner, it barely constituted work at all. He (and at that point it was invariably a he) was a parasite on the work of others, who literally did the heavy lifting. Thus the bodies of real workers were sinewy, tanned by the relentless sun or blackened by smokestack soot; the bodies of clerks were slim, almost feminine in their untested delicacy.

"The lively (and unscrupulous) American press occasionally took time to level invectives against the clerk. 'We venture the assertion that there is not a more dependent or subservient set of men in this country than are the genteel, dry goods clerks in this and other large cities,' the editors of the American Whig Review held. Meanwhile, the American Phrenological Journal had stronger advice for young men facing the prospect of a clerical career. 'Be men, therefore, and with true courage and manliness dash into the wilderness with your axe and make an opening for the sunlight and for an independent home.'Vanity Fair had the strongest language of all: clerks were 'vain, mean, selfish, greedy, sensual and sly, talkative and cowardly' and spent all their minimal strength attempting to dress better than 'real men who did real work.' ...

"Clerks' attire was a glaring target for the barbs of the press, since the very concept of business attire (not to speak of business casual) came into being with the mass appearance of clerks in American cities. 'In the counting-room and the office,' wrote Samuel Wells, the author of a 'manual of republican etiquette' from 1856, 'gentlemen wear frock coats or sack coats. They need not be of very fine material, and should not be of any garish pattern.' Other fashion advisers pointed to a whole host of 'business coats,' 'business surtouts,' and 'business paletots,' which you could find at new stores like Brooks Brothers. Working-class Americans would be seen in straw hats or green blouses; what distinguished the clerk was his collar: usually bleached an immaculate white and starched into an imposing stiffness. But collared business shirts were expensive, so stores catering to the business customer began to sell collars by themselves, half a dozen collars running to under half of what a cheap shirt would cost. The white collar, detachable and yet an essential status marker, was the perfect symbol of the pseudo-genteel, dual nature of office work."

Cubed: A Secret History of the Workplace
Author: Nikil Saval 
Publisher: Doubleday a division of Random House
Copyright 2014 by Nikil Saval
Pages: 12-15

If you wish to read further: Buy Now

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Vincent Harding 1931-2014

Today Miyuki Williams invited me to call in to her radio show on WPFW and talk about Vincent Harding. Here are my "expanded" comments:

Vincent Harding was a teacher, historian, civil rights activist and mystic. He was a person committed to human liberation and The Beloved Community.

I became aware of his work in the early 1970s. My mentor, Dr. Stephen Henderson worked with Harding in Atlanta. He helped Harding with the development and running of the Institute of the Black World (IBW).

After King's assassination (1968) there was much discussion around where the Movement and Black Struggle would go. Harding first headed up the King Center and later IBW.

Derrick E. White's The Challenge of Blackness: The Institute of the Black World and Political Activism in the 1970s is a good account of the Harding years in Atlanta. At IBW Harding would be surrounded by an all-star cast of scholars and activists: Lerone Bennett Jr., Howard Dodson, Robert Hill, Joyce Ladner, William Strickland, Andrew Billingsley and others.

Two key books written by Vincent Harding are, There Is A River: The Black Struggle For Freedom in America and Hope and History: Why We Must Share the Story of the Movement.

In his book There Is A River, Harding uses the river as metaphor to describe the Black Struggle. He writes in his introduction:

So we black people are the river; the river is us. The river is in us, created by us, flowing out of us, surrounding us, re-creating us and this entire nation. I refer to the American nation without hesitation, for the black river in the United States has always taken on more than blackness.

When Vincent Harding writes about Black history he attempts to answer the big questions -
Why did certain things happen?  Why were Black people chosen for this struggle? In the midst of death and suffering how do we find the strength to love?  How do we continue to struggle and fight?

In recent published obituaries Harding is given credit for being an associate and adviser to Martin Luther King, Jr. He helped draft King's important Riverside Church anti-war speech given on April 4, 1967.

The ideas written by Harding and expressed by King are instructional for us even in 2014.
Now is the time to break the silence around so many issues - domestic as well as international.  Wars and economic problems are still present in our World House.

Vincent Harding taught us how to look beyond the past and future. He knew that without vision we lose the sense of our great power to transcend history and create a better tomorrow.

Harding will be missed - but there is a river. His work teaches us how to navigate our destiny.
We no longer need to be haunted by the shores of darkness. Vincent Harding taught us how to believe in the light.


Saturday, May 24, 2014

Call for Panelists
Thank you from all of us at the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities (DCCAH) to all of you who nominated either yourselves or your colleagues in response to our initial call for panelists.

We are still seeking Advisory Review Panelists for the FY15 grant season due to the increased number of applications we have received. Demand is particularly strong within the following grant programs::
  •  Artist Fellowship Program - Visual and Literary Arts;
  •  City Arts Projects; and
  •  East of the River.
As mentioned in a previous email, panelists are integral to the DCCAH's grants process because they review applications, provide comments, and score applications in order to recommend recipients of DCCAH grant awards. If you believe you or someone you know would be a particularly good fit for one of the grant programs listed above, please mention that in your letter of interest, as instructed at the end of this email.

The DCCAH offers 9 grant programs which will be paneled during the summer of 2014 including: 

Grant ProgramSummary
Arts Education ProgramProject-based arts & humanities programming for Pre K-18 & professional development opportunities
Artist Fellowship ProgramIndividual artist grant for artistic excellence
City Arts ProjectsProject-based programming
Cultural Facilities ProjectsProject-based capital improvements and purchase of arts & humanities facilities
East of the RiverGeneral operating support and project support to programs that impact residents of Wards 7 & 8
Grants in AidGeneral operating support
Public Art Building CommunitiesTemporary and permanent public art projects
Sister Cities International Arts GrantProject-based cultural exchange programming
UPSTARTOrganizational capacity-building

Panelists will have 4-6 weeks to review a maximum of 35 applications. Prior to the panel meeting, the DCCAH estimates that a panelist will spend 20 hours reviewing applications on-line. All advisory panel meetings will take place at the DCCAH office and most meetings last one business day or less.

Panelists are appointed to one panel per year for a maximum of three consecutive years and do not receive compensation. 

Résumés must include the nominee's full name and home address along with professional experience, knowledge and skills related to the arts. All applications will receive a confirmation of acceptance within 48 hours of submission. The DCCAH staff will contact nominees to confirm interest and availability if a nominee is being considered to serve on an advisory review panel.

To submit your letter of interest and resume, email Steven Mazzola or call 202-724-5613.
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The student debt crisis in America has reached staggering heights. In 2012, it was widely reported that student loan debt reached $1.2 trillion, surpassing Americans’ total credit card debt for the first time.
Our new report, “The One Percent at State U,” exposes how public university presidents are profiting from rising student debt and low-wage faculty labor. The report — featured in The New York TimesTIMECBSGawker, and others — found that the amount of student debt and the number of low-wage faculty are rising faster at the 25 state universities with the highest-paid presidents.
In addition, a recent SEIU report found that two-thirds of all faculty in U.S. higher education work on a contingent basis — facing low pay, little or no benefits, and no job security. This decline of university professors in favor of part-time and contingent faculty has long-term consequences for the quality of higher education. In a recent survey, 98% of adjuncts said they were "missing opportunities to better serve their students because of the demands of their schedule."
Reports like "The One Percent at State U" help expose worsening inequality in our country: As college presidents get richer, students are getting poorer and the quality of education is declining. It also helps those working to fix America’s student debt crisis paint a clear picture of the harsh realities faced by students and educators every day.
We believe that addressing inequality in public universities is an essential part of addressing income inequality in general. Help us spread the word about rising student debt and low-wage faculty labor by sharing our report or our infographic of its key findings.
John Cavanagh
Institute for Policy Studies

05/23/2014 01:04 PM EDT

Friday, May 30, 12:00 Noon

Poets Rowan Ricardo Phillips and Tim Seibles will celebrate the birthday of American poet Countee Cullen by reading selections from his work and discussing his influence on their own writing. This event is free and open to the public, and will feature a display from the Library’s collections. Co-sponsored by the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress.

Location: Whittall Pavilion, Thomas Jefferson Building (ground floor)
Contact: (202) 707-5394

Friday, May 23, 2014

So glad it's Friday but still much to do. Reviewing Vincent Harding's work in preparation for an interview I have to give on Sunday about his life and work. Harding died this week. Yesterday while I was on the Howard campus I pulled a copy of Hope and History from the shelf.

I plan to read Ta-Nehisi Coates essay in The Atlantic magazine - by this afternoon.
Much chatter about it.

I started reading Jesmyn Ward's Men We Reaped.

Ward takes the title of her book from a quote by Harriet Tubman:

We saw the lightning and that was the guns, and then we heard the thunder and that was the big guns; and then we heard the rain falling and that was the blood falling; and when we came to get in the crops, it was dead
men that we reaped.


Thursday, May 22, 2014

Watch Now »

Ta-Nehisi Coates on the Case for Reparations

Ta-Nehisi Coates, a senior editor at The Atlantic magazine, thinks it’s time for a bold step to change the way we talk and think about race in America. This week, Bill speaks to Coates about his June cover story for the magazine, provocatively titled “The Case for Reparations.” In it, Coates argues that we have to dig deeper into our past and the original sin of slavery, confronting the institutional racism that continues to pervade society. From the lynching tree to today’s mass incarceration of young African-Americans, he says we need to examine our motives more intently and reconcile the moral debt and economic damage inflicted upon generations of black Americans.  Watch online »
The Atlantic cover

"The Case for Reparations"

Bill Moyers calls Ta-Nehisi Coates' cover story a "must read" for all Americans.

Read it at The Atlantic website »
Photo credit: Lauren Feeney

These Eight Charts Show Why Racial Equality Is a Myth in America

We haven't come very far at all since the Civil Rights victories of the 1960s. More »
People talking in a cafe (Flickr)

Your Turn: Reconciling Our Racist Past

Should reparations be considered? If so, what should they be, and if not, what are the alternatives? Join the conversation »
Lyndon Baines Johnson signing Civil Rights Bill, April 11, 1968

Living Apart: How the Government Betrayed a Landmark Civil Rights Law

Despite the Fair Housing Act, levels of residential segregation have barely budged in many of the large metropolitan areas where most African-Americans live. Here's why.  More »
Graduate Frederick Anderson stands in the pouring rain as President Barack Obama acknowledges him during the Morehouse College 129th Commencement ceremony, Sunday, May 19, 2013, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Getting a College Degree Won’t Protect Black Workers From the Economy’s Racial Barriers

The unemployment rate for black college graduates has been higher than for all graduates for decades. A new report says that the gap has widened since 2007.  More »
Can You Be Too Rich?

Can You Be Too Rich?

When societies allow the rich to grow into the super-rich, they are limiting what those societies can achieve, writes Umair Haque. More »
60 Years After Brown v. Board, Will Congress Revive a Dual School System?

60 Years After 'Brown v. Board', Will Congress Revive a Dual School System?

The charter school movement threatens to create two education systems, separate and unequal, writes Diane Ravitch. More »