Saturday, February 28, 2015

I was on a panel today at the "Bay To Ocean Writers Conference" held in Wye Mills, Maryland on the campus of Chesapeake College.

The panel was "Lit Mags" - Opportunities for You
Wilson Wyatt (editor and a founder of Delmarva Review) was the person who pulled everything together. Wyatt, Richard Peabody (Gargoyle), Jody Bolz (Poet Lore) and myself shared our knowledge and experience obtained from years of editing a lit mag. Jody and I have been editing Poet Lore for 13 years.

In my remarks I mentioned how important it was for a person to edit a journal. I view it as "service to the field." I view lit mags as historical documents. It's important that we find ways to develop good editors for the future.

Wilson Wyatt, Richard Peabody and Jody Bolz. Photo by Ethelbert


When cultural leaders get together only good things can happen. Yesterday Ari Roth and Sarah Browning sat down with John Cavanagh and myself at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). It's important for think tanks to also be cultural incubators. Art and culture is central to social change and helping with the development of new citizens and leaders. When Mosaic Theater joins with Split This Rock the land will begin to overflow with milk and honey. I can't wait...

Ari Roth and Sarah Browning - photo by Ethelbert


Yesterday evening I read The Adventures of Emery Jones, Boy Science Wonder - The Hard Problem by Charles Johnson and his daughter Elisheba Johnson.

This is a young adult book filled with science facts as well as philosophical and religious concepts. It's primarily however an enjoyable read. At the center of this book is the friendship between a boy and a girl - Emery and Gabby. I like how they are smart and curious. Johnson and Johnson have given us a book in which black characters have adventures that are fun and exciting. This is the type of book many parents and librarians will love. It's a book that begs to be turned into animation. Emery Jones needs to be on the big screen. I "wonder" when that will happen.


02/25/2015ListenAmiri Baraka is Back in the BuildingAMIRI BARAKA

Friday, February 27, 2015

A Radical Challenge | February 27, 2015

The Buddha presented a radical challenge to the way we see the world, both the world that was seen two millennia ago and the world that is seen today. What he taught is not different, it is not an alternative, it is the opposite. That the path that we think will lead us to happiness leads instead to sorrow. That what we believe is true is instead false. That what we imagine to be real is unreal. A certain value lies in remembering that challenge from time to time.

- Donald S. Lopez, Jr., "The Scientific Buddha"


Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your weave.

The genius of Paul Beatty is back.

Thursday, February 26, 2015


Today I received my "15th Annual Washington DC Hall of Fame" invitations. The big black tie event will be held on April 19th at the Liaison Capitol Hill.
Nice to see I will be inducted into the Hall with my friend Donald M. Temple.
Looking forward to seeing former mayor Sharon Pratt who will be the Mistress of Ceremonies.


Tuesday, March 3, 1:00-5:00 PM

The Poetry and Literature Center will present a series of panels exploring the connections between poetry and literacy. This event is free and open to the public. Co-sponsored by the Library of Congress Literacy Awards.

Hour-long panels include the following:

1:00 PM: Poetry and Literacy in the Schools featuring Terry M. Blackhawk (InsideOut Literary Arts Project), Amy Swauger (Teachers & Writers Collaborative), and Robin Reagler (Writers in the Schools)

2:15 PM: Poetry and Literacy with At-Risk Populations featuring Roland Legiardi-Laura (Power Poetry), Tara Libert (Free Minds Book Club & Writing Workshop), and Aaron Zimmerman (New York Writers Coalition)

3:30 PM: Addressing Aliteracy Through Poetry featuring Joe Callahan (826 DC), Robert Polito (Poetry Foundation), and Amy Stolls (National Endowment of the Arts)

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

Dear Friend of ASALH,
ASALH's Centennial Anniversary Celebration is now underway. In recognition of this milestone, ASALH has set the national Black history theme:

 A Century of Black Life, History and Culture.  

Americans have recognized black history annually since 1926, when Dr. Woodson first established "Negro History Week" to recognize the contributions of African Americans in American history.  Negro History week later became "Black History Month."   Read more.      

In recognition of this significant month of celebration in communities across America, we ask that you make a contribution to ensure ASALH remains strong and vital.  Your tax-deductible gift of $50, $100, $250, $500, $1,000 (or any amount) will assist us in carrying out our mission into the second century of our existence.  Your financial gift may be designated to the 2nd Century Fund, or the Centennial fund that supports ASALH's programming during this centennial year.  There are several ways you can give. You can safely place your contribution online by clicking the link below or you may mail in your contribution.  
Donate today:

We are very excited about continuing the legacy of our founder, Dr. Carter G. Woodson through the work of ASALH. Guided by a vision to study and acknowledge the significance of the historical and cultural experiences of people of African descent, our founder crafted a plan of action that remains not only relevant in today's challenging environment, but essential to our successful continuation and growth.

We hope that you will stay connected with us for updates about the Annual Meeting and Centennial Conference to be held later this year, September 23-27, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia and other Centennial activities. On behalf of the Executive Council we thank you for your consideration.



Daryl M. Scott                      
National President                                      


Photo by Ethelbert

Tuesday, February 24, 2015


It's almost March and Kirsten Porter has done an excellent job putting my Collected Poems in order.

All the poems have been selected. Kirsten will be responsible for arranging the order and writing an introduction to the book. It's been an interesting experience going back and reading old work. I had no idea how many poems I had written the last forty years. I'm hoping this book will encourage future scholars to discuss my own work and not simply my literary projects and activities.

Below is the space where many of the poems were born.


For program information contact:
Joanna Howard
For wiki and venue information, contact Jennifer King

For Immediate Release

The greater Washington, DC area literary community in partnership with The George Washington University presents A SPLENDID WAKE 3, the 3rd annual public program celebrating Poetry in the Nation’s Capital from 1900 to the Present, Friday, March 20th, 2015, from 6:30-8:30 P.M. at The George Washington University Gelman Library, Suite 702, 2130 H Street, N.W., Washington, D.C. (near Foggy Bottom Metro stop). Free and open to the public.

Join us as we continue our work of documenting poets and poetry movements in the Nation’s Capital from 1900 to the present. Our focus this vernal equinox is on Georgia Douglas Johnson and the Saturday Nighters, poet May Miller, the Federal Poets, Poetry Workshops born during “Poetry and the National Conscience conferences, and the Modern Urban Griots.

Presenters include:  Regie Cabico: Host; Kim Roberts and Michon Boston on Georgia Douglas Johnson and the Saturday Nighters; Miller Newman on May Miller; Judith McCombs on the Federal Poets with Donald Illich and Dorrit Carroll; Linda Pastan and Rod Jellema on poetry workshops with Siv Cedering, Primus St. John, Roland Flint, and others; and Toni Asanti Lightfoot on Modern Urban Griots with Brandon D. Johnson, Holly Bass and Twain Dooley.

More information about the Splendid Wake project at

usps logo (sm use)
PSTLNWS color logo

Feb. 23, 2015
Contact: Mark Saunders
202.268.6524  YouTube-social-squircle_red_24px  instagram  postalposts 

Maya Angelou to be Honored with Forever Stamp

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Postal Service will honor Maya Angelou — the beloved author, poet, actress and champion of equality — with a Forever Stamp.

“Maya Angelou inspired our nation through a life of advocacy and through her many contributions to the written and spoken word,” said Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan. “Her wide-ranging achievements as a playwright, poet, memoirist, educator, and advocate for justice and equality enhanced our culture.”
The Postal Service will preview the stamp and provide details on the date and location of the first-day-of-issuance ceremony at a later date.
The Postal Service receives no tax dollars for operating expenses and relies on the sale of postage, products and services to fund its operations.

Note from Ethelbert:
Back in the 1990s I placed Maya Angelou on a stamp issued in Ghana. Here is a link to the story.

Bernice Johnson Reagon

Last week (at Busboys)  I gave a talk on the work of Bernice Johnson Reagon.  Here is a link to the notes I wrote for her album "Give Your Hands To Struggle" reissued back in 1997.

News from Carolyn Supinka

Carolyn Supinka photo by Ethelbert

VIATOR is a literary and art journal about spaces and places. You won’t find VIATOR in a bookstore, but you may find it on a street corner or by a bus stop. We’re interested in reaching a new kind of audience. We want to reach the city itself.

Our first issue, VIATORdc, will be distributed on the streets of Washington, D.C., but we are looking for submissions of poetry, prose, photography, and other visual art inspired by any city, place, or space. You can interpret this prompt as tightly or loosely as you like.

Please email your submissions, along with your contact information, During Summer 2015, we will print VIATORdc and distribute it throughout the city in public spaces. Every contributor whose work is selected will receive a copy of the journal, and the rest will be dropped throughout the city.

Check out our website for more on submission guidelines, and Like our Facebook page to stay updated as we continue to gather submissions and put together the first issue!


Carolyn and Zenon
Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here: Commemorative Readings
Wednesday, March 4, 6:30 - 9:00pm
Brookland Busboys and Poets
625 Monroe Street, NE, Washington, DC 20017

Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here: Commemorative Readings reflects upon the 8th anniversary of the bombing of al-Mutanabbi Street in Baghdad, Iraq.
Free & open to the public. RSVP at the Facebook event page!
On March 5, 2007, a car bomb exploded on Baghdad's al-Mutanabbi Street, the legendary center of the city's literary and intellectual community, famous for its enormous selection of books in various languages and subjects. The blast killed 30 people and wounded more than 100.
There will be commemorative readings by: Sarah BrowningCasey SmithMousa Al-NasseriRobert ObaydaElliott CollaRawan AlferaehyE. Ethelbert MillerZein El-Amine, members of Split This Rock's DC Youth Slam Team, and others.
A coalition of partners is coor dinating Al-Mutanabbi Street Starts Here DC 2016 as a book arts and cultural festival planned for January through March, 2016, throughout the Washington, DC area. Exhibits, programs, and events will commemorate the 2007 bombing, celebrating the free exchange of ideas and knowledge and standing in solidarity with the people of Iraq and everywhere that free expression is threatened.
More information about the event.

Contact Helen Frederick, if you'd like to volunteer or become involved in the project.  

Monday, February 23, 2015






Additional Poets Performing!
Andra Simons, Ronnie McGrath 
& Mohamed 'MoRhymes' Mohamed!  ``
Dorothea Smartt

                  patricia foster 
  Patricia Foster 

Gemma Weekes
Gemma Weekes

Akila Richards


Tolu Agbelusi

Kadija Sesay

Why Black Bitter and Beautiful?
This was the name I used for my first ever series of poetry events that I organised at Pamela's restaurant in Dalston, East London in the 90's! we featured dub poets like Lioness Chant and Brother Resistance. I took the name from a statement James Baldwin made about Maya Angelou poems, 

" Black, bitter and beautiful, 
she speaks of our survival." 

At this day, SABLE poets and friends, Dorothea Smartt, Patricia Foster, Monika-Akila Richards, Gemma Weekes, Tolu, Agbelusi,  Ronnie McGrath  and others,
plus special guest from Los Angeles, Michael Datcher will perform in 

Black, Bitter  and Beautiful: Poets against Brutality

an evening of poetry in solidarity with #blackpoetspeakout in the US.

Like us on Facebook

It is also in protest and remembrance of those who have suffered at the hands of the authorities in the UK - men like David Oluwale, the first black man known to have died whilst in police custody in 1969 and others such as Jimmy Mubenga. In recent times the authorities escaped accountability for his death Many passengers on the plane testified that they heard Mr Mubenga say, "I can't breathe".


As 21 February is the 50 
th  anniversary of the assignation of Malcolm X, it is a timely event  to remember him as well.

Please join us for this very special event when we read poetry relevant to the current situation and honour lost lives.

MC: Kadija Sesay - Poet and Publisher of SABLE LitMag.
Books  and CD's by poets will be available for sale on the evening. Please support the arts and buy a book!


SABLE acknowledges with much thanks the support of Dr. Deirdre Osborne, Goldsmiths, University of London, Co-Convener for the MA in Black British Writing.



Date: Friday 27 February 
Time: Doors 6.30pm 
Ends: 8.30
Tickets: Free entry  
Option to buy books and cd's from the poets
Venue: Goldsmiths, University of London, Lewisham Way, London SE14
Trains:  New Cross or New Cross Gate
Buses: Numerous

F irst UK visit from author, Michael Datcher Reading from his new novel, 
Americus ,  A story set in East St. Louis, Illinois [13 miles from Ferguson, site of the recent contentious killing of an unarmed black youth by police], which tells the story of rambunctious identical twins Asar and Set.  Datcher uses both Egyptian mythology and the coming of age tale to reveal the recurrent intersections of race and violence that prevails within the region.  

Tour dates
26 Feb - Birmingham University (pm)
School of English, Drama, and American & Canadian Studies 
27 Feb  - Royal Holloway University (am)
Department of English 
27 Feb - Goldsmiths, University of London 
George Wood Theatre
01 Mar - An evening with John Agard and Michael Datcher at  The Drawing Room@ 54, in Haywards Heath

For more information contact : <>

MA in Black British Writing                        
Applications for the MA in Black British Writingat Goldsmiths University of London will close shortly.
This new and pioneering taught MA programme enables you to study the field of Black British Writing (as broadly conceived of) in a primary context of its origin - the UK. It is cross-disciplinary, spanning English Literature, Drama and Performance studies.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


Every year I watch the Super Bowl. It's something I've never missed. I can't remember the last time I sat and watched the Oscars. Maybe it's because I don't really go to the movies that much. Now and then I go to an opening screening - which I did for "Selma" and "Get On Up"  I no longer view black faces on movie screens as being an indication of how much things have improved for black people. Just like I no longer worry about Obama everyday. I'm certain black people will still confront racism, police brutality and other goodies long after he is no longer president. I love Sidney Poitier but there is no more or less money in my bank account and I still have to write my own poems at the end of the day.

What's worse - having no black Oscar nominations or having a black person win for a dumb role in a dumb movie? It's a good thing some black movies are not nominated for anything; of course I often wonder if those NAACP Image awards are like those little stars teachers back in the 1950s placed on your homework. Didn't everyone get one?

Hollywood is not the center of the universe. After all the glitter - too many people are still poor.
Oscar is still naked and lonely.


The Force of Gratitude | February 22, 2015

Gratitude is a way of undercutting your ego—that is, it is a way of being Buddhist. There is an awareness that we get now and then about what we owe to others, and Shinran [the founder of Shin Buddhism] feels that that should become the moving force of one’s life. That awakening, that awareness, transforms your way of dealing with life, with people, and with all things.