Saturday, May 30, 2015


       (for Brenda Marie)

In our gardens
we pull weeds
and plant flowers

our backs genuflect
in God's chapel.

Oh - earth, bless
black hands

digging deep
into the Ancient.

   - E. Ethelbert Miller


An afternoon doesn't get any better than yesterday. It was fun being with two women I met many years ago (on the same day): Sophy Burnham and Maria Otero. Maria and I always schedule regular days of laughter and she often leaves me with inspiration for a poem or two. Yesterday we asked Sophy to join us at DuPont Circle. We hadn't seen her in a long time. So there was the three of us - founders (back when we were young )of the Humanities Council of Washington DC. Who knew where we would be years later. Sophy an award winning author . Maria was recently Undersecretary of State working with Hillary Clinton in the Obama Administration.
I took the picture below at Le Pain Quotidien.

Oh, and who can forget that memorable photo of Otero and Clooney:


The end of this clip is priceless:

Friday, May 29, 2015


The NBA got the finals they wanted. Did you really want to watch the Hawks fly in June?  Now comes GS against the Cavs. This has Shakespeare writing another play. Will Prince Curry steal the crown from Kings James?  If it's Cleveland there has to be tragedy.  Of course the team that wins will be the one with the best rookie coach and bench. Take GS. Maybe Thompson will play better and Curry will have 2 or 3 monster games. I expect James to lose one game on a turnover and maybe win 1 with just a second on the clock. 7 games might be nothing but heaven shooting a three.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


Congratulations to the New Fellows of 2015!
BAU at Otranto
Arts and Culture Residency
in Otranto, Italy

Grace Anieza Ali     
Literary Arts, New York, NY
Kate Angus   
Literary Arts, New York, NY
Christophe Boulanger   
Visual Arts, HEM, France
Barbara Bloemink   
Literary Arts, New York, NY
Carrie Brittenham   
Visual Arts, Brooklyn, NY
Josh Campbell
Literary Arts, Philadelphia, PA
Jo Ann Clark
Literary Arts, Sleepy Hollow, NY
Sally Eckhoff
Visual Arts, Stuyvesant Falls, NY
Caryn Friedlander
Visual Arts, Bellingham, WA
Samuel Guerin
Visual Arts, Amherst, NY
Paulette Long
Visual Arts, San Francisco, CA
Christine Malvasi
Literary Arts, Brooklyn, NY
Robert McNamara
Literary Arts, Seattle, WA
Jacqueline Sferra Rada
Visual Arts, New York, NY
Donna Hamil Talman,
Visual Arts, Worcester, MA
Stephanie Seguino
Visual Arts, Burlington, VT
Gail Winbury
Visual Arts, Westfield, NJ
Jessica Wiederhorn
Time Based Arts, Brooklyn, NY
Ken Wiederhorn
Time Based Arts, Brooklyn, NY
BAU at Camargo
Arts Residency at
the Camargo Foundation
in Cassis, France

Hendel Almetus
Composer, Davis, CA
Ellen Berkenblit
Visual Artist,Brooklyn, NY
Maud Casey
Novelist, Washington DC
Anne Chu
Visual Artist, Jackson Heights, NY
Vanessa Diaz
Visual Artist, Jupiter, FL
Tung-Hui Hu
Poet, Ann Arbor, MI
John Jesurun
Theatre/Performance, New York, NY
Lauren Luloff
Visual Artist, Brooklyn, NY
Edwin Martinez
Film, New York, NY
Alexander Nolan
Visual Artist, Brooklyn, NY
Bruce Pearson
Visual Artist, Brooklyn, NY
Shanta Rao
Visual Artist, Paris, France
Eleanor Ray
Visual Artist, Brooklyn, NY
Patricia Reinhart
Visual Artist, Vienna, Austria
Andrea Thome
Playwright, New York, NY

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Takoma Park fun this morning. I met with Ilana Trachtman, Ellen Perchman and Ezra Lewis at Busboys. They are producing the documentary film AIN'T NO BACK TO A MERRY-GO-ROUND.

This film is about the protests to integrate the Glen Echo Amusement Park (Maryland) in the summer of 1960. Howard University students played a key role in this movement for social justice. 


My next guest on The Scholars (UDC-TV) will be Michael Witmore the director of The Folger Shakespeare Library.  I look forward to sitting down with him in the studio on June 24th.


David Nicholson's book of short stories arrived in the mail yesterday. FLYING HOME is a collection of seven shorts. David is a former editor and book reviewer for The Washingon Post Book World. He was also the founding editor of the Black Film Review. Gosh - we could use that publication today. It might be nice for someone to edit a collection of the best essays published in that journal. Nicholson is the serious writer who gets up and pulls the cord on the bus. So many writers out here - who knows where literature is going these days. It might be best to get off the bus with Nicholson and fly home. Somewhere there is a place where people still listen to Ellington and read Ellison. Old black men dress like everyday is Sunday.

James Alan McPherson, Charles Johnson, Henry Louis Gates Jr, Susan Straight , Arnold Rampersad and others wrote blurbs for this book that should win an award or two.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

As weeks pass, I'm very much feeling like a newly emancipated slave. The idea of not going to work everyday is just settling in. I felt it the day after Memorial Day. There was no going back to work on Tuesday. No # 70 bus to catch.  No walking across the Howard campus and into Founders Library.
Right now I'm in Canada and enjoying it. If I make some extra money I'll make a donation to a worthy abolitionist organization.

Meanwhile, life continues. Here is a link to a blog entry written by Kirsten Porter who is editing my collected poems:

Yesterday I found myself around DuPont Circle.  I had to pick-up a copy of Niels Van Tomme's new book that he left with a family member. Niels who I met when I was associated with Provisions Library recently edited (with Pascal Gielen) AESTHETIC JUSTICE INTERSECTING ARTISTIC AND MORAL PERSPECTIVES. This is a theoretical book and one that I need to keep on my desk and pace/read this summer.

In the mail came a copy of Susan Deer Cloud's new book of poetry - HUNGER MOON. I love what she wrote in the front - Dearest Ethelbert, As you enter into this new season of your life, may there be no hunger moons - only strawberry moons and the sweetness of new ventures...

During my afternoon break, I'll read Susan's book of poems.

I'm slowly getting the home office in order. It felt good yesterday going to the bank - signing 2 book contracts for work coming out next year.

Many thanks to Nancy Morejon for translating my Oscar Romero poem into Spanish. Nancy will be arriving from Cuba on June 1st. Look for us at the ball park (Nats/Cubs) on June 6th. Nancy's father was an umpire in Cuba. Baseball has blessed us both.


Sunday, May 24, 2015


I am the land.
I am the grass growing.
I am the trees.
I am the wind, the voice calling.
I am the poor.
I am the hungry.

The doors of the church are open
as wide as the heart of a man.
In times of trouble
here is a rock, here is a hand.

God knows the meaning of our prayers.
I have asked our government to listen.
God is not dead
and I will never die.

I am the land.
I am the grass growing.
I am the trees.
I am the wind, the voice calling.
I am the poor.
I am the hungry.

He who is resurrected is revolutionary.
He who is resurrected believes in peace.
This is the meaning of light.
This is the meaning of love.

The souls of my people are the pages of history.
The people of El Salvador are the people of the world.

I am Oscar Romero, a humble servant.
I am the land.
I am all the people who have no land.
I am the grass growing.
I am all the children who have been murdered.
I am the trees.
I am the priests, the nuns, the believers.
I am the wind, the voice calling.
I am the poets who will sing forever.
I am the poor.
I am the dreamer whose dreams overflow with hope.
I am the hungry.
I am the people.
I am Oscar Romero.

    - E. Ethelbert Miller

Poem published in First Light: New and Selected Poems by E. Ethelbert Miller
Black Classic Press, 1994.

An excerpt of the poem is published in Bartlett's Familiar Black Quotations
edited by Reth Powers, Little, Brown and Company, 2013.

Saturday, May 23, 2015


Cuban poet Nancy Morejon is coming to Washington DC the first week of June. She will be giving a talk about the poetry of Nicolas Guillen and Langston Hughes. I'll post additional information in a few days.

Here is a link to a 2002 interview with Morejon conducted by Sapphire:

Friday, May 22, 2015


After our IPS board meeting and a day of political discussions,Noura Erakat and I stood on a downtown DC corner talking music and laughing. Oh, we just couldn't agree on anything except how much fun we always have together.

The Scholars

Thursday, May 21, 2015

I've been reading Carole King's memoir,  A NATURAL WOMAN before I start my day. My friend Bev gave the book to me a couple of months ago after it sat in the trunk of her car for a spell. Interesting to read how King's song writing career started and how many hits she wrote. Good motivation for me during this time of transition and transformation.

I'm slowly getting the home office in order. I need to develop a new working schedule. If there is one thing that going to a job does it's the structuring of one's life into hours. If I'm not doing 9-5 for myself these days then I'm not working - which is deadly trap to fall into. I've started grading each day. Yesterday was an A day. A good television interview with John Kiriakou. I'll post it perhaps later today. I have to do 11 more shows for The Scholars.

I received notification of a poem being published in the next CLA journal. In the snail mail a copy of Obsidian magazine came. This is the last issue published on the campus of North Carolina State University (Vol. 14, No.2, Fall/Winter 2013). A poem I wrote for Reetika Vazirani is included in it.

Yesterday afternoon before taping The Scholars I spent about an hour at the Felix E. Grant Jazz Archives. This is a sweet spot on the Van Ness campus of UDC. If you love the music this should be a regular destination. It's located in the University of the District of Columbia Library-Bldg. 41, Level A.  Judith Korey runs it. Here she is (on right) with her wonderful staff:

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Interview with Poet Lore editor E. Ethelbert Miller


Here are people and things that are slowly vanishing from the news:

Bill Cosby
Bad Cuba
Cruz for President
Sarah Palin
Bashar al-Assad
Barry Bonds
Brian Williams

You can always add to the list...


May 19th is not only the birthday of Malcolm X, it's also the day Lorraine Hansberry came into our world (in 1930). I often thought Lorraine sounded like Malcolm at times. Might we be talking twins?



The next guest on my television show will be John Kiriakou the author of


Here is a link to his website.


Honoring E. Ethelbert Miller - poet, editor, teacher, activist

In light of recent events at Howard University, we share this commentary on E. Ethelbert Miller’s outstanding contribution as a poet, editor, teacher, literary activist, and community servant. Myra Sklarew, distinguished poet and member of the Furious Flower Poetry Center Advisory Board, wrote it in tribute. (Miller is pictured below reading at the 2004 Furious Flower Poetry Conference; photo by C. B. Claiborne.)
E. Ethelbert Miller reading at the 2004 Furious Flower Poetry Conference
There comes a time in a life when a person sees his mission as a universal one, where he becomes a citizen of the larger world. Not all of us ever arrive at that place. And it is not garnered by age. For E. Ethelbert Miller it began early.

Before his 24th year, he had gone to Tanzania to attend the Sixth Pan-African Congress where he interviewed Dennis Brutus, who was then part of the African National Congress and had served time, next to Nelson Mandela, in prison on Robben Island. Brutus, activist, journalist, poet, ranges over a broad array of subjects, from political to literary. What is stunning is Miller’s grasp of the political situation of a very complex time and place. When he asks Brutus about the development of drama in Africa, Brutus refers to the “reincorporation of elements from African traditional  drama and ritual … It was religious, didactic, and carried the moral values of the society. It functioned as a part of an initiation ritual. It established community with the dead and the unborn: the African sense of the community of all spirits.”

In a sense, what Miller does both in his life and in his poetry is exactly this: he restores a sense of cultural and ritual wholeness to all that he embraces. When he fosters the work of public libraries, he doesn’t stop at one but sets up a project that embraces libraries all over this country: “the custodians of memory,” he calls them, and he emphasizes the importance of the lifesaving effect of prison libraries.

If it’s the world, it is Iraq, England, Russia, Cuba, Tanzania, Nicaragua, Yemen, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Italy, Norway. If it’s language, his poetry has found its way into Spanish, Portuguese, German, Hungarian, Chinese, Farsi, Norwegian, Tamil, and Arabic.

Yet when he is asked by individuals for help, he is never too busy to be of help. He reminds me of one of our U.S. Poets Laureate, William Stafford, who, when asked for a recommendation six months hence, would answer, “How about tomorrow?!”

The scope of Miller’s poetry is wide. See here in “The Widow of Baghdad”:

After another funeral
the widow removes her black dress
and turns it over to darknesswhere
it hangs itself in the corner of the room.

Turning to look into her mirror
she discovers a lump in her breast—
a bomb resting in her hands.
In Baghdad even soft things explode.

A husband’s smile sleeps on a sidewalk
glass glittering instead of teeth.

(From On Saturdays, I Santana With You, Spring 2009)

How the poet brings us the tragedy of Baghdad, of Iraq, of our ancient world in the most human of terms. How he brings it home to us, making it impossible to turn our faces from it.

Gloria Hull has written about his poetry: “These poems transport us across boundaries of place and politics, of race, of gender, and other war-torn barriers of the heart.”

Like these poems, we are reminded that our nation is built upon the legs and arms, the languages and sensibilities of our African ancestors, the variabilities, the diversities, the wonder of our composite make-up. Though we make claims about more recent origins, our true birthplace, all of ours, is in that place.

And the poetry of E. Ethelbert Miller is never didactic, but human, loving, complex, present in the moment, in the lives of men and women. It’s got angels and supermarkets, barefoot buried sons, joggers and missionaries, soldiers legless, God the photographer.

It’s got everything!

Myra Sklarew
May 13, 2015

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sunday, May 17, 2015


The best thing for the NBA is for Golden State to play Cleveland in the finals.  How many viewers would be delighted to see Curry and James playing in a few weeks?  The question we might need to ask ourselves is this - how good is Stephen Curry going to be?  When was the last time you watched a basketball game and expected a player to make every shot?  My son did it "once" in a game when he played for Widener University. It was one of the best games of his college career. But every night when I watch Curry it seems as if we expect him to make every shot. A miss is like a weave being replaced by an afro. In many ways Curry's excellent play coincides with the rise of robotics in our society. Its been drone time for a spell. Donald Rumsfeld saw the future back when he was Secretary of Defense and didn't want to place any more American troops in harms way. Watch how our language has been changing since the drone half-time show. In today's New York Times, Scott Cacciola calls Stephen Curry "a basketball-shooting cyborg."

Strange Brew by John Deering

Friday, May 15, 2015


This afternoon I had a long conversation with Todd Kliman. Below is a link to a very interesting   article he wrote about food and race.


Yesterday I sat down with Juliana Barnet and discussed ways she could promote her book - RAINWOOD HOUSE SINGS: A Social Justice Mystery. Barnet brings her activism and compassion
to the page. The late Saul Landau said this about Barnet's novel:

This novel should inspire activists, from environmental to the anti-war movements and democracy advocates beyond those themes as well.

Photo by Ethelbert

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Arts Summit


"I am certain that after the dust of centuries has passed over our cities, we, too, will be remembered not for our victories or defeats in battle or politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit."
—President John F. Kennedy

We look forward to having you join us this Saturday, May 16th for the first annual Kennedy Center/Aspen Institute Arts Summit.  Your presence and interactive participation will play an essential role in turning thought into action, furthering the ways we activate the arts to better our society and address the issues we face as a nation.
Please review the schedule and registration information below.  Upon your arrival, please access the Roof Terrace Level via the Hall of States elevators.  Registration will take place in the Kennedy Center’s States Gallery.  You will be presented with an updated Arts Summit packet, name badge, and complimentary travel thermos at check-in.  Please feel free to bring your own closed-lid travel thermos if you prefer.
Saturday, May 16, 2015
9:00 AM    REGISTRATION/COFFEE (States Gallery)
9:30 AM    WELCOME 
(Theater Lab)
Betsy DeVos, Deborah Rutter, Damian Woetzel, Johnny Gandelsman, Ron “Prime Time” Myles
9:50 AM - 11:00 AM    EDUCATION 
(Theater Lab)

Karlyn Boens, Howard Gardner, David Rubenstein, Split This Rock DC, Damian Woetzel, Alfre Woodard, Camille Zamora
11:00 AM - 12:15 PM    TECHNOLOGY 
(Theater Lab)

Walter Isaacson, Alan Kay, Sarah Lewis
12:15 PM - 1:25 PM    LUNCH (Roof Terrace Restaurant)
Michael Sandel, Kate Levin, Darren Walker, Beau Willimon
1:35 PM - 2:40 PM    FREE SPEECH
 (Theater Lab)

David Brooks, Oskar Eustis, Johnny Gandelsman, Kate Levin, Eric Liu, Theodore B. Olson, Heather Raffo, 
Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and Ai Weiwei (via video)
2:40 PM – 3:45 PM    RACE 
(Theater Lab)
Maz Jobrani, Spike Lee, Darren Walker
3:45 PM - 4:45 PM    CLOSING
 (Theater Lab)
Eric Liu, MusiCorps with Camille Zamora
4:45 - 6:00pm    RECEPTION
 (Terrace Gallery)
DC Youth Orchestra Violin Quartet
For more information, please visit For transportation and parking details, please visit
Please contact us at (202) 416-8394 or with any questions, special requests, or accessibility requirements you may have. If you have not done so already, please send us your organization name for name badge purposes.
We look forward to seeing you at the Kennedy Center!
Karlyn Boens, David Brooks, Oskar Eustis, Johnny Gandelsman,
Howard Gardner, Walter Isaacson, Maz Jobrani, Alan Kay, Spike Lee,
Kate Levin, Sarah Lewis, Eric Liu, MusiCorps, Theodore B. Olson,
Heather Raffo, David M. Rubenstein, Deborah F. Rutter, Michael Sandel,
Split This Rock DC, Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Darren Walker,
Damian Woetzel, Alfre Woodard, Beau Willimon, Camille Zamora,
and Ai Weiwei (via video)

Betsy DeVos, Summit Chair
Deborah F. Rutter and Damian Woetzel, Summit Directors


Yes, that was me and photographer Max Hirshfeld laughing in front of Busboys (in Takoma) yesterday morning. Max was taking my picture again. He always puts a smile on my face.

He took the photo below for his Illuminaries exhibit:



Next month the 10th Annual Miller Classic softball game will be held on the Bennington campus in Vermont. This is the tournament that pushes poets and fiction writers beyond metaphors and revision.
This is the game filled with punctuation and a few errors. It's played for fun and not publication. I decided to sponsor this game after seeing Liam Rector and Joyce Maynard having so much fun one summer running the bases. I also wanted to stay connected to a place I love. Being a Bennington Core Faculty member for a number of years introduced me to many wonderful writers. It's also a place where I've given three Commencement speeches - the best triple crown I can make claim to.

But now I want to do something bigger and special. I want to sponsor the Miller Classic All-Star Softball game in Washington, D.C. So next year instead of just 1 game at Bennington - we'll do what Ernie Banks once said - "Let's play 2."

I'm thinking of a team of "Bennies" coming to DC to play a team sponsored by a local bookstore.
The day before the big game there would be readings and autograph sessions at the store.
The event could serve as a fundraiser for Bennington or an area literary organization.

Instead of umpires making the calls - we will have editors.

If you want to share ideas or help plan this event drop me a note at:
Calling all Bennies...

Right now - the tentative game date would be in late June 2016. Lets find the field for our dreams.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015


And how are you, E?
Are you pitching, batting, or catching?
Or maybe it depends on the day.

My friend Kirsten recently asked those questions. They really made me think of what I'm doing right now. I think coming after my departure from Howard I had to move from catching to batting. Time to make contact and put the ball in play.  I need to be on offense right now - making things happen. Knocking in a few runs. 40 years of catching is not good for one's knees.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015



After what I feared to be a slow start, Honest Engine appears to be doing well. The book sold out in three venues during the first phase of the book tour—Colorado State Univ., the AWP conference and the Virginia Festival of the Book. It was also doing well on Amazon for a while, likely due to your help.

As far as reviews and publicity are concerned, the book was featured on Poetry Daily on April 2nd, and has recently been reviewed in the Washington Independent Review of Books and the Washington City Paper. I'm still hoping to get some radio time, but I can only be grateful for everything thus far.

If you’ll be in the D.C. area next month, Sandra Beasley and I will be reading from our new books at Politics and Prose (a tough booking for two poets to secure)—Sunday June 7th at 5PM. I would love to see some of you there if you can make it.


I had mixed feelings after leaving the theater yesterday. I went to see The Call by Tanya Barfield. This was a Theater J production at the Atlas Performing Arts Theater (1333 H St, NE). Barfield's play examines the important issue of adoption. Unfortunately, the second half of this production doesn't know who to go home with. The play's ending is messy and tries to do too much. I found my program guide with facts about adoption to be at times more interesting.

We live in a world in which many white couples adopt children from Africa. So, why must we still tell "hair" jokes or remind people that Africa is a continent and not a country? Why are we still telling African folktales in 2015?  Are we afraid African Islamic terrorism might be the "New Black?"We seem never to be "out of Africa" or maybe we continue to get lost in it because of good intentions.

Barfield's play might have been a better production if it simply examined Gay marriage or AIDS. This is a funny play with jokes that have been told before. The play moves at a fast pace,so one's evening will not be painful. The cast is not exceptional. Peter played by Jonathan Feuer will keep you interested in The Call, while Alemu played by Bru Ajueyitsi is the neighbor next door you don't miss seeing. I was surprised this character took a book to a dog park. What does this tell us about what one should scoop?

I left Atlas Theater still holding myself up and  interested in seeing additional work by Tanya Barfield. I like what she is doing. The Call can leave a little ring in your ear.


Tom Brady has always been my favorite football player.  He will continue to be come rain or football size. But let's look at the new narrative folks will attempt to create when football season begins in a few months. The story begins with Brady's replacement at quarterback. Who will be the new guy throwing the ball for New England in their first game?  What if this person is really good and New England is in first place without Brady? Do we have a QB controversy?  Will this become the sneaky way of pushing Brady out the door?  Oh, and look at the team Brady will probably start against when he returns from taking his punishment pills - the Indianapolis Colts. Is this luck as in Andrew Luck? What the media will jump and focus on is the changing of the guards in the NFL.

Brady and Manning are not the future of the NFL - Luck is.  So forget the size of the football. At the end of the day it's about making money and looking for new markets and stars. How many people in the NFL expect Brady to win another Superbowl?  Without a decent defense this team can't go anywhere. The last time I looked Revis Island was back in New York. So circle October 18th on your calendar. That Sunday night everyone will be watching Brady's return on NBC - or maybe the camera will focus on some other guy - either on the New England sidelines or across the field.

Either way - somebody is going to be lucky. My bet is that Tom Brady has a great game after missing 4 games. The guy has always been number 1 in my book. The legend continues. Make the other team punt.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Creative Cultural Solutions
Creative Culture
May 2015

Michon Boston joins the discussion on culture, arts, and generations. Produced by Buoyant Partnersin collaboration with The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and THE ARC.

Ellington, Shaw & U: The House that “Jass” Built
Walking Tour with Food
SUNDAY, JUNE 28, 2015 - 11 AM - 3 PM
3 Options to enjoy the experience
Brunch and Beer Tasting

Ellington, Shaw & U takes you on a journey through the social fabric -- the people, places and communities -- “jass” built from Ragtime and the Blues to Swing, Bebop and Latin Jazz. By the end of the tour, you’ll have more music to add to your play lists, and places to revisit again.

Early Bird Ticket Price: $56 per person ($60 after 6/14/15): Includes Brunch, Special Welcome from the Ben's Next Door Ali Family Team, "Jass" intro, Waking Tour, Visit to the Ellington School Garnet-Patterson campus, Beer Tasting at Right Proper Brewing Company. (Bring proper ID) Ticket price also includes a donation to the Duke Ellington School of the Arts.
Total time:  4 hours

Tickets for the separate activities:
  • BRUNCH & "JASS" INTRO AT BEN'S NEXT DOOR (approx. 90 minutes)
  • WALKING TOUR & SITE VISITS, BEER TASTING (approx. 2 1/2 hours)

Eventbrite link for tickets and information

or call 202-939-0794

Sunday, May 24 at 5 PM
Busboys and Poets
2021 14th Street, NW, Washington, DC 20009
Film & live streamed Q&A with
filmmaker THOMAS G. Miller and
TONY SULLIVAN, appearing in the documentary 


Decades before The Defense of Marriage Act and Proposition 8, one gay couple, a Filipino American and an Australian, fell in love and over the course of 40 years took on the U.S. government to fight for marriage and immigration equality. Watch a preview.

Visit for more information. 

Reading and Talking about ____?
links shared socially 

Michon Boston Group Ltd - creative cultural experiences and solutions to build strong community. For more information, call 202-939-0794 or contact Michon Boston, Executive Producer.  © 2015

and I think of you
as a new day
Your lips
like sunrise
for a kiss
- E. Ethelbert Miller

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Bert's Back

Music for this week:


Dr. Wayne A. I. Frederick
Office of the President
Howard University
Washington, D.C. 20059

Dear Dr. Frederick,

You may wonder how and why should an academic, writer and Chief Editor of an English Journal titled Re-Markings ( based in India be concerned about the fate of one of Howard University’s veritable treasure called Ethelbert Miller.

I have known Ethelbert since 2002 when we featured his poems in Re-Markings. This literary connection grew into friendship when I visited the United States as a Senior Fulbright Scholar at the University of Washington, Seattle during 2003-04. He came down to meet us (me and my wife) at our apartment in Seattle where I had the opportunity to interview him for Multicultural America: Conversations with Contemporary Authors (Unistar Books, India). In response to one of my questions regarding his role as a black intellectual and poet in contemporary America, he stated: “I like to take credit with encouraging the importance of creative writing program for African American writers. I think there is still the need to establish programs at historically black colleges. I would like to see better partnerships between African American writers and public libraries.” In his “Preface” to Beyond the Frontier, he writes: "At the dawn of the 21st century, we must discover our true beauty. Poetry is a vehicle to transport us beyond forever. Beyond the frontier, beyond this world (which once enslaved us), lies a new consciousness."

I would also like to quote here a few lines from the poem he wrote for the book Charles Johnson: Embracing the World Authorspress (India, 2012) which he co-edited with me:

We dreamers.
Men of night emails and exchanges.
Composers of narratives and American songs.
We believers and followers of the Buddhist path.
We understand the blackness that surrounds us.
We surround the blackness, we follow it
Embracing ourselves.

We are brothers because everything in life
Is related to love. We take refuge in the future
Knowing the past is always found in the present.

The point I am trying to make is that in a conflict ridden world, we desperately need to show our honor and esteem for men like Ethelbert who do not separate practice from precept in building bridges that connect people, nations, cultures and languages. Cutting across stagnant mindsets and steeped in generosity and friendship he affirms, “My prayers are songs. I can make music. I can give color to the world. This is my life. This is my gift.”

Selfless to the core of his being, he is a true cultural ambassador who offers incisive insights into the new frontiers of the African American experience that calls for an amalgamation of multidisciplinary and multicultural perspectives.

Sir, you are widely known as a successful surgeon in the field of Oncology and have always worked to heal the pain of those you may have not even known personally. What prevents you, then, from intervening in the case of someone whose invaluable contribution to the African American Resource Center is so very well known to you and to the rest of the world? I am not unaware of the financial crunch that may have forced the University to arrive at such an unwarranted decision. However, it seems strange to me that a nation which happily glories in squandering precious human and material wealth in far of places like Iraq should dispense with the services of one so very valuable for the perpetuation of human ideals.

As you may be aware, the global literary community has rightly rallied around in support of Ethelbert to reverse a decision that seems so unpalatable in human terms.

I, therefore, beseech you to intervene and set things right as a mark of respect to the invaluable services rendered by Ethelbert in a career spanning forty long years.

You have nothing to lose but your chains!

In anticipation of an affirmative action at your end,

Yours sincerely

Dr. Nibir K. Ghosh, D.Litt.,
HOD English, Agra College, Agra, India
Senior Fulbright Fellow 2003-04, University of Washington, Seattle &
Chief Editor, Re-Markings