Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Time for the old man to go West.
I need a new frontier...

Have Poems Will Travel
Now and then lines come to me while writing emails.  This one was included in a conversation I was having with the novelist Charles Johnson...

Dirty water in a third world country is worse than a prostitute in a clean hotel.

Almost 1 year since my departure from Howard. It feels good - so good.  The next several weeks will be a time of transition and transformation.  Time to Fly and say Bye.

Joanna Chen sent me a beautiful ceramic piece from the Monastery of Bet Jamal in Israel.
It's special...3 bows to my friend who is becoming an amazing writer. I see big things ahead for her.

I've been writing a number of new poem the last few weeks; sending them to Kirsten for Section 15.
I see that book coming out after my death.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

April 20, 6:30 pm
New Works Reading: Jarita Davis, Camille Rankine and E. Ethelbert Miller

Join us for an exciting evening of poetry with fellow
Jarita Davis  and Cave Canem friends Camille Rankine and E. Ethelbert Miller. Davis is a former Writer-in-Residence at the Nantucket Historical Association and author of Return Flights (Tagus, March 2016). Author of the award-winning chapbook Slow Dance with Trip Wire, Rankine’s debut full-length collection is Incorrect Merciful Impulses (Copper Canyon, 2016). Miller is the author of many books, including the memoir The 5th Inning and The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller, forthcoming from Willow Books. Free and open to the public. Book signing to follow.

The New School
Wollman Hall, Eugene Lang College
65 West 11th Street
Room B500
New York, NY

Friday, March 25, 2016


Louise Erdrich
May 10th |  7:30 PM  |  Tickets $15

May 10th, 2016  |  7:30 PM
In partnership with the Library of Congress
Lutheran Church of the Reformation
212 East Capitol Street NE
Tickets $15 online or at 202-544-7077

Louise Erdrich is the author of fourteen novels, a volume of short stories, several books of poetry, and a series of children’s books. Her novel The Round House won the 2012 National Book Award; she is a former Guggenheim Fellow and has received the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction. 
In 2015, Erdrich received the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction, a lifetime achievement award, presented at the National Book Festival this past September. On May 10th, Erdrich will join PEN/Faulkner at an event co-hosted by the Library of Congress to read from her newest novel, LaRose, which comes out in hardback that day.
Save Your Seat

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Visit Us at #AWP16 (Los Angeles, March 30–April 2)
Celebrate Poet Lore's 127th Birthday at ‪#‎AWP16‬! Stop by Booth 607 on Friday, April 1 from 3-5 PM to raise a glass and visit with the editors. And don't forget to say hello to new Executive Director Joe Callahan.
Your Marketing Package (March 26)
Avoid the mistakes that many new authors make when sending a query letter or sample of their work for consideration. Your instructor has succeeded in selling over 40 of her own books to major New York publishers. Her advice to writers and coaching clients has resulted in even more success stories. Read more
Elements of Playwrighting: Process (March 31)
Richard Washer
In this session, participants will discuss, explore, and attempt to demystify one of the more personal and varied aspects of a creative writer’s craft: process. Participants will look at some strategies for getting started, exploring a first draft, self-criticism, and revision. Read more
The Writer's Toolbox (April 5)
Participants will examine published essays and memoirs and practice aspects of the writer’s craft such as concrete detail, use of the senses, figurative language, characterization, dialogue and scene, summary and musing. Read more
SOLD OUT: An Evening with Jim Lehrer
Please note that the March 24th event is sold out. For future events and happenings at The Writers Center, Read more
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After seeing FALLING OUT OF TIME  at the DCJCC my friend Lynda Tredway made some interesting observations.  See below.  The play based on the novel by David Grossman will run March 17- April 17, 20016

Lynda Tredway:

So any book or play is supposed to be universal in some sense...but it never really laid the groundwork (place) for why so many children had died (in the authors case, in Israel, the war/s) and how/why so many parents had nearly the same grief story, which did not quite ring true as I thought about it.   This allegory floated between archtypes (sort of) and just plain fathers and mothers...I did not understand the duke for example.   Plus casting the AA woman as the only person who did not join in the pilgrimage to redemption and back to the garden of self ...the there .. was a bit odd.   Then she was in the serving role at the end, despite the soup's role as a catalyst for some communion of spirit.

The more I think about it, the less it worked, despite the imaginative staging and strong costuming (my personal favorite thing to assess).   The cast was basically evenly good, but not great. 

However, it sparked imagination and attention...and of course, your eye and ear on it in terms of language was an angle I did not have..

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Today's selection -- from Medieval Christianity by Kevin Madigan. St. Francis of Assisi (1182-1226 CE), perhaps the most revered of all the Christian saints outside of the apostles themselves, took the practice of poverty to a new extreme. This was especially striking at a time when generally only the well-born entered these orders of monks, and in a world where the blind were laughed at and the weak scorned. Francis also pioneered a type of classless equality unknown in his era:

"Living according to the pattern provided in the gospels ... meant practicing poverty at its most radical, both for Francis and for the brothers -- 'lesser broth­ers' (fratres minores), as they called themselves (thus the Order of Friars Minor), or (to use Francis's word) fraticelli -- who began to gather around him. ... Francis went much further [than those before him]. For him and for his young brotherhood, Francis intended corporate destitution. Again, he states this emphatically, not gently, in the beginning of his first Rule: 'The broth­ers shall appropriate nothing to themselves, neither a place nor anything; but as pilgrims and strangers in this world, serving God in poverty and humility, they shall with confidence go seeking alms.' For a Benedictine, or even a Cistercian, living in stable residences and worshipping, often, in grand churches, 'poverty' had a different meaning.

"Francis did not intend a spiritual, asomatous poverty for himself or for his breth­ren. Rather, they were to wander into towns by day, where they would preach in the piazze, or marketplaces; acquire their food by begging (or mendicancy -- the reason they, along with other orders, like the Dominicans, are sometimes known as the 'mendicant' orders); and find shelter at night in abandoned tents, barns, or caves outside of town. Not satisfied with relinquishing individual property, Francis and his earliest companions held no property in common. (For those supposedly dedicated to the literal imitation of the apostolic life, this principle could be understood as an over-literal, or ultra-ardent form of observance.) All of this made them a rather ragged bunch. Shoeless, sheathed in tattered habits made of coarse material fastened by a rough cord tied around the waist, they would arrive in a town square to beg or, sometimes, to perform menial labor.

Oldest known portrait in existence of the saint
"This was not a prospect that could have pleased the bourgeois parents from whom the burgeoning order recruited many of its members (it filled the aris­tocratic parents of Thomas Aquinas [ d. 1274 ], who was determined to become a Dominican, with a combination of anger and dread). For it was not the poor classes that formed the pool from which the Friars Minor drew their recruits. Those classes usually aspired to escape the poverty by which fate had trapped them and left them physically and mentally oppressed. By contrast, the Friars Minor by and large were born into classes that rarely if ever experienced scarcity and even often enjoyed abundance: the merchant and knightly classes and the gentry, along with a smattering of artisans and peasants. Soon, with repercussions -- and, in Francis's mind, costs -- for the shape and future of the order, it would recruit with enormous success among scholars at the universities north of the Alps.

"There is yet another respect in which the disheveled appearance, untidy arrival in town, and social composition of the young order could have displeased wealthy families. At no time in the central Middle Ages could it be said that any part of Europe was organized, socially and economically, along egalitarian lines. Indeed, the distinction of classes was ordinarily assumed simply to be given, even divinely ordained, and little, if any, thought was given to its abolition; it was the natural or­der of things. This was true even, or especially, in Benedictine cloisters. Hildegard of Bingen could write that only girls of the noble classes be admitted to cloisters, lest ones of the lower orders be humiliated by their class status. Men, including bishops, were admonished in foundation charters of Benedictine nunneries to ensure that only the well-born be admitted. More broadly, medieval society as such, for almost all times and places in the millennium we are considering, was deeply stratified.

"In this connection, then, Francis's young brotherhood was quite exotic, even radical. No distinction was made, in the order's origins, between layman and cleric, peasant and nobleman ( this would change over time). All embraced, and all shared, the same spartan diet, the same frugal disciplinary culture, and the same cramped sleeping quarters. This was a true fraternitas -- a word of which Fran­cis and his early brethren were fond -- a real and not just notional brotherhood. C.H. Lawrence suggests that this 'fraternalism [was] based on a pragmatic but deep-seated conviction ... that in the sight of God all human beings are equally worthy of respect.' ...

"Lawrence [asserted] that it constituted a real challenge to 'the conventions of a sharply stratified society.' In this connection, it is well to remember the observation of Robert Fossier: 'The medieval world had little pity for the unlucky and the disgrac├ęs. ... The blind man's mistakes were laughed at, the sick were excluded and the weak scorned .... At best, they were feared and people fled from them; at the worst, they were exterminated .... It was better to give a vineyard to the Church than a kiss to a leper.' The friars challenged convention by deliberately associating themselves with and ministering to social outcasts in medieval society, especially lepers (those categorized as such making up perhaps 2-3 percent of the popula­tion in Francis's lifetime), socially segregated and innocently incarcerated for life in their ghastly dwellings."
Medieval Christianity: A New History
Author: Kevin Madigan
Publisher: Yale University Press
Copyright 2015 by Yale University
Pages 233-235

If you wish to read further: Buy Now


I went to the DCJCC last night to see the play Falling Out of Time. This is a production based on the novel by David Grossman. I would have to call the evening ambitious. I think one might need to read the book before going to see play. It's complex but with several moving moments. The best might be the opening and how the entire work is structured around human grief.

Los Angeles Review of Books and the University of Southern California Create a New Publishing Workshop
Los Angeles, CA - The Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB) and the University of Southern California (USC) announced today a new summer publishing program that is designed to provide an immersive, five-week training for students interested in digital and print publishing. The new program, the Los Angeles Review of Books / USC Publishing Workshop, will have its inaugural session this summer beginning June 26.
More information on the program and how to apply is available here: www.thepublishingworkshop.com.
"This is a chance for us to help train the editors and publishers of tomorrow," said Tom Lutz, editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Review of Books. "We're thrilled to be teaming up with USC to bring the best innovative thinking about the future of publishing to the table."
"Through hands-on experience, this innovative publishing program will give participants the practical and conceptual tools they need to succeed in this rapidly changing industry," said Daniela Bleichmar, Associate Provost for Faculty and Student Initiatives in the Arts and Humanities at USC. "We are excited to give the program a home and to collaborate with LARB in bringing it to life."
While the program will be hosted on the USC campus, it is open to both current students and alumni of USC, as well as to those from any college or university, nationally and internationally, who are interested in a career in publishing. Each year the Los Angeles Review of Books will enroll free of charge two USC students or alumni, to be distinguished as the "LARB-USC fellows." In addition, LARB will offer two scholarships for applicants not affiliated with USC.

The Los Angeles Review of Books / USC Publishing Workshop will distinguish itself from more traditional publishing courses by emphasizing real-world experience: students will create a print magazine or website, or develop a business plan for a new publishing enterprise ready either for direct funding or for research and development funding. Students will form groups based on their focus and interests, and each group will be challenged to launch its own magazine or other publishing entity. Industry experts will advise students about every aspect of digital and print publishing, from line editing to layout, and coding to graphic design.
Jonathan Hahn, executive editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books and co-director of the Workshop, said, "We intend for this program to be the premier incubator for the next generation in the art of publishing. It won't be limited to exercises and proposals. This is a truly immersive, real-world experience where students create and ultimately publish magazines and other ventures of their own."
"This program is unique in that it is run like a rigorous studio, with all participants working in collaboration with each other and the faculty," said Stefanie Sobelle, associate fiction editor at LARB and the Workshop's other co-director. "By the end of the summer, students will not only have the skills necessary to move into publishing jobs, they will already have been putting those skills into practice."
The Workshop is dedicated to launching students into the exciting and evolving 21st-century world of publishing, under the guidance and mentorship of publishers, investors, and creative thinkers at the vanguard of the industry.
To request an interview or feature, please contact Jessica Kubinec,  jessica@lareviewofbooks.org.


The Los Angeles Review of Books is a nonprofit, multimedia magazine of literature and culture that combines the great American tradition of the serious book review with the evolving technologies of the web. We are a community of writers, critics, journalists, artists, filmmakers, and scholars dedicated to promoting and disseminating the best that is thought and written, with an enduring commitment to the intellectual rigor, the incisiveness, and the power of the written word.

Los Angeles Review of Books |  info@lareviewofbooks.org

Friday, March 18, 2016


As the host of ON THE MARGIN (WPFW-FM) I often receive new books that have been published.
From time to time I'll make a list of these titles. Hopefully you might find something you would like to read.

Here is E-List # 1

I'm From Nowhere by Suzanne Myers (novel)

Preparation For The Next Life by Atticus Lish (novel)

Septimania by Jonathan Levi (novel)

The Curious Case of Kiryas Joel: The Rise of A Village Theocracy and the Battle to Defend the Separation of Church and State by Louis Grumet with John Caher

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

March 16, 2016
Creative Practice, Disciplined Understanding
Just as a yogi must return again and again to the mat or the meditation seat—to directly touch the reality of each moment—the writer must return to the empty page, the sculptor to the clay, the painter to the easel. And through this discipline, both yogi and artist become one with the worlds within and without.

—Anne Cushman, "The Yoga of Creativity"


Your efforts paid off! Today we are celebrating the release of Qatari poet Mohammed Ibn al Dheeb al Ajami, who spent more than four years in prison for the crime of writing and reading a poem.

Mohammed al Ajami’s release is testament to the power of supporters like you who make PEN’s advocacy possible.

Al Ajami was a signature example of the rising trend we see of digital communications landing writers in hot water. His poem, about the Arab Spring uprising in Tunisia, was never even published. He read it aloud at a private gathering, someone posted it on online, and Qatari authorities arrested him, tried him, and sentenced him to life in jail (later reduced to 15 years on appeal).

In October 2013 we sent a delegation to Doha to meet with al Ajami, who was being held in solitary confinement. After days of waiting and pleading, they were turned away. But according to his family, the poet knew that PEN had come to visit him and his spirits were lifted.

Mohammed al Ajami is but one of the hundreds of writers PEN America champions every day. Today, as we celebrate his release, please consider supporting PEN America in our continued efforts to defend writers under threat around the world.
Very best wishes,

Suzanne Nossel
Executive Director I PEN America


It was nonsense and entertainment that got us to where we are.  It was listening to children instead of adults; the mentally ill instead of the sane. It was wearing our pants down and showing out butts.
It was trash talking after every missed basket. It was standing in the batter's box thinking the ball was over the fence but it was nothing but a double. Nations now stuck on second with a weak America at the plate. Everywhere a scandal these days. And now comes Trump. Do you still want to know what's coming after a black president?

Friday, March 11, 2016


I'm reaching a comfort level after doing a second ON THE MARGIN show (WPFW) yesterday. My guests were Anna Thorn (Upshur Street Bookstore) and Grace Ali (ofNote Magazine). Next week I plan to do a program on Zora Neale Hurston. I've spoken with Hurston biographer Valerie Boyd and might have her call in from Atlanta and join studio guests Michele-Simms Burton and Michon Boston.

I need two guests for every show. This will help maintain a conversation format and structure and not a straight interview.

I now have a mailbox at WPFW.  In the mail yesterday were 2 books:

FATHER LINCOLN: The Untold Story of Abraham Lincoln and his boys - Robert, Eddy, Willie and Tad by Alan Manning.
I'M FROM NOWHERE by Suzanne Myers

I'll be sure to mention the Lincoln book in June prior to Father's Day.

My next guest on The Scholars will be the visual artist William Dunlap. I'm reading his book over the weekend. I already have a few questions.

I have 3 books that I recently borrowed from the public library that I have to read:

THE NEW JIM CROW by Michelle Alexander
BOLIVAR by Marie Arana

I started reading Alexander's book after waiting several weeks for the public library to let me know it was in. It seems many people in the city are reading this book about our criminal justice system.

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

So what's going on? 
Voter Spring?  The collapse of both major political parties? Is this the political revolution?
Imagine Sanders against Trump...
Where is the middle ground?  One man's fast is another man's slow. Throw tolerance out the door.
How would the winner govern?  Imagine all three parts of the government run by Republicans.
Would this send people to the streets?  Backlash is a whip against progress. Woman being told what to do...gay marriages made void and camps for Muslims? I rise some days feeling like a slave trying to imagine Canada and having no clue where Africa is.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Congratulations to the finalists for the 2016 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction: 

James Hannaham
Delicious Foods

Julie Iromuanya
Mr. and Mrs. Doctor

Viet Thanh Nguyen
The Sympathizer

Elizabeth Tallent
Mendocino Fire

Luis Alberto Urrea

The Water Museum
The winner will be announced on April 5th, 2016.

The PEN/Faulkner Award Ceremony & Dinner
May 14th, 2016  |  7:00 PM
The Folger Shakespeare Library
Tickets $100

This year's PEN/Faulkner Award Dinner will feature specialty cocktails by One Eight Distilling, representing the nation’s capital with exceptional small batch craft spirits.