Thursday, April 29, 2004

I did a morning radio program on WPFW with Jo Reed. She's a good interviewer, one of the best on local radio. She's always well prepared and asks excellent questions. I discussed HOW WE SLEEP ON THE NIGHTS WE DON'T MAKE LOVE. I read about three of the poems in the back of the book which deal with the theme of violence. These are poems I often don't read on the air or at public readings. Since I was on the radio earlier this month I decided to do something different. Jo wanted me to read an Omar poem but I didn't want too. I have another Omar poem which needs editing and additional work.

I gave Catherine Griffith a call and had a fun conversation with her. She found my comments on her fiction to be helpful.

The afternoon was spent in a thesis meeting with Gina Lewis. She is doing graduate work in HU's Art Department. Her work is really reaching upwards. I'm happy to be working with her.
Before our meeting the artist Edgar Sorrells-Adewale and I walked across campus and took a look at the old Wonder Bread Tower. The Wonder Bread plant is gone but the tower is still standing. Someone said it's a historical landmark. I think the thing should be turned into a piece of artwork.
Maybe paint or "wrap" it and build a small urban park around it. Well just an idea, one of the many I try to develop each day.

I'm washing clothes and packing...looking forward to the trip to New York.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Pearline picked me up from Howard and took me to the Anacostia Museum. I ran into Michon and crew from the Humanities Council. They were there to see James Early the new director of the museum.

I spent the time getting my picture taken for the exhibit. I reviewed some of the recorded interviews with Danticat, Butler, Boyd and Johnson. Great stuff. Ken Carroll was the person I interviewed today.
Glad he could still do it. Ken lost his mom last week. :-( She was his number one fan. So wonderful to see parents supporting the artistic dreams of their children.

Later in the day I read one of Catherine Griffiths stories. She is a student at Bennington. I'll try and get comments back to her this evening.

I helped a HU student improve his resume. Folks are making that move into the real world.
They need as much help as possible. Hey...if anyone knows about job leads for my daughter send them this way. She graduates in a few weeks. Her interest is women health school is next on her agenda.

Yes, I was on the bus this evening still reading that Clarence Major novel. That was me sitting by the window in the back...right in front of the sister from Ethiopia who kept singing what must be a top ten song somewhere in the Horn of Africa. She couldn't sing and I didn't have the courage to inquire about the CD.

Morning reading and a must read is "OLD BOYS, OLD GIRLS by Edward P. Jones. It's in the latest issue of The New Yorker (May 3, 2004). Jones is at his best when he is writing about D.C. and the people who live here. This latest story takes one to the old Lorton Prison that was located in Virginia. Jones story is about Caesar who is given 7 years. This short story will have you thinking about God, family and death. The ending is haunting and well done. Hats off to Jones again. This guy is writing fiction the way the old Lakers and Celtics played the game. Nothing but pure execution. Jones passes his words to the reader without them every hitting the floor. The guy is writing the way Magic Johnson made a ball disappear in THE KNOWN WORLD.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I was able to complete work on a bunch of things I had in my bag. A number of folders are now empty.
My upstairs desk at home is clean.

I gave Bob Stokes a call this morning. Bob is one of the major reasons I write poetry. He was my first mentor. My second was Stephen Henderson. It was fun laughing and joking with Bob.

I had lunch in the HU Faculty cafeteria with Deidre Cross. She's an old friend; we met when she was doing an internship at the Smithsonian many years ago. Now we sit around and talk about our children. Deirdre gave me a ride to the Humanities Council and I spoke with Michon Boston. Michon producers my television show. She gave me the footage of my Suheir Hammad interview. I think we might have to do some serious editing because of the sound quality.

I started working on the essay I promised Peter Davis. I have to select 5-10 books that have been essential to my development as a writer and write about them. Here are my five books:
THE BIG SEA by Langston Hughes

Davis says the book will be published by The Barnwood Press.

I have to finish reading an awful manuscript the University Press of America sent me to review.

This evening I have a Poets Lore meeting at the house. Let me go see what my fellow editors Rick and Jody want on their pizza...

Monday, April 26, 2004

I gave a poetry reading at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School in Maryland. Good to see Evanthia Lambrakopoulos. She is one of the best poetry teachers in the area. She really encourages students to write and read poetry. It was my third time visiting her school. The last time however was many years ago.

I did a taping for Lisa Bass's television show- Sidebar with Lisa Bass. We talked about poetry and politics.

I completed my travel plans for Israel. I have my ticket.

Sunday, April 25, 2004

A quiet Sunday. A morning run and visit to the new CVS drugstore that just opened on Georgia Avenue. Inside the store I ran into Jonetta Barras. She is completing work on another book. Her daughter Afrika has been very active in the local poetry circles. Guess she is taking after her mom.

My son had to return his tuxedo to a downtown store, so we took the bus to Connecticut Avenue and K Street. Its been a long time since we spent two days in a row doing something together. Funny how quickly one's relationship with children change. The guy will be going off to college next year.

I spoke with my daughter on the phone. I gave her feedback on an essay she was writing about graduating from college.

The rest of the day was spent watching the Lakers defeat the Houston Rockets. Kobe can still put teams away. Malone had a big game. Steve Francis lacks playoff experience and needs to learn how to excute down the stretch. Yao has a nice shot and might be two-three years away from being where Shaq is now. Look for Houston's season to end this week.

I'll finish reading the newspaper this evening and maybe DANCING ON MAIN STREET by Lorenzo Thomas.

I had a good evening conversation with one of my Bennington students. I need to talk to a couple of the others.

I'm still cleaning my upstairs office. Whew...I need help. So many things to file away. I guess I need a full-time assistant. Is anyone out there? :-)

Saturday, April 24, 2004

One of our editors forgot about the Poet Lore meeting this morning. We are all doing too much.
We will have to have our meeting this week, probably at my house.
I changed my morning plans. My son and I went to the bank and then had breakfast downtown.
We bumped into the visual artist Winston Kennedy. Nice to see him again.

My son took the train back home to get ready for a prom this evening. I sat at Cosi (DuPont Circle) and tried to read a few things in my bag. Around Noon I took the subway over to the City Museum to catch Bijan Bayne's talk on black sports in DC. The guy is an "internet" of information.

Returned home around 4PM and did some chores...washed clothes and made a trip to the cleaners.

I watched a little of the baseball bird battle: Orioles against the BlueJays. Look for Baltimore to surprise folks this year. They have a good team. I pick them to finish above New York. Yeah...folks can cheer for Boston in April and cry for them in September.

I'm upstairs in my office now cleaning and discarding old stuff. I'm getting ready for the scholar Julia Galbus who is going to visit this summer. She is doing research on Stephen Henderson and the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. She has a grant from her college in Indiana.

I received a package this afternoon from the DC Public Library. They sent brochures for the One Book/One City celebration. Last year they selected my memoir FATHERING WORDS. This year our city will be reading INTERPRETER OF MALADIES by Jhumpa Lahiri. Lahiri will read and sign copies of her book on May 25th at 6:30 PM, King Library, Room A-5.
For more info:

Friday, April 23, 2004

Musicology by Prince. What can one say? Nothing but good old school stuff. Keep the Party Movin...

Thursday, April 22, 2004

Morning meeting with Joyce Hackett. She's the new Jenny Mckean Moore writer-in-residence at George Washington University for 2004-2005. She will bring energy to the DC community. I gave Joyce a list of contacts and suggestions of things to do.

Today I will be giving the 18th Annual B. Christopher Bothe Memorial Lecture at McDaniel College in Maryland. The Bothe Lecture is an annual poetry reading created to honor the memory of Chris Bothe. His stepmother, Judge Elsbeth Bothe, endowed the lecture. Elsbeth and I serve on the board of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).

The poets who have given the Bothe Memorial Lecture the last few years have included: Stephen Dunn, Stanley Plumly, Michael Collier, Jean Valentine and Philip Levine.

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

I found two Delany quotes I can use for the exhibit. I'll call folks at the Smithsonian before heading out to do a reading tomorrow evening at McDaniel College in Maryland.

I spent time at Howard talking with a couple of students. Much of my time is spent mentoring and giving folks life exercises and direction.

Dentist today. What would folks do without insurance?? A cleaning and X-rays was $200.
It's a good thing I was given some floss and a new toothbrush.

In the late afternoon I went over to the Wesley Theological Seminary. It's located on Massachusetts Avenue near American University. My friend Sally Avignone wanted me to see her art work. She is the artist-in-residence. Years ago I curated a show at The Dadian Gallery.
Here is the website:

Sally has work in the chapel at the Seminary. It's exceptional and a must see for anyone visiting the campus.

While cleaning my downstairs desk I finally read an article I had pulled from the New York Times on April 10th. "When U.S. Aided Insurgents, Did It Breed Future Terrorists?" by Hugh Eakin.
This article is really a review of Mahmood Mamdani's book GOOD MUSLIM, BAD MUSLIM: AMERICA, THE COLD WAR AND THE ROOTS OF TERROR (Pantheon).

Mamdani seems to have some fresh ideas. I'm always looking for some. Mamdani claims that terrorism is the last phase of the cold war. The problem we face is not Islam but rather non-state violence...

I received a nice note yesterday from poet Terrence Winch. He is having a book party on Friday, April 23rd at 7PM. The location is the Warehouse NextDoor located at 1017 7th Street, NW
I can't make it but he said Michael Lally is going to be there. Lally was a cool poet I met during the early 1970s. Back then all the literary action was around DuPont Circle and the Mass Transit Readings. Winch, Lally, Ed Cox and others were putting out books on Some of Us Press (SOUP).
Those were the days.

Novelist Marita Golden was in the New York Times today. It was a profile and mention of her new book. The title is DON'T PLAY IN THE SUN. It's about the issue of color in the black community. OK let me look at myself in the mirror again.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I listened to student reports from seniors in the African American Studies Department. Howard's graduation is in a few weeks. The stands are being erected on main campus. Another own daughter graduating at the top of her class from Boston University. Tomorrow is her birthday. Happy Birthday, Baby.

I sent info on Octavia Butler to the Smithsonian for the exhibit. I need to find something this evening that I can use from Samuel Delany.

I read another packet of submissions for Poet Lore. I have two more to do before the Saturday meeting.

I received a nice email from Suheir.

The highlight of the day was a meeting in the late afternoon with Carrie Addington. She's a young writer on the AWP staff. We met in Chicago at the conference. We had pizza at a new restaurant in DuPont Circle. We laughed and talked about poetry.

In the mail I received PEN America journal. This is a cool little journal for PEN AMERICAN CENTER members. It's always rich with essays and poems. The latest issue is # 5. The topic is Silences.
I read the opening nonfiction essay by Grace Paley. It was about her being in the Women's House of Detention (in Greenwich Village) for six days. I remember that place. Women inmates yelling out the small windows to friends outside. Later the place became a library, yet some stories never made it to the shelf.

Monday, April 19, 2004

The program with Suheir Hammad went very well. We had an excellent turnout at the Provision Library.

I interviewed Suheir for about and hour, took questions from the audience and then we both read poems. Books were sold. Suheir's work can be found in RUSSELL SIMMONS DEF POETRY JAM ON BROADWAY...AND MORE. The show is coming to DC soon.

I'm running on empty. I need some serious rest. Looks like this entry is not going to make it either...

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Try and read Hillary Clinton's article on health care in the New York Times Magazine today. It's very good. They say she wrote it on her kitchen table and not in her office.

This excerpt seems directed to all DC residents:

"The data we have seen about lead and mercury contamination in our food and water suggest that the effects they have on the fetus and children may have contributed to the increasing number of children in special education with attention and learning disorders."

Should we let some folks out of prison because they drank DC water all their lives? Just something to ponder, just a finger to point.

After the Board meeting at the Writer's Center I went down to Cosi in DuPont Circle. Boy, the weather was awesome. I worked on questions for the Suheir program. I'm ready.

I also did some Bennington work before heading home.

I arrived home while my son was getting back from his AAU games. His team played two games today. The won the first and lost in the semifinals of the tournament. My son's coach said he played well.

I watched a little of the Kings/Mavs basketball game. No defense out there. These two clubs won't advance that far. I'm still going with the Lakers this year.

I didn't get home until 12:30AM. My son's AAU game started at 10:40 over at Georgetown University. His team won their second game. The score was 80-65. He played a very good aggressive game. He has games today but I will miss them. :-(

I'm heading out for my morning jog, then I have to attend a board meeting at the Writer's Center in Bethesda, Maryland. I was appointed to the board a few months ago. Right now we are trying to select a new executive director, so I don't want to miss any meetings.

This is going to be a busy day.

Saturday, April 17, 2004

I had breakfast with my friend and fellow poet Naomi Ayala at the Diner in Adams Morgan. I always order the Greek Omelete. NA has to have her coffee. We talked about Bennington stuff. I'm glad she completed work on her second book of poems.

I did some reading for Poet Lore. I have 2 Bennington packets to get back to students this week.
One person was late again. We won't mention names in this public place. :-)

The mail came and so did the latest issue of Sojourners magazine. They published one of the poems I wrote for Reetika. A very beautiful layout. The poem is "Button Your Shirt Before You Go."
Here are the opening stanzas:

Dead woman loving him
from her grave.
Is this the end of love?


In the weeks after her funeral
he would lie across his bed like
a clean shirt that had fallen from
a hanger in the back of a closet.

I've written about four poems for RV. So much more to say...

It's 8:30PM and I just had Thai food with the family. We are heading back to Georgetown University for my son's second AAU game. His team (DC Warriors) won again. This time by 67-61. The second game is at 10:40 PM. I think there are 3 games tomorrow.
It's a golden opportunity for schools to see these kids. Several of the big programs are represented.

Well tonight and early morning I'll be putting my questions together for Monday's interview with Suheir. Sad to read the latest news coming out of the Middle East. This program with Suheir comes at an important time.

Friday, April 16, 2004

OK. The Yankees play the RedSox this evening. I'm back after a trip to Emory & Henry(Emory, VA). It was like going back home. When I departed from National Airport yesterday the fiction writer Richard Bausch was on the same flight to Atlanta. We had fun laughing and telling jokes. I love the guy. Both of us are no longer on the PEN/Faulkner Foundation Board. Those were the days...
On the plane I read a few chapters of Clarence Major's ONE FLESH. It's the last novel he published. It's a love story between an African American visual artist and a Chinese American woman. I've read better Major books...

I was met at the Tri-Cities by writer and scholar John Lang. Lang is editor of Iron Mountain Review and is an expert on Appalachia literature. We had lunch and talked the 45 minutes ride to the college. I stayed in the Alumni House.

I had about an hour to get ready for the dinner at The President's House. It was good to see Tom and Barbara-Lyn Morris. They invited a number of students and faculty member to the dinner in my honor. Emory & Henry seems to be doing well.
I did an evening reading at the Student Center. My friend Felicia Mitchell introduced me. She is so sweet and is an excellent scholar.Two years ago she edited HER WORDS: DIVERSE VOICES IN CONTEMPORARY APPALACHIAN WOMEN'S POETRY. I read some of my poems from what will be CIRCUS ANIMAL when it's completed. Since it's National Poetry Month I also read poems by other poets. I read work by Hal Sirowitz, Ahmos Zu-Bolton and Kwame Alexander.

Mitchell printed a lovely broadside of my poem "Rosa Parks dreams..." I have extra copies if anyone wants one. They are nice to frame.

Early Friday morning (around 5AM) I read the Louise de Salvo material Julia Galbus sent to me.
I might share some of the ideas with my Bennington students.

Robin Reid drove me back to the Tri Cities Airport this morning. We had a good conversation about politics as well as literature. It was like old times. Robin was the person who transported me back and forth from Emory & Henry and the airport when I was a DuPont Visiting Scholar at the college several years ago.

On the flight back to DC I completed the reading of Amy Gerstler's GHOST GIRL. Be sure to read the following poems:
"A Widow"
"Buddha Sonnet 3

In Amy's book is a line that will remain in my head for a long time. It's the first line of her poem "Listen, Listen, Listen":


Whew...I must share this line with folks when I go overseas later this year.

Warm weather in DC this weekend. I'm heading over to Georgetown University tomorrow to watch my son play basketball. I also need to get ready for my program with Suheir on Monday.

But first let me get ready and watch the Yankees put a hurt on the Sox.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

I got to work and completed the blurb for Rebecca Warner's new book NORTHWEST PASSAGE. Rebecca is one of my students from Bennington. She is doing very well working at Bucknell. Look to hear more from this woman.

I called a cab from Howard in an effort to get to the Anacostia Museum in SE. What a difficult task in the rain. Good thing I had a map for the cabdriver. I did several video shoots at the Museum for the upcoming exhibit. I recorded the statement I drafted that attempts to explain the purpose of the exhibit.

I read a packet of Poet Lore submissions. I try to do a packet almost everyday.

In my mail I received a video tape of The Writer's Tale Show I did at the University of Maryland (UMTV). I also received my Fulbright check,so now I can purchase my ticket to Israel.

Special thanks to my friend Julia Galbus for sending me a copy of chapter 7 from Louise de Salvo's WRITING AS A WAY OF HEALING. I'll slip it into my travel bag.

Thanks also to Suheir for the nice card. I'm looking forward to our program on Monday.

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Today was my son's 17th birthday. Next year he will be going off to college. This weekend he has more AAU basketball games to play in. I just had a few slices of birthday cake. :-) Next week is my daughter's 22nd birthday. A few more weeks and she will be graduating from college.

A slow day. My old friend Donna Mungen was in town from L.A. Donna is a writer/journalist. She has done things for USA Today and NPR. She was at the AWP conference in Chicago. We had lunch at the HU faculty dinning hall. It's always funny eating there. It's a place I go maybe once every two months.

My focus tonight is on completing my Bennington work and reading a couple of manuscripts on my desk. I'll work until 3AM and then call it quits.

Tomorrow I'll pack for Emory & Henry. I'll use the travel time to do some reading.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Rain all day. Some parts of the city are nice and green. I'm just trying to reduce the pile on two desks. I completed exhibit work on Valerie Boyd. I also received an email from her. She will be the first writer folks will see when they visit the show. I'll have to do a couple more folks tomorrow.
I just have to write good short bio notes and find a couple of good quotes from each author.

I had fun talking with my friends who work at WHUT. They were in Founders Library this morning shooting an interview with Dr. Russell Adams. I told them I was excited about Jennifer Lawson taking charge of the station in a few months. She should be able to place the television station on the map. It's a place that has so much potential.

I had to make the trek to the Writer's Center in the late afternoon. I was appointed to the board a few months ago. A couple of us sat around talking with DeeDee Clendenning the managing editor of Poet Lore. By coincidence the new issue arrived. I helped unload the boxes. This is a nice issue. David Lehman (a contributing editor) did our "Poets Introducing Poets" section. He selected the work of Jay Leeming. If you want copies of the journal go to the Center website:

This issue contains a review of THE PORCELAIN APES OF MOSES MENDELSSOHN which was written by Jean Nordhaus. One of my former Bennington students (Leslie McGrath) has two reviews in this new issue. I think this magazine is looking better and better. We are publishing many good poets. One can measure a good poetry magazine by the number of new writers it discovers.

It takes so long for me to travel from the Center (Bethesda, Md) back to my house. I have to take a train and a bus. :-(

Two good things in the mail:
Poets & Writers has Percival Everett on the cover. Glad to know he has a couple of new books coming out. His ERASURE was one of the best books I've read in the last five years. I could relate to the main character who is a writer and lives on the same street I live here in DC. The main character also taught at Bennington. Yep...all the stories are true.

In the mail was a copy of GHOST GIRL by Amy Gerstler. Thanks Amy. I'm packing this book to take on my trip to Emory & Henry this week. Amy gave a fantastic reading at Bennington last year.

Well, I've been enjoying that new Eric Clapton CD. Nothing like the music of Robert Johnson when it's raining outside and your heart is dry.

Sunday, April 11, 2004

I did a radio interview on WPFW this afternoon. I talked about HOW WE SLEEP ON THE NIGHTS WE DON'T MAKE LOVE. I mentioned the cover art work of Edgar H. Sorrells-Adewale. This is the second book that we've collaborated on. I also mentioned that this new book is dedicated to Zoe Anglesey and Reetika Vazirani. Both of them died last year. They were two of my best friends. I have a poem for Reetika coming out in the next issue of Sojourners magazine.

I left the WPFW studio (located in Adams Morgan) and walked down to DuPont Circle. I stopped at the music store and purchased a copy of Eric Clapton's ME AND MR. JOHNSON. This is cool CD. All the songs were written by Robert Johnson. It opens with "When You Got A Good Friend" and you can really get happy with "They're Red Hot."

I sat at a table in Cosi (DuPont Circle) and read submissions to Poet Lore. I have an editor's meeting on the 24th of April.

I just received a statement from T. J. Sallah for the Smithsonian exhibit. T. J. has written a biography of Chinua Achebe. Since the title of the Smithsonian exhibit is "All The Stories Are True" I wanted someone to expand on this statement by Achebe which can be found in his novel THINGS FALL APART. T.J. has done a good job.

This evening I'll continue reading Bennington manuscripts. I also want to read more of Doreen Baingana's collection of short stories. She is a writer from Uganda who recently won an AWP Award for new fiction. Her poetry can be found in my anthology BEYOND THE FRONTIER. Doreen's manuscript is TOPICAL FISH: STORIES OUT OF ENTEBBE. I hope to be able to get a blurb off to her by Wednesday. The book consists of 8 stories. At Danticat's reading last week at Vertigo I introduced Doreen to Renee Shea. Shea has been doing a number of excellent profiles of young women writers for POETS & WRITERS. Shea did P&W profile of Danticat as well as Vazirani. Maybe Doreen will be next. She is a writer to watch.

Saturday, April 10, 2004

A day of African JumpBall. My son is playing in the Charlie Weber Easter HoopFest. The games are being held in a number of locations around town. Nyere's team (DC Warriors) played at Galluadet University. They won their first game 91-56, the second they won 62-44. There is going to be a third game tonight at 9:30 PM. If they win then they advance to another game tomorrow.
Nothing but scouts and coaches at these games. Representatives from Notre Dame, Clemson, and many schools along the east coast. Former NBA star Buck Williams was in the gym. This is a good opportunity for young people to make a name for themselves and maybe get a scholarship to college.

Around 2 PM I took a break from the games and had lunch with Denise at Union Station.

I'm glad I did some morning work on my Bennington packets; I need to return them to my students by Friday or Saturday.

Friday, April 09, 2004

Early morning conversation with Charles Johnson about Madame Rice. I've always been critical of Rice and her lack of knowledge of the Middle East. HomeGirl probably knows more about football than Islam. Anyway I went out for my morning run after a fun exchange with CJ.

I need to stop buying two chocolate donuts every morning. :-( Karen Washington (graduate of Howard) came by my office with her son who is interested in attending the Capstone. They are living in Ohio. Karen would like her son to follow in her footsteps. She was a sister who really had it together when I met her many years ago. Good to see folks having beautiful children. Her son is 17.
My son turns 17 next week. It's important to take timeout and talk to these young men...the job is getting them to talk. I'm trying to listen more.

I worked on pulling together material for the Smithsonian exhibit. I completed work on Eloise Greenfield and started on Charles Johnson. I selected some quotes from Johnson's last book TURNING THE WHEEL: ESSAYS ON BUDDHISM AND WRITING. One line that I want to place on the wall is the following:

The black experience in America, like the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, begins with suffering.

I think folks will be able to walk around the gallery come to this line and meditate on it.

Julia Galbus sent me the outline of her proposal that was accepted for the Furious Flower Conference in September. The title of her paper is "What Does The E Stand For? It will be an examination of my work and career. It's been great working with Julia the last two years.

I spent the afternoon being interviewed by Denni Wagner for a program that will be aired on DCTV.
Denni interviewed me on the topic of black men. I made reference to images in the media, historical images, as well as shared comments about my own son. Denni is a cool person. She works as the Management assistant at the State of Bavaria Liaison Office.

On the way home (on the S2 bus) I pulled a copy of ILLITERATE HEART by Meena Alexander from my bag. Outside the sun was out. Good Friday. Amen. Nothing but poetry in my hands.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

A morning meeting with my friend Yael at Tryst in Adams Morgan. I reviewed an essay she had written and gave her comments. I dropped by the bank to cash a check and then headed to Howard.

I completed work on Danticat's copy for the Smithsonian exhibit. I pulled a few things on Charles Johnson. I think I can complete everything by the 15th.

I just noticed that I have about 7 manuscripts I need to read. I have a book to blurb and one to review and send comments back to the publisher; it will help them to decide whether they want to publish it or not.

The evening was the best part of the day. I laughed and joked with my friend Monica for a few hours. let me read one of those manuscripts.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

This evening I participated in the Claude Brown Writers & Readers Series. It was held at the SisterSpace & Books store on 1515 U Street, NW. The Series is an annual program for adult learners sponsored by the University of the District of Columbia, State Education Agency. The Series brings together writers of color with adult learners. The goal is to stimulate their interest in reading and writing. I was interviewed by Junette Pinkney about my memoir FATHERING WORDS. This lasted for about an hour, then we took questions from the audience. The second part of the program consisted of doing a writing exercise.

I wrote the following letter to my sister yesterday. It contains many of the things that I've been feeling the last few days. I have a deep respect for human life. I also have a strong concern for the protection of my cultural values and beliefs. I find so little tolerance for difference in the world today. I see so little compassion for one's fellow human being.
I think Malcolm X was right about keeping one's religion private. I think we should all worship the way we want. All holy places should be protected. I hate when people decide they want to kill in the name of God or that God has blessed them to kill. Sometimes I read the newspapers and I think I'm living in the Middle Ages. Are there Christians, Jews and Muslims on Mars? Should women wear veils over their space helmets or under them?

Hi Marie,
I can't vote for Kerry right now. I might if he places Edwards on the ticket as his VP. I don't think he can get elected without serious help. I think the CIA and other agencies failed Bush. I've never been a fan of C. Rice. She really has no knowledge of how the world has changed since the end of the Cold War. Rice is an expert on Europe not the Middle East.
Many of these folks have no understanding of Islam. I serve as VP of the Board of the major progressive Think Tank in the country and they have no understanding of Islam. There is a real battle taking place in the world right now. There is an Islamic Revolution taking place and it fuels historical conflicts like the Palestinian struggle.The Bush push into Iraq has opened the door to the establishment of an Islamic nation. This will challenge this country more than Saddam. It also will force us to compromise on democracy. Did you see how we closed the Islamic newspaper in Iraq because we didn't like what it was saying? What if the people in Iraq vote and decide they want an Islamic form of government? What are we going to do then? Tell them no? We are also fighting against people who value death over life. No win situation. You can't stop suicide bombers. You also have a lost generation of Middle Eastern youth who have nothing to lose because they come out of Palestinian camps or they have lost loved ones, lack education (except the Koran) and are unemployed. You can expect a terrorist act against the US prior to the November elections. You have Right wing groups within the US who will do it because everyone around the world is against stable governments. We see this is Africa, Latin America, etc. The death of ideology (Socialism/Communism) means the only alternative to capitalism is organized crime and materialism. This is why little kids in Sierra Leone are walking around with guns willing to kill anyone and sell their services to some kingpin strongman. Examine any picture in the newspaper from overseas and all you see are young men running wild and chanting nonsense and holding guns above their heads and stones in their hands. This is a chapter right out of the novel LORD OF THE FLIES. These kids should be rounded up and locked in prisons and reintroduced to law and civilization. They have no respect for authority. This is how the door to facism opens. People become afraid and look for someone to protect them.
They will give up all their rights for protection. They will compromise history and decency.
You can't be president of the United States and have people hanging your dead citizens over poles and telephone wires. If it was my call I would quickly wipe out a town or two. It's sad but that's what it's going to take. The world is like a Clint Eastwood movie. If you don't draw a line in the sand folks will knock down your sand castles or World Trade Centers. After the dust settles I want to know who has God on their side.


Tuesday, April 06, 2004

What a fun day. Remica Bingham dropped by the African American Resource Center around 10AM.
It gave us a chance to laugh and talk. Rem Rem is a wonderful Bennie. She graduates from the Bennington program in January 2005. We discussed all the projects she should be doing. One is interviewing African American male authors. So far she has interviewed Tim Siebles and myself. Next on her list is A. Van Jordan.

I told Remica to stay around and meet Eloise Greenfield and Ahmos Zu-Bolton. Eloise was on campus to be interviewed for my Smithsonian exhibit. Ahmos was in town looking for work and checking on his daughter Amber who attends Howard. It was good to see Ahmos and Eloise. So many years gone by. 30?

I thought my interview with Eloise went well. The film crew shot from about 2-3:30 PM. We had to wait for noise to stop outside the building as well as in the corridors. I asked Eloise questions about her workplace and specific questions about writing for children.

It was good introducing Ahmos to Remica. The guy is a walking anthology. Remica was also in town to do a reading at the Mt. Pleasant Public Library. The event was coordinated by Naomi Ayala.

Around 5PM my friend Bev arrived and we drove out to Vertigo to see Edwidge Danticat. We had dinner with Michon Boston, my television producer for Humanities Profiled. She shot some B roll for our upcoming interview with Danticat.

Edwidge read from her new book THE DEW BREAKER

While in the store I did some shopping. I picked up the following books:

ILLITERATE HEART by Meena Alexander
ONE FLESH by Clarence Major

I wanted to purchase Kim's book in Chicago at the AWP conference but all the copies were sold.
I needed the Def Poetry book in order to prepare for my upcoming program with Suheir Hammad

OK. I'll take a nap and get some reading done around 3AM.

Monday, April 05, 2004

It was cold today. I took the Metro to College Park and the University of Maryland. Judith Patterson interviewed me for her television show THE WRITER'S TALE. I read a few poems from HOW WE SLEEP ON THE NIGHTS WE DON'T LOVE and talked about how I spend my time as a writer. The writer being recorded before me was Patricia Sullivan. We met several years ago.
She teaches in the History and African American Studies department at the University of South Carolina. Her next book is going to be a history of the NAACP.

As soon as I returned to Howard I got a call from poet Ahmos Zu-Bolton. He is in town for a couple of days, exploring job opportunities. We laughed about being "old school" in the literary world. It will be good to see him tomorrow. Ahmos introduced me to the work of a number of writers including May Miller, Wanda Coleman, Ai and Yusef Komunyakaa. His Hoo-Doo magazine was an important small press magazine back in the seventies. The other two were Obsidian and Callaloo. It would be good for someone to do a RT with Alvin Aubert, Charles Rowell and Ahmos.

I worked on my interview questions for Eloise Greenfield. She will be coming to my office tomorrow afternoon. Her new children's book is IN THE LAND OF WORDS published by HarperCollins (Amistad).

Talking about books I received in the mail today a copy of Julie Fay's THE WOMAN BEHIND YOU.
She teaches at East Carolina University. It was good to see her on my recent trip there.

I got a check from ALA. Money from heaven. I forgot about my honorarium for doing the February PLA speech in Seattle.

OK. Game time. College championship tonight.

Sunday, April 04, 2004

I received a nice email this morning from Ai. It's always good to hear from her. I think her work should be required reading in creative writing classes. I hope she completes that novel she was working on.

I had to walk all the way to the post-office to pay my bills on a Sunday. Why? Because the Postal Service is removing mailboxes from the neighborhood. It's a dumb decision. It has nothing to do with Homeland Security. It seems someone is counting how many pieces of mail is in each box. Boxes that don't measure up are removed from the streets. This can make it very difficult for an elderly person to mail letters and bills. I could walk around the corner to mail a letter a week ago. Now, I have to almost take a bus. Soon everything will be done online.

I finally was able to clean my backyard. I did about two hours of work. Removing leaves and branches, pulling weeds, etc.

I watched the Lakers lose. :-(
I still think this is the team that's going to win another title.

I'll spend the evening washing clothes and cleaning my desk. I have a television interview tomorrow on the campus of the University of Maryland. I plan to read about 3 poems from HOW WE SLEEP ON THE NIGHTS WE DON'T MAKE LOVE. Right now it looks like I'll read one of my Omar poems and maybe "May 26, 2002" and "XandO."

This weeks looks busy. I'll have much to share in a moment.

Saturday, April 03, 2004

I made it to the bank around 9AM. With a few dollars in my pocket I went to Union Station and met Tree Swenson (Executive Director of the Academy of American Poets). Her organization is the sponsor of National Poetry Month. We took the Metro to Gallery Place and walked across the street to the King Library. The street was closed for the Public Library poetry festival. I introduced Tree to members of the library staff. Poets Ken Carroll and DJ Renegade were already there waiting for things to kickoff. I introduced Delores Kendrick (poet laureate of Washington DC) and Tree to the earlybird audience.

The weather was cold. Folks sat outside and listened to poetry and kept warm. That's a good thing.

After lunch with Tree at a nearby Cosi I returned to the festival and read several of my Omar poems.They were well received. Since it was an outside reading (and cold) I decided to go with humor. I kept my reading short.

I sat around and listened to a few other poets. One was Afrika Abney. I remember her when she was in the womb of Jonetta Barras. Whew...we are all getting old.

Tree and I walked from the King Library down to the Mall. I forgot it was Cherry Blossom time. There were thousands and thousands of people out. This city is really beautiful. We walked to where we could see the Jefferson Memorial. For a few minutes we stopped and went inside the Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Fighting the crowds we made it back down to the Metro and Union Station. It was good spending time talking with Tree. A long time ago we were the co-vice presidents of AWP.

Well, let me run downstairs and watch some Final Four basketball.

Friday, April 02, 2004

Morning meeting with Pearline Waldrop. She's the Visual Information Specialist for the Design Department of the Anacostia Museum (Smithsonian). She's the person at the center of the ALL THE STORIES ARE TRUE exhibit. I have to complete the text for the exhibit by April 15th. I gave her some copy of what I've been working on the last few days. We are going to have 9 writers in the show.
Since some writers never responded back to our calls we cut them from the list. The writers we will present in June are: Kenneth Carroll, Edwidge Danticat, Delores Kendrick, Octavia Butler, Eloise Greenfield,Walter Dean Myers, Charles Johnson, Valerie Boyd, and Samuel Delany. This is a serious playoff team. Pearline and I discussed floor plans and artifacts. I viewed the video interview that was done with Boyd.

I spent the afternoon meeting with Ada Babino. She is an African American filmmaker who graduated from Howard several years ago. She has been active representing independent filmmakers. We talked about having a film camp during the summer on the campus of Howard University. You can learn more about Ada from her site:

Talking about film....I want to see "United States of Leland" which was just released. I try to see everything with Don Cheadle in it.

When I get some extra cash I'm buying a copy of Eric Clapton's Me and Mr. Johnson.

Well it's Friday and it was a long week. The DC Public Library Poetry Festival is tomorrow. Can anyone stop the rain? I have to meet Tree Swenson at Union Station in the morning.

Sunday I hope to relax and spend time with my friend Susan. I'm glad she kept talking about READING LOLITA IN TEHRAN. That's what I will continue reading this evening.

Thursday, April 01, 2004

I took my early morning run. 10 AM Radio interview on WPFW with Josephine Reed. Her programs are always fun to do. I was there with librarian Ellie Dore. We talked about National Poetry Month and the upcoming festival being sponsored by the DC Public Library on Saturday. Ken Carroll and other poets were also on the program. I read a couple of my new poems: THE FIFTH INNING and THE HEALING QUILT.

A typical day at Howard University with phones ringing and students to help.

Two students from Catholic University came by to record me reading a couple of poems. I have work coming out in the next issue of CRUX. That's the literary magazine being published on that campus. The next issue will contain a CD.

I received in the mail a copy of Yvonne Bynoe's new book: STAND & DELIVER: Political Activism, Leadership and Hip Hop Culture. She listed me in her acknowledgements. I thought that was a kind gesture. Look for Bynoe to become one of our new public intellectuals.

I pulled my files on Suhier Hammad. We will be doing a program together at the Provisions Library on April 19th. It will be a dialogue/conversation with her. Suheir is one of the writers I really admire today. She seems to be walking in the footsteps left by June Jordan. What a beautiful person.

I had chance to go to a cafe after work with my good friend Buddy Bev. Good thing I'm not drinking beer or wine after a long day.

Tonight I have to complete work on my Smithsonian exhibit. The opening at the Anacostia Museum is just two months away.