Thursday, March 31, 2005

I take the world and lose it,
miss it, misplace it,
put it back or try to, can't

find it, fool it, even feel it.
The snow from a high sky,
grey, floats down to me softly.

an excerpt from "The Edge" by Robert Creeley
Another Obit. :-(
And now poet Robert Creeley is gone. I had the pleasure of meeting him once, in New Orleans. We read together, with Amiri Baraka. That must have been in the 1990s. Now what can we do, but push ahead and read his poems and watch where we are going. Drive, He Said...
Hey,all the news isn't fit to print. Yesterday, on AOL I was reading about Colin Powell's critical comments concerning the handling of the Iraq war. I respect Powell. Hey, the guy went to P.S. 39 in the South Bronx. Hey, that was my old elementary school. Hey, the guy went to the same church. Hey, I believe Powell gave an interview to a German publication. Hey, I thought I would read a story in today's newspapers. Hey, I found nothing in the Washington Post or New York Times. Hey, maybe I don't have the German edition. Hey, do you have one? Hey, what's going? Hey, what's next? Hey.Hey.Hey...this ain't funny. Call me Bert, not Fat Albert.
Melissa Tuckey pulled together a wonderful program at George Mason University last night. I participated in her POETRY IN A TIME OF WAR with poets Kakahama Askary, Rei Berroa, Christi Kramer, Susan Tichy and Peter Klappert. We also viewed fantastic excerpts from the film VOICES IN WARTIME. Don't, don't miss this film. It will be shown in the following cities on these dates:

New York: Landmark Sunshine, 143 E. Houston
Landmark New Metro, 2626 Broadway

Los Angeles: Laemmle Sunset 5, 8000 Sunset Blvd
San Francisco: Landmark Lumiere 3 California ST.
Washington DC: Landmark E Street Theatre

Chicago: Landmark Century Cinemas, N. Clark St

VOICE IN WARTIME is a documentary film which explores the history, heroism, terror and emotional impact of war, through intense images of war, the views of war experts and the powerful words of poets.

At last night's Mason program I read a new Omar poem. In this poem I gave Omar a brother. His name is Mohammad Ibrahim. He is a soldier in Iraq. The poem is in the form of a letter. It begins:

Dear Omar,
I know this letter will come as a surprise like Halle Barry doing Cat Woman II.
Words around me tend to keep their hands in their pockets. I never know when a word is going to hit me in the head with something. So I don't know if this letter is going to have a girl friend or whether it will get to the prom on its own.

It was fun riding to the reading with Diane, a friend of Melissa. Diane is new to the Washington area and experienced the Beltway traffic jam for the first time.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

National Cherry Blossom Festival: March 26 to April 10
The Japanese Street Festival is on April 9th.

Gordon S. Brown, former diplomat and ambassador will discuss and sign his new book TOUSSAINT;S CLAUSE: THE FOUNDING FATHERS AND THE HAITIAN REVOLUTION
(University Press of Mississippi, 2005)
Tuesday, April 5th, 12 Noon, Dining Room A, 6th Floor, Madison Memorial Building,
101 Independence Avenue, SE
The event is sponsored by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.
These E-Notes are reading like the Obit page. :-(
Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. 1937-2005
Cochran had that Miles Davis style. Sweet and kickass. Look beyond the OJ stuff and focus on his handling of police brutality cases. Police problems are often behind race riots and can give a city a black eye for years. Look at Cincinnati...
Sure folks knew Jackie Chiles on Seinfeld was Johnnie, but don't overlook another generation of African Americans who decided not to become corporate lawyers. Cochran made folks aware of race and our legal system. Sometimes you play the cards folks give you. When you win it ain't a sin. Hmmm a little Johnnie in me today. Well I know 2 guys who wish Johnnie was still here...Michael Jackson (again) and maybe Barry Bonds. One could see Johnnie defending Bonds and holding a baseball bat and saying "everyone fit can't you have to acquit"

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Baby, I thought it was a joke. I was reading the funny pages and looked at the strip Candorville created by Darrin Bell. In it he mentions how Tom Ridge our former Homeland Security director was appointed to the board of Home Depot. This was done after all the duct tape was sold! Is this a conflict of interest or just the Twilight Zone for Americans? Maybe I should sit on a board somewhere and give myself a poetry fellowship. Who gets the profit for selling gas masks?
Three cheers for Art Buchwald's poem "Casey on The Hill" in today's Washington Post.
It's a piece that should be posted. It's very funny. See page C4.
Yesterday was an Auden day. I read THANK YOU, FOG:Last Poems by W. H. Auden. I liked some of his shorts:

Many creatures make nice noises
but none, it seems
are moved by music.

Bound to ourselves for life,
we must learn how to
put up with each other

Man must either fall in love
with someone or something
or else fall ill.

When truly brothers
men don't sing in unison
but in harmony

I also pulled THE EYE OF THE POET: Six Views of the Art and Craft of Poetry edited by David Citino. I read Maxine Kumin's essay on "Audience." I had a nice chat with Kumin at the last AWP Conference in Chicago. Kumin writes the following in Citino's book:

"What rap reflects is social unease, economic disparities, and deficient education.
The purpose that it serves is to call attention to these inadequacies. Perhaps, too
it is a safety valve for publicly venting bitterness"

A good quote to have a conference around.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Another giant gone: Harold Cruse. Cruse was the author of the black classic, THE CRISIS OF THE NEGRO INTELLECTUAL. Whew...this was one of the key books I read in college. I was also knocked in the head by his REBELLION OR REVOLUTION. What I liked about Cruse was that he was a self-educated genius. He could bite a dog's tail twice
with his critical comments. I invited him to Howard back in the 1980s. I had him on the same stage with Julian Mayfield. Back in the days when folks debated ideas and nobody pulled a gun unless you were a member of the Black Panther Party, or maybe US or maybe the Republic of New some folks did pull guns -back in the day. What's its gonna cost for me to lie - 50 cents?

Still living and writing is Stanley Kunitz. He will celebrate his 100th birthday.
There is going to be a big event on May 19th, 7PM at the Tribeca Center for the Performing Arts Borough of Manhattan Community College, 199 Chambers Street.
Contact the Poets House for further info:

Another elder being honored is the historian John Hope Franklin. He will be celebrating his 90th birthday at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, in Washington, D.C., on April 15th. 7-9 P.M. For information go to:
The program is being sponsored by The Washington Interdependence Council.
Here is an important site to visit:

A new Africa channel will appear on cable later this year. Look for AFRICA TODAY.
Production will be coming out of Johannesburg.
It's always interesting how African Americans in high places are described in the media. Checkout Robert Novak writing about Condoleezza Rice in today's Washington Post:

"This willowy, vulnerable-looking woman wields measurably more power than Colin Powell, the robust general who preceded her."

Oh willow, weep for me or maybe I should hum Amazing Grace. Please advise.

See page E3 in the Washington Post today...a developer is pushing Condos in Anacostia. The entire city is going upscale and poor people will be pushed out. The cost of heating one's home is crazy. What's with the $400 and $500 heating bills? Why are we paying this? I see black elderly homeowners being pushed off their land. I'm thinking about curating an exhibit for the new Native American Museum. The title might be "Black People leaving without Reservations." Go figure.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

The good news.
Ichiro hitting .531 in spring training. He has a hit in all of his spring games.
.400 this year if he gets off to a fast start.

New book out. BYWAYS: A MEMOIR BY JAMES LAUGHLIN edited by Peter Glassgold.
In 1936 Laughlin launched New Directions with $100,000 from his father.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Another important person gone...Bruce McM. Wright. Black judge and author of BLACK ROBES, WHITE JUSTICE (Lyle Stuart, 1987). The book is about race and the judiciary.
Wright denounced racism in the criminal justice system. He challenged bail policies.
Police union members upset with his actions gave him the name 'Turn'Em Loose Bruce.'
Wright retired from the New York State Supreme Court in 1994.
OK. June 10th, 7:05 P.M. I just ordered my ticket to see Ichiro. Seattle Mariners play the Washington Nationals. I can't wait. I might try and put aside some funds to see him play on the 11th and 12th too.
Here is the order info:
I'll be sitting in right field.

I started doing my taxes. John Coltrane playing in the background...everything is going to be OK.

I watched both NCAA games with my son. Great games...
I have a reading at Longwood University on April 4th but I should still get to see some of the championship game.
A poet who collects experiences
doesn't trust his imagination.
- William Matthews

Morning cleaning of the desk. Correspondence out to folks. I have a Poet Lore meeting at 8:30 AM.

Friday, March 25, 2005

I received a request to reprint some fiction I published back in 1996. A request came in from Prentice-Hall. They are publishing AN ANTHOLOGY FOR CREATIVE WRITERS:A GARDEN OF FORKING PATHS edited by Beth Anstandig and Eric Killough. I gave them permission to reprint "Changing the Channel."

A received a letter from Dana Gioia inviting me to serve as a judge for the National Poetry Recitation Contest. This event will celebrate the talent of high school students. It will be held on April 19th at the Folger Shakespeare Library, from 7:30 P.M. to 9:00 P.M. Young people will perform classic poems from memory. The winner will receive $1000. Their school will receive $2000 for the purchase of poetry books.
Dana and NEA are doing good things.

There is a new book out from Russell Edson. The title is THE ROOSTER'S WIFE.
The publisher is BOA Editions, Limited. Paperback is $14.95.

I'll be doing a reading on April 18th at the new Atlas Performing Center, 7:30 PM.
The Center is located at: 1336 H Street, NE.
I plan to read poetry as well as fiction.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

I'm back in DC. I just returned from Silver Spring. Buddy Bev and I walked around Borders looking at books. I purchased GOD'S GYM by John Edgar Wideman and RETURN TO THE CITY OF WHITE DONKEYS by James Tate.

I'll take a nap soon and then clean the desk once again. A number of things came in the mail while I was in Connecticut. Saranac Review took one poem. They will be publishing "On Seeing the First Wife for a Second Time" in their first issue.
The magazine comes out of Plattsburgh State University.

My friend Molly in Saudi Arabia sent me a copy of THE UNFURLING by Nimah Ismail Nawwab. I also received in the mail Jeff Clark's MUSIC AND SUICIDE. This book won the 2004 Laughlin Award. Hmmmm.

Try and obtain the latest issue of THE BLOOMSBURY REVIEW. Larry Levis is on the cover.

Two upcoming events:

Canonical Formations in African American Art and Art Histroy: Meanings, Interpretations and Valuations. This is the Porter Colloquium on African American Art held at Howard University, April 14-16, 2005. David C. Driskell will be honored this year.

I have a reading sponsored by the Paul Peck Institute at Montgomery College, on April 4th, 1- 2:30 PM, in the Bliss Room, Commons, Takoma Park Campus.

On the evening of the 4th I'll be reading at Longwood University in Farmville, Virginia.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

I taught three classes this morning at Windham H.S. G. Zane and I had lunch at a nearby Puerto Rican restaurant. I had a beef, rice and some veggies. I've been numb since talking to Gina (Fine Arts Student at Howard) last night. She called and told me her brother was killed in Iraq. I don't think he was over there for even a month. I didn't know Gina's brother but just knowing Gina invites the war to knock on my front door. I think of Gina painting the last year and trying to complete her thesis project. She was looking at the blues and exploring it in her work. I teased her by giving her an incomplete blues expression. I told her it was a Zen Koan she had to figure out. I told her to complete the following - "You don't know what love is....

Now Gina calls and I listen to her talking about her brother. I'm listening to hurt and pain and anger and disbelief. I'm listening to my sister and friend like a brother but I know her brother is gone. I know that Gina might not be able to paint for a while or maybe she will paint in order to heal and find a way out of no way. I hold the phone in my hand listening to Gina talking about her brother with love and when I hang up the words are wet in my own throat, "You don't know what love is until you know the meaning of the blues."

Snowstorm coming into Willimantic, CT, in a few hours. I hope I'll be able to get to the Hartford airport tomorrow without any problems.

My son has decided to attend Widener University next fall. I think he will obtain a good education and have fun being on their basketball team. My daughter is getting read to take her LSAT.
I taught three classes this morning at Windham H.S. G. Zane and I had lunch at a nearby Puerto Rican restaurant. I had a beef, rice and some veggies. I've been numb since talking to Gina (Fine Arts Student at Howard) last night. She called and told me her brother was killed in Iraq. I don't think he was over there for even a month. I didn't know Gina's brother but just knowing Gina invites the war to knock on my front door. I think of Gina painting the last year and trying to complete her thesis project. She was looking at the blues and exploring it in her work. I teased her by giving her an incomplete blues expression. I told her it was a Zen Koan she had to figure out. I told her to complete the following - "You don't know what love is....

Now Gina calls and I listen to her talking about her brother. I'm listening to hurt and pain and anger and disbelief. I'm listening to my sister and friend like a brother but I know her brother is gone. I know that Gina might not be able to paint for a while or maybe she will paint in order to heal and find a way out of no way. I hold the phone in my hand listening to Gina talking about her brother with love and when I hang up the words are wet in my own throat, "You don't know what love is until you know the meaning of the blues."

Snowstorm coming into Willimantic, CT, in a few hours. I hope I'll be able to get to the Hartford airport tomorrow without any problems.

My son has decided to attend Widener University next fall. I think he will obtain a good education and have fun being on their basketball team. My daughter is getting read to take her LSAT.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Last night I read at La Paloma Sabanera in Hartford. It's a cool coffeehouse and bookstore run by Luis. Very nice vibes. As soon as I entered the door I could hear a recording of Sami Miranda and Naomi Ayala reciting a poem by Pedro Pietri. I felt like I was home. A good turnout for my reading. A guy I first met on Duke's campus was in the audience. The world is so small. Here is the website for the cafe:

I have to teach 2 classes at Windham H.S. and do a Noon reading. After lunch I think I'm going to try and relax and maybe just watch television.

Monday, March 21, 2005

I'm in Willimantic, Connecticut, the home of Curbstone Press. Curbstone released HOW WE SLEEP ON THE NIGHTS WE DON'T MAKE LOVE in 2004. I arrived at the Hartford (Bradley) airport last night.
Airports were crowded yesterday with students heading back to college after the break. My flight was delayed leaving Washington National. G. Zane met me at the airport and we drove to Willimantic where we had a late dinner with Sandy Alexander who runs Curbstone. It was fun seeing him again. I think I first met Sandy because of our mutual friend Naomi Ayala. I'm very happy with making the move to Curbstone...good folks and the books are being well distributed.

I had to leave the hotel where I'm staying around 6:45 AM this morning. Zane took meto WILI radio station. I had big fun being interviewed by Wayne Norman. The guy is a good sports man. Calls the UConn games on the air.

After the radio interview I went to Windham High School and taught two classes. I have a reading tonight at La Paloma Sabanera in Hartford at 7:30 PM.

One of my poems "Bloom" was just published in the April 2005 issue of Essence. The poem was reprinted from HOW WE SLEEP. In the book you can read the poem with the correct line breaks.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Great news...I just received an email from Brenda Marie Osbey in New Orleans. She was just appointed to the position of poet laureate for the state of Louisiana. Brenda, Brenda, Brenda. Way to go. Love to you.
What's going on?

The Piano Lesson by August Wilson is coming to Arena Stage - April 1 -May 15th.

Jennifer Nelson is on the cover of WASHINGTON THEATER REVIEW. Nelson has been the major advocate for black theater in DC. She is the executive director of ACTCo.

I'm getting ready to pack again for Connecticut. Clothes washing and a number of things to do on my desk. I took a few minutes off to watch the Wizards beat son and I watching the game like old times. He's back from visiting a college. Looks like his made his choice...
Just back from the Virginia Festival of the Book. I went down to Charlottesville yesterday afternoon. Kate Damon and her fiance gave me a ride. Kate's lovely mom Nancy is the genius behind this event. I was at the festival about seven years ago.
I stayed at the Omni this time. Around 7PM on Friday I ran into Steve Stern sitting in the lobby. Gosh, the guy looked familiar. I met Steve in Israel a few months ago. I love the guy. He teaches at Skidmore. We talked and laughed before I left for my reading at the VA bookstore.

I read last night with Barbara Hamby and James Reiss. This was a great reading. I strongly suggest you purchase BABEL by Hamby. It was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press last year. Reiss is funny and crazy. His most recent book is RIFF ON SIX: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS.
At the reading were my old friends Phoebe and my pal Susan from Farmville. Poet Hilda E. Ward was there too. She has a CD - IMAGES. You can obtain copies by writing to her at: Phoebe and I went to the Garden of Sheba (609 Market Street) and chatted about old times before I headed back to my hotel. I caught the last few minutes of Bucknell pulling off an NCAA upset.

Today I gave my second reading. I was with Karen Siplin (author of SUCH A GIRL) AND Stacy Hawkins Adams (author of SPEAK TO MY HEART) at the Garden of Sheba. The event was sponsored by the Links. My old friend Jonathan Coleman was in the audience.

Friday, March 18, 2005

I had a good time yesterday at the Centreville High School Writer's Conference. I taught a morning and afternoon workshop with about 12 students. I also read a couple of Omar poems during the lunch break. Other writers participating in the Conference were Greg Nelson, Bettie Stegall, Todd Crowley, Matthew Kaberline, C.S. Friedman, Richard Haddock and Sue Coryell.

Bettie Stegall made sure I made it to Virginia and back. It was good seeing her again.

Before my Arts Commission meeting I went to the District Chophouse & Brewery on 509 7th Street. These folks have good cornbread.

At the Arts Commission office I had a good time talking with poet laureate Dolores Kendrick. She is going to be inducted into the Washington D.C. Hall of Fame Society on April 17th. It's a Black Tie affair starting at 4:30 PM at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel (2660 Woodley Road, NW). Tickets are $85.
Other people being inducted into the Hall of Fame will be Sharon Pratt and William Raspberry.

The Arts Commission will be sponsoring the 2nd D.C. Dance Festival on September 30-October 2, 2005. For additonal information contact Mary Eckstein:

Well, I'm heading to the Virginia Festival of the Book...

My reading is tonight at 8PM at the University of VA.Bookstore.
I have a second reading on Saturday at the Garden of Sheba Restaurant, 12 Noon.

I received a new book in the mail from Dipo Kalejaiye. It's his novel and the title is FOOD FOR MASQUERADES. Dipo teaches at the P.G. Community College in Largo,Maryland. He was born in Akure, Nigeria.

Thursday, March 17, 2005

Early 7AM departure. I have to go to Centreville High School in Clifton, Virginia and talk to students about writing. They are having a conference with several local writers participating. I visited this school many years ago. Good to see they are still helping young people pursue the writing of poetry and fiction.

D.C. Commission on the Arts meeting in the afternoon.

There was an article about Jean-Paul Sartre in yesterday's New York Times. A reminder of what existentialism is all about.

"Existentialism defines man through his actions."

"The only thing that permits a man to live is the act."

"A man engages in his life, defines his profile and, outside this profile, he is nothing."


Is it possible that there is nothing outside the E-Notes? This is it? What does the E stand for? Existentialism or Ethelbert?
I must ponder this question for the rest of the day.

April 16th is the celebration of D.C. Emancipation Day. I have an interview with the historian Ira Berlin that will air during the month of April on DCTV. It's a great discussion of the Emancipation Proclamation. Michon Boston produced the show. The program also includes footage recorded at the National Archives with Walter Hill.
This program is part of the WE THE PEOPLE series sponsored by the Humanities Council of Washington, D.C.

Thursday, March 24th, 7:00P.M.
Jack Morton Auditorium, Media and Public Affairs Building
805 21st Street, NW (Corner of 21st and H Street)
George Washington University

Opening remarks by Marcus Raskin - Co-Founder of IPS
Panel Discussion with Naomi Klein, Phyllis Bennis, Damu Smith, Anas Shallal, Celeste Zappala.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

In Search of Bobby Fischer? The former world chess champion is in a Japanese detention center. He is being held on charges of traveling with a revoked United State passport. Checkmate?

"Most people go through life dreading they'll have a traumatic experience. Freaks were born with their trauma. They've already passed their test in life. They're aristocrats."
-photographer Diane Arbus

"A photograph is a secret about a secret. The more it tells you the less you know."
-photographer Diane Arbus

Gladys Duncan, the wife of Todd Duncan died on March 9th. She was 108 years old.Todd was the original Porgy in Gershwin's Porgy & Bess. Todd Duncan was the first black performer to join the New York City Opera.

One more son was just invited to play in the Senior All-Star Game on April 7th. He also received honorable mention for his conference play this year.
Shariah: Islamic law based on the Quran.

Stoning to death is prescribed for offenses (including adultery and prostitution). The penal code includes these specifications: "The stones should not be too large so that the person dies on being hit by one or two of them; they should not be so small either that they could not be defined as stones."

But who should cast the first stone?
The actor Bruce Willis on why he doesn't watch the news or read newspapers and magazines:
"If something big is going on in the world, somebody's going to tell me about it."

This is why I write E-Notes or what a famous African American writer might call "The Color Bert." Dear God, I mean Bruce...

This from the Carmelite Newsletter (

The desert hermits of the 3rd century were a model for the first Carmelites, lay hermits who gathered around the end of the 12th century on Mount Carmel (near the modern city of Haifa, Israel). Desert and mountain allowed the hermits to be free from distractions, disentangled from the complexities of the "world", and able to dedicate themselves single-mindedly to God. But withdrawal to desert and mountain was a "means" and not the end or goal. The hermits were not abandoning the "world" to its own devices; rather, they sought to give prophetic witness to the existing order (both societal and ecclesial). Through lives detached from possession of goods, honor, prestige, comforts and personal advancement, the hermits called society to different values -equality, dignity, mutuality, and justice. Through lives gounded in prayer, silence and solitude, the spoke of a radical and complete dedication to God.
An evening with the Winners of the 2004 National Book Awards - Speaking about "the writing life" on Tuesday, March 22, 2005 at 6:00 P.M.
National Museum of Women in the Arts
1250 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 2005

Authors attending: Kevin Boyle, Pete Hautman, Jean Valentine, and Lily Tuck.

New date for the Thomas Ellis reading at Howard: April 12 at 4:30 P.M.
The title of his new book is THE MAVERICK ROOM. The publisher is Graywolf.

Monday, March 14, 2005

2 Bennington packets placed in the mail today. Another ready for tomorrow. I should be finished by Wednesday. I'll then do my mid-term reports. I spoke on the phone this morning with Don Russell. Don runs Provisions Library. It's a great "third place" if you need a place to read, relax or do research. The place has many good journals one can read.
Provisions is located at 1611 Connecticut Avenue, NW. 2nd Floor. For more info go to: WWW.PROVISIONSLIBRARY.ORG

HU is on spring break so the campus is nice and quiet. I received an email inviting me to join the advisory board of the Paul Peck Institute for American Culture and Civic Engagement, Montgomery College. The Institute is run by a lovely woman by the name of Francine Jamin. I also talked on the phone to Askia Muhammad. Great guy...I hope he can pull together his Million Man March exhibit. I gave him Don's number at Provisions.

I spent part of the afternoon talking with a University of Maryland student who is doing research on the 6th Pan African Congress. The Congress was held back in 1974 in Tanzania. I was fortunate to attend and video tape it. Papers and tapes are in the African American Resource Center at HU.

Today I read new work by poets Randall Horton and Angela Herring. They were kind enough to send me a few things. I have 2 manuscripts belonging to friends in Israel that I have to finish reading and get comments back to. Hey guys - smile if you're reading this.

Tonight I'll look at what I'm doing at the Virginia Festival of the Book (Friday & Saturday) I have an envelope I need to open. Whew...I need an assistant too.

OK...if anyone wants to employ a nice young 18 year son is looking for an after school job. He also needs to do some volunteer community work. So let me know if you need a helper. Basketball season is over so he has evenings and weekends free.
Thanks. Today he received a nice acceptance letter from one of the schools he is very interested in. They admitted him into their Management/Sports Management program in their School of Business Administration. This looks like a real good fit.

Late night tonight and Tuesday tomorrow. Where did Monday go?
Everyday you should pray for others to be well. So I read about how the hostage in Atlanta makes pancakes for the killer and they watch the news on television together.
The guy can't believe it's him on the tube. The story is so strange but captures how unreal life is becoming. I wonder what channel I'm on right now? What is that guy Ethelbert doing? What's going to happen in the next 24 hours? Who's watching me? Who's watching you?

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Bennington work done this morning. Another packet completed. Susan who is up from Longwood U conducted her interview with Charlie Cobb(Civil Rights activist and journalist) in the sun room. Gosh...the guy is fill with so much knowledge and history. After Susan and I took him to the Takoma Metro we went to Silver Spring and had lunch. We sat in the Austin Grill eating and telling stories. Susan is like an old buddy. All we do is laugh and poke each other in the sides. Sometimes she says something and I ask her to translate...I love listening to her voice which reminds me of the poet Lee Howard who came out of the mountains and taught my ears to hear.

What's going on?

Jane Fonda's autobiography is coming out soon. MY LIFE SO FAR is over 600 pages.
Fonda will be on 60 minutes on April 3rd.

Basquiat exhibit in Brooklyn at the Brooklyn Museum (March 11 -June 5). The show will then go to Los Angeles (July-October) and Houston (November-February 2006).

The Diane Arbus exhibit is at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Garry Kasparov the top-ranked chess player recently announced his retirement. The guy is 41. It might be time for me to retire too. I'll be 55 this year.

Keep an eye on the media and monitor the increasing number of articles and stories about China. China will challenge the US for world leadership first in the economic realm.

Baseball is back in DC but it's on the HILL. The focus should be on the protection of future players. Young people need to know the harm steroids do. If folks don't tell the truth then we might have to grab a few of these guys by their shrinking testicles. Yipes.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

I did some morning banking. I read the Donald Hall essay in the latest issue of Arts & Letters. Coming back from the bank I ran into Miyuki out for her morning walk. She invited me to be on her WPFW radio program on April 17th. I told her I had a CD of a concert I did with Sweet Honey In The Rock. She said she might try and air it. So that's something to look forward to. The program was recorded back in the early 1980s by my friend Arnae. Funny...years later she is the newest member of the group.

Susan came up from Farmville, Virginia around 2PM. We went down to the Native American Museum. Great site. My first time there. So much to see. A very spiritual place - by design. Susan and I had fun just hanging out...laughing. I purchased a box of beautiful cards by Tony Abeyta. They were produced by Turtle Island:

I cooked dinner for Susan after watching some NCAA basketball with my son. Susan gave me a gift CD of Nina Simone singing some of her classics. Yesss. I named my daughter, Jasmine-Simone, after Nina. It's all good.

Well, now back to Bennington packets.
Baseball stats:
In the last 4 years Ken Griffey has hit 63 home runs. Barry Bonds has hit 209.

Friday, March 11, 2005

Many things accomplished today. I had an IPS morning meeting with a staff member. I participated in a HU graduate thesis meeting in the afternoon. I completed the reading of my Poet Lore packets. I pulled my file on Ahmos Zu-Bolton and discovered along with a pile of letters an unpublished manuscript. I wish Zu had placed dates on his letters. I spoke briefly with Amber...told her, I'll give items back to the family. I'll check around and see if there's a publication that might want to publish a tribute for Zu. The guy needs to get his due. He was one of the first black men I met who took pride in being known as a publisher.

While on the bus this morning I finished reading the Troupe interview in APR. I'm glad I just took out a subscription to the publication. I remember back in the day when June Jordan and Audre Lorde were fighting to make the American Poetry Review more American.

The new Arts & Letters magazine is out. Issue 12/Fall 2004. Donald Hall has a piece in it. Poems by Minnie Bruce Pratt and Carolyne Wright.

The new Speakeasy magazine is out from the Loft in MN. The focus of the issue is on faith. Six writers talk about it: Maria Flook, Brigitte Frase, Sam Hamill, Jim Heynen, Jim Moore, Scott Russell Sanders. I have two poems in this issue. The titles are "An Out-of-Bed Experience" and "Living with the Pickoff." The poems are on page 35. This year I will judge the Loft's Third Annual Speakeasy Prize in Poetry.

Talking poetry...Book party for David McAleavey on April 14th at 8PM at the Marvin Center, Room 403, 800 21st Street, NW. David will be reading with Mark Wallace.
David's new book is HUGE HAIKU.

I received in the mail a copy of SMALL ISLAND by Andrea Levy. This is the book everyone is talking about in London. Levy is a Black British writer. Her book won the Orange Prize. I'll try a small sip tonight...taste a few pages.
I believe Levy is coming to DC soon.

Mayor Anthony A. Williams will be giving his State of the District address on Monday, March 21, 2005, 7PM at The Lincoln Theatre, 1215 U Street, NW.

I also received in the mail a manuscript (poems) from A. B. Spellman. Anyone out there that wants to help get this book out...let me know. I'm going to bat for my man A.B.

OK, it's early evening. My friend Susan is coming up from Farmville, Virginia, tomorrow morning. It will be great to see her again.

Oh, Deborah Willis will be in town tomorrow at the Parish Gallery in Georgetown (Canal Square), 1054 31st Street, NW. She will be booksigning FAMILY, HISTORY, MEMORY: RECORDING AFRICAN-AMERICAN LIFE. 3-5 PM.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

I was at George Washington University today. It was a long day but a good day. I was invited by David McAleavey. David has a new book out, HUGE HAIKU. He serves as the Director of the Creative Writing program at GW. This Spring some of the other writers being invited to the campus will include Richard Bausch, and Joy Harjo.
I taught two undergraduate classes and then later I met with Jim Miller's graduate students. They are doing research into the Black Arts Movement. I was able to share a few insights. The title of Miller's class is "Writing, Race and Nation."

While visiting the GW campus I had a chance to talk with Jane Shore, Maxine Clair and Patty Chu. It was my first time meeting Chu who I immediately liked. She is teaching "Asian American Literature: Desire & the North American Subject."
Around 6 PM a small group of students, David and myself met at Bertucci's in the 2000 Penn Building. I had a cup of sausage soup and a salad. Oh, and a beer. I needed one after a long day.

Around 8PM I walked over the the Marvin Center and gave a poetry reading. I was introduced by Meta Jones. Meta is a MetaGem of person. It was great seeing her mom and dad in the audience. I dedicated the reading to the memory of Ahmos Zu-Bolton. I read his poem "Half-Moon Over Poplarville."

I just read the recent issue of Sports Illustrated. I find it silly that folks are still writing letters to the journal complaining about the swimsuit issue. I usually drop it in the trash without thinking about it.

The March/April 2005 issue of the American Poetry Review has a long interview with Quincy Troupe. The March April 2005 issue of The Writer's Chronicle has an interview with Danticat. It also has an essay by Kevin Stein about the poetry of James Wright.
Wright's selected letters are coming out soon.

On Friday, at Howard, I have a graduate thesis committee meeting with Gina Harris.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Sports time. Things to watch:
The Boston Celtics might develop into the team to watch in the NBA. This makes sense coming after the Red Sox and Pats victories. Maybe New England is what's going on with the only mistake being Kerry. I've never been a Celtic fan but I love Doc Rivers. The guy can maybe Wade and Shaq might have to wait. The Wizards are beginning to lose games. They might back into the playoffs by a game or two.

I need to purchase my baseball tickets this month. Ichiro will be in town in June.

Look for television to fall in love with the steriod case moving to the Hill.

So who should throw out the first baseball at the first Nationals game?

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Miss Walker, Miss Walker, your true love is dead
He sent you a letter to turn back your head

Ahmos Zu-Bolton was the author of A NIGGERED AMEN (1978) and AIN'T NO SPRING CHICKEN (1998). Yep. Little Zu was born in 1935. So he leaves us in his 70th year.

Here is what I wrote about him in my memoir FATHERING WORDS:

"He carried a bag of magazines or maybe it was just a pouch filled with goober dust, cat eyes and rabbit feet. The man was southern in the way he walked, dressed, and spoke. If it were earlier in the century, it would be a perfect example of the Great Migration. Here was the type of guy Langston Hughes would meet while in high school in Cleveland, the guy who spoke in the rhythms poets wanted to capture on the page.
Henderson had introduced me to the blues and African American folklore. Ahmos Zu-Bolton introduced me to himself."
Sad news entering the middle of the week. I just learned that the poet Ahmos Zu-Bolton died in D.C. Amber (his daughter) called me this morning and told me. Ahmos was a wonderful character and a major influence on my life and work. We met around 1974. It was just after he had rejected a few of my poems for his Hoo-Doo magazine.
In the note he sent back he told me the work was not hoo-doo poetry. I still have no idea what that was or is. I do know that Ahmos was an excellent editor and a man walking around with ideas and spreading folklore; or maybe it was what Sterling A. Brown called lies. I can see Ahmos coming into the African American Resource Center at Howard in 1974. He was working at a community center in Maryland and wanted to borrow a few films. Once we started talking, something connected our lives together.
I think we were both in love with the same woman. Her name was poetry. I invited Ahmos to what was the second Ascension Poetry Reading. It was held at Dingane's Den located on 18th Street. Here Ahmos met many of the DC black poets that were writing at that time. People like Adesanya Alakoye and Amma Khalil. Shortly after Ahmos came to work at Howard. He took my two old jobs. He became assistant director at the African American Resource Center and research associate with the Institute for the Arts and Humanites (under the leadership of Dr. Stephen Henderson).

On good days one could find Ahmos and I typing poems back and forth on our typewriters in the Resource Center. I created my character Bo Willie around him...and I guess I started writing longer poems because of his style. Ahmos was writing science fiction poetry in the early 1970s. He also introduced me to the work of the following writers: May Miller, Wanda Coleman, Ai, Yusef Komunyakaa, Lorenzo Thomas and the list goes on.

It was Ahmos who organized HO0-DOO festivals. It was Ahmos who was always writing grants and trying to get funds. He got the D.C. Arts Commission to help pay for the first anthology of DC Black poetry. That was our anthology SYNERGY that we published back in the day. The word taken from my reading of too much Buckminister Fuller.

I could go on and on about Ahmos and the stories would slap me on the back and laugh
until sunset. I'll stop for a moment right now and invite his spirit to drop by and tell the rest of the tale a little later.
Quite a number of new projects to prepare for. One is an interview with the writer Edward P. Jones on May 7th. I'm still in the middle of reading about Belafonte. I hope to look at some of his films when I return to DC this week.

I started reading LIVING TO TELL THE TALE by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The book had been on my reading list for several months.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Nothing wrong with my eyes the day after watching television. I thought the problem with Oprah's Hurston is that it didn't encourage me to want to read THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD. Once again casting diluted some of the key issues written into a text.
TeaCake should have been played by a darker character. Issues of color and class need to be addressed in serious movies. Too often we have "current" members of the black middle class trying to paint history over. I did like the character Starks putting a piano in his house and saying it was for looking at and not playing. LOL
I've saw that quite a bit while I was growing up. It's like buying a sofa and putting plastic over it. It had nothing to do with keeping it clean but instead was a way for the sofa to stick to your butt, so you could take it with you.
If you work hard for something you might just want it to stick to your butt. Then you can look around and still see it there...knowing no one has taken it from you.
Go figure. I feel this morning like I'm in a blacktown in Florida. Zora is that you?

Sunday, March 06, 2005

I found Chuck Colson's Op-ED essay to be quite good. Checkout "Martha Stewart Living Free" in today's New York Times.
Colson writes the following:

"There is one lesson that you get nowhere but in prison: Instead of seeing the world from the top down, you see it from the bottom up, the way God sees it. The change in perspective is forever, and provides a new compassion for the poorest of the poor."

OK tonight our eyes will be watching televison. Hmmm. What will God be doing?
Praying for Hurston?

John Ashbery on the cover of the NY Times Book Review. Two new books out:
WHERE SHALL I WANDER published by Harper Collins. $22.95
SELECTED PROSE published by the University of Michigan Press. $29.95
It's amazing how much work I get done in airports. On my way to Kentucky/Indiana I was able to work on Poet Lore stuff as well as a Bennington packet. I also had a couple of good conversations with folks I sat next to on the plane.

I'm out here working on a "big" project. More details later...

I just read an email from a student who read my E-Notes and felt I was far


and it was something she didn't care for. I think it's important to view the E-Notes
and agree or disagree with what I say. It's the beauty of the blog. So let me continue to hear from you.

I finally got to read those interviews with Edward P. Jones and Annie Finch that were in The Writer's Chronicle back in December 2004. I would recommend both. Jones talks about how he wrote THE KNOWN WORLD. Finch explains her interest in poetic forms.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Crazy me. I'm so lost. I thought I was giving a reading at St.Mary's College this evening. My reading was at the College of Southern Maryland in La Plata. It went well. The next reading there will be given by Wayne Karlin on April 8th; on the Leonardtown Campus at 7:30 PM. Many thanks this evening to Neal Dwyer who provided transportation and good conversation, to and from the reading. Neal is a poet working on his first book.

OK...I'm heading west for a few days. I'll be working on preparing for my interview with Belafonte. Continue to walk in the light and embrace all that is YES in the world.
DC News...
The best time to catch the Cherry Blossoms should be between April 4-9, 2005.

The winner of the design for the new baseball stadium will be announced next week.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

I had so much fun this afternoon. I went down to the NPR building (635 Mass. Ave,NW) to record a few poems for the Ed Gordon Show. I dropped by to see many of my old friends:
Tom Coles, Alice Winkler (my editor when I did regular NPR book reviews), Lowell Vincent Muse and others. It was nonstop good times. It was great making Janaya Williams laugh, as I tugged her along the corridors. Janaya works with the Gordon show and coordinated my visit. She said the poems I read might air sometime in March.

I spoke with my son and told him about the meeting I had at Howard. Another college just contacted him about playing basketball. I think he might be close to making a decision. I think it will be where he can get the best education ; it will also probably be the school that was interested in him for a long time.
I have an IPS meeting in Takoma Park with John this morning. I also have a Noon meeting with the Howard's basketball staff. My son has to make a decision this month about which school he will attend in the fall. I have no idea what he plans to do. I can't remember if I discussed going to college with my parents. Looking back it seems as if I was just sent off- shipped down south to D.C. Maybe they received payment for me. Hmmm.

In the late afternoon I have to go to NPR and record a few poems. It's for "Poetry Corner" which is a new segment on the Ed Gordon show. So far they have recorded Nikki Giovanni and Rita Dove. I would like to read my prose poem "The Fifth Inning" but I think it might be too long.

New developments in Uruguay. President Tabare Vazquez is the new president. His first act was to announce a "Social Emergency Plan" that contains food, health, job and housing components for poor people. He also established ties with Cuba. I remember in elementary school always saying "Uruguay" and looking for it on the map.

A number of Leftist government are slowly beginning to develop in the Americas. One can tell the difference in US response. Our focus seems to be on other parts of the world. What would James Monroe think?
It's so important for countries to elect "popular" leaders that can attempt to solve the problems of poverty and exploitation. It's not easy. Keep an eye on China which is slowly beginning to establish wider spheres of influence.

Ken Burns will be in town on Monday, March 14th at the Concert Hall, Kennedy Center,6:30PM. Free. Tickets are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
This program is presented by the Americans for the Arts in conjunction with its Arts Advocacy Day 2005 Conference.

On Friday I'll be heading down to St. Mary's College in Maryland to give a poetry reading. It's the beginning of travel time for the next two months. I wonder what's going on in America? It's almost time to take a peak.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

I'm behind in a few things. Yesterday I spent the morning reading Belafonte's eulogy for Ossie Davis. I'm preparing for my interview with Belafonte that will take place at IPS on April 6th. I'm trying to develop questions that will move beyond the typical ones I'm certain people always ask him. For example, I want him to talk about the great actor Canada Lee.

OK, you know what I'll be writing about all year long. So let's get started. The New York Times got started yesterday. Checkout the sports page, baby. An article about Ichiro maybe hitting .400 this year. But why do I love the guy?? Here is an excerpt from the end of the Times article:

"In the off-season , he turned down the People's Honor Award from the Japanese government, the highest honor a Japanese civilian can earn. It was the second time he has turned down that award."

"It is a great honor to even be considerd for the award, " Suzuki said. "But I am still young. I thought it was not time for me to accept it. It might affect my motivation. After I finish playing, and they think I still deserve it, I will be grateful to accept it."

Yes...this is how we should's all right in these comments. Nuff Said.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

One of the best recent developments at Howard University has been the school newspaper (The Hilltop) becoming a daily. It's one of only a handful of Black dailies in the States and the first at a black college. Ruth Tisdale is the editor. The paper is in its 81st year and was founded by Zora Neale Hurston in 1924. The readership of the newspaper is listed at 10,000:
I spent last night reading June Jordan's letters and working on notes for my April talk in MN. The letters are funny as well as sad. Letters are so important if you want to understand a writer's career and outlook on life.

I thought the Doonesbury cartoon by Garry Trudeau was very good Sunday.
Consider this bit of dialogue from one of the characters:
"Bush doesn't THINK about anything - He just BELIEVES things, so he's never conflicted by reality."
This might refer to many of us these days.

The next two years are going to be very difficult ones for the Republican Party.
What will they do if the war continues not to go well? Will new candidates seeking the office of the presidency break with the Bush path? A name folks haven't mentioned for the Republican ticket is the VP's wife. It's always important to look over the fence and check on one's political neighbors. I don't believe Sen. Clinton could win a national election. All the talk reminds me of when folks were pushing General Powell. Some of this news nonsense plays well on the East and West coast but what about the rest of America? I don't see folks in Mississippi or Indiana rushing out to vote for Clinton. I think a Southerner just has to be on the top of the ticket if the Dems are going to make a contest out of it. I never saw Dean in the White House. It's possible that our next president is making a movie or playing ball somewhere -right now.