Sunday, July 31, 2005

Ichiro hit .243 in June. He hit almost .385 in July.
He recently broke the major league record for hits in a player's first five seasons.
I've been reading articles about London after the bombings. So what's going on?
I dont't think it's about umemployment, etc. We might have to accept there is a generation of Muslim youths who have embraced a very strict interpretation of Islam.
They are using this as the foundation for an alternative or nonwestern view of the world. Many of the young people should be viewed as young intellectuals, men and women of ideas...
We are fighting ideas first and bombs second. Often the convert to a new faith becomes the "true" believer. We are seeing young people around the world embracing Islam which is not simply a religion but a way of life. It provides a way of living from day to day. It has rules and laws.
There are levels and degrees of thought. On the first level a person might just say his prayers 5 times a day and go to the mosque on Fridays. There are other levels and degrees where a young person might become upset with the treatment of Muslims in other countries. I feel the incidents in Bosnia changed many Muslims around the world. Iraq is doing that today. So who are the bombers? Young people who move ideas into action. They take a "leap of faith" and feel their actions are holy and necessary. This is difficult to stop but easy to recognize. All one has to do is observe how Islam changes African Americans in prisons to know that future "security" problems for the US is going to come someone who was was called Tyrone or Willie. Notice in London folks are from Somalia and Eritria. The movement is worldwide and it's held together by the belief in Islamic law. Look for someone in the future to be caught carrying a bomb who is from Northern Nigeria. The profile of Muslims out to do harm is going to change on a daily basis. It will also embrace people who are white and enjoyed listening to early Cat Stevens music. Hmmm.
So what do we do? The first thing is to avoid being stupid. Islam is here and it's not going away. Muslims are not going to convert to Christianity. Some will try to enter into interfaith dialogue, while others will attempt to bring the world under Islamic law. It's so important that we recognize the key to US society is the separation of church and state. The protection of women rights, Gays, and the rights of minorities is very important. America is still an experiment. Our ideas might not be for everyone; still I look back on history and feel the weight of the scales tips in the direction of freedom and some of the documents created on these shores like the U.S. Constitution.
Operation August. I moved my Bennington files down to the basement. I'm cleaning and getting my upstairs office ready for my new projects.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Sometimes the violence is crazy even outside the war zone. Terrorism can be your lover. Excerpts from the Washington Post today. Just excerpts...fill in the space or gaps with your own imagination. What's left?

July 30, 2005

A 32-year old woman admitted in court yesterday
to killing her boyfriend by pounding his head
with a cast-iron skillet after dousing him
with condiments.

J told police that she and boyfriend AJ
began fighting early October 17th after a card
game in the apartment they shared...
Initially, she said, she beat him
unconscious with her fists.

But when he came to she attacked him again,
pouring black pepper and hot sauce on
him, along with bleach and shaving cream,
prosecutors said. She then sprayed insect
spray in his face and placed a hot iron
on his lower stomach, they said.

Then she began striking the 44 -year old victim
in the head with the skillet...

But Jackson did not die right away.

As he lay on his bed, his girlfriend
tried to cover her tracks...

She discarded the iron, the bleach bottle,
and the hot sauce bottle and attempted
to clean the skillet...

She then left the apartment for about 10 hours.

When she returned...her boyfriend was still alive,
and she called 911.
Ichiro had two hits against Cleveland. .316 baby!
And climbing. Look for him to be hitting around .325 by next week.
My friend Caitlin came over this morning and in a few hours we put things in order in my basement. My wife purchased plastic containers for stuff so I could discard some of the old boxes that looked like they were from our war effort. So now things look nice and clean downstairs. Thanks C. I have a lot of files to put in order but that will be done over the next few weeks.

I watched the Nationals lose another game. The guys just need to start hitting. If they could score 5 runs a game they could win. They are getting good contributions from the starting rotation. The defense is strong. Look for this team to turn it around against the Dodgers. Braves are hot now. The team that is hot in September will win the division. I'll go with the Nats or the Mets.
Meanwhile, I'm going to enjoy Ichiro chasing that batting title.

Friday, July 29, 2005

My friend and fellow writer Kemp Powers just established his blog. Kemp is on the west coast. Check him out:
The Fifth National Book Festival will be held on September 24th. E.L. Doctorow is being invited. Doctorow was recently booed at Hofstra when he made anti-Bush statements. His invitation to Laura Bush's book festival underscores what I always told people - the politics of a writer is not considered when folks get invited to the Festival. This is very important. The Book Festival is a cultural celebration and an opportunity to promote reading. I hope the Festival becomes something every first Lady decides to sponsor in the future. DC needs a book festival of this size. Once again Laura Bush is honoring 80 writers. I was invited to the 1st and 3rd book festivals, in 2001 and 2003.
Yesterday at the NBC Summit I had a chance to talk with Marie C. Johns. She is the former telecommunications executive running for mayor of DC. This is a woman you'll like as soon as you meet her. City politics is something I'm always keeping my eye on. Marie C for DC? Interesting.

Writer Meri Danquah, who is presently living in Ghana is getting married on August 13th.Congrats! Meri is one of the women I dedicated FATHERING WORDS to.
The new Mosaic Literary magazine is out from the Bronx. It contains a long interview with me. It was conducted by Bennington graduate Remica L. Bingham who lives in Norfolk, Virginia.
For info about Mosaic go to their website:
Thie issue also features an interview with Tony Medina. I like the poem "Spidermanizm" by John Rodriguez.

J. Ford at the DC Jewish Community Center sent me some material about Leslie Golomb and Louise Silk. It's about their quilt exhibit "deez nites be al da same to me."
We might do a Windows & Mirrors program. W&M is a series I started several years ago at the DCJCC in order to highlight the shared traditions of the Jewish and African American communties.

Nationals lost 3 in Atlanta. Tough defeats but it also shows the team can hang with the best. Now they have to chase the Braves down the road. This is where guys have to get that second wind...and turn it on. August is when some teams get hot like the weather.
Notice Ichiro hitting over 310. Watch his average rise, baby. Batting title for Ichiro.

I had fun at the Provisions Library Open House last night. I love the folks there. I hosted the open house with Nora Halpern. Katy Otto is developing some good outreach ideas.
She is the director of Development and Communications.

The NBC Growth Summit (yesterday morning) was exciting. Great staff over at that channel. So now I'm spreading the faith of one of the networks. Yes - that was me yesterday walking around with an NBC4 bag. The place should be called New Jack City after general manager Michael Jack.
Stuck in the NBC gift bag with hat and shirt was a copy of Friedman's THE WORLD IS FLAT.

While traveling around the city yesterday I was reading 90 MILES by Virgil Suarez.

I did stop at the King Library and borrowed STAYING ALIVE: REAL POEMS FOR UNREAL TIMES edited by Neil Astley and Allen Ginsberg's POEMS FOR THE NATION: A COLLECTION OF CONTEMPORARY POLITICAL POEMS.

Today I'll meet with Michon at the HU Resource Center and record the v/o for the next Humanities Profiled (DCTV).It's my interview with Roger Wilkins.

I'll also meet with Gina Lewis and walk over to the HU bookstore. Gina is going to photograph the mural inside the store. Yes - that's my face on the wall with a class of other Black writers such as Sterling A. Brown.
I was thinking of maybe doing postcards that promote the mural.This might be another project to do with my old buddy Julia Jones who is living in Florida now.

On Saturday, my friend Caitlin will be coming over to the house to help me put my basement files in order. So much to file and discard.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I've been reading newspapers and magazines and wondering how some folks became experts on Islam so quickly. Hmmm.
Lunch meeting on U Street with Michon. We discussed who to record for our next edition of Humanities Profiled (DCTV).

I plan to sit in a cafe this evening and read a few manuscripts. I also have in my bag 90 MILES: SELECTED AND NEW POEMS by Virgi Suarez and HALFLIFE by Charles Wright.

Tomorrow morning I have a 9AM meeting at NBC.
4PM is an DC Arts Commission meeting.
Tomorrow (Thursday, July 28th) I will be hosting a reception with Nora Halpern (Vice President of Leadership Advancement, American for the Arts) at Provisions Library located at 1611 Connecticut Avenue, from 6-8 PM. Come visit. Checkout the current exhibit "Change Methods: Hip Hop, Social Change, and Global Perspectives."

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

I sent some poems out today. I hadn't done that in a long time. I need to begin doing this on a more regular basis.

I met with Dwayne Betts this morning. He is a young poet with promise. It was good connecting with him. I loaned him a Callaloo magazine that featured many of the African American writers that are shaping our literary world: A.Van Jordan, Terrance Hayes, Thomas Sayer Ellis and others.

The last trees were removed from campus. They had been knocked down from the recent storm. Its been very hot here. Hopefully my AC unit at home will be repaired. I checked on my Mom in New York. It's important to remind your elders to stay hydrated; especially if they live in small apartment units. Fans blowing hot air won't keep a person cool. I'm always worried about older people fainting and hurting themselves. Check on your parents in they are in the heat zone.
Love is a terrible light
that will not be shut in.
- Alexander Taylor

FireInk Revival, October 6-9, 2005 in Austin Texas.
A Writers Festival For GLBT People of African Descent.
Contact Lisa C. Moore for information:

Monday, July 25, 2005

Black Women Playwrights' Group presents COMMON THREADS: 16TH Annual Staged Reading: Excerpts from works in progress by members of the group: Donise Stevens, E. Christi Cunningham, Karen L.B.Evans, Betty Miller Buttram, Louis V. Gray, Jeanean Gibbs, Debra Mims, Joy Carroll, Maria Jones, Joy Jones, Debbie Minter Jackson, Debra Rose, Lois A. Wiley, and Pat Crews.
July 25 and July 26, 2005. 7: 30 P.M.
Studio Theatre
1501 14th Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 2005
Tickets are $22.00 at the door.
202 315-1321
Everyday Marshall McLuhan makes more sense to me. The following is an excerpt from his book WAR AND PEACE IN THE GLOBAL VILLAGE:

"When one has been hurt by new technology , when the private person or the corporate body finds its entire identity endangered by physical or psychic change, it lashes back in a fury of self-defense.

When our identity is in danger, we feel certain that we have a mandate for war. The
old image must be recovered at any cost."

"Every new technology necessitates a new war."

Special E-Note: This is my last term at Bennington. Exit for E'Bert. A new horizon coming into view.
Emails are down to 0 for the first time in many weeks. Hundreds to answer everyday.
A number of meetings to attend this week: Provision Library, NBC, and DC Arts Commission.

My son just came back from playing with his college team at Widener U. He is very excited. College in a few weeks. I'll get to see him play on August 2nd over at Georgetown U. It will probably be his last summer game. The next time I see him play it will be in a college uniform. A fresh start...

Sunday, July 24, 2005

I went downtown to DuPont Circle and had breakfast with my friend Andrea. It was good to talk after years of not seeing each other. We spent the time talking about art and politics and just stuff. It's good to have friends so you can just talk about stuff. We ate at Luna's on Connecticut Avenue. Around noon we walked to DuPont Circle and just sat and talked for a long time. I can't remember how long ago it was that I sat in this park, or maybe watch some guys play chess. It's hot here in DC.
Andrea and I talked until about 2PM. We walked over to Provisions Library and then Cosi before leaving the area. Andrea and I talked about getting together again - maybe next week. It's good to have a regular exchange with other artists. Andrea works in film.

I came home and watched the Nationals lose an extra inning game. These guys are going to have trouble in Atlanta if they can't find some hits in their bats. Jose G
took a bad pitch on the wrist. If something is broken and puts him out for 2-3 weeks look for this club to fold fast. Folks will be putting those W and DC caps in the closet. As the team begins to lose games look for the fan base to change. More people of color will benefit from folks "giving" away tickets like clothes being handed down from the big house.

I'm listening right now to a taped interview with Alex Haley ( a talk he gave in 1972). It was sent to me from a friend in Minneapolis. I need to make a copy and place it on a CD. It's a wonderful speech, an overview of his career and how he started writing.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

The Nationals won tonight. I sat at home and watched an entire game. Yesterday I went to the ball park and saw Roger Clemens pitch. The "Rocket" is a player I never got into. I guess I'm still a Koufax/Gibson type of guy. The last pitcher I was really into was Ron Guidry when he played for the Yankees. Anyway, I had a great seat at Friday's game. Two rows behind the Astro dugout.
Other good baseball news - Ichiro is hitting 310. A hot August will put him in the running to be batting champ again. I expect him to raise his average another 30-45 points.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Yesterday was a productive day. A morning IPS meeting with John Cavanagh. We reviewed some of the things I've been able to do as board chair since taking over in November.
IPS will be moving to a new location before the end of the year. We will be offering a course on the work of our co-founder Richard Barnet starting in September. It will be coordinated by The Social Action and Leadership School for Activists (SALSA)

A number of people came by the African American Resource Center in the afternoon. Kent Fielding and his buddy D.S. came by with their BIG BOOK project. Checkout the
They are going around the country and getting 100 poets to place a poem in their book. So far they have Charles Wright and Rita Dove
I met Kent many years ago when he was doing The Thinker's Review out of Kentucky.

Dr. Celeste-Marie Bernier (School of American and Canadian Studies) from the University of Nottingham (England) came by the Center with poet Andrew Green. I had fun talking with Celeste about her research into African American visual art. Celeste is a friend of Richard King who teaches at Nottingham. Richard and I are old friends from the late 1970s when he resided in DC.
While we were talking another scholar from Europe dropped in to do research on Toni Morrison. This person was from Hungary. I shared with her back issues of the African American Review and my files on Morrison. We agreed that Morrison's Paradise was not Song of Solomon.

I left work and went down to the D.C. Arts Commission. Talked with Dolores Kendrick
(poet laureate of DC) and a number of Commission staff members. A couple of us are going to the baseball game on Friday to watch the Nationals play Houston.

Before leaving downtown I went to Mary Swift's photo exhibit at Flashpoint (916 G Street, NW). What a show...64 pictues of folks from the Washington arts scene from 1975 to 2005. It includes photos of Michael Platt,Sam Gilliam, Alice Denny, Al Nodal,Jack Rasmussen, Beth Joselow, Terrence Winch, Bill Warrell,and so many others.
I spent the time hugging dear friends Clarissa Wittenberg and Andrea Hull. Wow...a return down memory lane. The gallery was filled with laughter and people pointing at each other. Checkout the show. It will be there until August 27th. Go see what I looked like in 1979.

Haiti: The Betrayal of Democracy - new documentary by Kevin Pina
Monday, July 25th
Plymouth Congregational UCC
5301 North Capitol Street at Missouri/Riggs, NW

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The short New York Times Op-Ed essay by Robert Cushing and Bill Bishop is very important. They discuss how rural communities in the U.S. is paying the highest price in terms of soldiers killed in Iraq.
"Military studies consistently find that a poor economy is a boon to recruiting.
The higher rate of deaths from rural counties likely reflects sparse opportunities for young people in those places."

What happened to the Party?
Former Black Panthers are trying to market "Burn Baby Burn" hot sauce. David Hilliard,Yes, I remember him, says the new sauce is aimed at "anyone who wants to have an extra savory boost to their food."
Should I next look for someone to change Fig Newtons into Huey Newtons?

The Nets look like an NBA champion team now that they acquired Shareef Abdur-Rahim.
What a roster: Jason Kidd, Vince Carter and Richard Jefferson.

Steven Pearlstein wrote the following in today's Washington Post:
"...the decline of the labor movement is as much the story of missed opportunity as it is one of the changing political and economic circumstances. And the blame lies squarely with union leaders more concerned with preserving the past than retaking the moral high ground and grabbing hold of the future."

I agree with that.

Yesterday I had a wonderful lunch with Libbie R. She is leaving the Folger to teach at Georgetown. Libbie did a fantastic job running the Folger Poetry series for a number of years. She's special...

Other special people are Lisa Page and Jabari Asim. Today we did the Diane Rehm Show (NPR) and discussed Ursula LeGuin's 1968 novel, THE WIZARD OF EARTHSEA. One can access the show by going to the National Public Radio archives.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Dana Roeser is the new Jenny McKean Moore Writer-in-residence at George Washington University for 2005-2006. She is the author of BEAUTIFUL MOTION.
She will be hosting a free community workshop from September 14 - December 7, 2005.
It will meet on Wednesdays from 7-9 P.M.
For additional information contact the Department of English at George Washington University.

Photographer Mary Swift is having a big exhibit opening on Thursday, July 21, 6-8 PM
at FLASHPOINT, located at 916 G Street, NW.
Her show is "The Arts Scene: 1975 -2005, 64 photographs"
The show will run from July 21 - August 27, 2005.
I guess my "head" is included in the show. Mary took my photo for the cover of the Washington Review, April/May 2001.

Academy of American Poets sent me a copy of Geri Doran's RESIN. This book is the winner of the 2004 Walt Whitman Award.
So many problems around the world. So why is K. Brown still playing for the Yankees???
Why give the guy a baseball in a big game? Yanks are back in first no thanks to Brown. The guy gave up 10 hits in 4 innings; including 2 homers. 6 runs. 6 runs.
Let me pitch. How much is this guy making?

Monday, July 18, 2005

What happened to SARS? Did it just vanish? Is no news, good news?
Through the practice of deep looking and deep listening, we become free, able to see the beauty and values in our own and others'tradition.
-Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, July 17, 2005

I spent the day talking with my friend Melissa. She is going to Blue Mountain in a few weeks. I need a retreat too. I plan to make a major decision this week regarding how much time I will put into teaching. I might not see the snow in Vermont this winter. How many punches can a boxer take to the head? How many more student evaluations can I take? Jab. Jab. Jab. I don't see myself being on the ropes too much longer. I have books to write...So I might have to bob, weave and leave.

It looks like Tiger has his game back. Congrats. Now if only Ichiro can find his way out of the woods.

New Iraq/Iran relations is going to create more violence in the Middle East. I can see many Sunni Muslims upset with this new development.

A new word entered our vocabulary last week: clean skins. People with no background links to terrorism who all of a sudden are walking next to you carrying a bomb. Yipes. People waking up in the building next door, brushing their teeth, combing their hair, putting their clothes on, eating breakfast, walking to the bus stop, getting on a bus, and BOOM. When will this end?

How can people pray and kill with the same hands?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

OK, summer vacation is over for me. Now it's time to get into completing projects and preparing for the fall. I didn't get back from Hartford until around 8:30 PM on Friday. Plane delays because of the thunderstorms. The trip to Hartford went well. It was good to spend time with my Curbstone Press family. I enjoyed my Thursday reading in the Julia de Burgos Park that's across the street from the Curbstone building. The next person who will be reading in the park is Jim Scully. Curbstone just reprinted his book LINE BREAK: POETRY AS SOCIAL PRACTICE; it was first published in 1988. At my reading was the poet Jon Andersen. Curbstone recently published his book of poems, STOMP AND SING.
In September (25th) the press will be celebrating its 30th anniversary. A big celebration is being planned to take place. The anniversary posters are awesome.
You will want to frame it.
Also at my reading was Alison Meyers who runs the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival. HU student Jennifer Steele works with Alison. Jen was at the reading too.

"An old world disappears, another one is being formed, and within this I am trying to conceal some good seed or other that will have its springtime."
- Pope John XXIII.

New Bob Dylan music is going to be released on Monday. Double- disc set.
BOB DYLAN: No direction Home.

Good buy - THE ATLANTIC magazine,FICTION ISSUE. On newstands.

Another new book by Curbstone:
THE SCORPION'S TAIL by Sylvia Torti. The novel explores struggles of indigenous people in Southern Mexico during the Zapatista rebellion.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

I arrived in Hartford this morning. I spent the early afternoon at the Curbstone Press office. I have a radio interview and reading tomorrow...then it's back home for me.

Tonight I'm staying in my hotel room reading a stack of manuscripts I packed. Is this my summer vacation?

I've been monitoring (reading) about the backlash against Muslims in England. Many incidents reported. I'm certain a few things are happening in our own country too.
Tolerance and respect for others is so important. The actions of one, two, three, or more people should not send us backwards into history. I'm in middle age surrounded by the Middle Ages.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

I met with Liz Lerman this morning at the Savory near the Takoma Park Metro. This is what Liz is doing:

Liz was awarded a MacArthur "Genius Grant" a few years ago.
It's amazing how quickly the London bombing moved from page one in the news. I did listen to some of the television "experts" talking about who might be responsible.
I immediately thought back to those "experts" who never suspected the identity of the two individuals who were shooting at people in the DC/MD/VA area, not too long ago. It's amazing how folks can't think out of the box, or try to place everything
into their little boxes of knowledge. Making bombs is just becoming too easy for the average citizen. It's like owning a gun. Does a person have a right to carry a bomb?
What about the guy who has a fight with his girlfriend and then wants to place a bomb on a bus - just because he had a bad day? Must we all suffer? We are faced with political terrorists as well as folks who might think "this" reality is just a game. That's the type of mind that unleashes computer viruses - just to mess with folks or see what that they can get away with. We also need to have more discussion about Islamic law. There are folks who want to live under it. There are folks that want everyone to live under it. That's where we have to draw lines. It's so important that we maintain a separation between church and state. Islamic law is just not going to keep an open door and protect people who might be Gay. How women are treated is still a serious issue of debate in a number of Muslim countries. So how do we confront people who don't want to compromise or even talk about our various differences? Difficult. Difficult. What do we do if someone is willing to terrorize our society because of what they believe? How much freedom will we sacrifice just to feel safe? Bert needs to know.

Monday, July 11, 2005

More news attention is begining to focus on the methamphetamine problem in rural areas.Many children are becoming orphans.This looks like another crisis in the making.
The writer James Haskins died last Wednesday. He was the author of many books on Black History for young adults. The first book he wrote was back in 1969. The title was DIARY OF A HARLEM SCHOOLTEACHER. The books I have in the African American Resource Center at Howard include:

Sunday, July 10, 2005

I have a busy week coming up. A trip to Hartford.
Tomorrow I'll speak to the teachers involved in the DC Writing Project. I'll share some new poems and talk about the writing life.
In the evening I'll meet with my friend Monica.

Today (Sunday) I went over to Georgetown University and watched my son play in the summer league. His team finally won a game. They are 1-4. The game went into overtime.
I saw Thompson (the elder) sitting on the otherside of the court, relaxing and checking things out. The guy is responsible for Georgetown's basketball reputation.

I watched the Nationals lose again. :-(
I think the arms in the bullpen are getting tired. The relief pitchers can't hold leads.

My friend Molly (from Bennington) was in town with her lovely family. We sat(after 5 PM) in a restaurant near DuPont Circle and had a nice time talking and laughing.
On the way home I stopped in Kramers and purchased a New York Review of Books. There is an article about Billie Holiday in the latest issue.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

They say that heaven is 10 zillion light years away
And just the pure at heart will walk her righteous streets someday

They say that heaven is 10 zillion light years away
But if there is a God, we need Him now
"Where is your God?"
That's what my friends ask me
And I say it's taken Him so long
'Cause we've got as far to come...

Tell me people.
Why can't they say that hate is 10 zillion light years away
Why can't the light of good shine God's love in every soul

- Stevie Wonder

How long do sleeper cells sleep?
Who wakes them? Why?

Paul Cezanne celebration next year at the National Gallery of Art in Washington:
January 29 to May 7, 2006.
The show will include 87 paintings, 29 watercolors and 2 lithographs.

BiDil is going on sale soon. The first drug intended for African Americans. The maker is NitroMed. They claim as many as 750,000 African Americans suffer from heart failure and are candidates for the drug.
Any patient without prescription drug coverge will have to pay $25 a month. Poor patients might be able to get the drug free. Let's hope so...
This drug according to a study reduced mortality by 43 percent over 18 months.

Ichiro is back in form. He is now hitting .311. Look for him to raise his average a good 50 points during July and August.

Talking son is playing in the College and Pro Leagues. The games are played on the campus of Georgetown University. He played a good game yesterday evening. His next games are:
Today at 1:30 PM
Sunday (July 10th) at 12 Noon
Friday (July 15th) at 6 PM
Saturday (July 16th) at 4:30 PM
Sunday (July 24th) at 4:30 PM

I'm getting ready for my next Muse to Muse program. Wendy Rieger dropped by yesterday and we talked about the Irish poems she will be reading next month. I'll be posting things on my website. This event will be held at the new BusBoys & Poets
restaurant located at 14th and V Streets. It should be fun.

I'll try and complete the reading of A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA today. I have a couple of manuscripts to review, a book preface to write, and a book blurb for a forthcoming book. Ah...the weekend.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

So my son and I went up to Silver Spring and had dinner. We also decided to catch a late night flick. We went and saw WAR OF THE WORLDS. You only need to watch maybe 30-35 minutes of this movie. This is a one sock film. You know how one always loses the other sock in the wash? I like the early humor and dialogue. Not much else. Dakota Fanning is good. She should get nominated for something. Cruise is just another helpless guy trying to figure out want to do. He lacks even the courage of his son.
Tim Robbins appears to be looking for the Idaho or the Texas border. It's a good thing the aliens don't say much in this movie. Cruise's son (Justin Chatwin) seems to be looking for the local Army recruiter. The guy wants to fight back even when he has no idea who he is fighting against. I guess since folks are trying to get to Boston it must be about patriotism. There are quite a number of flags in this movie.
So this is our 9/11 aftermath...The other shoe? Sleeper cells waiting to do us in.
Just waiting. Can anything good come out of New Jersey? And what's going on in London this morning?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

The musical "The Color Purple" will open in New York on December 1st. Previews will begin at the Broadway Theater on October 25th.

"The Smallest Witnesses: The Conflict in Darfur Through Children's Eyes" will be on display through September 6th at the Bronfman Center for Jewish Student Life at NYU.
Art work by children 8 -17, collected by researchers from Human Rights Watch.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The James Wright letters in APR are OK. If I have extra cash I might pick-up a copy of A WILD PERFECTION: THE SELECTED LETTERS OF JAMES WRIGHT. I read them during the holiday. I also spent time in my basement, cleaning and sorting stuff. I discovered a number of June Jordan items to ship to the University of MN. I also came across two pieces of correspondence from Reetika. I'll add it to her file.

I received a letter from Naomi Long Madgett in Detroit. They unveiled the bronze bust of her at the Charles Wright Museum of African American History on June 4th.
Madgett is a poet and publisher. She established Lotus Press in 1972. The press has published 87 collections of poetry. Ms. Madgett recently completed work on her memoir, PILGRIM JOURNEY.

Julie Fay's new book came in the mail today. The title is BLUE SCORPION. Julie teaches at East Carolina University. The new book is published by Truman State University Press in Kirksville, Missouri. The price is $14.95. Singing praise words on the back of Fay's book are Michael Collier, Diane Wakoski, Marilyn Hacket and Alberto Rios.

In the New York Times today their is an excellent review of Howard Bryant's JUICING THE GAME: Drugs, Power and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball.
Bryant is African American and is a sports columnist for The Boston Herald. His earlier book was SHUT OUT: A STORY OF RACE AND BASEBALL IN BOSTON.

If you have the NY Times also checkout the Health section and the profile on Dr. Paul Farmer. Farmer is the founding director of Partners in Health. Tracy Kidder wrote about Farmer in the book MOUNTAINS BEYOND MOUNTAINS. Farmer is making a difference in the world - in places like Haiti and Rwanda.
Lorenzo Thomas (Bio note): 1944-2005.
Poet and critic. He was born in Panama and grew up in New York. Educated at Queens College. His works appeared in many journals including African American Review, Partisan Review and Ploughshares. He was the author of Chances Are Few, The Bathers, Es Gibt Zeugen, Extraordinay Measures: Afrocentric Modernism and 20th Century American Poetry and Dancing on Main Street.
Thomas was the recipient of the Dwight Durling Prize in poetry, the Lucille Medwick Award, two Poets Foundation awards, and a fellowship with the National Endowment for the Arts. He was the director of the Cultural Enrichment Center and Professor of English at the University of Houston-Downtown.
Lorenzo Thomas is gone. Ahmos Zu-Bolton introduced me to his work. Lorenzo's poem "Sounds of Joy" was the last poem in Hoo Doo # 1. This was the little magazine Ahmos was editing out of DeRidder, Louisiana. It was the early 1970s. In that first issue keeping Thomas company were Kalamu Ya Salaam, Antar Sudan Katara Mberi, Ron Welburn, Dudley Randall, May Miller and Pinkie Gordan Lane. But it was that last poem by Lorenzo that knocked me in the head. It rocked with the opening lines:

The firmament of my dungeon
shakes. And I recline back
into my dramatics of darkness
and doubts of reaching a night

Where there is nothing
But light. And I imagine
that stars beg my love
In her same soft tongue

Lorenzo Thomas had a cerebral quietness mixed with gunslinger cool. He was modest, humble and friendly. His critical work was needlepoint. You read it and wondered why it looked so good and was amazed by its depth. Lorenzo was providing the critical comments we needed on black poetry. There is a gap or black hole in this area. Much of the work has been around the novel; especially those written by African American women the last thirty years.
I think the success of Cave Canem is going to require that we begin to examine what's going on in African American poetry. I think Lorenzo Thomas pointed us in the right direction. This brother was a flag marking a new continent.
And let us not forget his own creative work - those poems that keep us dancing on Main Street.

So long Zo. The music never ends.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Sunday I sat in Cosi (DuPont Circle/R Street) and watched the world do what it does.
I read an essay Naomi wrote a few weeks ago. While sitting in the sun, Julliette and then Michon passed by. Juliette is doing ceramics:
Michon is still editing the Roger Wilkins interview; it will be our next Humanities Profiled television show.

On the bus back home I read a few poems from Nathalie Handal's new collection of poems (THE LIVES OF RAIN).
Later I read some fiction by Flannery O' Connor.

I did catch the Nationals/Cubs game (from the 7th inning to the 12th). Man...these Nats could go all the way. Folks won't even remember last year's Red Sox.
Ichiro is back to .300 and playing much better the last 4 games.

I answered 12 interview questions and sent them back to a journalist in India.
I'll do some work on my poetry manuscript in a few hours.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

$2.00 book sale. Good for school children. My son is making the following titles available. Send me an email if you're interested (

THE CRUCIBLE by Arthur Miller
COLD MOUNTAIN by Charles Frazier
THE PRACTICE OF POETRY edited by Robin Behn & Chase Twichell
IF YOU COME SOFTLY by Jacqueline Woodson
OF MICE AND MEN by John Steinbeck (2 copies)
OUR TOWN by Thornton Wilder
THE ILIAD by Homer
A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND by Flannery O'Conner
ALL MY SONS by Arthur Miller
JULIUS CAESAR by Shakespeare

AMERICAN GOVERNMENT by Karen O'Conner & Larry Sabato
But what about the politics in the Batman movie? Once again one finds a subtle attack against liberals. Checkout Bruce Wayne's father trying to solve urban problems. What was he talking about while on the train ride to the opera? Glad to see he was pushing public transportation. But it's often good to have a car or limo waiting when you want to go home late at night. His death is a result of not acting against the homeless guy with the gun. Yep, liberals always fail to act. That's what the bad guy in the movie will tell us. Wayne's father felt he could just give the guy cash and he would leave his family alone. Nope. Bang. Bang.

Batman is different from his dad. That's why the Wayne mansion had to be destroyed, and rebuilt with some structural changes (the Batcave).Is it a question of heart?
Remember how Bruce's father had him listening to his own heart? So Batman rebuilds and fights the criminal underworld. But what about the issue of class? Bruce Wayne gives a homeless guy his coat - seven years later the guy is still homeless and wearing the same coat. Go figure. But we do know that the new Wayne business will support Affirmative Action. The first person Bruce Wayne encounters when he returns to the family business is the black receptionist. He is caught trying to show her how to play golf. Maybe her knowledge of the game will get her into the board room. Hmmm. I like how Morgan Freeman got a new job. What will the Joker have to say about all this?

Do we just defeat the bad guys or do we try to solve the problems that create criminals? Bruce Wayne must be a Republican. Batman looks like the type of guy who won't vote in the next election.Where does that leave us? In the Batcave with Alfred?
The Batman Begins movie is pretty good. I like how the film attempts to explore the dark side of Bruce Wayne. The fights are shot really well. A nice visual quickness
that pulls the viewer in until one is almost forced to cover one's eyes. I like the sound of this movie too. Morgan Freeman was enjoying himself. It was good to see him "riding" with Bruce and not having to drive; especially since Bruce had already picked his "daisy" before heading up the mountain.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Karibu bookstores are expanding into the Baltimore area. New site is at the Security Square Mall in Woodlawn. Congrats to Simba Sana and Yao Ahoto. These brothers would make Garvey proud. Imagine if they were in charge of the Black Star Line?

After 12 years, center Shawn Bradley retired from the NBA. When did he ever really play? A tall story looking for a plot.

George Weah, soccer legend is thinking about running for president of Liberia. Goal.
Maybe stability won't be kicked across the field.

Ralph Wiley died last year at the age of 52.
You can still read his work - new book: CLASSIC WILEY: A LIFETIME OF PUNCHERS, PLAYERS, PUNKS & PROPHETS. ESPN Books. $24.95.
Luther gone
And every woman looks out a window at silence

This week, the historian and writer Shelby Foote died. He was an expert on the Civil War. We did the Charlie Rose Show together when the movie Glory came out.
It was a program I really enjoyed doing. So many people leaving this year...

O'Conner leaving.
Where is the Supreme Court going? Look for the Reagan social agenda to be put in place in a few years. Women in Afghanistan will be supporting the "new" women's movement in the US. So quickly our laws can be changed. This is something I always remember Malcolm X talking about. Folks taking away our civil rights because they have the votes. The struggle continues or maybe it's getting started again.

90th Annual Meeting of the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, October 5- 9, 2005. Hyatt Regency Buffalo, 2 Fountain Plaza, Buffalo, New York. 716 856 1234
Bert is back! It feels good to relax and just put things around the house in order.
I might go to the movies tomorrow afternoon. I had fun in Boston. Last night I read at the Harvard-Epworth Church in Cambridge with Carolyn Forche and Bruce Weigl. It was so good getting a chance to see them again. I could listen to both of them read their work all night. We had a good crowd. I saw a couple of Bennies too. Earlier in the day I did a workshop over at the University of Massachusetts for the William Joiner Center. It was part of their 18th Annual Writers' Workshop. I did a session on how to move from writing poetry to doing a memoir. Things went well. Afterwards when I went back to the Copley House (where I was staying) I ran into Grace Paley.
We had a nice chat. She's such a beautiful person; a joy to be around.

During most of my stay in Boston I read Delville's book AMERICAN PROSE POEM: Poetic Form and the Boundaries of Genre.
Reading the book encouraged me to write "Tender Zippers." It's a funny, erotic poem that plays off Stein's "Tender Buttons." I read it last night and the feedback was good.

I need to get ready for my July 20th, NPR program. It will be a book discussion of A WIZARD OF EARTHSEA by Ursula K. LeGuin.

Tonight I'll sit down and read THE LIVES OF RAIN by Nathalie Handal and WHAT I WOULD DO FOR LOVE by Grace Cavalieri.

I've been reading more the last few days. Here are a few things you might want to look into:

- An article on Herman Kahn in The New Yorker (June 27, 2005). Kahn along with McLuhan shaped my thinking in the early 1960s. Kahn was my introduction to Think Tanks and thinking about the unthinkable.

- The New York Times on June 30th had an article on Marshall Allen trying to keep The Sun Ra Arkestra alive. Sun Ra's home in Philadelphia should be made into a historical site. The place would be a Mecca if this was Saturn.

Folks are getting ready for the G 8 Summit:

Opening event: Walls of Heritage, Walls of Pride: African American Murals, DeWayne Barton, "Forgotten Roots: African American Muslims in Early America."
Sunday, July 10, 2005, 3 - 5 P.M.
The Anacostia Museum
1901 Fort Place, SE
Washington, D.C.

A new book arrived in the mail while I was away. The title is:
The Black Arts Movement: Literary Nationalism in The 1960s and 1970s by James Edward Smethurst. It was good to see references to Henderson and Zu-Bolton. No reference to Miller. Hmmm. Folks will write you out of history if you don't have E-Notes. Enough already. Believe I'll run on and see what the end is gonna be.