Sunday, November 30, 2008


Call for Submissions for spring issue focused on Mexico

Deadline: December 15, 2008

We are happy to share a call for submissions from Nimrod International Journal, one of the oldest "little magazines" in the country. Nimrod's Spring 2009 issue will be devoted to Mexico. They are interested in receiving poetry, short stories, and personal essays-in English or translated into English-by those currently living in Mexico, Mexican residents of other countries, and others who write about or from within the culture.

Send no more than 10 pages of poetry, and stories and essays of no more than 7,500 words, in any subject or style. Translations should be accompanied by the original and, when necessary, a release from the author to publish in Nimrod. From the United States, mail submissions to: Nimrod Journal, The University of Tulsa, 800 S. Tucker Drive, Tulsa, OK 74104 [Mark both the outer envelope and the cover letter with "Mexico issue."]

Outside the United States, submissions will be accepted by mail or in the body of an email to The deadline for submissions is December 15, 2008. Please feel free to share this call widely. Visit the website for more information.

December 2, 2008
Tuesday 6:00 P.M., Busboys & Poets at 14th and V (2021 14th St. NW), Washington, DC, 2009.

Author presentation and panel discussion on "Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism, 1883-1918." Harrison biographer Jeffrey B. Perry will be joined by panelists E. Ethelbert Miller, Board Chair, Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), Bill Fletcher Jr., Co-author of Solidarity Divided: The Crisis in Organized Labor and A New Path Toward Social Justice, and Joyce Moore Turner editor with W. Burghardt Turner of Richard B. Moore: Caribbean Militant in Harlem and author of Caribbean Crusaders and the Harlem Renaissance.

Event hosted by Pamela Pinnock.


The nation's capital is bracing for huge crowds on Inauguration Day as excitement over Barack Obama's win draws travelers from all over to witness the historic event. Most downtown hotels are either sold out Jan. 20 or charging exorbitant prices and requiring at least three-night minimum stays. Rooms at Washington bed-and-breakfasts are going for $800 a night. And the suburbs are booking up fast. Marriott hotels as far north of the city as Baltimore and as far south as Richmond and Williamsburg, Va., are either sold out or nearly there, according to the hotel chain. Even campgrounds are filling up. Just a week after the election, Cherry Hill Park, and RV park and campground in Maryland about an hour outside of the capital, already had 200 reservations for the inaugural week.

- Michelle Higgins, The Washington Post, November 30, 2008

How good are the New York Giants? No playoffs for the Washington Redskins this year.

Look for the Wizards to lose their next two games against New Jersey and Portland.

Marbury should play in Europe or somewhere in Brooklyn. Why is this guy sitting on the Knicks bench?

Barry Bonds trial soon? Where is Barry Bonds? Where did Clemens go?


The last few days I've been talking with my dear friend Wissal Al-Allaq in the Middle East. We met many years ago when I was visiting Yemen.

Wissal is translating many of my poems into Arabic for the Kalima Project. See link:

Support for the Kalima Project:

I've been fortunate to travel to Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Iraq and Bahrain. I feel my trips to the Middle East are responsible for my development as a literary activist and a writer of conscience. The Kalima Project is a blessing .I am excited about my poems being translated into Arabic. I feel in a small way connected to a region that has one of the highest regards for poetry. We live in a world with too many borders. A good poem offers a window into another experience. When words touch the heart everything is possible.- E. Ethelbert Miller

Sometimes I wonder about things like lace, things that human beings make with their own hands, things that aren't much help as shelter from the elements or against war and other kinds of brutality.

- James Wright in a letter to Leslie Silko.

Taken from the book THE DELICACY AND STRENGTH OF LACE edited by Anne Wright.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

SNEAK PREVIEW: Click below.

CBSD Inventory

When did Bombay become Mumbai?
Do new maps betray the old? Names
change but the violence continues. How
do we turn the city of war into the city
of peace? Is love too difficult to spell?
Geography needs a better world.
Where do we go after Mumbai? Back
to Bombay?

- E. Ethelbert Miller

Restoring the Connection to the Natural World: Essays on the African American Environmental Imagination (Forecaast) (Paperback)by Sylvia Mayer .
Last night I was reading the December issue of Poetry. It features an interview with Seamus Heaney. He made a couple of memorable comments:

-Is it possible for the poet to be better than himself in the poem he writes.

- You don't have to abandon values which you have created yourself in order to be open in the world to other values.


YES! ORGANIC MARKET is now open at 2123 14th Street, NW.

This is in the next block north of Busboys and Poets.

(202) 232-6603

Some predicted that al-Qaeda would even inspire copycat movements, much as McDonald's inspired Burger King. Groups with no connection to Osama bin Laden - and no interest in being connected to him - might imitate some of his methods and tactics. By definition, the members of such groups would be civilians, sometimes living ordinary lives. They would not be combatants in the ordinary sense of the word. They would not wear uniforms, follow rules or organize themselves into anything resembling a traditional army. And they could not, therefore, be fought only with traditional military methods.

- Anne Applebaum, The Washington Post, November 29, 2008

In his inaugural address Barack Obama will be in direct dialogue with Abraham Lincoln, as they face each other across the Mall and all of American history.

- Ted Widmer, Observer Review of Books

Friday, November 28, 2008



I should be reading the stack of poetry books on my desk. I still have yard work to do. Oh, and don't forget about getting things in order for a couple of public presentations. But I've been reading The Selected Writings of Egbal Ahmad. His work on Afghanistan is filling in my brain holes about this country. So I'm paying attention to the Afghan culture, the geographical closeness to Russia, Iran and Pakistan. Ahmad's work pulls me back to those President Carter days and the boycotting of the Olympic games.

It would be a major mistake for the Obama Administration to get bogged down in this country.
It looks like a win less conflict. The increase reliance on drones seems to be the early approach to avoid placing US troops in harms way. It's obvious with elections coming up in this country that things are going to change and perhaps not for the better.

Quote of the Day:

You want ward Cleaver? Meet Barack Obama. Michelle is June Cleaver with a law degree.

Family values don't get more traditional than those of the Obamas, who ooze marital bliss and whose adorable daughters make feminist cynics want to bake cookies and learn to smock.

Though we may perish of boredom, the Obamas may do more to elevate the American family than all the pro-marriage initiatives conceived by those who claim to speak for the deity.

- Kathleen Parker, The Washington Post, November 28, 2008

Tears in Mumbai...

LISTENING TO This Is My World by Darius Rucker.

Back to then


See Doonesbury by Garry Trudeau in The Washington Post, November 28, 2008.

4 years of 2 P: Palin Preparation. Time enough to remove the pancakes?
Quote of the Day:

What we are going to do is combine experience with fresh thinking. But understand where the vision for change comes from first and foremost: It comes from me.

President-elect Barack Obama

My son and I went downtown yesterday and watched the Wizards play Orlando. Poor Wizards.
Once again I will go on record ---this team will not win 20 games this year. No defense. A coach who seems to be pressing buttons looking for the emergency one. How can one fix this team? This is a front office problem. Who dropped the ball and kicked it into the corner? Helping the Wizards right now is like helping the automobile industry. Should we? Can we? There must be an alternative...

Thursday, November 27, 2008

I am meeting you wherever you are.

I am on my way.

- William Stafford


Battered Women's Justice Project
The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Association of Haitian Women in Boston

In every person, there is something that is good.
Love prompts us to take action in the construction of a more just and nonviolent world, with solidarity as its most important feature. We must do so without looking back or holding onto resentments. We need reconciliation with all those who might have caused us pain and suffering.

- Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann, President of the 63rd session of the
UN General Assembly


Wednesday, November 26, 2008



In celebration of the baseball All-Star Game of 2009, there will be a discussion of E. Ethelbert Miller's THE 5TH INNING at Busboys and Poets (14th and V) on Sunday, July 12th, 2009. 4:30 p.m. The discussion will be lead by Michon Boston,
the beloved one who recently coordinated the Big Read in DC. Ah - and you wanted to know what was coming after The Great Gatsby.
Inaugural News:

MTV is throwing an Inaugural ball for President-elect Barack Obama. "Be the Change Inaugural Ball" will be at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center on January 20th.
The event will feature leading artists, celebrities and government folks.


The Wizards should hire Avery Johnson to be their next "real" coach. They should also give me or my son a front office job.

Publishing News:

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is suspending acquisitions. Editors will have to prove to an acquisition committee that their books will show concrete evidence of market interest. Does this mean we will soon be engulfed by books that only sell? Someone needs to regulate the book market and make companies produce books that are "good" for us. Don't you want to read good fiction and good poetry?

A slow market will mean less poetry for the consumer. Will major publishing companies go the way of the automobile industry and the old television networks? Perhaps...

I'm excited about Busboys and Poets doing my second memoir. I had such a horrible experience with St. Martin's Press and their handling of Fathering Words. They did zero promotion. Working with Andy and Pam at Busboys provides a wonderful opportunity to find unique ways to market a book. Hopefully our experiment will help other authors. It would be great to see Busboys doing a few books each year. Poets will be able to sleep well knowing their books are on a shelf near the bar. Are you drunk from poetry too? There are many future voices to be heard - many of us have been sleeping with the dictionary. Bookcare anyone?

Good to see Obama keeping Gates as Secretary of Defense. Below is an old E-Note from June 2008:

Saturday, June 07, 2008

THEY CALL HIM MR. GATES:In office only 18 months, Robert Gates, the secretary of defense has made accountability a central theme of his department. He has made major changes and has to be viewed as a star within the Bush Administration. Tough, good and very honest with the media.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


Quote of the Day:

I think obesity has been a problem for a long time. Many people have thought of it in terms of just appearance, but I think in our learning, obesity is as basic as any's linked to health. So that's why we're really focused on health education. In the past, its been taken for granted by women and men, too. But obesity is at the base of many ailments.

Dr. Dorothy Height



Treve de blues
- Leon Damas

Compassion is my art
- Grace A. Ali

God makes stars. It's up to producers to find them
- Samuel Goldwyn



Barack, Maya and Me: Coincidence or Synchronicity?

She was the embodiment of intellectual curiosity, an enlightened spirit and voice in my course on Pluralistic Approaches to Cultural Literacy, a graduate seminar for pre-service and in-service teachers that I taught at NYU some years ago. Maya Soetoro-Ng, the sister of Barack Obama, is the person to whom I am referring.

Her voice was that of the reflective practitioner, continually involved in critical inquiry, challenging the assumptions of the many people we were reading, and helping to broaden and deepen our discussion around issues of race, class, gender, and ethnicity. My goal in this seminar was to provide students with a framework and pedagogy for examining and discussing issues related to multiculturalism in their classrooms, to set a stage for an examination of texts outside the traditional canon and to determine effective ways to incorporate these texts into the curriculum.

This was on the brink of the cultural wars and I reasoned that before we discussed pedagogy, we needed to educate ourselves about the issues. Maya was a catalyst for much of our class discussion. She had a definite presence. Initially I thought she was Latino. Her thick, long dark hair and lightly shaded skin tone revealed that she was mixed, and her low, husky voice had an accent I could not place. When I found out that she had grown up in Indonesia as well as Hawaii, I understood my inability to locate her accent and to place her origins. When she spoke, all stopped and listened. for her stories symbolized the "other", among a group of students who were the "other" in their predominantly African American and Latino urban classrooms where they taught or were assigned to do student teaching .

Most of the teachers and student teachers in that class had come from outside of New York City and were experiencing the challenges of teaching in low income urban schools for the first time in their lives. Maya continually shared the ways in which her educational and life experiences had embodied aspects of the conflicts, policies and concerns we raised. She had witnessed at a young age, political repression, governmental raids and fear for her life and the life of her family. She knew what it was like to live in a "war zone" and to be surrounded by ethnic, religious and political conflict.

As we read many texts and discussed how to use literary and nonfiction texts to teach the conflicts, how to get our students to uncover assumptions and discover what was not being said, and how to fill in the voids that had been left out of the textbooks and novels students were reading, I can still hear Maya's deep resounding voice providing us with a perspective of someone who had an insider's and outsider's view of our educational system. Her years in Indonesia had made her astutely aware of the need to create safe places for people to resolve their conflicts.

What also stands out clearly for me is Maya's continual reference to her brother. She was extremely proud of him and she felt that our work and world view were on the same plane and that we should connect in some way. She really wanted me to meet him and would talk about how her brother would be stimulated by the discussions and debates that we were having in our seminar and how his work embodied many of the issues that we were exploring. In her view, his vision and work were in sync with what we articulated was necessary to diversify and expand the curriculum. He would appreciate the need to rethink our curriculum and to make sure that under-represented voices were included.

He would understand our need to establish a new canon of literary texts that was broader, richer and deepened by the inclusion of new voices, a canon that did not exclude but brought differing views into contact with each other. He, Barack Obama, was someone who would embrace the diverse ideas and viewpoints we raised in our class discussions. As I now reflect on the power and value of that seminar, it is very apparent that our dialogue, debate, and talks symbolized many of the principles on which Obama has based his vision.

We began our class with honest and in-depth discussions of what it meant to be an American, and how our understanding of what this meant was both shaped and limited by our experiences, our perceptions, our stereotypes, our prejudices and by the fact that racism was socially constructed and did exist. Some realized that their perceptions of what it meant to be an American were very narrow and that when they thought of an American they immediately thought of a white person. They relegated persons of color to the margins, for in their view these persons were in the minority and did not represent the "true American."

Barack Obama's ascendancy to President-elect has redefined for many what it means to be an American. No one can deny the historical significance and impact of his Presidential election to this nation and the world. His talk on race underscored the fact that this is still an issue which must be addressed; it has not gone away with his election to the Presidency. All of America has had to readjust their notions of the American presidency on a national as well as global level.

He has highlighted the need for having conversations with those who have differing views, the need to be respectful to others, and the need to engage leaders of diverse ideologies, religions, politics and worldviews in policy and solution based discussions that will benefit the entire world.

When I met Maya, little did I know how the ideals and views that we discussed and raised would be actualized on such a grand political scale. While we were exploring ways to make our curriculum and pedagogy more pluralistic and our literary texts more diverse, Barack Obama was charting a course that would represent the manifestation of pluralism on the national and world stage from political, social and cultural perspectives. Our class discussions were a foreshadowing of what could occur if we made conscious efforts to have transparent discussions on race, ethnicity, and pluralism with those who were teaching our students.

Maya's contribution was indeed a catalyst for this. So I ask, coincidence or synchronicity? Maya had told me his name but it did not register at that time; I knew that the man whom she spoke of was doing important work and I admired that he was engaged in raising issues of pluralism and diversity. When Barack Obama spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, a former student of mine called and asked me if I had remembered Maya. "Of course." I said. "I had always wondered what had happened to her for she had such a presence and had really helped to make the class a site of intellectual inquiry." My student replied that Barack Obama was Maya's brother. And I thought to myself, so he is the young man whom Maya always spoke of; he is the one whom she wanted me to meet.

Obama had first entered my life through Maya. His presence was a quiet force in the background and his vision reinforced the goals we wanted to achieve in Pluralistic Approaches to Cultural Literacy. I believe in synchronicity rather than coincidence. The divine plan was in order and although he and I never met, I was given an opportunity to meet this man vicariously. Barack's spirit, through his sister, infused our class discussions with a highly intense energy level. In addition to observing Obama's inspirational ascendancy to the Presidency of one of the most powerful countries in the world, I have experienced the impact that Barack and his message have had through my sons, Jamal Kwame Greene, a professor in constitutional law, who has been so supportive of him that he went to Iowa, Philadelphia and Ohio to work on his campaigns and my son Talib Kweli Greene, a hip hop artist, who after being disillusioned by politicians and politics over the last eight years, was inspired to compose lyrics that would garner support for him.

In an age that can predict the statistics of how many black men will end up in prison by looking at the income level and age of children in the third grade, the symbol that Barack Obama's Presidency has provided to young men in our country is invaluable. Young black men such as Jamal and Talib, have not only been a witness to the fulfillment of a vision and dream by those black people and civil rights leaders who laid the path for this event to occur, their children and young black men now have the opportunity to realize their dreams through expanded life choices.

The spirit and vision of Barack Obama have thus touched my life on several levels. As we move along our journey through life, our memories converge to create a history of our life on this planet. I accept and truly value the history created by the memory of Barack, Maya and me.

Bio Note:

Brenda M. Greene, Ph.D. is Professor of English and Executive Director of the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York.

What does the E stand for? Erasure?

I started reading my African American Review. I checked to see if my name was still listed among the advisory editors. With so many closings you never know. I was reading Nielsen's foreword and chuckled when I read the following:

I suspect that there are any number of more experimental novelists out there who are having a hard time getting a hearing. I know that there are more innovative poets out there because I see their work and hear them at readings, but they are not so often pushed forward as the exemplars of the post-soul, no matter how exemplary their work may in fact be.

Nielsen only has to proof his own essay to discover the problem. It has to do with the names he mentions and the names left out or reduced to the "shape and forms of things unknown." I find it funny that writers like Ahmos Zu-Bolton and Wanda Coleman are seldom mention when people make reference or compile lists. If you want to know where many African American experimental writers can be found just go ask giovanni singleton. This woman is out there in California like an undiscovered Aretha. Why do so many others disguise their voices as sound? Lady G has created the finest literary publication since Essex Hemphill gave us Nethula.

The problem with looking for the "future in the present" is that we forget about those individuals who decided to reach the future by moving beyond the past.

Nielsen makes reference to Stephen Henderson's theory of saturation. Henderson's last work is actually found in the journal Sagala. Here we find Henderson exploring the scientific genius of the Dogon and being a literary Sun Ra. Henderson understood time travel. One can go back to the future. The question we must ask today is which way is visionary?

Monday, November 24, 2008


I've always been an AL fan. I'm not talking baseball but literature. Aldon Lynn Nielsen in those early days was known as A.L before there was A.I. I'm not talking basketball just literary answers. It's good to see Nielsen's essay "Foreword: Preliminary Postings from a Neo-Soul" as the opening act of the latest issue of the African American Review. Folks need to run out and get this issue before descending on DC for Obama Oath Day/January 20th. Don't know if you're post-racial yet? Well when you're dancing at those Inaugural balls be sure your step ain't post-soul before midnight. Watch your shoe and don't touch the slipper if you "know" in your heart you ain't colored. This new issue of the African American Review looks like a Smart-Mag. The type of publication you can pack and read on the Metro. If Clay had a copy he would never give LuLa a glance. Oh, my Dutchman days and ways. I looked at the names in the African American Review and I recognized no one from my plantation or E. Ethelbert Miller days. Today my soul has been posted. How long has that Soul Train been gone?

I sent this link to my son. Maybe you might be interested in it.

Institute for Policy Studies
For immediate release

Contacts: Sarah Anderson; (202) 234-9382 x227

Emily Schwartz Greco;(202) 297-5412

Bailouts Dwarf Spending on Climate and Poverty Crises U.S., European Governments Set to Spend 40 Times More to Rescue Financial Firms than to Fight Climate and Poverty Crises in the Developing World

Washington, D.C. – A new report finds that the approximately $4.1 trillion the United States and European governments have committed to rescue financial firms is 40 times the money they’re spending to fight climate and poverty crises in the developing world. This Institute for Policy Studies report, Skewed Priorities: How the Bailouts Dwarf Other Global Crisis Spending, is available on the IPS Web site at:

The report is being released in advance of two summits, where rich country governments are widely expected to use the cost of their financial sector bailouts as an excuse to backtrack on global aid and climate finance commitments.

From November 29 to December 2, representatives of United Nations member states will converge at the Financing for Development conference in Doha, Qatar to review aid obligations made six years ago.

From December 1 to 12, international negotiators will convene in Pozna , Poland to hammer out commitments to fighting climate change, including climate-related financial assistance for developing countries. “The financial crisis is only one of multiple crises that will affect every nation ­ rich or poor,” explains IPS Director John Cavanagh. “Skyrocketing poverty and unemployment in the developing world will mean even more brutal global competition for jobs. Climate change imperils the very future of the planet. And yet thus far, the richest nations in the world appear fixated almost entirely on responding to the financial crisis, and specifically, on propping up their own financial firms.”

KEY FINDINGS RATIO OF FINANCIAL BAILOUTS TO DEVELOPMENT AID: U.S. and European governments have committed approximately $4.1 trillion to aid struggling banks and other financial institutions. That’s more than 45 times the sums they spent on development aid last year. AIG BAILOUT ALONE TOPS AID: The U.S. government’s $152.5 billion rescue plan for one single company ­ AIG ­ far exceeds the $90.7 billion U.S. and European governments spent on development aid in 2007.

BEAR STEARNS REAPS MORE THAN U.S. AID RECIPIENTS: The U.S. government spent $23.2 billion in aid to all developing countries in 2007 ­ far less than the $29 billion bailout for investment bank Bear Stearns.

FANNIE/FREDDIE BAILOUT NEARLY 1,000 TIMES U.S HAITI AID: The U.S. government has committed $200 billion to prop up mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a figure that dwarfs the $209 million in economic aid in 2007 to Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country.

RATIO OF FINANCIAL BAILOUTS TO CLIMATE FINANCE: Although the climate crisis poses catastrophic risks to the global economy, U.S. and Western European governments have committed 313 times more to rescuing financial firms than the $13.1 billion in total new commitments made to help developing countries respond to the climate crisis over the next several years.

UBS BAILOUT FIVE TIMES CLIMATE FINANCE: The Swiss government has committed $60 billion to rescue the ailing investment bank UBS. That’s more than five times the amount that all Western European governments have committed, above and beyond development aid, in climate finance for developing countries.

U.S. CONTRIBUTIONS TO CLIMATE FINANCE = $0: The U.S. Congress hasn’t approved any contributions to the developing world’s climate change efforts, in part because the Bush administration insisted such financing be channeled through the World Bank, an institution with a poor environmental track record. “Such extremely lopsided priorities will come back to haunt the United States and the rest of the global North in the long run,” says IPS Global Economy Project Director Sarah Anderson. “The richer countries not only have an obligation to clean up the messes they’ve made abroad. It’s also in their interest.”

The 16-page report “Skewed Priorities: How the Bailouts Dwarf Other Global Crisis Spending” is available online at: include: Sarah Anderson, IPS Global Economy Project Director; John Cavanagh, IPS Director; and Janet Redman, Researcher with the Institute’s Sustainable Energy and Economy Network.

For more than four decades, the Institute for Policy Studies has transformed ideas into action for peace, justice, and the environment. It is a progressive multi-issue think tank.


Now Eddie Jordan is gone. The Wizards still won't win 20 games this season. The problem might be the entire organization. It's sad to see nice people operating a business that is going out of business. When the basketball season started I didn't think the Wizards could beat anyone - on paper. Not on the court or even in the fantasy world. How can you tell? Simple. There is 9 seconds left in the game. The Wizards are down by one. They have the ball. Who do you want to take the last shot? Who might the opponent doubleteam? Well- no one. That's just one problem.

Here is another - if you were "starting" a basketball team, which players on the Wizards would you take? How many of these guys could play on a USA Olympic team? How many Wizards can play an entire season without getting hurt?

OK - let's see who the new coach will be. I'm certain it will be someone out there with another losing record. The only thing that could make matters worse is the front office making a trade for Marbury. Many rivers to cross. The Jordan is just one of them.

Humanities Council of Washington is presenting: PUBLIC KINSHIP - BUILDING THE WORLD HOUSE

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

6:00 - 7:30 PM

Busboys and Poets
2021 14th Street, NW
Washington, D.C.
Featuring: Bobby Austin, Lea-Ann Bigelow and Andy Shallal

SUPPORT DANCE: Liz Lerman Dance Exchange

Sunday, November 23, 2008


MARCH 16TH, 2009. 14TH and V Street, NW.

MARCH 19TH, 2009. Shirlington, VA.

The 5th Inning is E. Ethelbert Miller's second memoir.


The Republican Party will spend sleepless nights trying to determine how to make inroads into the African American community. Not a difficult task. What they should develop is a Republican Party Prison Program. If the Nation of Islam can have success turning folks into Muslims - I'm certain the elephant in the cell can have success too. Why? Because of the Republican values. Believing in individual liberty, less regulation and smaller government are things I can see someone incarcerated understanding. I guess the reason I'm not a Republican is that I find the core beliefs are just not what I believe in. I think good government serves the people. It's also exists to protect us. We talk about government the way we now talk about taxes. We've been duped into seeing the world upside down. If you have to remind someone to be compassionate - that's a problem. The Republican Party just doesn't appear to be inclusive. I'm talking ideas now - not people. Let's see what the future brings. Might the GOP go the same way as General Motors, the major television networks and the newsstand in Cambridge?

From Black Poetry to Green Poetry?

Obama is promising to create 2.5 million jobs when he becomes president. There is talk about hiring people to repair roads and bridges - fix public schools. This all sounds good but what about our cultural infrastructure? What about writers and artists who are out of work? We eat too? Since Obama is a writer as well as a former community organizer he might want to consider a new WPA. Before we start talking about green jobs we should remember Brown - Sterling Brown. He worked with the WPA the same way Ralph Ellison did. We should think about employing a new generation of Americans to write new state guidebooks. We need more murals that will capture the new diversity and demographics of our communities. Oh, and every city should have music in the parks. Let's find money for musicians. What's a stimulus package if one can't dance to it...

Sweet Lorrie in Wisconsin sent me music for BertDay. Right now I'm listening to:

Esperanza Spalding


A people in bondage for many years will always order the "Happy Meal" when finally free. I was thinking about this when someone once again made the statement about young black boys needing fathers. There is the belief that the absence of fathers in so many young lives is where black problems begin. Of course this overlooks all the black boys who are in prison and all the daddying didn't help. We still buy into the rhetoric of black fatherhood. How much of a difference do we really make? I've seen too many black fathers silent and ignored in their own homes. My own father was such a person. No one really listened to him. I feared him but I listened to my mother. My father never found the time to instruct me about life. We never had those boy/man conversations. My father taught me the silent lessons of pride and disappointment. At times he was a fire smoldering in the back room of a Bronx apartment. My father was a provider. A family miner who lived inside his own darkness. My brother once told me that our father was the major reason he became a Trappist monk. Was it because somewhere my father had taken a vow of silence - seldom speaking to his own family? Or maybe it could be found in the simple order of things. My father was a man with few possessions. He could have been homeless. How did my father raise two black boys? I think he did it by breaking the mirror which reflected his image. My father was not a reader of books. At times he thought there were too many in the house. My father only needed his bible. I guess from this book he was able to find some word or story to remind him to give thanks for what he had. It could quickly vanish.

So this upcoming week I will sit down at the Thanksgiving dinner. I will ask my son to say grace. He will look over at me and say - "Dad you do it." It seems every year I always do - and maybe this is- the blessing. My son watching and listening - waiting his turn. I wonder if he thinks this is just a happy meal? There are moments of silence between my son and I - and this too tells its own story. Love has such a hunger and we must take the time to feed it.
Something to ponder: Think Black?

Thousands in Baghdad protested the recent security agreement with the United States. At the protest demonstrators hanged a black-hooded effigy of President Bush. How will this play when Obama becomes president? I'm not talking about the security agreement but the image of "hanging" a black president in effigy. Is it a new image or do we connect it with those historical photos of southern lynchings? This might call for a new "thinking field" for black intellectuals and pundits.

THE CHANGING TIMES: Out of Town News opened in 1955.

Harvard Square will never be the same again. The Out of Town News - the landmark newsstand is closing. Another institution gone. The business no longer profitable. I remember many years ago standing in front of the gates of Harvard with Liam Rector. He pointed to the newsstand and said, "now that's the internet." We were crazy that day driving around Cambridge in his sports car. I was staying (at the time) with my dear friend Mangalam from India. I can still see her pulling the cigarette from Liam's hand and informing him about the mistake of smoking. Now years later Liam is gone too. He would have had another birthday right around now. When did our memories become landmarks?

Saturday, November 22, 2008

I've read memoirs where people talk about their lives, and sometimes they're modest. Sometimes they excuse themselves - you know the big ones, like My Life by Bill Clinton. They're very interesting books, but nobody was a writer, with reflection and change and meditation and strength. Dreams From My Father was very, very compelling.

- Toni Morrison, interview in The Nation, December 8, 2008
NYERE NEWS: ALL TOURNAMENT TEAM (16 steals in 2 games)

Matt Sosna Named Tournament MVP For No. 7 Men's Basketball Following 87-75 Victory Over York (PA) in Oki Data Americas Tip-Off
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(York vs. Widener) / (Del. Val. vs. PSU Brandywine)Senior Matt Sosna (Stratford, NJ) scored a career-high 29 points and was named tournament MVP a second straight year for No. 7 Widener, which notched an 87-75 victory over York (PA) to capture the Oki Data Americas Tip-Off at Schwartz Center.

Sosna, who scored 19 points in the first half, poured in nine during a half-ending 14-2 run that gave Widener a 48-40 lead. Senior Nyere Miller (Washington, DC) ended the spurt on a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

The Pride (4-1) continued their scoring prowess in the second half, using a 16-4 run to open a 70-50 lead with 13:09 left. Sosna, senior Charles Jones (Philadelphia, PA) and freshman Aaquil Atkins (Alexandria, VA) netted four points apiece in that span.

Sosna, who also grabbed eight rebounds, shot 12-of-17 from the floor to help the Pride hit 48 percent (34-of-71) overall. He bested his previous high of 22 points at Elizabethtown on February 5, 2008 and finished the tournament with 42 points over two games.

Jones netted a season-high 23 points, Miller scored 11 and junior Jamarr Johnson (Pittsgrove, NJ) added 10 for Widener.

Paul Kouvaris ended with 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Spartans (1-3), who shot 51 percent (30-of-59) but could not overcome hitting only 4-of-13 from beyond the arc. Jeremy Keefer had 15 points and seven rebounds, Nick Brady scored 13, Julian Watson netted 12 and Mike Riley added 10.

Delaware Valley in the consolation game rolled to a 102-56 victory over Penn State Brandywine. James Jones scored 23 points, Chris Mayo netted 17 and Mike Williams added 11 and 14 rebounds for the Aggies.

Miller was named to the all-tournament team along with Brady, Keefer, James Jones and Penn State Brandywine’s Marvin Dukes.

Widener is home Tuesday against Richard Stockton, beginning at 7:00 pm.

All-Tournament Team
Matt Sosna – Widener – MVP
Nyere Miller – Widener
Nick Brady – York (PA)
Jeremy Keefer – York (PA)
James Jones – Delaware Valley
Marvin Barnes – Penn State Brandywine

6,072 case of cholera have been reported in Zimbabwe since August. Poorly maintained sewerage systems and a lack of clean water is the reason for the disease. 294 people have died.
The group Doctors Without Borders has warned that 1.4 million people are at risk.
new OF NOTE- CLICK HERE: November 20, 2008
POETRY PROFILE: Elizabeth "Lizz" Straight

Elizabeth "Lizz" Straight has been on the spoken word scene nationally and internationally for the past eight years. This 28 year-old native of the Mississippi Gulf Coast is not only one of the United States' top spoken word artists, but she's also a radio personality and activist. She is currently the host of a weekly poetry radio show titled "Poetry Is," broadcast weekly on WMNF, 88.5 FM, out of Tampa, FL and on the web at She was WMNF's Programmer of the Year for 2006 She has been applauded for her work in correctional institutions throughout central Florida, bringing poetry into the walls of the prison system.

Some of her other accomplishments on the slam scene include winning First Place in the Southern Fried Poetry Slam in 2003, Second Place in the Southern Fried Poetry Slam in 2004, Second Place in the Southern Fried Poetry Slam in 2005, Fifth Place in the Southern Fried Poetry Slam in 2006, Second Place in the Southern Fried Poetry Slam in 2007, First Place in the Southern Fried Poetry Slam 2008, as well as, First Place in the Tampa Bay Black Heritage Festival Poetry Slam in 2006. The Southern Fried Poetry Slam is the second largest slam in the country.

She is a member of the Tampa chapter of the Tallahassee, FL based poetry troupe, Black on Black Rhyme, the largest spoken word poetry collective in the country. She has opened for international recording artists such as The Last Poets, Dwele, and Chrisette Michelle.

She was featured in the documentaries Rhapsodists and Portrait of a Poet, which was accepted into the Hollywood Black Film Festival in 2007.Check out a Lizz Straight's most recent published work in The Pedestal Magazine at (October Issue).


Coming soon -The World Baseball Classic - March 2009.
Nyere News:
I had a chance to make it up to Widener (Chester, PA) last night. I attended the Oki Data Americas Tip-off at the Schwartz Center. Widener defeated Penn State Brandywine 106-53. Nyere had 7 points. He also had 8 steals, one shy of tying the school record for steals in a game. He holds the school record for steals in a season with 92.
Widener plays York (PA) this afternoon at 3 PM.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Quote of the Day:

Solving the Guantanamo problem means making important decisions about detention policy in combating terrorism more generally: When, if ever, should the United Stated engage in preventive detention of terrorism suspects? If and when it does, should it treat them as enemy combatants under the laws of war or under some other body of law, perhaps a new detention statue? What rights should they have? What should the government have to prove about them,
to what standard of proof, and in what sort of forum?

- Benjamin Wittes, The Washington Post, November 21, 2008

Rita Dove is on the cover of the latest issue of Callaloo. Missing from the listing of contributing and advisory editors is the name E. Ethelbert Miller. Is he dead? MIA? No, he was probably removed from the list by the editor Charles H. Rowell. I wonder why? Maybe we should write to him? Why was E. Ethelbert Miller's name removed from that first page? I know we have problems in the Congo but now Callaloo too? Where is the literary United Nations? Was Rowell's removal of Miller's name done because of something he said? You betcha! Now ask yourself if the editor of this important journal is simply being arrogant or practicing the type of literary politics that one day might turn him into a lonesome dove.
Quote of the Day:

Obama doesn't transcend race. He isn't post-race. He is the latest chapter in the ever-unfurling American racial saga. It is an astonishing chapter.

- Frank Rich, The New York Times, November 2, 2008


Joe the Plumber landed a book deal. Yes, Samuel J. Wurzelbacher will be on the shelf soon. His book will be written with Thomas N. Tabback. The publisher is PearlGate located in Austin, Texas.

So you want to know why bookstores have been closing these days?

OK, What's going on in Nicaragua? Daniel (Ortega) in the Lions Den again?

Street protests in Managua. Red/Black and Sandinista - back in vogue? Bad elections again? Where is the new narrative?

what can i give you nicaragua

tears or blood

should i embrace you like i would

another man's wife

the shape of your back curving

against my hands

the brown earth color

of our meeting

on this loveless night

- "Nicaragua" by E. Ethelbert Miller

Excerpt taken from: Where Are The Love Poems For Dictators?


Two years into the Obama Administration (or maybe less) we should begin to see the development of the "Black Guard." It will consist of African Americans who will be the very loyal followers of Obama. Think Texans with hats. They will support Obama on EVERY issue. One will find them arguing with ALL protesters on the Mall at the first major protest against the Obama Government. If it's an anti-war march or something against US intervention abroad, the Black Guard will surface like members of sororities and fraternities - Obama Psi Phi? Look for signs that might say "I Support My Brother President because we are both Black until death." Brother President -a good title for a Spike Lee Documentary? Or maybe someone will snatch this off my E-Notes and make T-Shirts: Brother President - Staying Cool in A Real Hot World. All funds go to The Black Guard?


I was reading the new Ausable Press catalog the other day and came across the poem "All Praise To The Screwface" by Gary Lilley. It's from his latest book - ALPHA ZULU. Lilley's work has that Etheridge Knight/Ahmos Zu-Bolton quality to it. Poems that convey the hard facts of missing teeth but still smile back.

"There are only four kinds of people in the world - those who have been caregivers, those who are currently caregivers, those who will be caregivers and those who will need caregivers."

- Rosalynn Carter

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Dr. Martin Luther King’s Vision and the Obama/Clinton Factor

Please join the Humanities Council of Washington, DC for what is sure to be a riveting salon discussion at one of Washington’s premiere locations, B. Smith’s Restaurant. Juan Williams (National Public Radio); Terence Samuel (; and Dr. Clarence Lusane (American University) will explore the topic on everyone’s mind – the candidacies of President-Elect Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton.

21 November 2008
4:30 – 7:00 PM
B. Smith’s Restaurant @ Union Station
50 Massachusetts Ave, NE

All are welcome and the discussion and reception are FREE! Space is limited. You MUST RSVP to attend at


When a movie soundtrack goes bad at the opening of a film - there's a good chance your popcorn is stale too. Is Alicia Keys doing too much these days? The opening of The Quantum of Solace features a car wreck of a song. I like James Bond movies but this last one is 00bad. It's also a movie in which you need to see the film that came before. Folks should play Casino Royale in the theater lobby or download and watch somewhere. Poor Daniel Craig talks about his dead lover like a Republican missing Reagan after the last election. Jeffrey Wright needed a bigger role in Solace. Here is a very good actor- he plays Obama to Sam Jackson's Jesse Jackson. The Quantum of Solace is so bad it made me cry Chicago tears. The only reason to see this movie is for the action in Bolivia. I just love watching those beautiful women walking with those hats on their heads. So sad to see the bad guys stealing the good people's water. The politics behind this James Bond movie would make a Hugo Chavez start a protest. Crooks and spies - but 00NO there are some very bad movies coming out between now and spring. Get ready.

What do people do on "Bert Day?"

I spent most of the day doing yard work. I looked around but didn't see my fellow monks...
ALL ABOARD THE O&O: Oprah and Obama

Oprah will be in DC for Inauguration Day. She plans to broadcast a few shows from DC. One site should be Busboys and Poets. Where else? Andy Shallal has created Ground ZerO for the happening place. Another good site would be Howard University. Of course one can see Oprah somewhere else - The Kennedy Center or the Women's Museum. O?NO.

Quote of the Day:

Who would have believed 10 or 15 years ago that I could become president of Bolivia? Who would have believed 20 or 30 years ago that a black man could become president of the United States?

- Evo Morales, President of Bolivia


I looked for you there

and now I find you here.

I wanted to love you then

like I want to love you now.

I need you close and not far.

I need to be inside

but I'm always outside.

I keep looking for your door.

I keep jumping out my window.

It's so foolish but my wings

are horny for your beauty.

I'm a strange bird looking

for a nest. Let's fuck before

we fly.

- E. Ethelbert Miller
Look for the Washington Wizards to win no more than 20 games this year.
The only teams they will be able to beat are: L.A. Clippers, Oklahoma City, and Minnesota.
If they get lucky look for 1-2 games won at the buzzer.The Wizards organization needs a change we can believe in. Too bad Obama has a day job. He mentioned having a presence in DC while being president. Might he be a good 6th man? How long must Wizards fans suffer? Until America elects a black president?


Making history. Don Wakamatsu is the new manager of the Seattle Mariners. He is the first Asian-American to manage in the major leagues.



As the world turns

He turns 58...

The song for the today is "You Don't Know Me" sung by Chuck Brown and Eva Cassidy.

The soundtrack for E. Ethelbert Miller's life.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Al-Qaida's Ayman al-Zawahri just called Obama a "house negro." Oh, please. What year is this? Someone should send this guy a copy of The Known World by Edward P. Jones. The Malcolm X reference is outdated. Blacks are owners and decision makers in the new paradigm. Funny how a person claiming to be a devout Muslim is still holding on to race matters. The White House is now the New Black. El Hajj Malik El-Shabazz is the person Al-Qaida needs to study. Maybe then we would be talking about love instead of violence.

The new PLUCK! is out. This is the Journal of Affrilachian Arts & Culture. Frank X Walker is the person behind the engine. The latest issue has an interesting long poem about President Bush by Nikky Finney. "Plunder" is worth the price of admission to these pages. Other folks include Gregory Pardlo, Evie Shockley, and Crystal Wilkinson. Randall Horton talks about Myronn Hardy's The Headless Saints. Hardy is one of those new voices we keep hearing about and need to read. What's a head for if you can't be a saint?

From my friend Pornpimol Kanchanalak in Bangkok, Thailand:

I just received word that my film Rebellion of Thought: postmodernism, the church, and the struggle for authentic faith will be airing tonight, November 19, 2008, on the NRB Network (DIRECTV channel 378). It is slated for 2 airings (8pm & Midnight (Eastern)). Please watch it if you can.

Rebellion of Thought Trailer

What the Critics are saying about Rebellion of Thought

Other Rebellion of Thought stuff on YouTube:

Learn more at


Kent C. Williamson
Paladin Media Group
Paladin Pictures, Inc.
673 Berkmar Court
Charlottesville, Virginia 22901

California State University system is planning to cut its enrollment by 10,000 students - upcoming 2009-2010 academic year unless they receive more money from the state.
To cut enrollment they might raise academic requirements for freshmen. The brunt of the cuts would fall on out-of-state students and international students.


President Hu Jintao of China is touring Cuba. China is Cuba's second largest trading partner.

China is trying to build political and economic ties to the region.

A writer is in the end not his books, but his myth.

- V.S. Naipaul

THE WORLD IS WHAT IT IS: The Authorized Biography of V.S. Naipaul.
By Patrick French. Alfred A. Knopf. $30.

Quote of the Day:

Companies in the 21st century cannot perpetuate the destructive labor relations of the 20th. This will mean a new direction for the U.A.W., profit sharing or stock grants to all employees and a change in Big Three management culture.

The need for collaboration will mean accepting sanity in salaries and perks. At American Motors, my dad cut his pay and that of his executive team, he bought stock in the company, and he went out to factories to talk to workers directly. Get rid of the planes, the executive dining rooms - all the symbols that breed resentment among the hundreds of thousands who will also be sacrificing to keep the companies afloat.

- Mitt Romney, The New York Times, November 19, 2008