Monday, November 30, 2009

Black Women Playwrights' Group:

Early this morning I was reading the District of Columbia's excellent booklet - OWN YOUR FUTURE: PLANNING GUIDE FOR LONG-TERM CARE.

It's very informative:

Long-term care services, in contrast, help a person maintain as much independence as possible by assisting them with daily activities.

Women often provide long-term care for their husbands but find themselves alone when they require care. Half of all women will spend some time in a nursing facility, compared to only one in three men. Almost 80 percent of women age 65 today will need some form of long-term care, compared to fewer than 60 percent of men age 65 today.

Two out of every three seniors over 75 years are women.
To learn more about long-term care planning, go to:


The next issue of of note magazine edited by Grace. A. Ali.
Celebration of the 134th birthday of Dr. Carter G. Woodson
Saturday, December 19, 2009, at 6 PM.
The Historical Society of Washington, D.C.
at Mount Vernon Square
801 K Street, NW
Washington, D.C.
Quote of the Day:

There are 12 quarterbacks on the planet who are clearly better than the one the Redskins already have. Their names are Brady, Favre, Brees, Manning, Manning, Rodgers, Rivers, Warner, Roethlisberger, McNabb and, probably, Romo and Schaub, too.

- Thomas Boswell, The Washington Post.

In the dressing room
I let the suit discover my hands.
The dark blue. The stripes.

The fabric shows no emotion.

This suit is what I will look for
whenever a phone call brings death
into my life.

- E. Ethelbert Miller
THE LITTLE e-NOTE: The 1 Question Interview.

Wil Haygood, author of Sweet Thunder: The Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson.

The Question: Was it harder to research the life of Sammy Davis Jr. or Sugar Ray Robinson?

Sugar Ray presented an amazing challenge, and that challenge was to learn the nomenclature of the fight game - the technical language, the era, the decade to decade changes, the business side of it during the 1940s and 1950s. As well, I had to learn the fighters themselves, their fight styles and their backgrounds and history. I didn't want to just keep bringing new fighters into the ring to battle Sugar Ray, I wanted to bring that fighter and his background and dreams and historical arc. Thus it was important for me to learn as much as I could about the great Henry Armstrong, who I had never heard of before starting the book.

With Sammy, many of the names were familiar, so I had a kind of working identification with the figures - Jeff Chandler, Joey Bishop, Sinatra, all the others. Not so with Sugar Ray. For a whole year I pretty much watched as many of his fight films as I could on video, then I would watch them again, then I finally decided that I was missing something and that was the organic understanding of the fight game. I decided I needed to sit and watch those films with a world championship fighter, so I boarded a plan and went to Detroit and sat in the living room of Hilmer Kenty, himself a lightweight world champ from the early 1980s. Hilmer watched the fights of Sugar Ray with me and explained to me why Sugar did this, and not that, why he turned this way, and not that way; it was crucial in my understanding the fight game.

Sunday, November 29, 2009




The Washington Post has been running critical stories about Mayor Adrian Fenty the last few months. Look for this to increase as we move into election year. Also look for the media to try and find someone to run against him. Knowing the city of Washington, there is always someone who likes to see their picture on a yard poster. But do you want to vote for that person for mayor? Whenever someone runs for office in DC they design brochures and fliers that consist of simply their resume and some pictures with kids. They present no knowledge of the issues or any vision for the future. Being mayor of a major US city at times can be harder than working in the White House.

Let's look at where Fenty is having problems. Just take a look at all the pictures of him that appear in the media these days. He suddenly seems tight-lipped, angry or arrogant. The guy once had a smile. Where did it go?

Fenty only does the cameo. That's a problem. No need to be always on the move. DC is a city not a state. The guy should visit a school for a day. Yes - be the Education Mayor. Stay for morning class, then lunch, and later help coach the kids in sports after 3 PM. I'm certain someone else can manage the city for a day. If not put all hands on deck for a few hours.

Oh -shed the business look for a day or two. Wear a few old Jimmy Carter sweaters and appear where people don't expect you. Has Fenty made it to Busboys for Open Mic?

The guy also needs to be seen carrying a book - a Kindle or a Sony Reader. Even Palin is seen with a newspaper (now). I always found it strange that Fenty was not a big supporter of the BIG READ or even the PEN/Faulkner Foundation.

Well, this morning I raked the last of the leaves. Although the weather was nice, I know Winter will soon be here. Will Fenty bloom in Spring or will he fall in Fall? A Man for all Seasons?

JASON CAMPBELL: Who put this quarterback in my soup?

It's obvious after today's game against the Eagles that the Washington Redskins will need a new quarterback next season. There are no more excuses to protect Campbell from the fact that the guy is not making the plays when they matter.

Today, all he had to do was take his team down the field to be in position to tie the game. He had plenty of time. He just didn't do it. Give Brady or Manning even less time and these guys would have won the game with a TD. Campbell just doesn't have it. He is a mediocre player with no great players around him, so he will always be mediocre. There is also QB leadership posture. Something about Campbell reminds me of Kwame Brown when he played for the Washington Wizards. The body language says my brain is the Titanic and it's sinking.

I have no idea what the Washington Redskins saw in Campbell, but then I can go down the roster and ask them about Smoot and countless others. All this makes Zorn look like a camp counselor in a Walt Disney movie. All he can ask is - who put the birthday cake in the pool?
Poor Zorn. Will he ever get another job as a head coach? If he stays in the area - Howard University should give him a call. He would be a nice guy to chat with in front of the Administration building on a sunny day.
Back in April 2005 I walked into a Washington bookstore and purchased a copy of Eleanor Roosvelt's YOU LEARN BY LIVING for my daughter as a birthday gift. The other day I was talking with her about this book. Eleanor Roosevelt is a historical person my daughter admires. In YOU LEARN BY LIVING, Roosevelt outlines eleven keys for a more fulfilling life. I like her chapter on how to manage one's time as well as her views on learning to become a public servant.
It's a book like this that should be required reading in our schools.

I've been reading Wil Haygood's SWEET THUNDER and loving it. This book about Sugar Ray Robinson would make a nice holiday gift for anyone who loves sports. Highly recommended.


In The New York Times Magazine today, Oklahoma senator James Inhofe makes the following response to interviewer Deborah Solomon when asked about Guantanamo:

I've been to Gitmo. Why don't you go? I'd like to invite you. You know, I consider Gitmo a real resource. The people are treated probably better than they are in the prisons in America. They have more doctors and medical practitioners per inmate. They're eating better than anyone has ever eaten before.

OK. Where is the outrage? Is this World War II and we are treating German prisoners better than black US servicemen? So folks in Gitmo are being treated better than folks in US prisons? Look at prison conditions in Texas and California. Are we to believe that folks who wish to "destroy" our country are living better than people "pushed" into crime because of our failure to solve economic problems?

But maybe I can excuse this 75 year-old senator. He says in the same interview that he can still fly an airplane upside down.

Let's hope the high air shakes up his brain before Congress considers prison reform.


No matter what Tiger Woods tells the public it won't matter. In today's world people can select the narrative they want to believe from any blog or website. Who needs to listen to network news? In the old days everyone had an opinion in the barbershop or beauty salon. If you were a young person waiting to get your hair done the stories were a bit too long or funny as hell. It didn't matter if you never discovered if the story was true or not. We live in a world today in which technology seduces the narrative. Consider the blog as thong or tease. Sooner or later your imagination is going to kick in. Finding your personal business in the street is different from discovering it on the Internet.

Thomas L. Friedman has an interesting essay in today's New York Times in which he talks about the narrative that consists of a cocktail of "half-truths, propaganda and outright lies about America that have taken hold in the Arab-Muslim world since 9/11. Propagated by jihadist Web sites, mosque preachers, Arab intellectuals, satellite news stations and books..." Once again, one man's fast is another man's slow.

We have been on different pages about "stories" since the O.J. Simpson trial. Remember how the narrative was shaped by a glove? The problem today is that one size fits all. We've also moved from gloves to hoods. People love to select the narrative that fits nicely over their heads. Every hood comes with a hole even if it's only to slip your head in. In other words all the stories are true. Why? Because everyone is a storyteller and fiction is sweeter than truth. It's the only way we can explain the missing apple to God. Every man has a story. Every woman has heard one.

Tell me a bedtime story Tiger - I like the one about your wife and the magic golf club.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The following was printed in the latest issue of Sports Illustrated:


Iraqi detainees at a prison camp in Baghdad have been taunting U.S. soldiers from Wisconsin about Brett Favre's signing with the Vikings.
Geography time again.
Get ready for Copenhagen.

Missing from the media recently has been Darfur, Mexico (and all those border incidents), Barry Bonds and Britany Spears.
Will Tiger Woods get his privacy back? Best for him to play a game a golf with Obama about now.
POETRY NEWS: More than line breaks?
We're the oldest, most daring, and most widely-respected magazine devoted to poetry in the English-speaking world, and yet we know very well the reciprocal relation we have with our audience, and that our writers, if they would be great, need readers to meet them at that level. That is why this magazine was founded, and why it continues to exist.

Christian Wiman, Editor of Poetry.

Now, what's wrong with the above statement?

Poetry Magazine was founded in 1912. Poet Lore was established in 1889.
Do the math.
November 28, 2009
Tricycle's Daily Dharma

The Heart of the World

Sometimes modern people misunderstand Buddhism’s focus on the individual human journey as well as its injunction to people to find out who they are and to seek their own ultimate fulfillment. With our Western suspicions of meditation, of looking within— and, frankly, our fear of being alone—not infrequently, we tend to reject the inward looking of Buddhism as somehow disconnected from the social context and disloyal to it.

If Buddhism were a static tradition with an unchanging interpretation of what people are and of how they need to engage their world, such suspicions would have some merit. But Buddhism is nothing other than a set of practices to open up the mysteries of the human heart and the deepest realities of our human experience as those exist, uniquely in us, right at this moment. And the human heart is not personal: the more we fathom our own hearts, the more we find there the being of others and, beyond that, the very heart of the world itself.

- Reginald Ray, "Looking Inward, Seeing Outward," Tricycle, Spring 2009

BUSBOYS AND POETS is organizing a trip to Eatonville, Florida. There is still room for a few ZORA HEADS. Yesterday Ginger G was in town and we had lunch at Eatonville. A chance to also laugh with Andy and Pam. There was even a Michon sighting - and for a moment I thought she was crashing Eatonville after failing to do the State Dinner at the White House.

The trip to Eatonville will be from January 29-31. One will be able to celebrate the 21st Annual Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities.
How much is the trip from Washington National to Orlando and the fun stuff?

$539 per person based on double occupancy. Single room $100 additional.
Includes: Round trip airfare on USAir, 2 nights hotel at Homewood Suites, breakfast daily...
For more information contact MacNair Travel: 703 650-5263 or email questions to:

So how do you prepare for the end of the year?
Yesterday I went to Borders and purchased two sweet biographies:



This should keep me happy in December. I've been reading more but now need to get back to writing more poems. Where is my Muse?

Sweet Laura P in New York sent me a wonderful birthday gift: TO BE FREE: THE NINA SIMONE STORY. This is just awesome. 3 CDs. 1DVD and a booklet. Nuff Said!
Thank you so much Laura.
The format gave me ideas as to how I could produce my Collected Work.
because today is one of those days when I am starting to suspect
that sex was just a wild-goose chase
in which I honk-honk-honked away
three-quarters of my sweet unconscious life.

- Tony Hoagland

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Last week I looked up from my desk at work. An African American male student had just completed taking an exam. I watched as he left the room. His pants were below his butt. It was difficult for him to walk and he kept pulling them up. Why? Some styles are just dumb. I remember a football player back in the 1970s who had goldfish in the heels of his platform shoes. Why? So many silly things we do because no one has the courage to say -No. One might be able to measure the decline in social progress after the Isley's released "It's Your Thing."

There has been a failure on the part of the black intellectual community to steer the race rudder. One reason the revolutionary sixties might have failed to reached it's full potential was the presence and participation of too many people who wrote poems. Too much romanticism will make you believe the police won't shoot because you're wearing a beret and your middle name is Che. Go figure. Most social movements today suffer from the influence of materialism and a market that won't say NO. We tolerate nonsense because no one wants to say -NO. How many young African American men are behind bars because they couldn't run from the police with their pants falling down? Who sold us the pant traps? Please don't weave another conspiracy theory or hand sign with Egyptian letters for me - it's getting late.


Jump for God's sake.
Jump like your life depends on it.

- Sandra Beasley

A few more weeks and then it will be 2010. The birth of a new decade. Will it be as exciting as the Roaring Twenties? Will it be as depressing as the Thirties?
Who knows? One thing for certain is that we can't stand still. Everything is moving and moving fast. I'm looking for poets to begin doing more "language work" and provide vision and deep digging. Where is the crossroad of intellect and emotion? Where does beauty begin and pleasure end? I want to surrender to desire in the next decade. I want people living in war zones to remember their first kiss. I want someone to discover love on the moon and not just water. I want Sandra Beasley to explain to everyone the theories of falling.

You're a genie in disguise
Full of wonder and surprise

- The Stylistics

You love Obama.
You love the man.
You love how he walks.
You love how he talks.
His picture in every room of your house.
You cried when he was nominated.
You danced when he was elected.

Now as the year comes to an end,
Betcha by Golly, War.

- E. Ethelbert Miller
Upcoming Event:

The launch of Reetika Vazirani's posthumous book of poems, RADHA SAYS.

Friday, 22 January 2010
6:30 PM.

National Press Club (First Amendment Lounge)
529 14th Street, NW 13th Floor
Washington, D.C.

No one can become a saint without solving the problem of suffering.

- Thomas Merton

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I was just reading about a possible Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck -2012 Republican ticket. This is just entertainment news. Sound bites hungry for cat and dog food. Let's be honest. Everyone has a hustle these days. People want to run for office but they don't want to do the hard work and govern. Even Palin decided she didn't want to be governor of Alaska anymore. We need to ignore the media and their political balloons. Where did Rudy go? Where did Fred Thompson go? These guys were nothing but media names circulated in bar talk. It's good for their ego but it isn't go for the country. I don't think we need high school graduates running the country - especially if they can't find Afghanistan on the map without help. It also takes money and a machine to become president. The campaign is long and it takes it toll. How long could Sarah Palin last during a series of Republican primaries? Unless their is a dumbing down of the GOP - I can't see this woman going anywhere. Palin is a personality people will soon grow tired of by 2012. If you want to become president you better be putting together a team of whiz kids. This is the Obama model for success. It's also going to be difficult to match Obama speech for speech when it really matters. But let's look at what is really taking place right now. The dying media is trying to build "political" suspense going into 2010. The battle is going to take place in the media and the manipulation of news. Many of the old networks and newspapers are dying. They can only survive by under covering political scandals and playing bloopers when they have footage of someone making a mistake. This sells - and right now too many media units need the cash. It's also becoming very difficult to determine what is true or false these days. Everyone has an opinion and few people have facts. Yet if reality television teaches us anything - it's that we can create our own reality. One can reverse progress and dream one's own world. How many people would prefer the "next" president of the US to be black again? Wave your hand like you just don't care...
SPORTS: The Curry is getting hot.

Remember the NBA draft? I wanted the Wizards to select Stephen Curry. Well they didn't.

Curry is now starting for the Golden State Warriors. Last night he had 18 points against Dallas. He had a run of 7 straight points. Look for him to be the next rising star in the NBA.

New book out:

by Terry Teachout.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $30.

Reading: Lucie Brock-Broido

Monday, December 14th at 7:30 PM
The Folger Shakespeare Library
201 East Capitol Street, SE
Washington, D.C.

Tickets are $12/$6 for students.


Soon Obama will be talking about war. In December when he is awarded the Peace Prize he will be talking about peace. War & Peace (again)? We tend to think the two are twins. Inseparable?
Go to war to make peace? Let's spank the child and then scold. Let's also look beyond Obama's big decision as the year comes to an end. What has been the most important thing accomplished by the O Administration?

I think it took place very early in Obama's presidency. His removal of restrictions on embryonic stem-cell research, and the encouragement of new biomedical research has to be the decision that might have the greatest impact on our future.

OK, now when was the last time you heard anyone in the media talking about stem-cell research? Was it last January?
It's possible to be a celebrity and a serious politician at the same time: Barack Obama's career proves as much. But Obama's celebrity status is frequently a political liability, and he's (usually) wise enough to know it. That's why he plays the wonk as often as he plays the global icon.

For now, no Republican leader projects a similar level of seriousness. Late in the Bush years it was easy to dismiss conservatism as brain dead. Among policy thinkers, that isn't true anymore: the advent of Obama seems to have provided just the jolt that right-of-center wonks needed. But innovative proposals are useless without politicians willing to champion them.

- Ross Douthat, The New York Times, November 23, 2009

This week Sybol S. Cook sent me a copy of her book, A PASSION FOR WISDOM: READINGS IN WESTERN PHILOSOPHY ON LOVE AND DESIRE. I've been reading the section on Saint Augustine's Confessions. My life so much like his. These words could have been taken from a poem I wrote back in 1969: I cared for nothing but to love and be loved.

Looking at Cook's book I became aware of what is missing in our discussion of education today.
We spend more time talking about math and science and almost forget about the humanities. During a time when there is so much attention being given to religion, we seem to forget that a strong knowledge of philosophy is essential for understanding the world and its people. How are we going to gain a better understanding of Islam if we fail to grasp the basic tenets of western philosophy? Who is the other and who are we?

It's easy to engage in war if we have no knowledge of what love is. How many people read their bibles without any philosophical training? Our technology spoils us and prevents deep thinking from taking place. Test scores become meaningless when attempting to measure goodness in another person. I've been looking for someone to discuss desire with. Explain to me how the heart works. Yes, I know it's a muscle but where does the love come from?


I've learned that being a celebrity is like being a sacrificial lamb. At some point, no matter how high the pedestal that they put you on, they're going to tear you down. And I created a character as an offering for the sacrifice. I'm not willing to give my true self up. It's a testament to my real personality that I would go so far as to make up another personality to give to the world. The reality is, I'm hidden amongst all the insanity. Nobody can find me.

- Megan Fox

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

AOL is going to change its name to Aol.

Wow, this could be as important as Juneteenth.

THE LITTLE e-NOTE: The 1 Question Interview.

Alison Myers, Executive Director of the Cave Canem Foundation.

The Question: What exciting new things will Cave Canem be doing in the future?

(1) We've recently expanded CC's circle of participants with ourFacebook Page. Our fan base is over 1,350 and growing. As word spreads,we're looking forward to seeing the the Page used as a forum for dialogue with, and news from, writers beyond the immediate Cave Canem"family" of fellows and faculty.

(2) Cross-cultural Conversations: In 2008, we launched this concept with our Poets on Craft series and a Writing across Cultures workshop. We are continuing with Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon and Kazin Ali in February 2010(Poets on Craft), Kimiko Hahn's spring 2010 New York City workshop(Writing across Cultures) , and a Cave Canem-Letras Latinas reading inDC in fall 2010.

(3) Visit our new, expanded website,, to join our mailing list, check out fellows' profiles, and keep abreast of breaking news.

Carol Beane came by my office today and dropped off information about her new book.

Another gem. Limited edition: 125 copies. Price: $215

the streets of used to be
the poetry of carol a. beane and the images of renee stout

This book is produced by The Library Fellows of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
I'm sitting at my desk right now looking at the brochure Carol left me. It looks priceless too.
The book consists of six poems and six images. Renee Stout's artwork is always strong and powerful. So much memory looking for its roots.
The book can be obtained from the Museum Shop at The National Museum of Women in the Arts located at 1250 New York Avenue, NW.

Latest issue of NEWORLD REVIEW at
This issue contains a review of THE 5TH INNING.

November 24, 2009
Tricycle's Daily Dharma

Change is Inevitable

As Buddhists, we work to accept the impermanence and inevitable decay of the physical body. But it’s not enough to accept it as a fact; we can believe in this and still not want it in plain sight. Nagarjuna said, “Change makes all things possible.” It is only because of change that suffering can end—and it is because of change that our bodies fall apart, like all compounded things. We cannot have one without the other, but we try.

- Sallie Tisdale, "Washing out Emptiness," Tricycle, Fall 2007

Poetry Foundation Launches Poetry Tour of Washington, DC
Free downloadable audio tour shines a literary light on the nation’s capital

CHICAGO—The Poetry Foundation is pleased to announce the launch of the Washington, DC, Poetry Tour. The interactive tour, freely available at, reveals our nation’s capital through the eyes of its great poets, including Walt Whitman, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Elizabeth Bishop, among many others. From the hallowed halls of the federal buildings to neighborhood side streets, the tour features poems written in and about DC, as well as original photographs by poet Thomas Sayers Ellis.

Narrator and inaugural poet Elizabeth Alexander leads the tour from the stacks of the Library of Congress to Civil War battlefields to the Capitol steps, from the National Zoo to the U Street Corridor to the Busboys & Poets Café. Archival recordings from canonical poets including Langston Hughes, Robert Hayden, Sterling Brown, Randall Jarrell, and Ezra Pound chronicle DC’s rich literary history, while contemporary poets such as Linda Pastan, Quique Avilés, Yusef Komunyakaa, Naomi Ayala, A.B. Spellman, and Jane Shore share their experiences, through both poetry and commentary, of national monuments and monumental poets alike.

The DC Poetry Tour presents the development of the capital’s poetry scene over the last century and a half, from its interplay with musicians Dizzy Gillespie, Duke Ellington, and Ben Webster, to the creation of the office of poet laureate, to the legendary literary salons hosted by Georgia Douglas Johnson, to the multifaceted work of numerous poet-activist groups. Local poets and scholars—including E. Ethelbert Miller, director of the Afro-American Studies Resource Center at Howard University; David Gewanter of Georgetown University; and Kim Roberts, editor of Beltway magazine—provide the framework for understanding the moments and movements that have shaped DC’s literary culture.

Listeners to the tour, which includes 34 stops throughout the National Mall and Northwest DC, learn that Washington is not only our government’s headquarters but an important American literary capital as well. Historical images and artifacts provide a glimpse into DC’s storied past, while photographs by poet Thomas Sayers Ellis, who was born and raised in Washington, give viewers an inside look at DC’s neighborhoods and people. Poem text is presented along with original audio recordings and archival images, as listeners step into the national arenas that continue to inspire poets today.

“Tracing the history of American poetry against the culture and geography of our national capital helps readers develop a better sense of our shared literary heritage,” notes Anne Halsey, media director of the Poetry Foundation. “Poetry lovers visiting Washington can download free audio tours and maps to take guided poetry walking tours of the National Mall or Northwest DC—but you don’t have to be in DC to explore the city’s literary history. The full multimedia tour can also be experienced virtually at”

Beginning at the Library of Congress—the home of the first Poetry Consultant, Archibald MacLeish—the tour discusses the contributions of such heralded poets as Robert Lowell, Robert Frost, and William Carlos Williams. MacLeish declares, “A poem should not mean / But be.” Later, Williams fashions a modernist American poetry: “Never reverse a phrase that is your language as you speak it . . .Then you’ve started to create a culture in your place as you are.”

Contemporary poets from throughout the Beltway also present poems. Poets such as Brian Gilmore, who relates his personal interest in Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Myra Sklarew, who discusses May Miller, recognize the influence of their predecessors, reflecting upon them as President John F. Kennedy did when he spoke of Robert Frost: “Our national strength matters; but the spirit which informs and controls our strength matters just as much. This was the special significance of Robert Frost.”

The Washington, DC, Poetry Tour, an original production of the Poetry Foundation created in collaboration with Tierra Innovation, was written and produced by Curtis Fox. Special collaborators on the project include Grace Cavalieri, Katie Davis, Patricia Gray, E. Ethelbert Miller, and Beltway magazine editor Kim Roberts.

For more information, go to


About the Poetry Foundation
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine and one of the largest literary organizations in the world, exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs. For more information, please visit

If we are serious about peace, then we must work for it as ardently, seriously, continuously, carefully, and bravely as we have ever prepared for war.

- Wendell Berry

" A Film About Anna Akhmatova"

With Helga Landauer, Director and Poet, Palo Alto, California.

Tuesday, December 1 Film Screening (6:00-8:00 PM)

Kennan Institute, Woodrow Wilson Center, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza,
1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

No reservations required. Call on the day of the event to confirm. Bring an ID card with a photograph. Wilson Center's security procedures.

202 691-4100

Monday, November 23, 2009

THE LITTLE e-NOTE: The 1 Question interview.

Dana Gioia, former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Question: How would you describe your writing life after NEA?
It has been a slow and difficult process to start writing poetry again. During the six years I spent as Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, I more or less stopped writing poetry. Not only was I working seven days a week
and constantly traveling, I was also leading an almost entirely external life--focused on the public business of rebuilding the arts agency. ( I had also accepted a legal restriction from publishing poems so that no one would think I was using public office for private gain.) My time at the NEA was extraordinarily interesting and productive, but it did bring me into a place where I had lost that easy access into the imagination and intuition that a poet needs to write well.

I could write very well in a public voice, but I was no longer exactly sure what my personal voice now sounded like. I knew my writing had to be slightly different now, but I wasn't exactly sure how.What I have done is to make time in my still overly busy life to be still and wait.

I have gone back to California for periods of one or two weeks at a time. I made no plans. I saw almost no one. I sat at my desk or pruned trees and cleared brush. I was very restless and frustrated because nothing came at first. It seemed I was just wasting time.But gradually, late this summer, after six months of feeling like a failure, I began to write again.

I wrote slowly with many false starts, but I finally seemed to be writing something genuine.I have never been a prolific poet. This summer and fall I finished four new poems. After such a long silence this feels like a bounty. Most important, I now feel as if the Muse has not deserted me.

In the meantime I have turned down many interesting offers to write prose--essays, reviews, books. I feel that if I turn my mind to them, I'll lose touch with the poetry. I regret turning those invitations down, but I have to set my
priorities. I feel I can always write literary prose. But having already given up six years of my life as a poet, I need to rebuild my writing life as an artist and not a critic.

Here is list of the organizations I will continue working with in 2010.

Please consider supporting us:

Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) Board Chair.

The Writer's Center. Board Member.

Provisions Library. Board Chair.

Poet Lore magazine. Editor.


After viewing the link, I was curious as to where the rope and the coloreds were.

Last Friday, I kept the horoscope that was printed on my birthday in the Washington Post.

Here is what it said:


You have definite ideas about how to improve the world. You will be inspired to try what hasn't been tried before.

Another new book I need to find and read:

by Alex Storozynski.

No More Monarchs: Where have all the butterflies gone?

The Sacramento Monarchs one of the W.N.B.A.'s original eight franchises recently folded. I can't believe women basketball teams are disappearing and one has to search the sports pages to find this information. Maybe if these stories were not beneath the headlines the public might respond and try to same some of these teams. It's almost as if folks want to destroy the league. Is it really about money? Maybe the problem is that the Monarchs were owned by the Maloof family. They also own the Sacramento Kings. With the economy the way it is you can see this band of Maloofs cutting things in order to have a profit at the end of the day. Forgotten is what the league and games mean to so many young girls across the country who love basketball. My suggeston is that more women become owners in the W.N.B.A. It might be the only way other teams will survive the bad times.

California, Delaware, South Carolina and Florida had record rates of unemployment in October.
Are you living in these states?
The District of Columbia set a high mark with an 11.9 percent rate. These figures come from the Labor Department.

Joblessness rose in 29 states. Michigan had the highest jobless rate at 15.1. The states that followed were Nevada, and Rhode Island.

All sectors of the economy are losing jobs with the exception of health care. I guess the illness of unemployment can create a few jobs. H1N1 - Hire One..

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Mail Call:
Yesterday I received a copy of Nicole Hardy's new book - THIS BLONDE.
It's published by Main Street Rag.

One opens this book excited, as if seeing Marilyn Monroe for the first time. Hardy uses popular culture like lipstick and she knows how to kiss. THIS BLONDE is fun reading and very seductive.

- E. Ethelbert Miller

  1. The Higher Forms of Racism - EBONYJET National Page

    Oct 13, 2009 ... E. Ethelbert Miller is an award-winning poet and director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University. ...
  2. EBONYJET National Page

    E. Ethelbert Miller on America's Change in Tone 2009-08-11. Photo Credit: Detroit Free Press. Whenever there is a significant change in race matters in the ...
  3. EBONYJET National Page

    Ethelbert Miller on Talking About "It" 2009-09-21. By Ethelbert Miller. There was a story about Race back on the front-page of The New York Times last week. ...
  4. International Page

    E. Ethelbert Miller on Afghanistan 2009-09-01. By E. Ethelbert Miller. As we move out of August Summer into the Fall, look for the Antiwar Movement to ... - Similar
  5. Politics & Perspectives Section

    E. Ethelbert Miller on Afghanistan. In International. Da, my smozhem! Russia's answer to Obama. That's 'yes, we can' in Russian – which could be the motto ... - Similar
  6. Ebonyjet Arts and Culture

    Nov 2, 2009 ... by E. Ethelbert Miller. It doesn't have to be pretty to be true. But if it's true its beautiful. Truth is beautiful. ...
  7. EBONYJET National Page

    Jul 13, 2009 ... By E. Ethelbert Miller. I just reviewed President Obama's speech to the Ghanaian Parliament. What he gave was almost an old campaign speech, ...
  8. Politics & Perspectives Section

    Ethelbert Miller on Talking About "It". In National. Obama's War and God's other Eden. E. Ethelbert Miller on Afghanistan. In International ...
  9. Politics & Perspectives Section

    E. Ethelbert Miller on Obama's African Approach. In International. Bono or Booker T.? Brian Gilmore on the Competition for Africa's Direction. ...
  10. - Home

    Thursday, August 13, 2009. The New Vocabulary E. Ethelbert Miller on America's Change in Tone. In National. Raising The Bar Terry Glover on whether beauty ...

Quote of the Day:

Obama seems to understand that Americans in the satellite age tend to see the president more as a self-contained personality than as the boss of a top-down party organization, the kind of machine-era-figurehead who once presided over conventions full of straw hats and placards.

- Matt Bai, The New York Times Magazine
Joe Conason continues to write a good column in THE NEW YORK OBSERVER. Here is an excerpt from what he wrote on November 23rd:

The loudest voices on the right never tire of telling us that they are the truest patriots. They claim to be the deepest believers in our system, the strongest defenders of our Constitution, the most upbeat, bold and courageous Americans anywhere. But now that the government is finally prepared too put the perpetrators of the 9/11 terror attacks on trail, these same patriots are the first to spread doubt, instigate anxiety and abandon constitutional principles.


Raymond Carver: A Writer's Life.
By Carol Sklenicka. Scribner. $35
The FAB 2: Go Figure or Go Rogue

There were two PR fabrications in the last issue of USA TODAY. One was a full-page Ad for Sarah Palin, the other was a page for Susan Boyle. Maybe I should go with Boyle's debut album. But wait a minute! At the top of the Ad - it says - "The Story of The Year!" Really? There was a lot of hype around Boyle, but at the end of the day I didn't think the world was going to change because of her voice or Sarah Palin's glasses.

We let folks package nonsense for us to consume. I would love to read Palin's memoir but who has time for water boarding these days? The book is being described as a runaway best-seller. How many street-lit authors claim the same thing? GOING ROGUE has an interesting cover. Palin looks like an airline stewardess. Is America in need of coffee or a strong drink? The cloud background makes her seem to be one of Charlie's Angels. Notice how her name is balanced. 5 letters in the first as well as last. This is probably done for groups who swear by Nazi numerology and are counting the days until the end of the Obama Administration. Go figure or Go Rogue.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I have never seen my mother so excited to see me. I walk into her room at the nursing home. She has a new roommate. It seems every time I visit my mother there is someone else there in the room. Some patients recover from treatment and return to their families. Others depart by dying. All around are people in wheelchairs and levels and degrees of life. My mother can't walk anymore. She stopped walking over a year ago. One day she was walking and the next day she became a Christmas gift without a battery. She reaches up to kiss me. It's the first time our lips touch. My mother is 90.

The television is on. Together we watch the Food channel. My mother knows everyone on the screen. She tells me there are so many colored people on these days. I say yes - and we even have a black president. She says - yes I know. We talk as I stroke her gray hair. I remember one evening when I discovered that first hair - a gray one. She told me it didn't belong to her back then. It was as if the clock wasn't working.

I have a box of chocolate that I give my mother. I open it for her. She can only use one hand. It's the right hand that guided me to P.S. 39, fed me, scolded me, escorted me, warned me, and taught me. Now the hand is worn like a pot holder. I can't tell what are old burns and want has become flesh turning with the seasons. My mother hands now resemble the leaves I pass on the ground outside.

I hold a small cup of water filled with ice. Let me hold it my mother says. I hand it too her and she slowly hands it back. It's too heavy for her to hold. I realize now how my mother is slowly melting away. She is frail and has problem remaining straight and upright in bed. It's something I noticed so many other people in the nursing home having problems doing. When do we reach this point in life when we live at half-mast?

My mother tells me how disappointed she is that she couldn't buy a birthday card to give me.
Her mind is still sharp and I complement her on it. I'm happy you remembered I tell her. I tease her about being in a hospital 59 years ago. Surrounding my mother are her possessions. Cards from her last birthday. Balloons slowly losing air. A picture of her two grandchildren, sweaters and blankets. My small mother lives in a small space.

It's so good to have someone to talk to - she tells me. How many old people are trapped in beds and chairs unable to go anywhere, and where no one has time to just talk or listen to them. My mother lives in twilight. I say good-bye not knowing if it is. I feel my mother's eyes on my back as I leave her room. I feel a dampness coming through my shirt. I know it's my mother's tears and I refuse to look over my shoulder. I don't want to lose her....
Going to see my Mom this morning- a moment to stop and count blessings.Yesterday I gave a reading at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn.Many thanks for Brenda Greene for setting up the event. I read with Asha Bandele who I first met on the Magic Bus organized by historian Doug Brinkley.Gosh how many years ago was that? Asha now has four books.I was the Commencement speaker when she graduated from Bennington.Asha creates good political space in a room.I enjoyed listening to her-in the same room was BFF Grace.She gave me a B-card that defined what special friendships are.Thanks again G.Later today I will watch my son walking with the coaches at Widener University. It will be interesting to see him on a basketball court not wearing shorts.Our children quickly become men and women -this too is a blessing.How we find prayer is the discovery of first light and the power to continue.A man looks into a mirror before turning to look out a window and embrace the world.Today I'm heading home into myself. In the sixth inning one plays to win.

Friday, November 20, 2009


In Peru people are being killed for their fat.
See NY Times (page A10).

The most important news story of the year has to be the discovery of water on the moon.
Obama becoming President of the United States comes in at # 2.

Here is an excerpt from William S. Marshall's OP-ED in The New York Times today:

Creating a permanent lunar habitat is important primarily for our species' survival. Humanity needs more than one home because, with all our eggs in one basket, we are at risk of low-probability but high-consequence catastrophes like asteroid strikes, nuclear war or bio terrorism.

Yes, we still need the eggs.


Robin Thicke - Lost Without U: Herve Romain Dedication, Closed Captioned

This is really beyond shameful:
Fox News Caught Using Misleading Footage

Is it 1984?


O-NO. No more Oprah. What will we do now? How will we ever become successful without being invited to appear on her show? How many of us went to bed dreaming about just meeting this woman? How many lives did she change? Is it possible that after interviewing Sarah Palin she knew it was time to quit? Will she be replaced by Sarah? Was this week a baton moment? O -NO.
How will Obama ever get re-elected? Is this the end of the Era of Personality? Should we retire the letter O?

O let us live in joy, although having nothing! In joy let us live like spirits of light!

- Buddha

Yesterday I got caught in the rain walking from the Kennedy Center to the Metro. It was worth it.
I was a guest of the Australian Embassy last night and invited to see a performance of A STREETCAR NAME DESIRE at the Eisenhower Theater. It was good listening to the words of Tennessee Williams. Before and during intermission I had a wonderful conversation with Harry Schnipper the executive director of Blues Alley Jazz Society. He informed me that Gil Scott-Heron is returning to perform at Blues Alley in December. I need to go. I haven't seen Gil since back in the days when he was living in Washington. I remember one afternoon hanging out with the guy around DuPont Circle. Every word he spoke was a poem.
November 19, 2009

Tricycle's Daily Dharma

There's No Comparison

I have often cautioned... against comparing your practice with that of others or your own self at different times. Such comparisons are only subjective. Today someone burst out crying in the meditation hall. One person may have thought, "Oh, she's not doing so well." Another, "I think she's becoming enlightened!" Or else, "Maybe she's going crazy." None of these thoughts may represent the true situation. Whether she felt pain or sorrow, became enlightened, or went crazy, it's her business. It has nothing to do with anyone else. Making comparisons inevitably means judging others.

- Ch'an Master Sheng Yen, “Incomparable You,” Tricycle, Spring 2007

The 2009 Arab American Book Awards. I like those pictures of E. Ethelbert Miller and Suheir Hammad.


- Bob Dylan

Thursday, November 19, 2009

One of the nicer cafes in DC has to be Jolt'n Bolt (Coffee and Tea House) on 1918 18th Street, NW.
I can't believe I passed this place so many times without going inside. Thank God I'm having a birthday tomorrow. I'm too old to miss the good things in life. Many thanks to new friend Angie for helping with this wonderful discovery.
My daughter sent me this important link today:

HEALTH | May 14, 2009
Well: The Voices of Sleep Apnea
Six men and women talk about living with sleep apnea.



Well, it was fun talking with my son after his first coaching game. He sounded confident and excited about this year's basketball season.

Men's Basketball Rolls Past Immaculata, 75-50, in Season Opener
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(box score)

Widener exploded in the first half and held off Immaculata for a 75-50 season-opening victory at Schwartz Center.

The Pride (1-0) raced to a 42-16 halftime lead by shooting 46 percent (17-of-37) from the field and holding the Mighty Macs to only 32 percent (7-of-22). Sophomore BJ Smith (Baltimore, MD) scored 12 points in the half on 5-of-7 shooting and senior Bobby Edmunds (Linwood, NJ) netted 11.

Immaculata (0-1) made things interesting by closing to 52-40 with 11:12 left on a tip-in from John Boyd. But Widener went on a 10-2 spurt thanks to four points from junior Jarrell Nelson (Waldorf, MD) for a 62-42 lead with 5:54 remaining.

Senior Jamarr Johnson (Pittsgrove, NJ) scored 16 points, two shy of his career best, Edmunds netted 15 and Smith had 14 for the Pride, who shot 47 percent (30-of-64) from the floor. Edmunds drilled three 3-pointers to help the squad hit 10-of-17.

Sophomore Jack Brennan (Stratford, NJ) grabbed 10 rebounds for Widener.

Nature does not proceed in a straight line. It is rather a sprawling development. Nature is never finished.

- Robert Smithson
THE NEW WORLD ISN'T LIKE NEW YORK: The view from Washington, D.C.

They give the Washington Examiner away free in front of some of the Metro stations each morning. Some things you can't even give away and some things you shouldn't keep. The editorial in yesterday's newspaper demanded that President Obama stop bowing and apologizing. I took this as an interesting historical advice for a black man. How many movies did we bow but not break?
Thank God, for Sidney Poitier. So there was President Obama bowing when he greeted the Japanese Emperor Akihito -has our Prez no shame? In the Washington Examiner I read words that must have come from a"white" paper written by a bureaucrat in the State Department:

It simply ought not be necessary to instruct an American chief executive - even one so inexperienced in foreign affairs as Obama was when he took the oath of office - that we do not bow to foreign monarchs. We declared our independence from a monarch. As Thomas Paine put it, "In America, the law is king." And the law is made by representatives chosen by the true sovereign, the people. A bow is far more than a diplomatic expression of respect; it is a sign of submission and acceptance of the authority of the monarch.

Hold the above thought in your mind and let me turn the page of the Washington Examiner to William Kristol's commentary. Kristol outlines what conservatives want. He writes:

We conservatives want American soldiers to win wars, American interests to prevail and American principles to flourish. We want the bad guys to lose.

For many years the bad guys were people of colored. For many years the people of colored did the bowing. The world was white and things had a certain colonial order. People knew their place. We all lived lives of submission. Now the 21st Century is here and people of color around the world are on the move. Power will have to be shared if we are to tackled global problems.
President Obama's election has resulted in the colorization of American foreign policy. When I was standing in the lobby of the State Department (more than a month ago) I shook my head in amazement at all the old white men going in and out of the building. Here were the policy makers. White women had made some gains but people of color were either guards or secretaries. How often do we discuss American foreign policy and talk about the factor of race?
The US president is a person who looks like other people in the world. He might have different values and beliefs but he has something in common with - the other.

We are finally beginning to respect other countries in the world- especially their culture. Bowing sometimes is not an act of submission but instead an embrace that recognizes the God or human force in others. It's a way of being welcomed into a family, so that sharing can take place. The bow is an acknowledgement that one is a guest. In some cultures one removes one's shoes before entering a home. Is this a sign of submission? Entering a room without doing so is an act of arrogance and aggression. How often did we see American soldiers in the early days of wars failing to pass Culture 001?

Conservative America wants to be John Wayne or either Ronald Reagan forever. They want to kick butt and win wars. Ass kicking should always be swift. There is no time even to ask folks if they want their ass kicked. Just Do It! A Nike slogan that can perhaps explain the world that needs to be changed. What do we need to do? Apologize? Not really. We need to confess to ourselves that the world has changed and we have to learn new Rodney King habits. Yes, can't we all get along? Listen to the "King" - a symbolic "black" monarch who witnessed a riot. There is no way we can proceed into the future with an Empire State of Mind. Toss the Yankee caps?
Jay-Z meet the emperor of Japan. Bend it like Obama.
My eyes grew dim, and I could no more gaze;
A wave of longing through my body swept,
And, hungry for the old familiar ways,
I turned aside and bowed my head and wept.

- Claude McKay

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NYERE NEWS:Basketball season begins today for Widener University. It marks the beginning of my son's coaching career.

Nyere Miller
Assistant Men's Basketball Coach
Widener University

Nyere Miller, after a distinguished four-year career, is in his first year as an assistant coach for the Pride.

Miller was a major reason why Widener won three Commonwealth Conference titles and competed in the NCAA Tournament all four years. He finished second in school history with 257 steals and holds two of the top three single-season marks, including a team record 92 in 2007-08.

A tremendous leader and great teammate, his guidance as a captain was one of the major reasons why he was named MVP of the 2008 conference tournament.

It's just a matter of time before all the touch phones are outdated.
The question for our culture is - who is listening?
Today's cell phone is having as much impact on society as the early automobile. Ear travel?

Camille T. Dungy's new anthology is out.

The book is published by The University of Georgia Press.

Let's have some GREEN READINGS around the country in celebration.

Time to return to the land. It's easier to love a tree these days, but sometimes I find myself still too young to go steady.

Here are words from Camille's introduction:

I bought nature guides and learned to identify leafless trees in winter. I walked daily and charted the calendar by the cyclical progress of leaves and buds and blossoms. I fell for flowers. Noting the crowning of the crocus and the budding of the forsythia, I became aware of how they foretold the swift onset of spring. I started writing about the landscape where I lived, and began to pay more attention to what I remembered about the then-semi-rural Southern California landscape of my earlier years.

In her anthology Camille reprinted my poem "I Am Black and the Trees Are Green."

so you point
and say the woods are beautiful
like men standing on shores
of Africa enjoying the sun on their skin
the white sand touching the water blue
the new slaves as invisible as conversation