Tuesday, January 31, 2012


January 2012 Issue

Our original thought for January/February was to feature literature on civil-rights themes honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. In a meeting with Kweli board members, the conversation quickly moved to the broader concepts of protest and social justice and morphed into discussion of “Occupy Wall Street.” “Could we put out a call for submissions on ‘occupation literature’?” “Was there such a thing?” We did, and there is. Writers responded enthusiastically, making our selection process delightful, but difficult. Instead of posting one poem in this issue, we made an exception to run three from Ed Pavlic: “ThirstLove,” “Nook and Boon (Of Rock & Hard Places) : ‘Contemplation,’ and “Verbatim : Breaking News ; March 25, 2011.” Then, we got a “bonus.” Pavlic, an award-winning poet and University of Georgia professor, had mentioned our little upstart online literary journal to the visionary poet Adrienne Rich. She offered encouraging praise and wondered, Pavlic said, “if Kweli would be interested in two new poems of hers?” for the social justice issue. Indeed, we are thrilled to present them, “Suspended Lines” and “Undesigned,” in this issue. Our nonfiction piece is “Sheer Like Gauze,” an essay about Darfur that is as lyrical and ethereal as its title, by Jess Hagemann, an award-winning Midwestern writer who is working on a “pseudo-graphic novel with collages.” In fiction, we offer “Straight Dollars or Loose Change,” by LaToya Watkins, a novelist, editor and doctoral student in Texas. Her story enters the life of a woman visiting a brother in prison. Please read these works in our nonfiction, fiction and poetry sections and see the writers’ bios on the contributor’s pages. 
Angela P. Dodson, Content Manager

Laura Pegram
Founding Editor

New Reading Period:
September 1 - April 1
Open call for submissions. Upcoming themed issues include:
August 2012:
Travel issue
September 2012:
Labor/blue collar issue
Please see our website for details:
ThirstLove by
Ed Pavlic


The place is extent : set on the table; / exact : : raw spool of yarn and a glass of red wine / A candle burns in the glass burns / an ellipse above the shadow of your head on the wall. / Acclimate, in eye-pulse curette the light. / You toss the spool and the yarn loops / over the tarnished arm, / the lamp hangs by its neck from the ceiling. /
Undesigned by
Adrienne Rich


It wasn’t as if our lives depended on it— a torrential cloudburst
scattering mirrors of light :: sunset’s prismatics
in a Tucson parking lot
then the desert’s mute inscrutable
way of going on
but it was like that between us :: those
moments of confrontation caught in dread
of time’s long requirements
"Straight Dollars or Loose Change" by
LaToya Watkins


I been sitting here, waiting for them to lead you in. Fifteen minutes feel like fifty. I distract myself by counting the number of water stains on the ceiling. Then I figure how many women in the room. How many men? Children? The brother and sister that were carrying on during the bus ride up here are now begging their momma for money. Banging on the glass of the vending machine again and again. They stop when one of the guards finally stomps over and motions for them to sit. Stay. Some folks are pacing now. Others holding up the wall. We are all waiting. Waiting for the sound of locks to spring open
Sheer Like Gauze by
Jess Hagemann


Refugees are the new gypsies: ancestral race uprooted and forced to move. The tents they are given--flimsy as gypsy tents, meant for short-term shelter and easy disassembly. But refugees in the Darfur region of Sudan have lived in these camps for years. The curtains are sheer and through them I see a fading pain, giving way to the emptiness of apathy.
 No bricks but tents. Over all of them a star-bright sky. No music but tears. In every tent, a dwindling campfire. 
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I've been having some conversations about the use of drones for Human Rights work with some of my think tank buddies. Say the word drone and many of them can only think of its military use and how they function in today's world. I think they fail to see the rapid advancement of robotics in our society. We also tend to trap ourselves in old narratives and definitions. The increased use of drones will probably be part of the privatization of war. What rules and regulations should they operate under? If drones can be used in a positive way and save lives - shouldn't they be used? We know they have been successful in the war against terrorism. But it's difficult for people on the progressive Left to accept this - since we seem to have no position on terrorism. We tend to always take a position that U.S. foreign policy is wrong. But when should we use force to protect our interests? Never?? Unless we are pacifists, I think we need answers. Meanwhile, we need to view drones as tools and not simply war weapons. Sooner or later we are going to be using drones to curtail domestic crime. Let those civil liberties debates begin. I've been locking my doors all my life; if someone can provide me with a better security system - I have to listen.  Too often after trouble hits - we look upwards at the sky - seeking answers and explanations from God. Maybe now and then a drone might know something. God is very busy these days - man still struggles to be good.
High on the list of the people I admire is the historian Douglas Brinkley (Rice University). This man is constantly working and makes history something that matters whenever he speaks. Our friendship goes back many years now. I'll always be grateful to the beautiful introduction he wrote to my book WHISPER, SECRETS AND PROMISES.

Tuesday evening (at the downtown Barnes & Noble) I had a chance to hear him talk about his book - THE QUIET WORLD.  It's about Alaska and how people were able to protect the wilderness from 1879 to 1960. It's a book about John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, Rachel Carson and many others. Call it an ode to the great outdoors. I love Brinkley and the many projects he completes. He has a forthcoming book on Walter Cronkite. I think it will be out in a few months. I need to get busy too. Time to make history.

The E(ssential) things to remember when promoting one’s book.

  1. Most writers have no plan when it comes to book promotion.
  2. Book promotion means getting your work into the hands of new audiences.
  3. Target 2-3 new audiences that you feel will be interested in your work.
  4. Find the “big” ideas in your book and promote them over personality.
  5. Think global when doing any thinking about your book.
  6. Don’t depend on just the social media. It will make you lazy.
  7. Get your book into as many classrooms as possible.
  8. Many of the people who purchase your book won’t read it.
  9. If you are a writer you should spend twice as much time writing than promoting yourself.
- Prepared by E. Ethelbert Miller
Quote of the Day:
English's emergence as the global language, along with the rapid progress in machine translation and the fragmentation of languages spoken around the world, make it less clear that the substantial investment necessary to speak a foreign tongue is universally worthwhile.

   - Lawrence H. Summers
This is one of the most important articles written so far this year:
Drones for Human Rights - NYTimes.com

Op-Ed Contributors. Drones for Human Rights. By ANDREW STOBO SNIDERMAN and MARK HANIS. Published: January 30, 2012.
Listening to Paul Simon - SO BEAUTIFUL OR SO WHAT.


READ: http://www.pmpress.org/content/article.php?story=20090216164752198

Monday, January 30, 2012



The Toni Cade Bambara Scholar-Activists
Annual Conference 
 March 23-24, 2012 

The Toni Cade Bambara Writers/Scholars/Activists (TCB) Program, founded in 1985, is a funded project of the Women's Research and Resource Center that celebrates the vision and work of Bambara.  Under the guidance and leadership of Dr. M. Bahati Kuumba, Associate Director of the Women's Research Center,  Spelman students are involved in a range of lectures, workshops, forums, and activities to enhance their development as prolific Black feminist scholar-activists.  The TCB Program provides student participants with the opportunty to engage in dialogue and exchange with prominent and experienced scholar-activists, with an emphasis on women writers and scholars of African descent.  Please visit the Women's Research and Resource Center webpage for more details about the conference. This event is free and open to the public.


“Let’s send Obama back to Chicago!” he went on, and a gray-haired woman yelled, “You mean out of the country!” and an elderly man shouted, “Yeah!” and a younger woman held up a homemade sign that read “Newt-er Obama!”


This seems like a job for the Racialist. Let's read "race" into the above piece of journalism. Notice the reference to send Obama first back to Chicago and then out of the country. This has a tone of ethnic cleansing - get rid of the aliens and - the Other. The "Newt-er Obama!" sounds like something left over from a Klan rally. How sexual is this sign? White fear of the black organ (again)? One can smell the genocide coming from the ink of the homemade sign. Made in America?


ANDY SHALLAL AND E. ETHELBERT MILLER photo taken by Shyree Mezick


Sheila C. Johnson Design Center
Parsons the New School for Design
2 W. 13 Street, Ground Floor
New York, NY

February 3 - April 15, 2012


Where Do We Migrate To? features the work of nineteen internationally recognized artists and collectives, including: Acconci Studio, Svetlana Boym, Blane De St. Croix, Lara Dhondt, Brendan Fernandes, Claire Fontaine, Nicole Franchy, Andrea Geyer, Isola and Norzi, Kimsooja, Pedro Lasch, Adrian Piper, Raqs Media Collective, Soci
été Réaliste, Julika Rudelius, Xaviera Simmons, Fereshteh Toosi, Philippe Vandenberg, and Eric Van Hove.

Where Do We Migrate To? is curated by Niels Van Tomme, Director of Arts and Media at Provisions Learning Project. The nationally touring exhibition is organized by the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. The exhibition and catalogue are made possible, in part, with the support of the Flemish Gorvernment through Flanders House New York. *The title of the project is inspired by Julika Rudelius's video Where Do We Migrate To, 2005.

Image: Xaviera Simmons, (detail) Superunknown (Alive in the), 2010.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

I know you can't forgive me/But forgive me anyhow.

   - Leonard Cohen
He was middle-aged which
means that the mixture of
death and life in him was
still undetermined.

    - Jonathan Galassi

Washington DC & Fairfax VA   
JANUARY, 2012 

social research in the heart of the capital

Provisions is pleased to launch research residencies that investigate futures for creative civil society. The program will bring together four residents (artists, scholars, activists, and practitioners) for research-based projects that explore and extend social change themes. Participants will gain exposure to policies, practices, and politics while exploring transformative social imaginations and strategies. The rapidly changing urban and institutional landscape of Washington DC will serve as a platform, model, and resource to propose and prepare social futures.

Provisions will provide participants comfortable, convivial, and easily accessible lodging in the DC area, travel funds, and a stipend of $2000 for each resident. Residents will enjoy access to George Mason University’s studio facility, project facilitation, and opportunities to build DC networks. Residency curators will assist in project and research curation in public spaces and surrounding institutions.

Research Topics 2012/ 2013
PARKS AND PASSAGES recent ruins and public futures 
JUNE 21-JULY 2, 2012  & JULY 10 -JULY 20, 2012

  reviving popular politics
OCTOBER 11, 2012 - NOVEMBER 3, 2012

open orders of global information
JANUARY 24, 2013 - FEBRUARY 16, 2013
THE CASE FOR SPACE cosmic consciousness
APRIL 11, 2013 - MAY 4, 2013
Provisions invites letters of interest from artists, activists, scholars, writers, educators, and practitioners. To apply to the program, compose a one page letter for each research topic of interest that expresses your past works, future visions, research interests, and how you would benefit from program participation. All letters should be submitted with a resume/cv and samples of current work (website link or pdf). All letters of interest for the first round of projects must be received by March 1, 2012 at provisionslibrary@gmail.com.  Selection will be announced April 1st.

Provisions is a research and development center for arts and social change. Volunteers, interns and visitors are welcome by appointment: provisionslibrary@gmail.com 
Provisions gratefully acknowledges visionary support from The Nathan Cummings Foundation, Lambent Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Trust for Mutual Understanding, CrossCurrents Foundation, The Tides Foundation, Gaea Foundation, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, The Creative Communities Fund of The Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, The Humanities Council of Washington DC, Arca Foundation, The Angelina Fund, and individual donors.
Provisions has been recognized as an exemplary organization by the Catalogue for Philanthropy. 

Kinshasha Holman Conwill
Alliah Humber
E. Ethelbert Miller, President
Robert Moossy 
Donald Russell, Executive Director
Lucy Burnett, Assistant to the Director
Stephanie Sherman, Director of Research Projects
Niels Van Tomme, Director of Arts and Media
Angela Douglas, Meridians
Kathleen Larsen, Research Projects
Evelyn Seay, Research Blogger
Marice Sy, Editorial Coordinator
Amy Tasillo, Video
Elizabeth Van Bergen, Research Projects



MY DAUGHTER SENT ME THIS LINK: www.propublica.org

VISIT THE E GALLERY: www.ethelbertgallery.blogspot.com/

Read the work of Me-K Ahn. Next month giovanni singleton will be presented.


Whenever I'm struggling with the seventh or eighth draft of a story, I'm reminded of Toni Morrison's thoughts about writing being more about the editing than the actual writing. To write is to fall in love with the editing process! And despite how thrilling it is to finish the first draft of an entire story in one sitting, I enjoy the editing and revising the most. This is the stage when the characters can really come alive and lead you to where they want or need to go. Editing and revising can take you to the most unexpected exhilarating places if you don't get in the way and just let the process take over. The worst thing I can do is try to map out the ending before I get there. I need to get out of the way and let the writing do the writing.


Countdown to the Super Bowl. Much of the attention this week will focus on the injured left ankle of Rob Gronkowski. Will he be 100% by next Sunday?  How good will Brady play?  Will New England find a defense for just one more game? Oh, and what about Cruz? Will he salsa for New York? It should be a good game. A rematch without Randy Moss and a number of other players.

Saturday, January 28, 2012


How do you define Sister love?  Not the love between sisters but Sister love – the way a baby brother adores his big sister. Before there was an Ethelbert – there was just a Richard, a Marie and a Gene. Sister Love  was somewhere in the middle; like the sweetness in those Twinkies and Hostess cupcakes.  She was Marie Josephine Miller before some Hunter came and took her- away.

My first memory of Sister Love – is reaching up and grabbing one of those braids while sucking my tongue…twirling a Marie braid in my hand before I even associated hair with womanhood.

I first met Marie at 938 Longwood Avenue. It was November 1950. I was just born. Marie introduced herself to me, and maybe I wasn’t what she wanted. Maybe she wanted a baby sister and not a baby brother. I wonder who first unwrapped me – and where is the receipt?

In the early pictures our father took of us, we were often at the Bronx Zoo or sitting in our Bronx apartment, now and then without heat - or maybe we were in Brooklyn at Aunt Winnie’s house – and downstairs there were people with accents who kept reminding us of family; people who were often defined  by their work.

Before we talk about retirement – we must talk about work. And what do people talk about when they talk about work?  They talk about family – and how work is important for supporting a family. People often talk about work when they measure the meaning and purpose of their life.

My father worked in the Post Office almost all his life. My mother worked in the Garment Industry, on occasions when there was no heat. But mostly my mother was a house wife; A woman who took pride in cleanliness and order. My brother Richard fell out of order with the Monastery and for most of his life he worked at Bankers Trust. For most of my life I’ve worked at Howard University, known as the MECCA in Washington. And so what does all of that have to do with my Sister Love?

For almost 50 years my sister Marie has been a nurse. She started on this defining journey when many men would have preferred women to remain in the house; to not have a career or even think of one. I think somewhere in my mother’s dreams, she wanted to be a nurse, wear a uniform, work in a hospital and take care of others.

I have to think of my mother and my father this evening because their lives helped me to appreciate my sister. Perhaps because my Sister was in the middle of the family she can best be seen as our rudder steering us through the years – or our pillar, the one who held us up…who held us together.

Although my sister is retiring from her job – she never once retired from her family; she has always been there. When anyone became sick – or even thought about being sick – a call went out to Marie. Ask Marie, she would know what to do.

I knew I didn’t know. I have no idea how my kidneys, heart or liver works.  I do know that my heart hurts every now and then – but listen to Etta James or Adele singing on the radio – and you begin to understand how every heart hurts.

While growing up the beautiful women surrounding me were not singers…they were my mother and sister.  They shaped and defined how I saw the world; they were the music for my soul.

I don’t think I would have become a writer without listening to my sister. It was my Sister Love who knew the family stories. It was my Sister Love who made me laugh – who would hit a note when she became excited that would hurt my Brother’s “Butter Ears;” and would make my mother – shush us into silence out of fear of waking our sleeping neighbors.

There is something very quiet about my sister that often goes unnoticed.  Perhaps it is her soul, a place where she finds her strength and dignity. My sister’s spirit glowed everyday she took care of our mother. We live in a world in which our elders descend into death and darkness too often alone. My sister was a light for my mother, an angel for someone experiencing her last years on this earth.  At the end of the day, Marie has a heart for goodness.

When I was growing up I thought M&M stood for Marie Miller. I thought my sister was real sweet. I still do.

Marie, I think on the day of your retirement – you should only retire from work.  I hope you will be blessed with good health and many days of happiness. There are many places I hope you will travel to and visit. I can see you in Paris, Italy, South Africa, or Norway. I can see you looking around at the architecture of old buildings, shopping in stores, tasting fine wine, looking at the mountains and staring at the ocean. I can see you being a Lady Columbus.

My Sister Love, outside the hospital, the world is still round….Embrace this world and allow it to “Nurse” you.

Sister, Sister Love … I love you!

   ~ E. Ethelbert Miller
        January 21, 2012
       Yonkers, NY

Melody Records (near DuPont Circle)  will close next month. The death of the last good record store. How many times did I buy music from this place?  Sometimes I just browsed and looked at albums on a Saturday afternoon. What is happening to us? Is all change good? Are answers in progress?