Sunday, March 31, 2013



Dear Friends:

You may have heard the Washington Examiner has decided to stop publishing its local daily paper effective June 14. I have been contacted by numerous individuals concerned about the void that may be created, particularly the absence of my twice weekly columns.

When the frequency of my writing in the Examiner increased, I suspended my online column. Your emails and telephone calls have helped me to decide to resurrect my online publishing.

Publication of The Barras Report will begin May 1, 2013. I hope you will continue to support my writing and read my weekly reports as you have throughout the years.

best regards,

jonetta rose barras
author, columnist

P.O.Box 21570
Washington, D.C. 20009
Daily Buddhist Wisdom

I believe there is an important distinction to be made between religion and spirituality. Religion I take to be concerned with belief in the claims to salvation of one faith tradition or another--an aspect of which is acceptance of some form of meta-physical or philosophical reality, including perhaps an idea of heaven or hell. Connected with this are religious teachings or dogma, ritual, prayers and so on. Spirituality I take to be concerned with those qualities of the human spirit--such as love and compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, contentment, a sense of responsibility, a sense of harmony, which bring happiness to both self and others.
- His Holiness the Dalai Lama

My friend Lori Tsang sent me this article:


Begin the new season with a reading of The 5th Inning:



A long conversation yesterday with my dear friend Kebedech Tekleab.  We talked about loss, art, relationships and much more. She mentioned this is the 10th year since the death of Skunder Boghossian. The Corcoran Museum is putting together a program about his work on May 17th.
I'll post more information when I receive it. I remember Skunder attending some of my early poetry readings. He was a friend of Quincy Troupe and Jayne Cortez; often I would walk over to the Fine Arts Building on Howard's campus just to see what he was working on.

Below are some links to Skunder as well as Kebedech:


Tricycle Daily Dharma March 31, 2013

The Truth about Pleasure

The truth is, we don’t really want to be free from desire or to admit that clinging to the pleasures of the senses—the taste of delicious food; the sound of music, gossip, or a joke; the touch of a sexual embrace—ends unavoidably in disappointment and suffering. We don’t have to deny that pleasant feelings are pleasurable. But we must remember that like every other feeling, pleasure is impermanent.
- Bhante Gunaratana, "Desire and Craving"


The Miller Classic T-Shirts have been shipped to Bennington for the upcoming Miller Classic softball game at the Bennington Writing Seminars in June. Poets against Fiction writers. A literary classic.
Hey - check the model below:

Ethelbert photo taken by Denise King-Miller


Come 2020 what will you see or be?
Are you prepared for the Roaring Twenties Again?
What will be the shape of jazz -then and when?
How many of us will still be kind of blue?
So What - if you can't hear what you see
or see what you hear. Time out. Take Five!
I should be loving you.

  - E. Ethelbert Miller


Sometimes I forget where I live. Yesterday I went downtown...

Photo by Ethelbert



CSM's Spring Connections Series
Southern Maryland News Net

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Now on Moyers & Company
And Justice for Some

Though a landmark Supreme Court decision 50 years ago established the right of criminal defendants to legal representation -- even if they can’t afford it -- the scales of the American legal system still tilt heavily in favor of the white and wealthy. Civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson joins Bill to expose the system’s ongoing failures at the crossroads of race, class and justice. Also, journalists Martin Clancy and Tim O’Brien talk about inequities in death row legal representation and sentencing across the country. The broadcast closes with Bill's essay on the hypocrisy of “justice for all” in a society where billions are squandered while the poor are pushed aside.



Don't Miss...
Grid Map   Redefining Public Defense
The Bronx Defenders are redefining public defense with a model that addresses underlying problems driving people into the criminal justice system.

   The Death Penalty, State-by-State
See where each U.S. state draws the line on capital punishment.

   Watergate’s Lessons, Washed Away
Michael Winship says the Watergate scandal produced heroes and accountability, both of which are in short supply today.

Bill Moyers Essay: The Hypocrisy of ‘Justice for All’
Why is true justice -- not just the word we recite from the Pledge of Allegiance -- still unaffordable for those who need it most?


Image Credit: Peter Krogh © 2012 Moyers Media. All rights reserved.


Basketball Poems for March Madness

Poetry about great players, unusual teams, and flashy moves.


Tricycle Daily Dharma March 30, 2013

The Sound of Silence

Silence is something that comes from your heart, not from outside. Silence doesn’t mean not talking and not doing things; it means that you are not disturbed inside. If you’re truly silent, then no matter what situation you find yourself in you can enjoy the silence.
- Thich Nhat Hanh, “The Heart of the Matter”

Friday, March 29, 2013


Quote of the Day

“I don’t think D.C. public libraries have ever had hours as good as we will have now,” Chief Librarian Ginnie Cooper said. “It’s very possible we’ll have better library hours than any other urban library in the country.”

Washington Post, March 29, 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Hi Friends: 

I hope you are doing well as we come to the end of March and move into spring. The pre-orders for Gospel of Dust are going great so this email is just a reminder that you can still get a terrific discount on it. When you pre-order, you pay $9.50 for the $15 book. Plus, it's mailed right to your home when it comes out in early or mid-June. Also, pre-orders help Main Street Rag Publishing, an excellent publisher of American poetry.

In section one of Gospel of Dust, titled "The Human Gospel," you can read poems about people whose lives have been good news to the world, including Rosa Parks, Nelson Mandela, the Mothers of the Disappeared, David Kato, Cesar Chavez, and Martin Luther King, Jr. 

As always, thank you for your support of my poetry.

All the best to you and yours --  Joe
Visit and pre-order my new book of poems, Gospel of Dust.

The Writer's Center in Bethesda

Poet Lore: Dennis Nurkse and Teri Cross Davis
2-4 p.m., Sunday, April 7
Join Poet Lore editors and poets Nurkse and Davis as they celebrate Poet Lore's 124th birthday. The reading will be followed by a reception and book signing.




What is the most difficult thing to learn about writing poetry?

I think the most difficult aspect to learn in the writing of poetry is tone, which I define as the speaker’s attitude toward her/his subject matter and towards the reader. Chekhov once said that when you are trying to evoke great sadness, the flattest tone possible is the most effective.  I think about this a lot. How often are we confident as writers that we have evoked or conjured that certain intended emotional weather around the poem? How many specific details will draw the reader close and create a kind of shared experience and yet leave the reader room to relate the poem to their own experience?

And there are so many other questions that relate to tone. How does the music of the poem, the sounds of the words, add to or diminish the tonal quality intended? What sort of emotional response does the lineation create? A poem in a solid block with no stanzaic breaks creates a kind of intensity that may or may not match or be in sufficient contrast to the subject. Couplets create the expectation of a dialectic or balance, while tercets offer quite the opposite. How often do we use the word “I” and what effect does that have in the context of the poem? What is the personality of the poem’s speaker? I try for a voice that imagines itself talking to a very close friend. I am hoping to open something unexpected in a place that has been unarticulated, but deeply felt.

Sally Bliumis-Dunn has poems forthcoming in PLUME and Terrain.




Reading WASH by Margaret Wrinkle. I met her at the AWP Conference in Boston.
This is a good novel about slavery...



It was fun to chat with Anita Tenk yesterday afternoon.  Anita works with the U.S. Embassy in Hungary. We met several weeks ago when I was in Budapest. We recently discovered  we have mutual friends. The world keeps getting smaller.

ANITA TENK photo by Ethelbert


Yesterday (in my office) I sat down with Kwasi Asare. Kwasi is a Master weaver.  He makes and markets unique kente weavings worldwide. His father, Mr. A. E. Asare was commissioned to design a kente weaving in 1960, three years after Ghana's independence. This piece was presented by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah to the United Nations.

Kwasi and I discussed how to market his book Kwasi and the Kente Colours. 

KWASI ASARE photo by Ethelbert


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Monday, March 25, 2013


The next ONE QUESTION INTERVIEW will be with the poet Sally Bliumis-Dunn.
Here is a link to her website:

Sally Bliumis-Dunn and Ethelbert at the Library of Congress in 2008.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Play it across the table.
What if we steal this city blind?
If they want any thing let 'em nail it down.

Harness bulls, dicks, front office men,
And the high goats up on the bench,
Ain't they all in cahoots?
Ain't it fifty-fifty all down the line,
Petemen, dips, boosters, stick-ups and guns--
        what's to hinder?

        Go fifty-fifty.
If they nail you call in a mouthpiece.
Fix it, you gazump, you slant-head, fix it.
        Feed 'em. . . .

Nothin' ever sticks to my fingers, nah, nah,
        nothin' like that,
But there ain't no law we got to wear mittens--
        huh--is there?
Mittens, that's a good one--mittens!
There oughta be a law everybody wear mittens.

Today's poem is in the public domain.

Poetry by Sandburg

Poem-A-Day launched in 2006 and features new and previously unpublished poems by contemporary poets on weekdays and classic poems on weekends. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Thanks for being a part of the Academy of American Poets community. To learn about other programs, including National Poetry Month, Poem In Your Pocket Day, the annual Poets Forum, and more, visit
March 24, 2013
Carl Sandburg was born in Galesburg, Illinois, on January 6, 1878. He is the author of The Chicago Poems (1916) and Smoke and Steel (1920). He died in 1967.
Related Poems
by Wislawa Szymborska
by David Hernandez


I spent the early morning hours talking with my friend Joanna (in Israel) about the work of Karen Miller. J sent me a link to her website:

Yesterday I went to the Petworth Public Library and borrowed a copy of The Best Buddhist Writing 2011 edited by Melvin McLeod and the editors of the Shambhala Sun.
The first essay in the book is by Karen Miller; it's an excerpt from Hand Wash Cold. This has to be the best work I've read on marriage (in my life).

Miller writing about how own life makes the following statement:

That was before I decided to give myself a break. It was before I decided that marriage- at least our marriage- wasn't about friendship at all. Come to think of it, why would anyone want to marry a friend? I have plenty of friends and I do not want to marry any of them. I want to go have coffee with them and talk about how my husband infuriates me. That's the place to bring it up, if at all.
No, ours is not a marriage of friends making nice. Ours is a marriage of adversaries making peace.

Saturday, March 23, 2013


A few months ago I met the scholar Manuel Espinoza (from Colorado). We quickly formed a brotherhood bond. He recently returned to Washington with his lovely family. What a day of joy.
We had lunch at Sala Thai on U Street, then visited Busboys and walked up 14th Street and then over to Mount Pleasant. It was a chance for Manuel and his family to understand why so many people call D.C. their home.

THE ESPINOZA FAMILY photo by Ethelbert

Tricycle Daily Dharma March 23, 2013

Deep Engagement

It is a misunderstanding to think that enlightenment is some sort of final escape from life and that the doctrine of the unsatisfactory nature of samsara obviates any need for involvement with other beings or social responsibility. Because nirvana is selfless, there is no self that enjoys a state of being beyond the world. Wisdom and compassion are ultimately inseparable, wisdom being the complete knowledge of ultimate selflessness and compassion being the selfless commitment to the happiness of others.
- Robert Thurman, "The Politics of Enlightenment"

Friday, March 22, 2013

The White HouseFriday, March 22, 2013
 Who deserves the Citizens Medal?
Each year President Obama honors a handful of extraordinary Americans with the Citizens Medal, one of our nation's highest civilian honors. The Citizens Medal recognizes Americans for exemplary deeds of service outside of their regular jobs -- people who feed the needy, who take care of our veterans, or who support our children.
Is there someone in your life who deserves to be recognized by President Obama?
There are 9 days left before we close nominations on the 2013 Citizens Medal. Complete this easy nomination process before the public submission period closes:
Will you nominate a hero in your community?
Submit a nomination
Last year, people like you nominated over six thousand Americans from across the country and staff at the White House reviewed every single submission. Here are just a few examples:
  • Mary Jo Copeland has offered a safety net for Minneapolis families since 1985 -- offering food, clothing, shelter, and medical assistance to the needy.
  • Adam Burke, an Iraq combat veteran, runs "Veterans Farm," a 19-acre, handicap-accessible farm that helps returning veterans.
  • Janice Jackson founded a Baltimore nonprofit to serve women with varying degrees of disabilities.
Citizenship is fundamental to who we are as Americans. That's why, at the last award ceremony, President Obama stressed the role it plays:
"We're home to 315 million people who come from every background, who worship every faith, who hold every single point of view," he said. "But what binds us together, what unites us is a single sacred word: citizen."
There are thousands of people across the country making a difference, but we need your help to find them. Nominate a hero in your community today:



Israeli Apology to Turkey Sets Up Renewal of Diplomatic Ties

In a gesture partly secured by President Obama, Israel's prime minister told his Turkish counterpart that he regretted a 2010 raid on a ship that killed nine people, officials said.


Chinua Achebe is dead at the age of 82.
He will be missed by many if not all.

Here is a show I recorded with NPR several years ago.

Thursday, March 21, 2013



Author Event: Tenuous Chapel

March 24, 2013, 5:00 pm–7:00 pm
Busboys & Poets
2021 14th Street NW
Washington, DC

book coverJoin Melissa Tuckey, co-founder of Split This Rock, for a book launch and reading from her award-winning book of poems, Tenuous Chapel. With special guests, Sarah Browning, E. Ethelbert Miller and Joseph Ross.

Tenuous Chapel was chosen by Charles Simic for the prestigious ABZ first book award. In his forward, Simic writes, "If the hope of any poem is to render the experience in a fresh unsettling way, she has that gift." The book moves from the intimate and personal to the communal and political. It's a search for the sacred in a time of war and environmental destruction.

Join us as we toast Melissa and celebrate this exciting book of poems!

A note from Rabbi Michael Lerner Join or Donate Now!

Read the full text of  Obama's  brilliant but flawed speech (to Israelis today March 21, 2013, in Jerusalem) on line by clicking here: , prefaced by my commentary which both praises it and shows what is tragically missing from it. 

Rabbi Michael Lerner is editor of Tikkun magazine, the largest circulation Jewish and interfaith (and atheist welcoming) magazine in the world.   510 644 1200
For information on Rabbi Lerner's book Embracing Israel/Palestine: go to and see why Israeli and Palestinian, Jewish, Christian and Islamic leaders have enthusiastically embraced this book both for its analysis and its concrete plan for how to move forward.


Copyright © 2012 Tikkun® / Network of Spiritual Progressives®.
2342 Shattuck Avenue, #1200
Berkeley, CA 94704
510-644-1200 Fax 510-644-1255


I'm just  back from Pittsburgh. I participated in THE BIG READ held at the Community College of Allegheny County. I was on a panel with Doralee Brooks and Val Wojton. We discussed THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER by Carson McCullers. A good session. Many thanks to Barbara Evans who invited me and pulled the event together.

While in Pittsburgh (yesterday) I got to spend an afternoon with my friend Jan Beatty. What a lovely day we had. She interviewed me for her show Prosody which she has been hosting for 18 years on WYEP 91.3 FM. Jan is a wonderful person and poet. Checkout her new book of poems - The Switching/Yard published by University of Pittsburgh Press.

JAN BEATTY photo by Ethelbert

The first day of Spring.

Bloom Baby Bloom.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Oh, Nigeria...

Too many bombings taking place in Nigeria.
Another indication that the major problem of the 21st Century will be religion and not the colorline.

American Literature Association
24th Annual Conference


May 23-26, 2013

The Westin Copley Place

10 Huntington Avenue
Boston MA 02116-5798

May 24, 2013
5:10-6:30 pm
Session 13-C Charles Johnson’s “E-Channel” Writings: A Year in the Life of a 21st-century Writer
Organized by the Charles Johnson Society
Chair: Jim McWilliams, Dickinson State University

1. “Lessons Learned from a Year in the Writer’s House,” Marc C. Conner, Washington & Lee University

2. “Noble Friendship: The Literary Activism of Charles Johnson and E. Ethelbert Miller,” Julia Galbus, University of Southern Indiana
3. “The E-Channel: Bring Writer Charles Johnson’s Epistemology into Focus,” John Parks, Howard

4. “Creating the E-Channel: Helping the World to Embrace the World of Charles Johnson,” E. Ethelbert Miller, Director of the African American Resource Center, Howard University

So nice to see you in your garden.
You so Eve like - so what's with all the clothes?
Oh, and the apple looks bitten to the core.

Such a wise mysterious woman you are.
What man is looking for you?
What God is jealous?

   - E. Ethelbert Miller


Tuesday, March 19, 2013



Tuesday, April 2 at 6:30 PM

Poets Sharon Dolin and Shara McCallum will be introduced by Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey as her selections for the Library's 2013 Witter Bynner Fellows. Both Dolin and McCallum will celebrate their selection with a reading. The event is free and open to the public. Book sales and a signing will follow.

Location: Montpelier Room, James Madison Building (sixth floor).
Contact: (202) 707-5394


My friend Channapha sent me this link:


Voices from Laos: You're Invited, DC!
Legacies of War is very excited to announce that "Voices from Laos: Clearing Bombs, Protecting Lives," our groundbreaking national speakers tour, will be making its final stop in WASHINGTON, D.C. On April 30th, Legacies will host a reception at the STEWART R. MOTT HOUSE to mark the end of our tour and the anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War on April 30th, 1975. We will be joined by Members of Congress who have supported Legacies’ efforts to raise funds for clearing Laos of unexploded bombs, as well as members of the local community, representatives from the U.S. State Department, and nonprofit partners doing life-saving work on the ground in Laos. Our closing event in Washington, DC, will feature a special farewell baci string tying ceremony to thank our speakers for their wonderful contributions to the tour and to wish them a safe journey home.
Join us on this special evening to:
  • Listen to the compelling stories of Thoummy Silamphan, accident survivor and executive director of a local Lao NGO, and Manixia Thor, mother and deputy leader of an all-women's bomb clearance team
  • Learn about the UXO problem in Laos and ways in which individuals and organizations are working to clear land and save lives
  • Find out how you can act to raise awareness and resources for clearing Laos of deadly bombs
  • View a rare public display of historic illustrations drawn 40 years ago by bombing survivors
  • Reflect on our shared history, and celebrate the progress being made toward clearing Laos of UXO
  • Enjoy delicious Lao food and drinks
When: April 30th, 6pm-8:30pm
Where: Stewart R. Mott House, 122 Maryland Ave NE, Washington D.C.
Ticket cost: Suggested donation $50
LISTEN > LEARN > ACT.  Join us - RSVP here.
Interested in becoming a Tour Sponsor or Trailblazer Sponsor?
For the latest event information and list of guest speakers, visit our Voices from Laos site.
Video: Meet Thoummy
Video: Meet Manixia
The Voices from Laos: Clearing Bombs, Protecting Lives speakers tour is generously supported by a number of organizations and individuals, including the U.S. Department of State, Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement, Open Society Policy Center, and HALO Trust.