Sunday, June 30, 2013

July tomorrow....
I need to learn how to fly this summer.
Anyone with an extra pair of training wings?



Good friends are often difficult to find in life. Count your blessings if you have 1 or 2.  Yesterday a guy who I thought was once  a good friend didn't want to speak. It was a Godfather moment on a bus going up 16th Street. Some folks get whacked for having no manners. I decided to not focus on the negative. I came home and looked at the flowers growing in my backyard. Yes, consider how the lilies of the field grow. The last two days I've had long conversations with my friend Grace. It seems these days we are always on the phone discussing projects and thinking about how we can make the world a better place. Several months ago G was at the World Economic Forum. The picture of her above was taken in Ethiopia. It's one of my favorites. I like the biblical look that echoes her name -Grace. This week she passes another milestone - the way the earth moves as well as history. In this changing world a good friendship is like bread. It is what we's a very special gift.



Yesterday poet Sam Hamod and his partner (Mary) dropped by the house. We laughed and talked for a couple of hours. I hadn't seen Sam in a number of years. The guy is looking and writing well. He left me a couple of his books of poetry:

Spring Will Come Soon: Selected Poems 2010-2013

Dying With The Wrong Name

 Allow me to praise my old friend and colleague, Sam Hamod, for his brilliant poems that speak of his culture, his life and the lives of others in DYING WITH THE WRONG NAME. I was privileged to read his first edition of this book in 1980, when it first came out. At that time, I told him I felt it was in a class with my old friend, Pablo Neruda and in the league of Federico Garcia Lorca; with this new edition, he cements that praise in my mind even more than in the 1st edition.

      - Carlos Fuentes

Sam can be contacted at:


JEWELRY BOX : A Collection of Histories by Aurelie Sheehan

To be published October 2013

Pre-order at:

Getting published and reaching first base.

Is it possible to apply something like sabermetrics to literary careers?

Sports: My Nationals, My Nationals, My Curly W

Rumor has it that the Nationals are going to be giving away Dan Haren Bobbleheads soon.
It must be a joke.

It's difficult to watch the Nats play everyday. It's like watching a kid learning to tie his shoes.You keep waiting for a lazy knot that might hold.The kid keeps looking up for help.

Glad Harper will be back this week. The Nats should only use Bernadina as a pinch runner or for defense. Keep this guy away from a bat. His average last year was a fluke.

No way this team can keep playing without making some trades or finding guys ready to move from minor to major.

Zimmerman is becoming a glove horror at third base. What can we do?   Too many errors in a key position. Nothing worse than a fielding slump. It's difficult to hide the glove inside the ball.


Reetika Vazirani
Excerpt from a letter from Reetika's mom:

July 16th ten years ago was a bleak day for us; but August 9th  will remain a day of joy as that was the day that Reetika arrived in the world (two weeks late) with long black curls and long fingernails!  And we remember Jehan on December 19th in the same spirit of joy that he gave to Reetika on the day of his birth.  I am ever thankful for these eternal gifts.
I will go to the Gate of Heaven in Silver Spring in the morning (Tuesday, July 16).  Then I will return home before noon.  If any of you can join me at any time, please let me know what time you can be where so that I do not miss you.


when you leave
i realize how much
my life needs air
and how much loving
you would be a reason
for living   why are
you so beautiful?
why do i desire you as
much as air?

- E. Ethelbert Miller

From FIRST LIGHT: New and Selected Poems by E. Ethelbert Miller
Black Classic Press, 1994.

Friday, June 28, 2013

TALKING WITH KAFKA ON A FRIDAY NIGHT,0,1838433.story#tugs_story_display

DC Public Library Beyond Words eNews
More Library Hours - Oct. 1
All libraries will be open seven days a week and open more hours during the week starting Oct. 1. City Council approved Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s fiscal year 2014 budget that includes an increase in library hours and funding for books and other library materials.  See your library’s new hours.

Digital Commons Opens July 17 @ MLK
Calling all tech startups, enthusiasts and novices. Digital Commons opens July 17, 10:30 a.m. with an event with Mayor Vincent C. Gray. Tour the space. Learn about the 3D printer and get cool demonstrations of the library’s latest digital services. This new, state-of-the-art incubator space is equipped with a self-publishing book machine, the latest eReader devices, smartboards, more than 80 public computers, spaces for meet ups and collaborative creation and more at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Learn more.

Download Popular Magazines
Get eMagazines on your tablet, mobile device or computer with Zinio, the library's new digital magazine service. More than 150 magazines available, including Consumer Reports, Vibe, Woman’s Day, Weight Watcher’s, TVyNovelas USA, Seventeen, Rolling Stone, Popular Science, O - The Oprah Magazine, Newsweek, National Geographic, Golf Tips and more. Browse now or view A Guide to Zinio Magazines.

For Children
Meet Graphic Novelist Jarrett Krosoczka
On Saturday, July 13, 3 p.m. meet Jarrett Krosoczka, author of The Lunch Lady series at Mount Pleasant Library. He will speak about his newest book, Platypus Police Squad. Copies of his books will be available for purchase and signing. For ages 8 and older. This program is in partnership with Politics and Prose book store. See all events for children

For Teens
Meet Teen Authors Reginae Carter and Bria Williams
Money and designer clothes. Fame and red carpet events. Reginae Carter, the daughter of hip hop artist Li’l Wayne, and Bria Williams, the daughter of mogul Bryan “Birdman” Williams, discuss their book Paparazzi Princesses, a fictional account of two teens growing up with celebrity parents. Join them on Monday, July 8, 7 p.m., Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. Fun for ages 13 to 19. See all events for Teens

For Adults
Project: Action Book Club
Join William O. Lockridge/Bellevue Library every first Tuesday at 11:30 a.m. to discuss how to make money by investing in stocks, real estate and jump-starting a successful business. The featured book for July 2 is The Neatest Little Guide to Stock Market Investing. See all events for Adults

Other Happenings

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Picture of a calendar
Monday, July 1
Baby and Toddler Lap Time
11 a.m., ages birth-2 and their caregivers
Anacostia Library

Monday, July 8
Beneath The Surface: Albus Cavus – Tape Sculpture
5:30 p.m., ages 13-19
Capitol View Library

Monday, July 8
Baby Lap Time
3:30 p.m., ages birth-12 months and their caregivers
Chevy Chase Library

Monday, July 8
Wonderful Ones
10 a.m., ages 12 months and their caregivers
Cleveland Park Library

Tuesday, July 9
Preschool Story Time
10:30 a.m., ages 3-5 and their caregivers
Deanwood Library

Tuesday, July 9
Performance: The Lemonade Stand
7 p.m., Adults
Dorothy I. Height/Benning Library

Wednesday, July 10
Food Crafts! Non, nom, nom!
1:30 p.m., ages birth-5 and their caregivers
Francis A. Gregory Library

Thursday, July 11
Music Time
2 p.m., ages birth-5 and their caregivers
Georgetown Library

Thursday, July 11
Rock Art
3 p.m., ages 13-19
Juanita E. Thornton/Shepherd Park Library

Monday, July 15
Job Seekers Clinic
10 a.m., Adults
Lamond-Riggs Library

Tuesday, July 16
HTML Basics
4 p.m., Adults
Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library

Tuesday, July 16
Summer Themed Arts and Crafts
4 p.m., ages 3-12
Mt. Pleasant Library

Wednesday, July 17
Baby and Toddler Lap Time
10 a.m., ages birth-36 months and their caregivers
Northwest One Library

Wednesday, July 17
Drop-in Crafts
3 p.m., ages 5-12
Palisades Library

Thursday, July 18
Preschool Story Time
10:30 a.m., ages birth-5 and their caregivers
Parklands-Turner Library

Thursday, July 18
Job Seekers Clinic
11 a.m., Adults
Petworth Library

Thursday, July 18
Dance Troupe: Pacific Rhythm
1 p.m., ages 5 and older
Rosedale Library

Monday, July 22
Beneath The Surface: Journaling Workshops
5 p.m., ages 13-19
Southwest Library

Monday, July 22
Monday Movies
10:30 a.m., ages 3-5
Takoma Park Library

Monday, July 22
Independent Reader Book Club
3 p.m., ages 7-10
Tenley-Friendship Library

Monday, July 22
American History Book Club
6:30 p.m., Adults
Watha T. Daniel/Shaw Library

Tuesday, July 23
Blue Sky Puppet Theater
4:30 p.m., ages 3-12
William O. Lockridge/Bellevue Library

Thursday, July 25
DC Free Summer Meals Program
1 p.m., ages birth-18
Woodridge Library

See all events
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Breaking from
Obama, African Host Clash Over Gay Rights
President Obama on Thursday praised the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage as a "victory for American democracy" but clashed with his African host over gay rights in a sign of how far the movement has to go internationally.

Obama said recognition of gay unions in the United States should cross state lines and that equal rights should be recognized universally. It was his first chance to expand on his thoughts about the ruling, which was issued Wednesday as he flew to Senegal, one of many African countries that outlaw homosexuality.

Senegalese President Macky Sall rebuffed Obama's call for Africans to give gays equal rights under the law.

"We are still not ready to decriminalize homosexuality," Sall said, while insisting that the country is "very tolerant" and needs more time to digest the issue without pressure. "This does not mean we are homophobic."

Read More Here
Editor's Notes:


Here is a link to the last television show I recorded for UDC-TV.  It's an interview with Thomas Stanley; our topic is an examination of the musical contributions of jazz great Sun Ra.


Let's go back to "the throw."

Thursday, June 27, 2013


ME-K photo by Ethelbert

I'll be reading Me-K's manuscript over the weekend. I'll miss her summer visit this year.

Don't Trust Anyone Without Secrets is the title of her unpublished work. Me-K lives in South Korea where she teaches English. Some of her work can be found in my E-Gallery:

PAUL NELSON photo by Ethelbert

Washington State poet Paul Nelson was in town today. This guys continues to do good work out there. He is the center of poetry. Link into his site:

Giovanni's Room


I will be on the Rock Newman Show with Nikki Giovanni -Saturday, July 13th at 10AM.
It should be a morning of laughter...

BREAKING NEWSThursday, June 27, 2013 10:56 AM EDT
Obama Administration to Suspend Trade Privileges With Bangladesh, Officials Say
The Obama administration will suspend trade privileges for Bangladesh over concerns about safety problems and labor rights violations in that country’s garment industry, administration and Congressional officials said on Thursday.
The White House has come under intense pressure to suspend trade privileges with Bangladesh after a factory building there collapsed in April, killing 1,129 workers, and after a factory fire there killed 112 workers last November.



Wednesday, June 26, 2013

UDC-TV and other stuff.

TV time today. I'll be interviewing Thomas Stanley a professor at George Mason University on The Scholars. Our topic will be the music of Sun Ra. Yes, Space Is The Place. The program will air later this summer. Look for a link in E-Notes.

I just finished my "E ON DC" column. I compare King's March on Washington speech to the problems of moneyball and our failure to learn how to hit the curve.

I need to get the next E-box out to Lady Wisdom in Minneapolis. Sorry for the delay...

Glad Ginger G is back home safe.

A new collection of poems slowly coming together.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013


Institute for Policy Studies - Celebrating 50 Years of Turning Ideas into Action


June 27, 2013 | Thursday
5:30 - 6:30 PM
:: KINDLE CLUB :: session four ::
Presenter | ZSÓFIA SUBA | AC Budapest, Assistant
Topic | Father`s Day Special

Registration | NOT required
Location | AC Budapest | Corvinus University | Salt House | Fovam ter 13-15.

“Real reading is a lonely activity.” – said Harold Bloom. On one Thursday evening each month, we would like to prove that reading can, indeed, be a social event as well. Whether you are often startled after reading a story and have a lot of questions or you tend to understand everything and have a lot of answers, join us! Let’s connect this “lonely activity” with creative and engaging exercises, let’s exchange viewpoints, and twist stories around; let’s Kindle new ideas! How do people celebrate Father`s Day in the U.S.? At the next session of Kindle Club we will have a chance to learn about this holiday and also listen to some poetry of E. Ethelbert Miller as well as read excerpts from his memoir entitled Fathering Words. As a preparation for the Kindle Club, you may preview a youtube link on Fathering Words on Farther`s Day, posted on June 16, 2013 at:
BREAKING NEWS Tuesday, June 25, 2013 11:00 AM EDT
Key Part of Voting Rights Act Invalidated
The Supreme Court struck down a central portion of the Voting Rights Act on Tuesday, effectively ending the practice in which some states with a history of racial discrimination must receive clearance from the federal government before changing voting laws.
The vote was 5 to 4, with the five conservative-leaning justices in the majority and the four liberal-leaning justices in the minority. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the decision.
The majority held that Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, originally passed in 1965 and since updated by Congress, was unconstitutional. The section includes a formula that determines which states must receive pre-approval.

If you're gonna walk on my love, baby 
The least you can do is take off your shoes 

  - B. B. King

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Acrobats

once we kissed
on the escalator
going down

it was the Metro
stop for the Zoo

it was a kiss
between friends

a kiss that occurs
the first time you
tightrope without

a net

we struggled
to keep
our tongues


 - E. Ethelbert Miller


BOBBY (BLUE) BLAND (1930-2013)

Gone...leaving us the blues (again).



For the first time in 8 years the Poets won the Miller Classic softball game at Bennington.
Don't they look like champions in their cool t-shirts designed by Cameron Jones?

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Photo by Ethelbert

Sunday evening. I'm back from Bennington and the End of the World (see above). A good trip. A chance to see old friends and make new ones. Fun watching the Miller Classic yesterday. The Poets won 14-11!  It ends an eight year whupping. Was my presence responsible for the change of fortune?  Maybe it was the fact that the winners this year obtained cool t-shirts and not a book of poetry from the bookstore. How else can one inspire the poets?  There are some fun pictures of the softball game on my Facebook page. Thanks Jia. Nice to see newlyweds Major Jackson and Didi out in the field. They are a hot couple with game.Didi played third base like an MVP.

SHIRTS FOR THE POETS. Photo by Ethelbert

I thought my commencement speech was well received.  It's posted in today's E-Notes.

Photo by Ethelbert





JUNE 22, 2013

Dr. Isabel Roche (Dean of the College)
Faculty of the Bennington Writing Seminars
Graduating Class of 2013
Family, friends and fellow writers.

It’s an honor to speak to you today. This is the third time I’ve been invited to give the Commencement address at the Bennington Writing Seminars. I’ve always felt there was something magical about this place. The friendships you develop here at Bennington are just as important as the stories, essays and poems you will publish in the future. I don’t know if one can workshop friendship. I know that being good and truthful to just one person is difficult. I know that if you are successful as a writer, sooner or later someone will ask the question – who or what do you love?

For many of us the first seduction is language; with seduction comes pleasure.

 In one of my last conversations with Liam Rector, he reminded me that the Bennington experience was not about teaching a person how to write, but about helping people to become men and women of letters. Your degree today places you on that path; it helps you begin that journey. May you find success and  pleasure.  Once while talking about the Bennington program at an AWP Conference in Chicago, I recall Liam openly chuckling about how the Bennington Writing Seminars would stop short of nothing but world domination. In the years since he said that I keep wondering if it’s true.  It appears the beautiful fingerprints of Bennington graduates and teachers are everywhere.

It is because of these fingerprints that I speak to you today as a literary activist and not just a writer of poems and memoirs. I speak to you as a person concerned with how the word moves the world; and how the writer responds to the motion of history. A few months ago President Obama agreed to set aside millions of dollars to study the brain. One could make a strong and convincing case that the study begin here at Bennington. Why?  Because so many talented writers keep emerging from this program. Here one finds such a sweet smell of genius that perhaps we should bottle it. During your lifetime there will be more studies and attempts to better understand how the brain works; to better understand the mysteries of creativity. Writers should be at the center of every discussion and debate that seeks to determine how we think.  How does the brain process metaphors?  There are so many questions with answers waiting.

The Class of 2013 leaves here today and enters a world in which the tools used for writing and reading are changing at a tremendous pace. What will the publishing industry look like in the one or two years? What will become of our bookstores and libraries?  How will they change? What will happen to booktours or how a book might be promoted? What will you do with your own personal collection of books?  Who will inherit them and what will they do with all the bounded paper?

The challenge we face as writers is how to embrace the new while protecting the old. We must be guardians of literary tradition, while becoming literary pioneers willing to write a new American narrative.  How do we walk the cultural tightrope without nets?  How many of us are afraid of falling?  So be old-fashioned but be new. Hold fast to tradition but be willing to experiment. Live a comfortable life but don’t always have a comfortable mind. Take risks! For 10 years I’ve been editing Poet Lore magazine (with Jody Bolz), the oldest poetry magazine in the United States; a journal founded in 1889 and one Walt Whitman promoted his work in. I remind Jody all the time we are not simply editing a magazine – we are upholding tradition. What I try to do every month is read submissions with an open mind. To look for work that makes me work, to do heavy-lifting. I find joy in discovering poems that are different from my own.  It’s fun to learn to appreciate something new. This is how one grows. This is how we should live.

You are also graduating into a world of wonder. When you sit down to write try to always answer the big philosophical questions. The questions all writers seem to ponder -who are you?  Why are you here?  Are you alone in the universe? 

Be sure to study and embrace other art forms. Dance when you are not writing. Paint as well as publish. Discover the many ways to mix music and photography with what you do. Collaboration might well be the backbone to civilization.

But forever remember all is not words and thunder. Find time for silence. Find time to reflect. Find time to listen. The art of mindfulness is a great art to master. Only then might you understand how stories begin…out of what silence they emerge.

Let me remind you on this glorious day that the journey of the writer at times is a lonely one. At times you will be surrounded by sadness and grief. Although I found Bennington magical at times I also discovered it was a place that could not be separated from the blues or darkness. It was while I was teaching at Bennington that I received a phone call from Charles Johnson informing me that August Wilson was dying and only had a few  months to live. It was at Bennington that I learned my beloved June Jordan had died. I sat in my small room unable to talk to reporters who kept trying to reach me for comments. It was at Bennington that I found myself,one residency, in front of the Commons rocking back and forth with poet Reetika Vazirani – our heads touching and mine unaware of her growing suicidal thoughts.

I mention these events because these are the stories we live through but may never want to write about – but then we must because we are survivors and writing is what we have been called to do. It is memory that heals often reminding time not to forget. Across our country writers are trying to remember. They are constantly exploring and searching for family and cultural roots.

Last year, I was the keynote speaker at Canto Mundo , an organization founded by Celeste Mondoza, a Bennington graduate and one of my former students. An organization created for Latino writers. But an organization that is very welcoming to others. I spent my time in Austin, Texas at Canto Mundo listening to new voices. I was introduced to writers whose names I was not familiar with. Here was Celeste now teaching a former teacher a new literature and another history. A history and literature that was essential to her as air. The seeds for Canto Mundo began at Bennington. Celeste came away from this magical campus wanting not only to write but to build something for other writers. One is reminded of that line by Donald Hall that  Liam was often quoting ---

Work, love, build a house, and die. But build a house.

Let me share with you some literary advice about building and having a literary career.
It’s advice not about form or structure but about that thing call money. I didn’t become a writer to make money, but as a literary activist I’m very concerned with how writers live.
Many of us don’t live well because we lack - money. So here are four practical things to remember:

  1. Writers who handle their own affairs often earn less money.
  2. Only now and then accept payment in meals and good times; remember you have bills waiting at home that need to be paid.
  1. Inquire as to when you’ll get paid; always carry a blank invoice with you.
  2. Don’t  keep requesting the same amount as an honorarium year after year; give yourself an increase that reflects your growing success as a writer.

I hope this basic advice is useful. Other things I would encourage you to do is to edit a magazine (at least once in life), run a literary series (at least once in life), judge contests, visit prisons and senior citizen homes, conduct workshops. Select a literary organization and make an annual donation. As you know I enjoy sponsoring the annual soft ball game here at Bennington. In a small way it helps writers pay closer attention to their batting averages instead of  wondering about where to publish.

Since you are writers I encourage you to see as much of the world as possible. Travel – run the bases, follow your imagination beyond the page - and write, write, write.
Think of writing as air – so essential to life.

Finally, always be aware of any distance between you and your neighbor; especially when your neighbor doesn’t look like you. If you find yourself in a crowded room, speak for the people not in the room. Speak for the people who are different and have needs that are different from you own. This is how we build community.

 In Paul Auster’s  memoir Winter Journal there is a fascinating paragraph.
 He writes:

Think of what happened to you when you were fourteen. For two weeks at the end of the summer, you worked for your father in Jersey City, joining one of the small crews that repaired and maintained the apartment buildings he and his brothers owned and managed: painting walls and ceilings, mending roofs, hammering nails into two-by-fours, pulling up sheets of cracked linoleum. The two men you worked with were black, every
Tenant in every apartment was black, every person in the neighborhood was black, and after two weeks of looking at nothing but black faces, you began to forget that your own face wasn’t black. Since you couldn’t see your own face, you saw yourself in the faces of the people around you, and bit by bit you stopped thinking of yourself as different. In effect, you stopped thinking about yourself at all.

You leave Bennington today to become writers in the World House. Martin Luther King, Jr. discussed the World House in his last book – Where Do We Go From Here?  Chaos or Community.

For King the goal was the Beloved Community. For writers it cannot be nothing less. Create goodness where you go. As writers we play a key role in the building of community because we are storytellers. We must write and construct the new American narrative, cautious of the warning issued by the late Chinua Achebe.  In his best selling novel Things Fall Apart, Achebe writes about how the elders warned the community that all the stories are true.

How can that be? How can all the stories be true? Should we look to the scientist or the writer for an explanation?  What does our brains tell us?

Amiri Baraka once wrote – “one man’s fast is another man’s slow. The great jazz musician Charlie Parker said – “ I can hear the new music. I just can’t play it yet.”

To graduate from Bennington on this day is to know that the new music resides somewhere deep in your heart. Your task is to bring it to light. Go forth and sing…Go forth and be blessed. Continue to walk in beauty and embrace all that is Yes in the world.