Sunday, September 29, 2013

THE SCHOLARS: GRACE A. ALI


PART I:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebgTy9XwkBk&feature=c4-overview&list=UUO0TLew_eanCz5XjAG78RdA



PART II:

Quote of the Day

One of the first signs of a saint may well be the fact that other people do not know what to make of him.

    - Thomas Merton

Saturday, September 28, 2013

VETO

40 people pushing our nation over a cliff.
Why come to Congress if you're not going to compromise?
This is so sad. Entertainment politics will fracture our fragile economy.

Don't let anybody piss on your shoes and call it rain.
Obama has to veto any nonsense sent to him.

MAN AS ART - OUTSIDE THE NATIONAL ARCHIVES




50 AND COUNTING at IPS

Marcus Raskin and John Cavanagh photo by Ethelbert

http://www.ips-dc.org/events/ips_50th_anniversary_celebration

Interview with John Cavanagh:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OBMNIry3Y0


E. Ethelbert Miller and Joy Zarembka

A SPLENDID WAKE - September 25, 2013

I spoke at the Splendid Wake program at the Gelman Library at The George Washington University this week. My topic was the Ascension Poetry Reading Series I started in 1974. Here are excerpts from my remarks:

By the 1980s I would move beyond sponsoring poetry readings for only African American poets. Ascension would highlight the work of Jessica Hagedorn, Kimiko Hahn, Pedro Pietri, Gregory Orfalea, Fay Chaing, Reetika Vazirani and many other writers of color.

Ascension was not just important for the platform or stage it provided for writers, it helped with the cultural integration of institutions like the Martin Luther King, Jr Memorial Library and The Folger Shakespeare Library. At the King Library the literature director Octave Stevenson opened the door to many Ascension programs. Leni Spencer the poetry coordinator at the Folger in the 1970s did the same thing there. The first Ascension reading at the Folger had people standing outside - it was a reading featuring Ntozake Shange and Thulani Davis. That memorable evening on October 12, 1977 would move the writer Greg Tate to write his poem " the role of women in the culture of the social revolution."

From 1974-2000 I heard many voices. In a small way I think Ascension resurrected a few careers and helped many others ascend to success.

The Ascension Series was not without it critics. I recall the poet Julia Fields asking if the Ascension Series only existed for me to see June Jordan on a regular basis. I looked directly into her eyes like Michael Corleone - lied and said - No!.

Throughout the years I coordinated the Ascension Poetry Reading Series I attempted to be very democratic regarding who read. If a person wanted to read, had the courage and desire, then all I did was provide them with a place and an audience.

As Greg Tate reminded me on that October night back in 1977:

We are there. Only to love them.
Whether you dig it or you don't.
Whether you dig it or you don't.


Note:
A Splendid Wake arose from a desire to honor the poets of past decades who have left us, and to announce the creation of an online site, A Splendid Wake, to help document and preserve the remarkable literary history of Washington poetry from 1900 through the present. Articles about the poets, movements, publications, readings, sponsoring institutions, recordings and broadcasts provide a picture of the diverse and unique life of poetry that evolved over more than a century in and around the Nation's Capital.

To assist the community in capturing this history, we welcome everyone with knowledge and interest to submit articles for the site to jenking@gwu.edu

Wiki:
http://wikis.library.gwu.edu/dcpoetry/index.php/Main_Page


Friday, September 27, 2013

PUT A SPELL ON YOU.

 
http://www.africultures.com/php/index.php?nav=film&no=16348

I came across this poem by Eliza Griswold in her book WIDEAWAKE FIELD:

TIGERS

What are we now but voices
who promise each other a life
neither one can deliver
not for lack of wanting
but wanting won't make it so.
We cling to a vine
at the cliff's edge.
There are tigers above
and below. Let us love
one another and let go.

Campaign for America's Future
      
© 2013 Campaign for America's Future Inc. 1825 K Street, NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20006
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Poetry FoundationNewsletter

September 27, 2013

Ronald Lane Latimer

Mystery Man

For a few years in the 1930s, Ronald Lane Latimer struck gold as an editor, publishing Stevens, Williams, and more. Then he disappeared.
Wetzsteon
 

Not Quite

Why Rachel Wetzsteon is her generation’s best love poet.
Fall
 

Fall Poems

Poems to read as the leaves change and the weather gets colder.
Vallejo
 

Poem Guide: CĂ©sar Vallejo's "Under the Poplars"

The ambassador of South American surrealism.
Podcast
 

Anything but Sweet

Wilfred Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est" and modern warfare.

POEM OF THE DAY

AUDIO POEM OF THE DAY

A NOTE FROM SHAKEEMA SMALLS

My E-Box!

photo (9)
Yesterday, I went over to Ethelbert’s office in Founders Library at Howard University to pick up my E-Box. For those who haven’t read his blog, E-Notes, an E-Box is a personalized box full of books from his personal collection which he gives to writers.
A few of us have received E-Boxes, now, and I was particularly excited for mine. A funny memory that I have is of the time I first went to Ethelbert’s office and pulled all of the books out of my bag. I had so many different things. I was reading a book by Margaret Atwood and a few children’s books. It was a funny moment for us both.
In understanding my obsession with chaos, that kind of eclectic reading is a part of my natural habit. Though, I do have research interests which are dear to me such as critical race theory, African diaspora studies, and poetry (particularly Japanese and African-American poetry). Intersectionality isn’t a new thing, for me, but focus is always nice.
I wanted to post my thoughts on the box, since it was actually a perfect addition to my own collection, expanding some sections, like Afro-diaspora studies and Indigenous American studies. E-Boxes are thoughtfully put together by Ethelbert and his wife, according to the interest of the writers to whom they are given. My favorite thing about it was that, not only were there books included based on my personal interests, but  were also books by authors I’d never heard of, from cultures that I want to become more acquainted with such as Miklos Radnoti’s,Clouded Sky.
photo (10)
There were books like, “New Black Voices,” an anthology that I’ve come across, at least a dozen times, since my first Furious Flower, and have passed on to other readers and writers. I was happy to have another copy.
photo (11)
Other books, like Eugene Redmond’s, “Drumvoices,” which I think will be an
important part of my personal study as a writer. If you’re not familiar with Redmond, you may have heard of the poetic form that he contributed to the canon of American poetry, the kwansaba.
photo (12)

Ultimately, I’d love to dialogue with the 6 or 7 other writers who have received boxes to see what they received and what their own favorites are.
What is better than a literary goodie box? Thanks, Ethelbert!

SHALLAL LA in DC?

It was good listening to my friend Andy Shallal at the morning Busboy meeting yesterday. Things are moving forward and the "Run Andy Run" signs will soon be the talk of the town. I looked around Busboys and saw History ordering a breakfast special. Many people are getting behind Shallal's run for mayor. Below are pictures from yesterday. Don't folks look hungry for change?








FULBRIGHT

UPCOMING EVENT:

Grace A. Ali and E. Ethelbert Miller  will be speaking at the Fulbright Association 36th Annual Conference.

October 3, 2013 at the L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, Washington, D.C.

The title of our panel:  Transformative Arts & Humanities: An Intergenerational Conversation between E. Ethelbert Miller and Grace Aneiza Ali.



Grace A. Ali

Thursday, September 26, 2013


Tune in Friday morning at 9:00 to hear our interview with author Terry McMillan. Famous for her novels such as Waiting to Exhale, How Stella Got Her Groove Back,and Getting to Happy, McMillan talks about her latest book, Who Asked You?

Stay tuned at 10:00 to hear our talk with Peggielene "King Peggy" Bartels. King Peggy is the King of Otuam, a village in Ghana, and author, with Eleanor Herman, ofKing Peggy: An American Secretary, Her Royal Destiny, and the Inspiring Story of How She Changed an African Village, which is the Maryland Humanities Council's One Maryland One Book choice for 2013.  King Peggy will be speaking Friday night (September 27) at 7:30 at Montgomery College's Cultural Arts Center Auditorium and on Saturday at 1:00 at the Baltimore Book Festival's Literary Salon.
  
 
Email or post on the The Marc Steiner Show Facebook page 
with your questions and comments! 

Listen from 9-11 am on WEAA 88.9-FM or online at weaa.orgAll shows are available as podcasts at www.steinershow.org and on iTunes. 

Join the conversation by calling 410-319-8888, tweeting @marcsteiner, and emailing steinershow@gmail.com. For questions & show ideas call: (443) 475-0554.

IPS: 50th Anniversary


[] 
The late documentary filmmaker and Institute for Policy Studies associate Saul Landau in 2010. (AP Photo/Institute for Policy Studies)
The Institute for Policy Studies, an invaluable fount of progressive ideas and action, marks its fiftieth anniversary this month. The roll of its past and present scholars and associates reflects the richness of America’s independent left, including Richard Barnet and Marcus Raskin, IPS’s founders, as well as Saul Landau, Gar Alperovitz, Barbara Ehrenreich, Bob Moses, Paul Goodman, Arthur Waskow, Rita Mae Brown, Mark Hertsgaard, Michael Klare, Susan George, Roger Wilkins, Mary Kaldor, Eqbal Ahmad, Fred Halliday, William Arkin, Sarah Anderson, Phyllis Bennis, Chuck Collins, Sanho Tree, Robert Borosage, E. Ethelbert Miller and legions more.

The Nation has enjoyed a long and deep relationship with IPS and its fellows. Raskin and Wilkins have served for many years on our editorial board, helping to guide our reporting, with Ehrenreich joining more recently. Katrina vanden Heuvel, The Nation’s publisher and editor, is a member of the IPS board, and IPS fellows and associates have been frequent contributors to The Nation. In 2008 IPS collaborated with us to produce a prescient and award-winning special issue on “The New Inequality” [June 30]. We are proud to join in celebrating this vital institution.

IPS was formed just as New Frontier idealism was beginning to curdle into Vietnam War disillusion. It was the brainchild of Raskin and Barnet, then brilliant young officials in the Kennedy administration. The legend is that they met when John McCloy, the dean of the establishment, opened a meeting on arms control attended by Pentagon officials, national security mandarins and military contractors by saying, “If this group cannot achieve disarmament, no one can.” Marc and Dick, the only two who laughed at the absurdity of the statement, bonded­and went on to create the institute. Its start-up funding came from Sears heir Philip Stern, banking heir James Warburg and FabergĂ© cosmetics founder Samuel Rubin, later supplemented by a generous endowment from Wall Street whiz Daniel Bernstein. IPS refused to take money from the government, to be free to “speak truth to power.”

But as the war deepened and the civil rights movement expanded, the institute’s founders came to realize that power often knows the truth. The question, as Nation national affairs correspondent William Greider titled one of his books, is “Who will tell the people?” IPS would do just that, growing into a hub for progressive activism and inquiry. Legendary civil rights activist Bob Moses found a home there. Raskin, Barnet and Waskow became leaders in the antiwar movement. IPS published The Vietnam Reader, which became the basic text for teach-ins across the country. Saul Landau created a body of engaged documentary filmmaking focused on Latin America that educated a generation of activists. From the women’s movement to the anti–nuclear weapons campaigns, IPS became a center of ideas, energy and activism.

And the movement in turn helped deepen the institute’s commitment to critical thinking. Raskin led the search for what he called “new ways of knowing,” making the case for social reconstruction and nonviolent, radical transformation that went far beyond reform but avoided the paroxysm of revolution. Barnet and Raskin elaborated their critique of America’s emerging national security state, warning of the perils that would plague a nation committed to constant foreign intervention. In his path-breaking book Global Reach, Barnet accurately described the challenge posed by global corporations and the economy they were forging. Orlando Letelier, a leading figure in Salvador Allende’s left-wing government in Chile, joined IPS after the US-inspired 1973 coup that overthrew him. In a prophetic 1976 Nation article­published just one month before his shocking car-bomb assassination on the streets of Washington, carried out by Pinochet’s goons­Letelier warned of the drastic purgatives inflicted on the Chilean people by the Chicago School of economists trained by Milton Friedman. Letelier’s piece was among the first to detail the dangers of the neoliberal doctrines that the “Washington Consensus” would enforce first on the developing world and eventually on the so-called First World [see Letelier, “The ‘Chicago Boys’ in Chile: Economic ‘Freedom’s’ Awful Toll,” August 28, 1976]. In 1974, IPS founded the Transnational Institute, in Amsterdam (Letelier was its director before his assassination), which, among other initiatives, provided ideas and energy for the European revolt against nuclear weapons. The Transnational Institute also developed, with Jamaica’s Michael Manley and Tanzania’s Julius Nyerere, the case for a New International Economic Order, torpedoed by Reagan after his 1980 election. IPS’s William Arkin did path-breaking work exposing the scope of the nuclear weapons complex, while the institute sponsored an exchange with Mikhail Gorbachev after he became the Soviet leader in 1985, exploring unconventional disarmament ideas.

Alongside its development of critical thinking, IPS incubated the Government Accountability Project and the Institute for Southern Studies, and it helped provide initial support for Mother Jones magazine. Susan George became a leader of the global movement against the global trade regime. Roger Wilkins sparked the Free South Africa Movement. Robert Borosage founded the Center for National Security Studies and the Campaign for America’s Future. Rosa DeLauro led the IPS-inspired Countdown ‘87, which pushed to defund the covert US war against Nicaragua. John Cavanagh, who has served as IPS’s director for fifteen years, is one of the few great masters of progressive coalition-building, providing the glue, vision and boundless energy that has held together many alliances­across international borders and various issues. Today he and Sarah Anderson continue to be leaders in the fair trade movement and are spearheading the drive for a financial transactions tax.

Through the years, the institute has often paid the harsh price that comes from questioning official folly. Raskin, along with Benjamin Spock, William Sloane Coffin and others, was prosecuted for challenging the Vietnam War draft and earned a place on Nixon’s enemies list. The FBI dispatched more than seventy agents to infiltrate the institute, attend seminars, intercept mail, search garbage and reconstruct typewriter ribbons. The CIA opened the institute’s mail. The most brutal attack of all was, of course, the car-bomb murder of Letelier and IPS development associate Ronni Karpen Moffitt. The IPS response, under the leadership of Landau, was to prove to the FBI and the world that the Chilean secret police had targeted Letelier; eventually several of the killers, including the head of the Chilean secret police, would be convicted of the assassination. In the 1980s, right-wing legislators combined with neoconservative McCarthyites to slur IPS as an “apologist for Soviet expansionism.” The institute’s response was to create the Washington School, welcoming thousands of federal officials and congressional aides to evening classes taught by leaders of Congress, the Washington media and prominent intellectuals.

Even as IPS was being surveilled and slimed, the right flattered it through imitation, with the Heritage Foundation created explicitly to counter IPS’s influence. Today, Heritage provides a multimillion-dollar home for the New Right; the American Enterprise Institute is a center for the Fortune 500; the Brookings Institution, for executive branch managers; and the Center for American Progress, for the Wall Street wing of the Democratic Party. On a much smaller budget, IPS remains, in the words of I.F. Stone, the “institute for the rest of us.”

On October 11–13, IPS will mark its fiftieth anniversary with a characteristically rich weekend of seminars, poetry, movies and lectures in Washington (go to ips-dc.org/events/ips_50th_anniversary_celebration to see the agenda, get tickets and contribute). Even as it pays tribute to its remarkable past, the Institute for Policy Studies will be charting its course for the future. Along with progressives across the country, The Nation is proud to celebrate IPS’s first fifty years, as we eagerly look forward to the next fifty.

Nation editor and publisher Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote about IPS fellow Saul Landau after his recent death, and how he exposed US ties to the military junta in Chile.The Editors 
September 25, 2013   |    This article appeared in the October 14, 2013 edition of The Nation.
- See more at: http://www.thenation.com/article/176349/happy-50th-anniversary-ips#sthash.yjVXYtHr.dpuf

SHAKA KING

This week the filmmaker Shaka King dropped by my office with buddies Mike and Skip.
I hope you will support his work.

Shaka, Mike and Skip photo by Ethelbert


Trailer:

KWAME DAWES ON KOFI AWOONOR


http://www.thirteen.org/programs/pbs-newshour/#death-of-kofi-awoonor-in-nairobi-attack-is-great-loss


REFUGEE

   (for H)

Did I say I love you today?
Me without home
leg or arm

When the bombs came
I ran
I left everything

but here - now alive
listen to my heart
and how it lives

  - E. Ethelbert Miller
National Museum of Women in the Arts
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Faith Ringgold
Renowned artist Faith Ringgold discusses her art, journey, and the early 1960s with political imagery and firsthand accounts of the civil rights movement as portrayed in her American People(1963–67) series. Her inspiring, often humorous, and always very human stories will illustrate her life's work as an artist, activist, author, teacher, and parent through the evolution of an incredible body of work.

NMWA's exhibition American People, Black Light: Faith Ringgold's Paintings of the 1960s will be open prior to the lecture from 5–7 p.m. and a Q&A session will follow the lecture. Tickets are $10 for general admission and $8 for members, seniors, and students. Reservations are required.
Faith Ringgold discussing her work
Don't miss the artist lecture
Faith Ringgold: More Than 50 Years
To learn about all of NMWA's public programs, please view the calendar of events. Reservations are required for some of these events.
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SHAKEEMA SMALLS

I finally got the E-Box to Shakeema Smalls. The E-box consists of books from my personal collection given to a writer I admire and who loves books. Shakeema received the 8th E-Box. I will probably give away one more before the year ends. Will it be to you?


GRACE A. ALI

Grace A. Ali in Ethiopia

I did a 2-part interview with Grace Ali for The Scholars yesterday. I think it's going to be one of my best programs. We talked about what it means to be a Fulbright Scholar, a World Economic Forum Global Shaper, a professor at CUNY and also her creation of a digital publication -OfNote Magazine. See link:
www.ofnotemagazine.org

Grace and I will be speaking at the Annual Fulbright Conference next Saturday.
Be sure to read Grace's article on 4 women photographers from Guyana in the latest issue of Nueva Luz.
www.enfoco.org

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

There are people, Mother,
who don't know God
and float around equally loved

    Eliza Griswold

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

FALL FOR THE BOOK IN VIRGINIA

http://fallforthebook.org/2013/09/23/festival-continues-tuesday-september-24/
From: Brenda Marie Osbey <Brenda_Marie_Osbey@brown.edu>
Subject: Poet Kofi Awoonor 
Date: 23 September 2013 10:00:31 AM EDT


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/hay-festival/10326757/Kofi-Awoonor-the-literary-world-pays-tribute.html



Dear MAPAs:

Above is the link to the news story, sent to me by poet-activist E. Ethelbert Miller, recounting the murder this past weekend of famed Ghanaian poet and literary scholar Kofi Awoonor. I have also included a link to the Poetry Foundation's biography of Awoonor, as well as a single poem of his. 

The news of Awoonor's death came while I was rereading his groundbreaking study, Breast of the Earth: a Survey of the History, Culture, and Literature of Africa South of the Sahara (New York: Anchor/Doubleday, 1975). Because our Modernist Africana Poetry of the Americas (MAPA) seminar focuses on poetry and poetry movements led by writers of African descent across the Americas, it is fitting that we dedicate the beginning of this Thursday's session with a discussion of Awoonor, a major poet, scholar, thinker and activist whose work has had so powerful an influence on so many.

Be sure to include the usual required information and notation on this poem in your Poetry Notebooks and come prepared to discuss. I will make other works by Awoonor available soon.

Do come prepared also to discuss your own ideas for how our small MAPA community might better honor the life and the work of Kofi Awoonor. 


Sincerely,
Prof O



Brenda Marie Osbey
Distinguished Visiting Professor
Africana Studies
Brown University
Providence RI 02912
Telephone: 401-863-1608
Facsimile: 401-863-3559
E-mail: Brenda_Marie_Osbey@brown.edu
http://brown.edu/Departments/Africana_Studies/people/BrendaMarieOsbey.html 
http://osbey.com 
09/23/2013 03:45 PM EDT

day-long celebration reflecting DC's literary past, present, and future, with readings and panel discussions. The festival is free and open to the public. For more information about the festival, including specific times and locations of events, please visit www.folger.edu/dol. Presented in partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library and the PEN/Faulkner Foundation, with media support from Slate.

Location: LJ-119, Thomas Jefferson Building (first floor)
Contact: (202) 707-5394

Monday, September 30, 9:30 AM - 9:00 PM

AMERICAN BOOK REVIEW

http://americanbookreview.org/currentissue.asp

Monday, September 23, 2013

THE ADVENTURES OF EMERY JONES, BOY SCIENCE WONDER


An E-Note Interview with Charles Johnson. 

Charles Johnson is one of America's preeminent writers and thinkers, he is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Book Award, a MacArthur Foundation grant and an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Art and Letters. In this special E-Note interview Johnson talks about the recent book he wrote with his daughter.


1. You seem to be telling several stories in your new book The Adventures of Emery Jones...
    What are the major ones you hope children and parents will come away with?
             The emotional core of "Bending Time," the first book in The Adventures of Emery Jones, Boy Science Wonder series, is to be found in the relationship between fathers and sons, a theme that always seems to enter into my novels. Decades ago when I was talking with writer Clarence Major, he brought up the issue of what it meant to have an "acceptable father." As a father and a son, I obviously care deeply about this issue. A second story in Bending Time concerns the wide-spread bullying in our schools, which is a theme my daughter Elisheba wanted to explore. And, finally, this is a story about a kind of character we never see in literature or popular culture: a black child prodigy, scientific wunderkind. They are out there---for example, 11-year-old Carson Huey-You, who just started as a freshman this fall at Texas Christian University, studying physics. In the '90s, I had a 14-year-old Asian girl in my intermediate short fiction-writing class who was in a University of Washington program for gifted, genius kids, all of whom would earn their bachelor's degrees by age eighteen. On the website for The Adventures of Emery Jones, Boy Science Wonder, we plan to provide links to stories about such young people.

         Since antiquity, prodigies have always fascinated and even frightened people, because they are seen as unusual in Nature. Along with their great gifts they can also experience great loneliness. And be misunderstood. It's almost like they have a disability. For maybe 30 years I've wanted to create a character like Emery Jones who is fun, funny, and super good at the STEM knowledge (science, technology, engineering, math) that President Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan are promoting in our schools, and to explore the specific traits and habits of genius. Naturally, it brings my daughter Elisheba and me great pleasure that her 18-month-old son---my grandson---is the person our protagonist is named after.



2.  What was the collaboration process like with your daughter?  Did you have any disagreements

     at times? Is the Gabby's character your daughter's voice?
          My 31-year-old daughter Elisheba is a conceptual artist (she graduated from Cornish College for the Arts), former owner and curator of Seattle's Faire Galley Cafe, and is now an Executive and Commissions Liaison for the Office of Arts and Culture in Seattle. She has strong ideas and feelings. And she does not hesitate to express them. "Bending Time" opens with an action scene because she insisted we put one there. (She wrote the first draft for it.) Also that I add a scene later for the bully Chippy. The descriptions of two characters---the narrator Gabby and bully Toughie---are entirely her's. I passed every page of every draft by Elisheba for her approval and suggestions. We went back and forth for weeks on the book's sub-title before settling on "Bending Time," which is her sub-title for the first book in this series. The narrator Gabby's voice is not entirely Elisheba's, though sometimes it is. In a word, this is as much her story as it is mine. And she is entirely behind putting together the website for the book.



3.  How much research went into writing this book?

              My whole life went into this research. To earn my Ph.D. in philosophy, I was tested twice, on the master's and doctoral levels, about the history of philosophy, which is synonymous with the history of science, dating back to Aristotle. The sciences only broke away from philosophy two or three hundred years ago. For about 2,000 years in the Western world, they fit together like a hand and a glove. I've always been deeply interested in the scientific developments that have so changed our lives, how we live every day, and that are shaping the future. I subscribe to several science publications intended for lay persons like myself: Science News, New Scientist, DiscoveryScientific American, and Science, a publication of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which I was inducted into several years ago. (I usually catch up on reading the issues when I'm on a plane or waiting in an airport.) I have maybe 10 fat folders of saved and clipped science stories dating back to the '80s. For this book, I read in one delightful nine-hour sitting Time Traveler by black astrophysicist Ronald L. Mallett. It was a treat to see that we both devoured as kids the same science fiction stories and movies. We acknowledge him in the book, because "Bending Time" draws upon his theory of how time travel is possible. I also did much reading about the Triassic era, prodigies, bullying in schools, and electronics.



4. Do you believe time travel is possible?
            It's not a matter of belief or disbelief for me. There are several theories about time travel in circulation right now. I take no position on this. But, as a storyteller, I want to draw as much as I can from the astonishing things happening weekly in the various sciences.



5. This book seems slightly critical of what's going on in our school systems.
             I think you're referring to how I named all the schools in this story. I'll let readers decide if this is funny (I thought it was) or in some way critical.



6. One concern I had was how Emery and Gabby was going to be expelled from school without their parents being contacted. Was this an oversight on your part?
            Don't be concerned. I'll let my daughter answer your question. By the way, Elisheba changed her name from Elizabeth to Elisheba when she turned 21 because she said she felt more like an Elisheba---you know how these artistic types are---but Elisheba is actually Hebrew for Elizabeth. In other words, not much changed. So you can call her Liz, as I do.

           Liz told me that she and one of her friends have had many conversations about black kids in Seattle's south end, where a great number of black folks live, experiencing "emergency expulsions" from school. Their parents learn about their kids expulsion later, also their teachers, who wonder why they're not in class. But it's different in the north end of Seattle, which is less black, and parents are informed before their kids are expelled. That being said, we don't identify in this book the city our fictional kids live in.



7. Did Buddhism influence how you resolved certain issues between your characters?

             We have three bullies in this book. I've never liked bullies (either kids or adult ones). But one thing that satisfies me is how this story redeems those bullies by the end. It explores why someone might become a bully. That compassion is, of course, a central component of the Buddhadharma.



8. How was writing this book different from your collaboration with Steve Barnes?

             Steve has been writing science fiction and in popular genres for as long as I've been doing "literary" fiction. When we co-write a story, we bring 80 years of writing experience to it---like our dystopia story "4189" in The Burning Maiden anthology from Evil Eye Books. Or the eight-page sci-fi/horror stories we've been writing for two forthcoming comic book titles---Pandemonium and A Dark and Story Night---for Kaleidoscope Entertainment. I completely defer to Steve when we work together, because he has 40 years of experience in these genres. I always say that he provides the "meat and potatoes" (plot, characters, the basic conflict or situation) while I provide the "seasoning" (poetic or lyrical descriptions, the Western and Eastern philosophy, and more specific details for characterization). By the way, we plan to publish all the individual comic book stories we're doing as a graphic novel of eight, interlocking stories (think of how Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles stories work together and separately), each one of which touches upon an aspect of the Buddhist Eightfold Path. He's a true pro. I'm a pro. We're use to the give-and-take of the book and film worlds. So we don't argue the way my daughter and I sometimes did over Emery Jones. In the art and business worlds, she's a pro, too. But Liz is, after all, my daughter. And at the end of the day, fathers always give their daughters what they want.



9. Would this book be different if you didn't do the art work?  Could you see another artist capturing

    how Emery Jones and his friends looked?
          We originally had one of my daughter's friends lined up to do the illustrations. I wanted to see how another artist would visualize the characters and scenes. But when the person we selected had to bail out on us at the end of July, I took on the assignment of doing the 10 drawings for the book and four more for the website, which is almost finished and will be online soon. I spent 18 very intense days and nights in early August penciling and inking to the exclusion of everything else in my life. After that we hired an artist who "vectorized" (I think that's the right word) my inks so the outlines would be stronger in a digital format. To be honest, I was in heaven when I was drawing again. This is something the creative writing/English department/literary book world never gave me a chance to do, although this was my first professional career, from age 17 to around 24 when I began writing my first published novel, Faith and The Good Thing (1974). Before I became a "creative writer," I published in the late '60s and early '70s hundreds of drawings in black magazines like Negro Digest (nee Black World), Ebony, then The Chicago Tribune,  a black imitation of Playboycalled Players, my college newspaper, regular editorial drawings for a newspaper in Southern Illinois, two collection of political satire (Black Humor, 1970; Half-Past Nation-Time, 1972) and, toward the end of this period, I created, hosted and co-produced in 1970 an early how-to-draw PBS series called “Charlie’s Pad.” (People still tell me how they learned to draw as a kid from that show, and now draw for their own children today.) So for 18 days in August I was doing something I love to do. And, to be honest, it was probably easier for me to illustrate the book than it would be for someone else. I had an image of Emery, Gabby, and Chippy in my head as we co-wrote the manuscript. But when doing the drawings I had to finally work out visually the other characters---Cal the robot, Professor Dangerfield Edison Haley, the science teacher Mr. Tiplightly, etc. When drawing, I love to "fill the frame," so to speak, to work out each composition, and lovingly provide as much detail as I can for props in a scene (which I also work to do in prose writing.) If we can do more books in this series, I plan to illustrate them all.



10. Might Emery Jones travel into the future in his next adventures?
             Anything is possible with The Adventures of Emery Jones, Boy Science Wonder. I'd like for the next book to explore robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) plus some typical problem young people deal with (I'll let Liz decide what that will be). That would give the robot Cal more time at center stage.  Whatever the case, I want to co-write with Liz one of these fun, highly imaginative yet science based stories every year for the next four or five years until I turn seventy. Writing them, drawing them, will make me feel like a kid again.



Elisheba Johnson


Charles Johnson