Friday, July 31, 2015

Tomorrow is August 1st. I had to drop the blue glasses and go red. Nats Baby!  Let's Roll!


the mail woman she don't know nothing
about no middle passage
only that the mail is too hot to hold on a 90 degree day
the heat from the block  floating up to her knees
and her water cooler ain't cool no more
only more mail to deliver
she be bound for slavery if unemployment
don't capture her first. 

of all the things that drive a woman
to wish she could deliver no more mail the most common
i've come to learn are men like charles johnson who are
prolific to a crime. yes, he's the novelist sending
books across oceans bound for eyes to love.
a good johnson makes the mail woman come twice.

 - E. Ethelbert Miller

Thursday, July 30, 2015


I am very excited to teach Ethelbert Miller’s memoir Fathering Words in my 102 classes for the fall. Ethelbert has agreed to be our fall Visiting Writer (I think that’s a first; we usually only do this in the spring) and our spring Visiting Poet, so he’ll be a familiar face on the MU campus this year. He’s set to come speak to our students on Tuesday, November 17th in the Reinsch Auditorium from 1-2 with a book signing to follow. I’m not sure of the date for his spring poetry reading yet.


Today we had a fascinating meeting at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). It was a gathering of activists who are part of the progressive spiritual movement. Some of the organizations represented included the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas,Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, Columbian Fathers Social Advocacy Office, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns, and the Franciscan Action Network. This meeting was an outgrowth of my conversations the last few months with Jean Stokan who works with the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas. It was also a timely meeting since Pope Francis will be coming to Washington DC in September. Many of the organizations are planning events that will coincide with the Pope's visit. We discussed how we could be supportive of one another and continue our networking after the Pope has returned to the Vatican. Many of us are concerned with climate change, income inequality, peace in the Middle East as well as prison reform.

Here is an excerpt from my opening remarks from this morning meeting:

Why this conversation today?  If we are activists we should embrace a life of engagement and concern. We think not just about changing the world but also changing ourselves. One's spiritual journey should have a spiritual destination.

Our love for one another is critical to the building and sustaining of community.

Too often it's easy to be against something. Too easy to protest. Too easy to say - No.

I believe the challenge we face today is how do we say - Yes.
Yes, to those things that are good.
Yes, to those things that are nourishing.
Even Yes, to those things we cannot see or understand.

Which bring us to what one might call the Yes - to faith.

Here at IPS we take pride in developing the leaders of tomorrow. We take pride in not just being a think tank but a family of fellows.

I hope today you might become members of our extended family.

If there is one thing Pope Francis has done, it is to make us aware of the size of our family.
Our family is not just human beings, but others in nature affected by our decisions. I think of the poem "Ecology" by Ernesto Cardenal which ends with these words:

"Not only humans longed for liberation
 All ecology groaned for it also. The
 revolution is also one of lakes, rivers,
 trees, animals."

Save today with $25 tickets to Mosaic Theater's inaugural season! Lock in this deal and experience some of the best and most loved actors in Washington.
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32 incredible actors. And counting... 

Over the last two months, a truly unbelievable ensemble of artists and activists have come together to take on the bold, powerful plays in Mosaic Theater's inaugural  2015-16 season. From Helen Hayes Award winners to early-career professionals, and from Israel to DC, these actors represent some of the finest artists in the city and the world. These thirty-two are the start of a stunning thirty-eight actors who will make up Mosaic Theater's inaugural company. Stay tuned for full casting next month.

8 plays. $25 tickets.

Experience the power of Mosaic Theater's inaugural season with a Mosaic 8—eight flex-tickets for the year, yours for just $200. Whether you want to bring a friend to four shows, or see all eight in the season, Mosaic 8 is the best way to experience the work of these incredible actors.

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Unexplored Interior

By Jay O. Sanders
Directed by Derek Goldman
Featuring Erika Rose and Michael Anthony Williams

Atlas Performing Arts Center, Lang Theatre
October 29-November 29, 2015

Staged by Derek Goldman (Our ClassIn Darfur), this world-premiere epic about the madness and majesty of Rwanda kicks off Mosaic’s inaugural season. Raymond, a film student at NYU, returns home to Rwanda to uncover the roots of violence that have destroyed his family, including his beloved grandfather.

The Gospel of Lovingkindness

By Marcus Gardley
Directed by Jennifer L. Nelson
Featuring Deidra LaWan Starnes
Atlas Performing Arts Center, Lab II
December 9, 2015-January 3, 2016
A hymn-and-hip-hop-tinged elegy staged by Mosaic Theater’s Jennifer L. Nelson ( The Whipping Man), this play tells the story of Manny, a 17-year-old who sings for President Obama at the White House and is shot to death three weeks later for his Air Jordan sneakers.

Wrestling Jerusalem

Written and performed by Aaron Davidman
Directed by Michael John Garcés
Atlas Performing Arts Center, Lang Theater
January 6-24, 2016
One man’s journey to comprehend the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as it courses through his divided psyche, this evolving excavation illuminates a personal story that grapples with the complexities of identity and history, while giving voice to a dozen characters and offering a promise of peace in the midst of bloodshed.

I Shall Not Hate

Based on the memoir by Izzeldin Abuelaish
Directed by Shay Pitovksy
Featuring Gasan Abas
Atlas Performing Arts Center, Sprenger Theatre
January 23-February 14, 2016
Staged by Israeli director Shay Pitovsky and performed in Hebrew and Arabic by Palestinian actor Gasan Abas, this production about a Gaza fertility doctor (nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize) who refuses to relinquish his commitment to coexistence brings humanity and courage to an unlikely hero.

Eretz Chadasha:
The Promised Land

By Shachar Pinkhas and Shay Pitovsky
Directed by Michael Bloom
At Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company / February 16-28, 2016
On tour at area universities / February 29-March 6, 2016
Adapted for an American troupe by the former artistic director of the Cleveland Play House, Michael Bloom (Off-Broadway’s Sight Unseen), this drama of relocation and displacement chronicles the waves of Sudanese refugees who crossed the desert into Israel, challenging the limits of empathy in a welcoming society.

After the War

By Motti Lerner
Directed by Sinai Peter
Featuring Paul Morella and Michael Tolaydo
Atlas Performing Arts Center, Lang Theater
March 24-April 17, 2016
From the author of The Admission, this new play follows an Israeli ex-patriot returning home after the 2006 war in Lebanon. Trying to make amends for the fallout caused from political differences within the family, After the War explores whether healing can be achieved in a wounded home.

Hkeelee (Talk to Me)

Written and performed by Leila Buck
Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater, Kogod Cradle
April 30-May 1, 2016
A probing portrait of a Lebanese matriarch as remembered by her Lebanese-American granddaughter, Hkeelee invites you to travel from Beirut to Bethesda to discover what it means to be(come) American: what we hold onto, what we let go and how those choices come to shape who we are.

When January Feels Like Summer

By Cori Thomas
Directed by Serge Seiden
Atlas Performing Arts Center, Lang Theater
May 19-June 12, 2016
An unlikely pair of teenagers working at two different Burger Kings; an immigrant accountant struggling with visibility and sexual reassignment preparation; two stifled romantics stumbling towards each other — all colliding together during one strangely-warm winter. From the director of Bad Jews comes this rousing, urban romantic comedy.
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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The E-Note Within The E-Note

I took a look at E-Notes from 2004 and saw I was doing much more blogging back then. I think I've gotten into the lazy habit of simply posting things and being a clearinghouse for information. In the old days one picked up a copy of Negro Digest/Black World for the black cultural roundup. Ernest Kaiser kept people up to date on new books dealing with African American culture when you read Freedomways magazine. Today folks will say we have the Internet and everything you need to know is out there somewhere. But why do we have to search the junk drawer just to find a screwdriver?

Maybe in August I'll get back to blogging more. Back in 2004 I was not on Facebook. So now and then I have to decide what to place where. I plan to keep the E-Notes more personal.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015


There are days when a poem tips it's hat, opens a door, says hello, gives directions or simply winks when you pass. Howe's work does that for me here:
Exchange yesterday with the novelist Charles Johnson:

CJ:  It seems you know everybody.

E:  That's what the Devil always tells me.


Everything is coming together around my Collected Poems. Many thanks to Randall, Kirsten, Heather and Susannah. Below is the cover art design. Thanks to the wonderful artist Felix Angel for contributing an image that captures the themes of my work.

Publication date is Spring 2016.  I hope it will be another time of miracles and wonder.

Monday, July 27, 2015


A man came looking for you
(today) with a box of love.
I only had yesterday's address
and was too busy listening to Dolphy
making birds sounds on his horn.

After tree sitting I came down
and fixed some Mexican food.
I remembered the spice of you.
There are onions here that will
make you cry. A green pepper
has her hand in the center of my

Too many apples slice themselves
with the hunger of forgiveness.Sex
is a flame that burns. Let me be
the faucet your hands turn to.

Is that Mingus standing outside
near a car? A bear mountain
of a man growling with lemons
and oranges.

 - E. Ethelbert Miller


Sunday, July 26, 2015



I think Dinky and I were in high school when we discovered the FM Guide. It opened an entire world to us. All our friends were AM kids. Turning the dial and the years -  I wonder if we read the way we once listened to radio. I finished reading BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME by Ta-Nehisi Coates and felt the book was more about faith and God. This is why I posted a small "probe" and said maybe we should see Coates following in the footsteps of August Wilson and not just Baldwin. We should also go back and look at Richard Wright since Coates takes his title from one of his poems. Wright's Tarbaby kiss with Communism did not leave him with a fever for Jesus. Now and then Wright wrote about the blues maybe to let people know that after Friday and Saturday night he was not going to church. If you're not going to see the Pope now and then like Raul in Cuba, then  God becomes a utility infielder on a losing team. Here is what Ta-Nehisi Coates writes near the end of his book.
A book his publisher decided to rush to publication because of recent incidents in South Carolina.

Coates writes:

Have you ever taken a hard look at those pictures from the sit-ins in the '60s, a hard, serious look?
Have you ever looked at the faces? The faces are neither angry, nor sad, nor joyous. They betray almost no emotion. They look out past their tormentors, past us, and focus on something way beyond anything known to me.  I think they are fastened to their god, a god whom I cannot know and in whom I do not believe.

After reading this one can conclude that Coates is on another "frequency" than his elders. Remember when one listened to FM for less static and better quality? Even though it was on AM that one might hear a preacher. So the question after reading BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME is perhaps a bigger one than blackness. At a time when one is looking at pictures of Pluto, how do we ponder the making of the Universe without our God?  Before we even think about raising our children or protecting the black body - who are we and why are we here?  Is there some divine order and meaning to things?  Did white people open a different fortune cookie?  When Coates writes about the Mecca and the Yard at Howard, he is describing outdoor blackness. There is that other Mecca (and here religious terms become interesting) of Howard students who are in Rankin Chapel praying to their Lord. Now and then you can find them near the flagpole. Yes, those students are in the chapel talking to Jesus and once a year listening to Cornel West comparing scripture to Motown tunes.
OK. Let me stop there with the West reference. But maybe that's why Coates talks about the Mecca.
One writer looks east while another looks west; perhaps the difference between AM and FM. Meanwhile I never knew who nicknamed Howard the Mecca replacing that Capstone of Negro Education glitter, or if the Mecca was simply that housing complex in Chicago that Gwendolyn Brooks wrote about.

And maybe before resting by our Brooks we should think Wright - as in Richard Wright. It is the reference to his work that we see before we even pickup Ta-Nehisi's gem of a book. Along with "Between The World and Me" Wright's other major poem is "I Have Seen Black Hands." I can see an editor in New York thinking "hands up" after coming back from lunch and a hashtag vision.
Coates titles his book after something written by Wright and structures his book after the work of Baldwin. AM and FM once again. He connects with his literary tradition but not his religious one.
There is nothing wrong with this. What makes BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME an important book is because it requires the reader to come stumbling out of darkness and to witness the many lynchings of our time. We watch the news the way Wright imagined hanging from a tree. This is US - like the metal sculpture the artist Ed Love had outside his house when he resided in Washington DC.

Where is God in all of this?  What is he doing?  I think after Ta-Nehisi looks at the terribleness of this world he might conclude what August Wilson did. God is a mean MF.

Saturday, July 25, 2015


This weekend my best friend Grace Ali will be visiting the Vatican. I know Pope Francis will bless her. Below a photo with St. Peter's Basilica in the background.


I never know what my friend Anike is going to do. This talented woman would have been the at the center of the Harlem Renaissance if she lived during the 1920s. I can see Zora feeling jealous like she was collecting only folktales and singing behind Diana Ross.Anike Robinson when she talks reminds me of Ntozake. A couple of years ago she painted my face for her Altar Ego Project. Here is Anike at Busboys and Poets (Takoma) yesterday morning. I took this picture after she put my head in a frame. More about that later...


I'm reading BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME by Ta-Nehisi Coates and I come across a line in his book  I will call "spiritual floss" - something so strong it can't be broken except by our intellect. Something we need to use to clean our mouths before we speak. A sentence we should pull between our teeth and maybe understand why our gums bleed, warning us of our declining health. Toni Morrison  in her blurb compares Coates to Baldwin. Her possible mistake is that she concluded there had been an intellectual void following Baldwin's death. Morrison overlooks the genius of August Wilson. It is at the end of the first section of his book that Ta-Nehisi Coates writes for the world the way Wilson wrote for the stage. Wilson I consider to be one of the greatest African American writers that ever lived. Coates follows Wilson's path and direction when he writes divine and give us this sentence:


Is it a coincidence to find Ta-Nehisi's son (Samori) born in August? The world is a mysterious place.

Friday, July 24, 2015


Does Mitt Romney still read polls?  Do you need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows?
Yes, I still quote Dylan - Bob Dylan not Dylan Thomas. It was just a matter of time maybe before a hot August day arrives that we would get an article like the one I'm posting below. Are Race Relations getting better is like the old Ebony article that once asked the ridiculous question - Are Negro Girls Getting Prettier? What are we trying to measure? Consider the media nonsense of using Obama's election as a tool of measurement for race relations. Did anyone ponder the weight of Jackie Robinson's bat? How did his stealing home in the World Series help a unemployed black woman find a job? Isn't this as silly as reading today's New York Times?  We like polls the way a poor person likes to count $1 bills. Race Relations reminds me of how one might do a book review by just looking at the cover. Do we have any idea what the book is about? Don't we all walk around being prejudice and keep adding to global warming?  Hot hatred seems to increase every day I go outside. Social media does nothing more than step in the spit at the feet of race relations. How can we think "right" thoughts after being informed of another kickass police incident? I'm afraid after Obama is no longer president all the polar bears will die? Yep, that's what the Artic Polls are telling those bears right now. You would have to be colorblind or racist not to believe it.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


I hate when my days get away from me. I did get a haircut and pick-up my COLLECTED POEMS manuscript from IPS. I needed to hold the future book in my hands, feel the weight of my own words.

The highlight of the day was meeting Lisa Gold, the executive director of the WPA. She was sitting with the artist Judy Byron outside the Potter's House on Columbia Road.


So you want to know
what happened in the jail
cell? You don't believe
your eyes and the tape
refuses to confess.
What's left?

It's a Mulder and Scully
moment. Yes -another
black body found in
the X-files hanging
in a cabinet in the
middle of the basement
at the center of the

 - E. Ethelbert Miller

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

SplitThisRock Logo
Poem of the Week
Camisha Jones

July 17, 2015  
Dear E.,  
Camisha Jones's "Ode to the Chronically Ill Body" is Poem of the Week.
In honor of the 25th Anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Split This Rock is proud to feature work by poets with disabilities this month.

July Sunday Kind of Love is also dedicated to celebrating this important civil rights anniversary with three marvelous poets: Camisha Jones will join Ellen McGrath Smith and Kathi Wolfe on the stage. This event will include ASL interpretation and the venue is wheelchair accessible.

Join us on Sunday, July 19, 5-7pm at 5th & K Busboys and Poets - THIS MONTH ONLY! In August the series returns to its regular home at 14th & V Busboys.

Hosted by Sarah Browning & Katy Richey, the reading is followed by a community open mic. All are welcome to sign up to perform at the door. Tickets are $5 online or at the door (if available). Tickets go on sale midnight on July 18! Sunday Kind of Love is co-sponsored by Busboys and Poets and Split This Rock. For more information and links to tickets, visit Split This Rock's website.

Kathi Wolfe's essay on the importance of the ADA for the writing community and the poetics of disability appears at Blog This Rock .
Consider becoming a monthly donor . Poetry has much to do for the world. 

For poetry and justice,
Split This Rock                                                 

Poem of the Week:
Camisha Jones

Split This Rock Managing Director Camisha Jones - photo by Brandon Woods

Ode to the Chronically Ill Body

This body    is one long moan
My feet           a landscape of mines
My legs           two full pails of water I spill
                                                                    at the weight of
My back          where the sharpest knives are kept
My hands        a scatter of matches     ready to spark into flame 
This body         is lightning     
      Strikes the same place      more than twice

This body       is a fist                         pounding its own hand
This body       crumples like paper
           I crumple     like paper           because of this body
This body       just wants        and wants         and wants
This body
           Says stop
   Says go
           Says stop
   Says run
           Says stop
           Says STOP
This body is        a stubborn traffic light           stuck on red
This body will 
               have what it wants       Or it is
                         blasphemous        tantrum down every grocery store aisle
This body            makes an embarrassment      of me
This body is
      an embarrassment
              Then pleasure               Then hunger
                         Then defender             Then defendant
              Then carriage
                         Then coffin
This body is       Tupperware with its secrets        sealed tight
This body           scrapes              and falls
Then gets back up        again      and again
               It's all I got      to get back up with         again
This body         is an ocean        of oil spill        all over me. 

* * * 
Used with permission. Photo by Brandon Woods.

* * *
Camisha Jones is Managing Director at Split This Rock, a national non-profit focused on socially engaged poetry. She has performed poetry at the 2013 National Poetry Slam with Slam Richmond, the James River Writers Festival and the Virginia Festival of the Book. She is published in Let's Get Real: What People of Color Can't Say and Whites Won't Ask about Racism (StirFry Seminars & Consulting, Inc., 2011) and Class Lives: Stories from Across Our Economic Divide(ILR Press, 2014).

* * *
Please feel free to share Split This Rock Poem of the Week widely. We just ask you to include all of the information in this post, including this request. Thanks!

To read more poems of provocation and witness, please visit The Quarry: A Social Justice Poetry Database at

* * * 
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If you have difficulty reading this poem, please visit the poem at our site

 Updates CallforProposals

The OutWrite Book Fair

July 31 and August 1, 2015 at The DC Center for the LGBT Community, 2000 14th Street NW, Washington, D. C., 20009Poetry, prose, performance, Cave Canem, Rigoberto González! and much more! Visit the DC Center's website for programs and tickets.

The 2016 World & Me Student Poetry Contest

Submit by October 3, 2015. Split This Rock's youth poetry contest is open to all students this year, not just to DC students. Any poet currently enrolled in elementary, middle, or high school is eligible to submit up to three poems.  If you have any questions, please email

2016 Split This Rock Annual Poetry Contest 
Submit by November 1, 2015. Split This Rock's 2016 Poetry Contest, judged by Rigoberto González, is now open for submissions. Each year, the contest serves to raise the visibility and prestige of poetry of provocation and witness. Submissions should be in the spirit of Split This Rock: socially engaged poems, poems that reach beyond the self to connect with the larger community or world; poems of provocation and witness. Contestants may submit up to 3 poems and there is a $20 reading fee benefiting Split This Rock's 2016 Poetry Festival. For more information on guidelines and prizes, visit Split This Rock's website or Submittable
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Please support Split This Rock, the national network of activist poets. Donations are fully tax-deductible.  

Click here to donate a one time or monthly gift. Or send a check payable to "Split This Rock" to: Split This Rock, c/o Institute for Policy Studies, 1112 16th Street NW, Suite 600, Washington, DC 20036. Many thanks!

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Group Shot Ginsberg

As Ever

The letters of Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti chart a 40-year friendship and two storied careers.


Artnet Auctions: Summer Steals

Your Weekend Reads

The late James Salter's last interview

Pedro Costa on realism, Horse Money, & the bare essentials for making cinema

Ben Zimmerman on composing music with a 1980s Tandy DeskMate

Chaitanya Tamhaine talks about intolerance in India, his film Court, and the danger of self-censorship

An excerpt from S.D. Chrostowska's book of aphorisms & fragments

The Small Press Flea returns!

Short Fiction for Your Summer: "In Love with Me" by Padgett Powell

From the Archives: Charles Ray & Paul Dickerson

Literature : Interview

James Salter
by Sally Gall

"Style is the writer."
James Salter: "I didn’t go to the war to write a novel, but in the beginning I felt I was living in one. The day before I left, I had two wisdom teeth extracted, and I went to the theater that night to see Caesar and Cleopatra. I was with my parents who were saying goodbye to me. We sat in the dark looking down at the performance. I had a mouthful of bloody gauze and I knew I was the only one in the audience who was going. The next day I was on the way to Japan as the first stop. We waited a couple of days for assignment.

"It wasn’t the way I imagined. We were replacements: another pilot, a good friend, and I. A big war was on in Korea. Nobody knows who you are, nobody cares. It’s that way until you get to the lowest level. Everything was for the first time. I wrote some letters home. I made a few notes. What I was aware of was that it was extreme, and I’d somehow been waiting for that. Everything I’d written before had been romantic and shallow, but even the few jottings I made after a mission carried weight for me."
Read More ]
Film : Interview

Pedro Costa
by Michael Guarneri

Documentary, realism, and life on the margins.
Pedro Costa’s latest feature, Horse Money (2014), shows how his friend Ventura—the Cape Verdean bricklayer whose nightmarish past and bleak future were depicted so poetically in Costa’s Colossal Youth (2006)—lived through Portugal’s revolutionary period. While teenage Costa joined parades in the streets of Lisbon shouting that “the people united will never be defeated,” twenty-year-old Ventura, and hundreds of African immigrants like him, hid in the dark corners of the capital, scared to death by the rallies and afraid of being tortured or murdered by the soldiers.

If Costa and Ventura could translate their memories and worldview into words, they wouldn’t have made this film. Costa finds it difficult to articulate the feelings that fed Horse Money, let alone make any kind of definitive statement about the meaning of the film. In some ways, it is a poem to the people and world of Fontainhas, the now-demolished, multiethnic Lisbon slum where Costa's Ossos (1997) and In Vanda's Room (2000) were shot, and where Ventura spent most of his life. The laconic, somewhat hermetic, official synopsis for the movie states: “While the young captains lead the revolution in the streets, the people of Fontainhas search for Ventura, lost in the woods.” But in other words—Costa’s own—his cinema is “a door that closes and leaves us guessing.”
Pedro Costa: "Everything that is happening now—this awful lie, the politics of austerity that we have in Portugal, that you have in Italy, that they have in Greece—is nothing but an instrument of control: austerity is mostly designed to touch the weaker, and that’s a way of pushing these people lower and lower, making them even more wasted and exhausted. Bureaucracy is definitely one of the best ways of exhausting human beings."
Read More ]

The Summer Issue is here: Leigh Ledare, Carolee Schneemann, Robert Grenier, & a visual essay by Lyle Ashton Harris

Music : Interview

Ben Zimmerman
by Sara Magenheimer

“I smear sounds the way you smudge paint.”
I met with Ben Zimmerman to talk about The Baltika Years, a collection of recordings created between 1992 and 2002 mostly using a Tandy DeskMate computer and just released this June on Daniel Lopatin’s Software Recording Co. label. Despite the instrumentation, this music feels oddly personal, almost like a diary, where one can write about whatever—the minutiae of everyday existence interspersed with moments of extreme drama, bizarre juxtapositions, and enormous gaps in narrative. Even the narrator’s voice can change according to whim. The operative motif is non-sequitur. There is no audience, therefore no need to follow any logic but one’s own. That’s how these recordings work. They don’t hold our hand, but they do pull back the curtain on Ben’s world.
Ben Zimmerman: "When I started it seemed to be taking over, and I was sort of learning to deal with [the Tandy], learning what works. I was sampling records in strange ways. I would just put the record on and record it like that—intentionally all warbly. It was an interesting machine, but I knew it was crap compared to Brooklyn College, where they had this computer lab, and Charles Dodge and Curtis Bond, who were teaching there. I decided I could do the same thing on this really cheap, crappy thing I just have lying around."
Read More ]
Film : Interview

Chaitanya Tamhaine
by Liza Béar

“It’s a different kind of terror when you’re constantly being arrested. Your mind starts exercising self-censorship on its own.”
Writer-director Chaitanya Tamhane, at age twenty-eight, delivers a scathing indictment of the Indian justice system in his first feature, Court, which deservedly won top prizes in the 2014 Venice Biennale’s Orizzonti section and has since racked up more than twenty festival awards.

On trial in Court is sixty-five-year-old folk singer and social activist Narayan Kamble (Vira Sathidar), who’s been arrested for allegedly inciting a sewage worker to commit suicide on the job by the lyrics in his protest songs—a ridiculous and patently trumped up charge.

The film is outstanding in its acute observation of courtroom protocols and procedures, arcane colonial-era laws and judicial peccadilloes that serve to create a theater of the absurd. But the story’s originality surges when it steps outside the courtroom between the sessions, which are constantly adjourned on inane pretexts, to follow the daily lives of the principal players—defense attorney Vinay Vora (Vivek Gomber, who’s also the film’s producer), public prosecutor Nutan (Geetanjali Kulkarni), and Judge Sadavarte (Pradeep Joshi), adding texture and layers of unpredictability to their characters.
Liza Béar: "There are references in the script to the Dramatic Performance Law, which is a Victorian law from 1876. So, the British Empire left a very untidy legacy of arcane, convoluted laws that India has to contend with."

Chaitanya Tamhaine: "These laws are still applicable. Of course, the British had—what is the right word?— instituted those laws to curb dissent. Like, for instance, the law of sedition, which says that you cannot speak against the government. The British brought that law to India. We still have that law, in a democracy, a free country. Many activists have been arrested and charged with sedition. Like dramatic performance, it’s one of many outdated Victorian laws that were used by the powers at that time to suppress dissent. And the Indian government is still using these laws for their convenience and to their benefit."
Read More ]
Literature : Word Choice

The Thinking Head
by S.D. Chrostowska

An excerpt from Matches
§ Almost Being

The smaller the animal, the less the distance between being and its sensation. In this way, the smallest beings are closer to presence than us, who come face to face with being and do not sense it. What is our compensation for being so large?
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Event : Brooklyn

The Small Press Flea

With a frankly insane amount of RSVPs.

A summer market with over two dozen of your favorite publishers & magazines.

Saturday, August 1, 10:00am - 4:00pm ET
Brooklyn Public Library, Central Branch
10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn, NY 11238

Presented by BOMB & The Brooklyn Public Library
Literature : First Proof

Short Fiction for Your Summer:
"In Love with Me" by Padgett Powell

You have a central pluck and resilience which is good but is made more interesting by a slight wounded edge—like a shirred oyster. I like you for this trembling edge, my shirred oyster.

   —A writer in love with me.

You are the most intelligent woman I’ve ever met—except Hannah Arendt.

   —A librarian in love with me.

I can’t be kilt.

   —A wrecker driver in love with me.

Teach me how to laugh.

   —A drunk in love with me.
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Art : Interview

From the Archives:
Charles Ray & Paul Dickerson

A major exhibition of Ray's sculpture is on view at The Art Institute of Chicago through October 4.
Charles Ray: "I want the viewer to form a one-to-one relationship with the work. Some of the early sculptures generated a level of anxiety, like a teetering boulder on the edge of a cliff. You didn't read the work. You looked at it, you felt like it was going to fall on you, so you moved away."

Paul Dickerson: "Which is very different than walking up to a 'beautiful' sculpture..."

CR: "And 'reading' it, as if this means that. I didn't want the work to be a mediator between the viewer and myself. It wasn't about my experience. I want it to generate different meanings in different viewers. It's like your mother. You have a different relationship to your mother than your friends do. It's like creating your mother. I don't want to create what you think of your mother, I just want to create an event. The work is a verb, the active agent."
Read More ]
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