Friday, September 08, 2006


Money for libraries, not for war!

The sun slanting hot on the concrete; the young guys from Food Not Bombs laying out rice curry and thousands of spectacular peach slices; the kids making posters - Honk for the library! Bring back our library! The families, the older women, the neighbors, the politicians, the pride, the frustration.

It was a beautiful afternoon on Good Hope Road SE as the good people of Anacostia gathered to demand the return of their library, shuttered for two years. Miss Joy was a spectacular MC and many residents and their supporters spoke of the huge hole in the community created by the loss of the public library. There are many reasons for the delay in building a new library. But really, when the city can muster the political will to spend $611 million on a new stadium and start the digging and the building almost immediately, why can't it cut through whatever red tape is holding the community hostage and spend a few million on a new library? It can be done. It must be done.

The highlight of the rally were the two sister poets, Kyndall and Monique Brown, 11 and 9, who read their poems on the open mic. I had the privilege of publishing Kyndall's poem, "When is war going to stop?" in the Wartime Issue of Beltway Poetry Quarterly. They astonished the crowd and moved me to tears with their poems filled with hopes for a reopened library, for homes for all of us, for a world without war. The children are our treasures.

The Washington Post sent a reporter and a photographer. So where's the story in today's paper? And where were: Fenty, Cropp, Johns? The rally was organized in part by Chris Otten, the DC Statehood/Green Party candidate for mayor. Need I say more?

To get involved in the struggle to reopen the 4 closed libraries - and to revitalize all our needy libraries - contact the DC Library Renaissance Project.

The library is surrounded by a chain-link fence. The fence is high and very very clean. We ended the rally tying yellow ribbons on this clean fence: The city is holding the library hostage after all.

I thought of the fence later, at the party to celebrate the first birthday of Busboys & Poets. The marvelous spoken word duo The 5th L was performing one of their signature pieces and the refrain was, "Shackles on my feet, chain links on my mind."

The party was - a party! Fun and rowdy. Not the easiest place to read poetry, but the vibe was so swinging, who could complain? Thank you, Andy Shallal, Pam Pinnock, Brian, Michael, Michael, and all the spectacular staff of B&P for an incredible year!

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