Monday, February 19, 2007


Fashion Week in Baghdad; Buttonholing Joe Lieberman

“I had something to do with it, but it is not my fault. I was walking with Lieberman after shul during Chanukah and we got onto the subject of Iraq, about which he has, as you know, somewhat controversial opinions within his own party. Myself, I am not political, and on the war we have often disagreed, although I regard him as an honorable man with respectable, if perhaps a bit too conservative, taste in suits."

For some yuks -- badly needed in these times -- read the column, by Dan Metzger, a writer I met at VCCA in December:


Tim Seibles - Workshop March 17; Reading March 18

I am pleased to announce that Sunday Kind of Love will feature Tim Seibles reading and giving a workshop in March. Seibles is a dynamic poet about whom Reginald McKnight writes, “Tim Seibles will get you in his hammerlock and won't let you go till he has taken you into the center of American politics and pop culture, the minds of birds, . . . your so-called color, your so-called race.”

Please scroll down for information on how to register for the 3-hour workshop - only $25! (Scholarships available - see below.) Limited to 12 participants, ensuring an enriching experience. Join us!

Sunday Kind of Love Presents Tim Seibles

Workshop: Saturday, March 17, 3-6 pm, Busboys & Poets, $25 - registration required.
Reading: Sunday, March 18, 4 pm, Busboys & Poets, free and open to the public. Cohosted by Sarah Browning, DC Poets Against the War and Regie Cabico, Sol & Soul

Busboys & Poets
14th & V Streets, NW, Washington, DC
U Street/Cardozo on the Green Line., 202-387-POET
For more info:
Wheelchair accessible.

Tim Seibles was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1955. He is the author of several books of poems including Hurdy-Gurdy; Hammerlock; and, most recently, Buffalo Head Solos. He is a former National Endowment of the Arts fellow and has been a writing fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center in Massachusetts. He also received an Open Voice Award from the 63rd Street Y in New York City. His work has been featured in anthologies such as Manthology; Rainbow Darkness; Evensong; Under the Rock Umbrella; and The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry. He has been a workshop leader for Cave Canem and for the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation. He lives in Norfolk, VA, where he is a member of Old Dominion University’s English Department and MFA in Writing faculty.

The Workshop:

"The word out leaps the world and light is all." – Theodore Roethke

Through this workshop, participants will get a clear sense of how writing persona poems can free them up, add dimension to their voices, and re-energize any writer who is finding his/her own voice a bit monotonous. Participants will be expected to write, so please bring the necessary materials. Limited to 12 participants.

To Register for the Workshop: Reply to this email (or email Sarah Browning at, indicating that you are registering for the workshop. Please include your full contact information. Then please send a check for $25 made out to “DCPAW” to DCPAW, 626 Allison Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20011. Indicate in a note or on the check that you have registered for the March workshop. (First come, first served. If the workshop fills up, I will hold checks as a waiting list until the date of the workshop.) Scholarship slots are also available. To apply, please contact me with a brief summary of your situation.

To God's hairy ears, all this sad jibber-
jabber sounds like a bad baby peeing
on a plastic hymnal. Turn out
that serious face. Put down
your poison. In between everything
between us, everything keeps keeping
a cookbook of possible kisses, delicious
circumstance. It is only by being stupid
that we follow the scared into the lonely.

Listen. Enough money for the church.
Enough hard days. The bank n' business boys
cannot stop this mutiny, this late allegiance
to the whispering in the blood. Why
let anybody starve? Shhh.
You already know
what the blood is saying.

Tonight. I am a shadow. With one hand
made of light. This is the beginning
of a new weather-this shared breath, this
open secret. Hey, look how large
the wind is -and still you do not see it.
Ghosts of all good kinds have gathered
to shake the hully-gully
in your thighs. Surrey on down.
Hurry. There is already something
in just your size.

-- Tim Seibles

Read three more poems by Tim Seibles here:

Sunday Kind of Love is a Busboys & Poetry Event. Special workshops and events in 2007 are made possible in part by a grant from the D.C. Commission on the Arts & Humanities, an agency supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


Poetry and Girlhood Series

The Saturday Literary Series:
Exploration of Poetry and Girlhood

A Women's History Month Event
March 3, 10, 17, 24 - 9:00am - 11:00am

Busboys and Poets
2120 14th Street, NW
Washington, DC

The FREE Poetry and Girlhood series, which is funded in part by the Washington, DC Humanities Council, is designed for girls between the ages of 13-17, to foster a connection with poetry as a means of expression, documentation, and social observation. Each two hour session will be led by a contemporary female poet/writer who will explore the universal concept of "girlhood" as documented through poetry and the significance to us as readers.

The works of an ethnically and culturally diverse group of poets (Emma Lazarus, Audre Lorde, Sylvia Plath, Maya Angelou, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Nikki Finney, Emily Dickerson, Phyllis Wheatley, Virginia Woolf, Adrienne Rich, StacyAnn Chin, Edna St. Vincent Milly, and Delmira Agustini) will be utilized throughout the series to support the discussion and exploration.

March 3, 2007 - Women Poets Before the 19th Century: How do poets from historically restrictive periods or culture discuss girlhood?
Facilitated by: Dr. Bonnie Morris (Humanities Scholar)

March 10, 2007 - 20th Century Women Poets: How have contemporary women poets' writings been shaped by the writings of more classical women poets?
Facilitated by: Natalie Illum (Mothertongue)

March 17, 2007 - Slam Poetry: How are women poets subversive in their discussion of girlhood?
Facilitated by: Sonya Renee Taylor (National Slam Champion)

March 24, 2007 - Universal Girlhood: What are the societal implications of women poets documenting their observations of girlhood:
Facilitated by: Michelle Sewell (GirlChild Press)

Registration Information:
Each session has a capacity of 25 attendees.
contact to register for a specific date or the entire series.

Each participant will receive a Poetry and Girlhood workbook filled with writing exercises and prompts.

*The young women will be invited to showcase their writings at the Wednesday, April 11, 2007 Mothertongue show.

mothertongue is a community-based organization whose mission is to create a safe space where women may speak freely and powerfully and have their creative and artistic voices heard.

Sunday, February 11, 2007


Peace Quotes from the Demo

Read all the Peace Signs the poets carried through the streets at the January 27 peace demonstration here:

Use these lines of poetry to make your own Peace Signs!


Poet & the Poem 30th Anniversary Show

Check out Grace Cavalieri's fabulous 30th anniversary show with Brian Gilmore, Kenny Carroll, and more:


And for anyone who knows a basketball-playing girl...

Harriet Novar Scholarship for Girls

One on One Basketball announces the 4th Annual Harriet Novar Scholarship to be awarded to a 12th grade varsity female basketball player. Harriet was a long time member of the One on One family who helped pioneer the women's game. Harriet played college basketball at Syracuse University before women were offered scholarships. After two years, Harriet left Syracuse to pursue a professional carreer in Europe. When the first women's professional league in the United States started, Harriet quickly returned to be an original member. When the league folded, she returned to Europe to play for several more years. Whether playing in a pick up game, teaching kids at a youth clinic, or keeping score at a WMBL game, Harriet always had a smile on her face. Her love and passion for the game were unmatched. Her strength and courage through her difficult struggle with cancer remains an inspiration to all who knew her.

In honor of Harriet, One on One Basketball will be rewarding a $1000 scholarship to be put towards the winner's first year in college. To apply or for more information, call 202-2444-2255.


Women's Inequality Greatest in DC

Washington is a tale of two cities: Home to the most highly educated, well-employed and well-paid women in the country, Washington also has one of the highest percentages of women living in poverty, according to a report by the Institute for Women's Policy Research. (Well, we just lose to Louisiana for highest percentage of women living in poverty...) An article in Women's Enews summarizes these findings (read the article here:

The district outperformed all other states when it came to women's median annual salaries ($42,400), the percent of women in professional and managerial occupations (52.5), the percent of women with four or more years of a college education (45.3), and the percent of businesses owned by women (33.2).

The district, in fact, is the only jurisdiction in the country where women--with a median annual salary of $42,400--earn more than the national median salary for men, by a margin of $1,100. The district also placed 10th in the nation in the percentage of women with health insurance and 15th in the number of women in the labor force.

Yet when it comes to poverty levels, D.C. is close to rock bottom. With 18 percent of its female residents living in poverty--well above the national average of 13 percent--Washington ranks 49th in the country for the percentage of women in poverty, tied with New Jersey and ranked just above Louisiana.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


Not-So-Freewheelin' Bob Dylan

Trying to force myself to stretch my back more often, I've turned to my record collection (yes, the vinyl pizzas!) as motivation: One side of an album gets me through my stretches. Today, I put on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan, released May 27, 1963, when I was five months old.
Hearing the old words after so long, I tried to really listen, rather than just have the familiar tunes pour over me. And here's what I heard, from A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall -- prophetic, seems to me:
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it,
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin',
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin',
I saw a white ladder all covered with water,
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken,
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children...
I heard the sound of a thunder, it roared out a warnin',
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world,
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin',
Heard ten thousand whisperin' and nobody listenin',
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin',

Tuesday, February 06, 2007


Love & War - Poems of Iraq with Kakahama Askary & Christi Kramer

Sunday Kind of Love presents:

Love and War: Poems of Iraq in Arabic, English and Kurdish - with Kakahama Askary and Christi Kramer

Sunday, February 18, 4-6 pm
Busboys & Poets
14th & V Streets, NW
(U Street/Cardozo on the Green Line)

A Busboys & Poetry Event. Free and open to the public. Wheelchair accessible.
Cohosted by Sarah Browning, D.C. Poets Against the War, and Regie Cabico, Sol & Soul. For more information:

Askary and Kramer will read a collage of poems from and about Iraq -- in Arabic, English and Kurdish -- including Kramer's own poems of the Iraqi Kurds in exile. Followed by an open mic. Readings of poems by Iraqi and Arab poets encouraged.

Kakahama Askary, a Kurd of Northern Iraq, has devoted his life to work for justice and peace. Because of war and unrest, Kakahama grew up living in all parts of Iraq. He graduated from Al-Azhar University, were he was certified Imam, and obtained degrees in law, political science and international relations from Institute of Arab Researchers and Studies, Cairo, Egypt. He currently is director of the Egypt Exchange Program, a professor in the Department of Philosophy and Religion at James Madison University, and Director of the International Organization for Kurdish Human Rights. In 1998, he was recipient of the “In Defense of Human Rights” Award from the Kurdish Institute in Paris, France.

Christi Kramer, born in Northern Idaho, is a graduate of George Mason University’s Creative Writing program. Kramer will read poems from her manuscript, Reading The Throne, an ethnography-in-poetry of Iraqi Kurds exiled and living as refugees in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The title, Reading The Throne, is in reference to ayat al-kursi in the Qur’an (where the first word recited was “read”). It is a verse read as refuge: the words, recited aloud, creating their own story through the body. In Arabic, the words for word (written word spoken) and wound, (as in wound which leaves a scar,) share the same root. One of the poems quotes a hadith (or saying,) which defines the best form of Almsgiving as being "that which springeth from the heart, uttered by the lips to soften wounds of the injured."

Paradise: Under the shade of swords

The safest place in the world for you is curled up on the
companion’s tomb.
In the figs above your sleeping, there is a nest.
The tender man sells sweets. Here the veil between worlds
shimmers thinnest.
Your mother reached out, caught the smallest feather in the
air. Each year she made two
new pillows. Your father, at the mosque, hand-fed a turkey

The turkey, fat already, jumped over the wall and into the city
with at least three names.
Through the ancient streets he wandered to the sweet seller
who read prayers into the air.
You recall how other times you took yourselves to caves.
Elsewhere you read over and over The Throne.
When oppression exists, even the bird dies in its nest.
My sweet, sweet love, today they bombed this place.
On the news I saw an eight-year-old digging graves.

by Christi Kramer


Sunday Kind of Love Poet News: Patricia Spears Jones

Patricia Spears Jones (featured at Sunday Kind of Love at Busboys & Poets in December 2006) is an established poet, the winner of multiple NYFA Poetry Fellowships, and the author of three published poetry collections including last year’s critically acclaimed Femme du Monde (2006, Tia Chucha Press). Recently, Spears Jones has expanded her activities to include New York’s theatrical temple of the avant-garde, Mabou Mines.

In 1994 Mabou Mines commissioned a play entitled Mother from Spears Jones that premiered at La MaMa E.T.C. Now, 12 years later, the poet and performance troupe are collaborating again. Mabou Mines has developed a new ensemble piece featuring five poems from major New York poets representing each of the five boroughs. The performance, Song for New York: What Women Do While Men Sit Knitting, expected to premiere this summer, will feature Spears Jones as one of the five participating poets. Once again Spears Jones’ poetry will make its journey from the New York page to the New York stage.

For more on Patricia Spears Jones, visit


Human Rights Watch Honors Eight Vietnamese Writers

An international human rights group has honored eight Vietnamese writers for their courage in the face of political persecution. New-York based Human Rights Watch announced Tuesday that the eight were among 22 writers worldwide to receive the annual Hellman/Hammett award. Some of the Vietnamese laureates are professional writers while others have other professions but penned political tracts that upset government authorities, it said. All have advocated a multiparty political system in communist Vietnam, Human Rights Watch said. "By honoring these writers, we hope to bring international attention to courageous individuals that the Vietnamese government is trying to silence," Sophie Richardson, deputy director of the group's Asia division, said in a statement.

This year's winners include jailed former journalist Nguyen Vu Binh, banker Do Nam Hai, novelist and journalist Tran Khai Thanh Thuy and attorney Nguyen Van Dai. Also honored were essayist Nguyen Chinh Ket, democracy activist Nguyen Khac Toan, historian and editor Pham Que Duong and attorney Le Chi Quang. According to Human Rights Watch, all eight winners have either been jailed or harassed by police for challenging Vietnam's one-party system. The government of Vietnam says it does not jail or harass people for their political beliefs but only incarcerates people who break the law.

The Hellman/Hammett award is named after US playwright Lillian Hellman and her longtime companion, novelist Dashiell Hammett, both of whom were interrogated in the 1950s about their political beliefs and affiliations. (AP)


Writing retreat meditations

In December I spent two weeks at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts -- my first time -- and today, for the first time, I got out the notebooks I wrote in while there, and checked out what I had written. And how much. I was sure I hadn't been very "productive," hadn't taken advantage sufficiently of my precious time away. But of course, there's plenty -- poems, mini essays, old poems reworked, meditations. Here, on this topic of Productivity, a journal-type writing from Day 2 of writing retreat:

Tim Seibles [in his introduction to Buffalo Head Solos, his poetry collection I was reading on retreat] challenges me/us to push it hard, farther, further. Like Rukeyser. Whereas, I make as little a fool of myself as possible -- I am used by my fears, rather than using them. Do I use all my fears? Rukeyser asked. And I -- I fear my exuberance. I fear making too much of myself, putting myself too much forward. But then how to have ambition, how to push oneself, if not by pushing oneself forward? And why am I still constrained by this at the age of almost 44: the voices: Not to make a display of oneself; not to seem to be wanting; not to presume.

Not to presume. Well then, how to move if one can't presume to move forward? My head hurts and my jaw is clenched. I am pretty useless. I am eating too much -- slows me down. I'm not sleeping enough. Drank too much wine. Whine about everything. Just lie down and relax. No need to do anything today if nothing comes. All is percolating.

I say these words, as I say to one of the other poets here, There really is no wrong way to do a writing retreat. But of course my Protestant heart always pounds in me: Produce. Produce. Produce. I have little talent for loafing. I may stroll the boxwood avenues here, inhale their scent of childhoold, but I am thinking always of writing about them. The cows. The sun.

Baron Wormser writes that good political poems must wrestle with the largeness of history, the place of the individual in history, not just be strictly personal. Tim Seibles says we must be ferocious with our poems, come stomping in. And I am afraid. Oh no! I have to do that. Can I? Must I write like that, if I'm going to write anything? I have to write that today. And panic sets in.

But really, think about it. I could alternately take these two as confirmation. Because my poems do these things. And not because I sit down and say, Now I will consider the place of the individual in history. But because I am obsessed with history, it lives in me, so it lives in the poems.

And I am full of outrage and stompiness, so that will make its way into the poems. So fucking chill out. And relax. And write if you feel like it today and don't if you don't. Nothing is wrong, right now. Just keep pushing. Push the poems.

[I've been writing obsessively about walls.] Brick upon brick the immigrants build the wall. It's a job. Mexico. El Salvador. Guatemala. Honduras. Belize. Costa Rica. Panama. Nicaragua. Cinder block by cinder block. We want your coffee, bananas, mangoes, passage to the Pacific, but no thank you, not you. Shade grown. Organic. Fair trade. You may be all those things, but you're not a small brown bean to crush and drink for restoration, for our coming alive. So toss the sacks over the wall please. We come to the wall for the sacks. We redeem our gift cards here, our hearts swell with the caffeine. We have traded fairly.

A poem on coffee is a different beast from a poem on walls? Or can work together? What can a single poem accommodate? The world?

Monday, February 05, 2007


Miller Interviews Tuckey

E. Ethelbert Miller interviews DC Poets Against the War's Melissa Tuckey on poetry and wartime:

"In my writing I try to remember that I am complicit in this world. Even though I oppose the war, I am a part of it, it is not separate from me. Likewise the language of war has made me leery of abstractions like 'freedom.' I want precise, personal, accountable language and experience."

Read the Foreign Policy in Focus interview here:

Friday, February 02, 2007


Beauty & Dissent: The Jan 27 Demo Report

Dear Friends,

Thanks to the incredible organizing energy and vision of Melissa Tuckey, the poets were out in droves, with spirit and verve, at Saturday's march. We joined at least 100,000 other Americans calling for an end to this illegal and immoral war. What a privilege and a joy to be there! We topped off the day with a spectacular reading by poets from near and far. Read Melissa's report below and check out photos at and at the Flickr page Melissa set up. The address is below.

Read to the end for her call to get involved. Only together can we end this war!

Love and peace,

"A poet is the gardener and the blight, poetry is beauty and dissent."--Scott Ecksel

What an amazing day we had on January 27th! A day of poetry, community building, and dissent. I hope that everyone who participated is feeling as inspired as I am. Even after all of the organizing, I have a surplus energy on account of having spent the day with such talented, articulate, creative, and committed people. Thank you.

The day began as a crowd of about 70 poets gathered in the bookstore at Busboys and Poets at 10:30 a.m. -- a great place to begin a day of poetry and protest. We mingled a bit, chose the signs we wanted to carry, then took a group photo before heading to the Metro.

We gathered again at the corner of 4th and Madison on the Mall, as part of the Arts Bloc (alive with puppets and drums), where we were joined by too many poets to list here, including Martin Espada and his wife Katherine, who had made beautiful signs with photos of poets and their quotes and poetry handbills for the protest. We were joined by Ethelbert Miller, Esther Iverem, Joseph Ross and two other teachers and students from Archbishop Carroll High School, Will Brown, who interviewed some of the poets for his poetry podcast (more news on that to follow), Henry Braun and his friend Tom Bulger from Maine, Terry Murko from Ohio, William Kennedy, also from Ohio, Jody Bolz, Eric Pankey, Jennifer Atkinson, Susan Tichy, and many, many more!

Once the march began, we poets (each marching to a different beat) filtered out into the loud and colorful crowd. It was difficult to stay together and we found ourselves moving with the march, meeting one another here and there, calling each other on cell phones, running into old friends we haven't seen in years, becoming one with the rest of the protest. Next time we'll walk behind a banner and hopefully that will make it easy to stay together. Either way, it was wonderful to see poetry walking among the slogans and signs.

We rejoined one another again in the evening for a lively and inspiring reading at Busboy and Poets. We began the reading with our featured reader, Martin Espada, poet/activist extraordanaire, author, editor, translator. Martin's reading was passionate and spirited and the readers who followed were equally alive and present.

Among the readers we heard from: Sarah Browning, Esther Iverem, Susan Tichy, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Christi Kramer and Kakahama Askary, Eliot Katz and Vivian Demuth from NYC, Mike Maggio, Magalee Cirpili, a student at Archbishop Carroll High School, Joeseph Ross, Sunsara Taylor from NYC, Shawn Flannigan, Paul Aaron from NC, Thomas Brinson from NYC, Alan Barysh from Baltimore, Richard Schaff, Lori Pedue from Indianapolis, and Steve Bloom from NYC. Our time was limited and we didn't get to hear from everyone who wanted to read. We hope for other opportunities to hear those voices.The reading was videotaped - YAY!

Thanks to the Institute for Policy Studies for lending us the equiptment, Heather Holliger for taping, and Nathaniel Kerksick for help with editing.

I've set up a Flickr account for DC Poets Against the War so we canshare photos. My husband, Dave Phillips took some nice ones. Checkthem out: The web address is-- Feel free to post your own or download these. If you use them, please just credit Dave and indicate that it was a DC PAW event.

As you can imagine, Busboys was the happening place to be this weekend and the Langston room was packed. A huge thanks to Andy and Pam at Busboys and to the rest of the staff for all they did to provide us with such a great place to read.

A big thanks to the sign makers! Chun Le, Maria Velazquez, David Phillips, Heather Holliger, Sarah Browning and Christi Kramer and to everyone who sent their favorite quotes for the signs. Thank you Dave Bamford for cutting and sanding the stick for our signs. And to Tom Hertz for hauling cardboard. We are in the process of updating our web site and will post our collection of quotes there.

Thanks also to Esther Iverem for helping us transport our signs to Busboys on Saturday morning!!

Thank you Dan Vera for major help with transportation on Saturday.Thank you Kakahama Askary for cooking for us Friday night while we finished our sign making.

A special thanks goes out to Sarah Browning for being the impetous behind this action. And for helping in numerous ways.

And thanks also to Ethelbert Miller who helped with planning and publicizing our event.

So much energy and enthusiasm, where do we go from here? We'd love your input and participation as we move forward. Please email, if you'd like to volunteer and are able to attend an organizing meeting.

For Peace,
Melissa Tuckey
Events Coordinator
DC Poets Against the War


Special place in hell-raising heaven: Molly Ivins

A world without Molly Ivins. These are sad days indeed.

The incomparable Dan Vera has written a lovely tribute on his blog and included links to several obituaries and Ivins' last column. Rather than copy all his work and claim it as my own, I ask you to visit his site and read from there:

Now, let's go raise some hell in Molly's honor!

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