Tuesday, July 31, 2007
"I Am More Than Just a Black Woman"
Fernandez chose "Dulce et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen, "Ma Rainey" by Sterling Brown, and "Unknown Girl in the Maternity Ward," by Anne Sexton as her entries. The first is one of the most famous poems in the English language about the horrors of war. In the third, a young woman talks to the newborn she is about to give up for adoption. But all the reporting of Fernandez's win focussed on the second poem, the "black poem," written in dialect by DC's first Poet Laureate. It's a powerful poem that speaks of the way music can be a salve and an inspiration, can speak to and for a people. The song echoes of the devastation Katrina wrought on Black communities in the South.
But "Ma Rainey" was only one of three poems Fernandez recited. The Sexton poem in fact was the final and winning poem. Fernandez rightly asks:
Why weren't [the media] interested in my political views about young men and women dying in war, as expressed in the first poem? Why didn't they see me as a woman -- not a black woman, but a woman -- as reflected in the third poem about the tough choices that women face?
You can read the whole smart piece here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/07/27/AR2007072701687.html
Monday, July 30, 2007
The 50 Ft. Tall Woman in Love
The new issue of Cutthroat, edited by Split This Rock featured poet Pamela Uschuk, is available to download from their website. I haven't read it all yet, but I did read the marvelous poem by Paul Guest, "The 50 Ft. Tall Woman in Love," that begins with this memorable line, "O Steve Martin, let's get small, both of us..." and is meditation on gender and the nuclear bomb and pop culture. Very cool.
The issue also includes some wonderful visual art and a feature of two Tibetan poets in exile, Lhasang Tsering and Tenzen Tsundue.
Go to the website here: http://www.cutthroatmag.com/ and click on the issue cover image.
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Kurt S. Olsson
I had the very great pleasure of reading with Kurt S. Olsson in the Miller Cabin series last week and discovered his rich, inventive voice. His first book, What Kills What Kills Us, won the 2005 Gerald Cable Book Award from Silverfish Review Press.
VeryOnce I was very. My dog was very. Our house very
(though my mother never agreed). Sunsets, some episodes
of "Gentle Ben," the moon when it wanted to be. All very.
Happiness was very, and sadness, too. I wanted it all
to be very. A smell, a dance, a breast. It wasn't good
to settle for not very. Very very underlined was best.
Very needn't even exist. Hoarded by some, useless
as pennies, cut grass, dusk, that glass of mare's milk
I never again will drink, not forever or for all eternity—
very's profligate cousins—but until my soul's last click.
Very: green vegetable found in a far country, without
a name, without instructions for how to devour it.
With thanks to Verse Daily.
Read another of Kurt's poems here:
Friday, July 27, 2007
Civil Liberties Crisis in El Salvador
From our good friends at Voices on the Border:
TAKE ACTION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES
Right now, El Salvador is embroiled in a conflict that closely mirrors some of our own struggles here in the United States. Last year, the Salvadoran government passed anti-terrorism legislation, with the encouragement of the United States, and now thirteen activists are being charged with that law for what many see as the “crime” of peaceful protest.
Right now, Rep. Michael Capuano’s office (D-MA) is circulating a Dear Colleague letter, asking his colleagues in the US House of Representatives to add their signature to a letter to El Salvador’s President Elías Antonio Saca, expressing their concern about this issue (see the attachments to read the letter the Congresspeople will send to President Saca and the letter Rep. Capuano is sending to his colleagues to ask them to sign on.)
For this letter to have an impact, it must be signed by as many representatives as possible. That includes your representative.
Please call your representative TODAY at (202) 224-3121. Ask to speak with the Foreign Affairs staffer. Tell them your name and where you live, and, if you’d like, tell them about the relationship you have to El Salvador. In your own words, tell them:
I am concerned about the use of anti-terrorism legislation to repress peaceful protest in El Salvador, and I am asking your office to sign on to a Dear Colleague letter, being circulated by Rep. Capuano’s office. The letter addresses the July 2nd arrest of fourteen peaceful protesters in El Salvador who now face up to 60 years in prison. People around the world are demanding their immediate release. The United States supported El Salvador’s passage of this anti-terrorism legislation and we must make sure that it is not used to punish people for expressing their opinions. Have you seen the letter from Rep. Capuano’s office? Would your boss be willing to sign it?
You can give them Christina Tsafoulias’s phone number in Rep. Capuano’s office (202-225-5111) to find out more about how to sign the letter. If they haven’t seen the letter, please email them the two attachments to this message. Make sure to follow up with them if they haven’t called you back within 24 hours. The deadline for signatures is next Friday, the beginning of the August Congressional recess.
Be sure to email or call Voices on the Border and let us know if you’ve had any contact at all with your representative’s office, so that we can follow up as well. firstname.lastname@example.org, (202) 529-2912
A few weeks ago, we wrote to let you know about the arrest of 14 peaceful activists on July 2. They were arrested while protesting the government’s plan to decentralize the water system (widely viewed as a step toward privatization.) Thirteen of the 14 were charged with an article in the anti-terrorism law about “physically threatening government authorities” – a charge which carries 40-60 years in prison. We join with human rights activists from around the world who demand that these political prisoners be freed immediately and that anti-terrorism legislation not be used to persecute peaceful activists.
Thank you for your support of peace and justice in El Salvador.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
The Wind Shifts - Six Poems from a New Anthology of Latino Poets
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
1st issue of the Delaware Poetry Review now on line!
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Dennis Forney (302) 645-7700 email@example.com
NEW ONLINE JOURNAL FEATURES DELMARVA POETS
The first issue of the Delaware Poetry Review, an online magazine featuring new works from the Mid-Atlantic region, is now available. Beautifully designed, easy to navigate, and free, the Delaware Poetry Review publishes a wide range of poets, including:
- Fleda Brown, Poet Laureate of Delaware
- Nin Andrews, author of 5 books of poems, including Sleeping with Houdini
- Beth Joselow, author of 8 books of poems, most recently Begin at Once
- Jamie Brown, owner of John Milton & Company Books and founder of the John Milton Poetry Festival
- Rich Boucher, award-winning slam poet and co-coordinator of the Open Mic and Slam at the Crimson Moon Tavern in Wilmington
- Martin Galvin, author of Wild Card, winner of the Columbia Poetry Prize
- Ann Colwell, Associate Professor of English at the University of Delaware
- Ben Greer, author of 5 novels and one poetry collection, A Late Disorder
The inaugural issue features 23 poets. Sixty percent of writers in the first issue live or work in Delaware or elsewhere on the Delmarva Peninsula.
The Delaware Poetry Review was formed when the editors of five well-respected, award-winning journals in Delaware, Virginia, and Washington, DC (Bay Oak Press, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Bogg, Delmarva Quarterly, Delmarva Review, and Gargoyle) decided to collaborate on a new project together. The group has met regularly each winter for the past three years at the Milton Poetry Festival in Milton, DE. "It's exciting to have this opportunity to learn from one another," says Kim Roberts of Beltway Poetry Quarterly. "We have combined our different skills to publish a truly engrossing magazine that shows off the best the Mid-Atlantic has to offer--and beyond."
To read the Delaware Poetry Review, please see: http://www.depoetry.com/.
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
Abdul Ali Asks the Tough Questions
Here's a short excerpt:
The poems about race, and especially about how race often played itself out on the streets of my childhood, were very difficult to write, very vulnerable, very scary... It took me many, many years and drafts to write and complete these poems and to feel OK about putting them out in the world.
You can order the book at http://www.wordworksdc.com/ and read the poems that finally emerged from all that work...
"The War in Iraq is a Latino Issue" - Espada on Moyers Journal
Friday, July 20, 2007
"Get Proud by Practicing" - July is anniversary of ADA
- Kathi Wolfe
Read poet Kathi Wolfe's op ed on the disability rights movement, its relationship to the gay rights movement, and its centrality in the struggle for social justice: in the Washington Blade here.
What movie to rent this weekend? Here's a great list
Martín Espada on Bill Moyers Journal
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Folks who want to burn Sekou's majestic voice and presence into their brains and souls, can go to Youtube and see him performing "Bring On The Reparations" from his Def Poetry Jam appearance couple years back.
Paste this into your browser: http://youtube.com/watch?v=IWhnZPeW644
You can, as many of us have already, type in comments/testimony/poems/ preacherations/raps/etc at the Youtube site, which has become a kind of rhythmic cyber-wake for Sekou.
"Let this be my epitaph-his heart till the very end was in the left place.
We were nuts from the git-go, insane from the whatnot."
Preach on Sekou, your sound like your heart, unbound.
Sekou Sundiata-the gods of your ancestors await you!
From "Bring On the Reparations":
For the beat in beatnik...
For the missing royalty checks...
Them 40 acres not withstanding...
Come on and bring on the reparations.
Sekou Sundiata - His Powerful, Gorgeous Voice Will Be Badly Missed
Sekou Sundiata died yesterday. He brought beauty and power together in his poetry. He challenged the poetry community's divisions. He challenged all our divisions.
Listen to his voice and words -- they restore, they will last. Here are some places to listen on the web (with thanks to Sage):
I had the privilege of being on a panel with Sekou in January at Busboys & Poets. Here's my post about it:
A heartbreaking day. Last night, at the Intersections reading, host Fred Joiner played Sekou's tribute to John Coltrane, who died 40 years ago Tuesday. Sekou carried on Coltrane and I hear Fred carrying on Sekou. Carry it on. Pass it on.
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
DC PAW's Mike Maggio Profiled in City Paper
Operation Enduring Free Verse
Mike Maggio's deMOCKracy takes aim at the war in Iraq.
By Matthew Borlik
Posted: July 12, 2007
When it came time for Mike Maggio to dedicate his latest collection of poems and other writings, his choice was immediately clear: the shining beacon of freedom that is President George W. Bush and his cabinet. “I normally dedicate a book to my wife or my kids, but this time I thought, Well, why don’t I dedicate it to the people who really inspired me?” says Maggio.
“A lot of my stuff is not political at all,” says the 55-year-old Herndon resident, who works in IT at the Bureau of Indian Affairs and is currently pursuing a Master of Fine Arts degree at George Mason University. He’s got a book of poems, an audio collection of poems, and a collection of short stories under his belt, but unlike these earlier works, deMOCKracy has a tight focus: the U.S. invasion of Iraq. “I was so enraged, and still am, about what’s going on in Iraq and what we’ve done there,” says Maggio.
The 79-page collection opens on a hopeful note with a poem about the anti-war protest here on Jan. 18, 2003. “I was there. It was 10 degrees below zero…it was a very exhilarating experience because I didn’t think we’d have that many people, and we actually filled the mall to over capacity,” says Maggio. “At that point, that demonstration was before the invasion. So we were trying to do something that we hoped would prevent it.”
Two months later, the United States invaded Iraq. As the war dragged on and the death toll kept rising, the optimistic tone of Maggio’s work quickly gave way to that of confusion, frustration, and outrage. Subsequent poems, most of which were written during the war’s first three years, cover such specific topics as a helicopter downed in an attack by an Iraqi crowd (“Two Soldiers”) and the beheading of American prisoners by terrorists (“After the Beheading”).
The collection’s grim mood is punctuated by occasional forays into dark humor—such as the trio of short “notices” that point out the racial and sexual discrimination prevalent within America’s own borders, a “War of the Month Club,” and a Global War on Terror word-association quiz. Yet, even when Maggio is attempting to evoke a laugh regarding the war’s absurdity, his contempt for the administration directing the conflict is always palpable.
“It’s funny because my mother was over here on the Fourth of July, and I showed her the book, and she kept saying, ‘Why are you so angry?’ ” says Maggio. “As a poet, sometimes we write things that are not really expressing our own personal voice. The poetry should be expressing the anger of the nation, and the nation is angry. So that needs to be separated from me as a person.”
“But, yes,” he says, “I did definitely get pissed off.”
The article is online here: http://washingtoncitypaper.com/display.php?id=2046
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
A Night of Whiskey and Paradise
1241 Good Hope Rd. SE
Washington , D.C.
Refreshments provided. Suggested donation is $2
Tuesday, July 24, 7:30 pm
Miller Cabin Series
Joaquin Miller Cabin
Rock Creek Park, Picnic Area #6, Beach Drive at Military Road Overpass
For more information and rain location, call Julie Enszer at 301-537-6570
Saturday, July 28, 2 PM
Karibu Books, Pentagon City Mall
1100 South Hayes Street, Arlington, VA
Thursday, August 23, 7 pm
Writers in Progress
Studio #359, Arts & Industry Building
221 Pine Street, Florence, MA
Friday, September 14, 6:30 pm
NW Washington, DC house party reading
For details, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, September 26, 7 pm
Kensington Row Bookshop
3786 Howard Avenue, Kensington MD
301 949 9416
Monday, November 5, 7:30 pm
Cafe Muse at the Friendship Heights Village Center
Sunday, December 9, 6 pm
Iota Bar and Restaurant
2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA
703-522-8340 or 703-256-9275
Monday, July 09, 2007
A poem by Marjory Wentworth
One of the amazing things about organizing Split This Rock Poetry Festival is that I hear from poets all over the world who are writing powerful poems of conscience and doing important work in their own communities to bring about a more peaceful and just world.
Over the weekend, Marjory Wentworth, the poet laureate of South Carolina, contacted me. I wasn't familiar with her work previously, and had the pleasure and honor of reading a couple of poems she sent me. Here's "Nocturne 2006," which originally appeared in Nimrod's Crossing Borders, Spring/Summer 2007 issue.
Owls call from the hollows.
This is the sound of the moon.
Light shattering like glass
across the night. Sky
filled with ghosts. They have
traveled far. This room holds
their voices like a box
of cracked bones. I remember
how to write my name
in a swirl of Arabic.
It is a secret. Sound,
like the sound of my name
in the halls where I walked
through moonlight, stepping
over soldiers facing Mecca.
The faces of the tortured are
familiar. Beneath hoods, a voice
I recognize. A muscled thigh, feet
in shackles, buttocks and kneecaps.
Skin smelling of sweat and urine.
A man is named for a prophet.
He calls for him in the darkness.
Naked and cold in a cage,
his middle name is God.
Sunday, July 08, 2007
Announcing the publication of deMOCKracy
Long-time member of DC Poets Against the War Mike Maggio has published a new book of poems, deMOCKracy -- highly recommended. Here's a letter from Mike, with ordering information, below.
Huge thanks to the poets, who keep speaking out against this criminal war.
Dear friends, lovers of poetry, believers in peace,
I am pleased to announce the publication of my latest book, deMOCKracy, a collection of poetry that grew out of rage – rage at the illegitimate installation of the current Bush regime, rage at the lies we’ve been fed from the very beginning of this dishonest administration and rage at the war that has been perpetrated on Iraq at the expense of the lives of our soldiers and the values our country was built on.
E. Ethelbert Miller, DC Poet and Activist, has said that these poems “will hit you in the head like a rock” and goes on to say that “there is tenderness and beauty captured in words that confess to this poet’s love for human life.” Sarah Browning, founder of DC Poets Against the War, calls the book “exuberant, angry, full of compassion --- a poetry for our beautiful, broken world.” And Richard Peabody, editor of Gargoyle Magazine, writes that deMOCKracy is “required reading for those of us who ask – 'Is it Vietnam yet?'”
deMOCKracy is published by Plain View Press and is available for purchase at www.plainviewpress.net and at all standard book outlets. Signed copies are available directly from me. For more information about the book, please visit my web site, www.mikemaggio.net.
And please join me in working for peace and justice and an end to the Iraq war.
With many thanks for your support,
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
Uncle Walt on July 4, 1863
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
Summer Issue of Beltway Poetry Quarterly
We've got a terrific new issue of Beltway Poetry Review for you!
The Summer 2007 issue features five poets:
JOSHUA WEINER, winner of the Rome Prize from the Academy of American Poets;
VENUS THRASH, writer-in-residence at Ballou Senior High School;
FRED JOINER, who has given readings at Busboys and Poets, Grace Church, and Howard University, among other venues;
BERNADETTE GEYER, editor-in-chief of The Word Works; and
FRANCISCO ARAGÓN, director of Letras Latinas at the University of Notre Dame.
Monday, July 02, 2007
Navy Targets President of Hip Hop Caucus
"Now is the time for us to stand up and stand together"
By Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr.
My Fellow Americans:
The power of our voices against the U.S. occupation of Iraq is reaching the top echelons of the military and the administration. Our government is persecuting Americans who speak out against the U.S. military presence in Iraq. The U.S. military has launched politicized attacks on its own military members and moral leaders who oppose the war to discredit their voices of dissent.
We have seen them target Cpl. Adam Kokesh to stop him from exercising his freedom of speech, after risking his life in Fallujah, Iraq. We have seen them threaten Sgt. Liam Madden for publicly stating the legal fact that the U.S. invasion is a war crime according to the Nuremberg principles. They have targeted Cpl. Cloy Richards, a soldier put in the media spotlight when his mother Tina Richards worked to get him the health care he needs after returning from Iraq eighty percent disabled. These are not happenstance targets. These young men are leaders of the Iraq Veterans Against the War and they are speaking out in a strong and coordinated way.
And now I have been targeted.
Who am I? Many of you know me as a reverend, an activist, an architect of Hip Hop politics and a freedom fighter, but I am also an Officer in the United States Air Force Reserve. I have long been in the struggle for peace and freedom and I serve proudly as a leader of faith. I joined the military as part of the "poor peoples draft" - to help pay for my education. In May 2000 I was commissioned as an Officer in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and was accepted into the Chaplain Candidates program. In 2002 I graduated from Howard University School of Divinity, Magna Cum Laude. I was ordained a Reverend and Elder in the Church of God in Christ shortly after my graduation and today I remain in good standing in the Church. In May 2003 I completed the Chaplain Candidates program, but I decided not to pursue a career as a Chaplain in the Air Force. I have been in the Air Force Reserve Individual Reserve program ever since.
On March 26th of this year I received notification from the Air Force that they are taking action to honorably discharge me on the basis of "behavior clearly inconsistent with the interest of national security." Ironically, this letter arrived six days after I announced the launching of a national "Make Hip Hop Not War" Tour at a press conference on Capitol Hill.
On July 12, 2007, when I leave Robbins Air Force Base after my discharge hearing, whether I remain an Officer or not, I will be a leader always, and a patriot evermore committed to ending this immoral war.
In February 2003 I felt the sense of urgency many felt in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq to speak out. Even though I was only a Chaplain Candidate and a 2nd Lieutenant, when I had the opportunity to preach at Andrews Air Force Base, the home of Air Force One, the message that I preached was "Who Would Jesus Bomb?" Since then hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of Americans have lost their lives and we now face a state of permanent warfare in our world.
This moment in history is our generation's lunch-counter moment - Iraq is our Vietnam and New Orleans is our Birmingham. Our generation could be the generation to defeat racism, poverty and war, but only if we come together as people of conscience. In the movements of the 60's, solidarity among the civil rights movement and the anti-war movement was never truly achieved. As the "Hip Hop generation" - a generation where the sons and daughters of former slaves work side by side with the sons and daughters of former slave owners - we have the ability to bridge the gap and link movements for peace, justice, civil rights and the environment in true solidarity.
We will not make the world safer - or achieve true national security - by starting wars that put our humanity at risk and we are certainly not making our country safer by intimidating veterans who courageously speak out. Policies that address the issues of poverty, racism, climate change, the economy and jobs are at the core of national security. I will continue to speak out against the war, seek justice for Katrina survivors, fight against racism, struggle for equality and advocate for a healthy planet. I hardly think that this sort of behavior is "inconsistent with the interest of national security."
My brothers and sisters, opposition to this illegal war and occupation is not a cause - it constitutes a response to a state of emergency. It is our urgent responsibility to stop this war. According to the Book of Psalms, "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." I know it looks bad now and our hope seems to wane and sometimes we want to give up. But, if we can all come together - black and white, brown and yellow, rich and poor, male and female, straight and gay, republican and democrat - whether you still love this country or are withdrawn in anger, not only can we defeat this war and restore justice and democracy, there will once again be joy in the morning.
My mother in the movement, Cindy Sheehan, will be with me on July 12th at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia and I urge you to join me on the 12th as well. I also urge you to continue to increase your activism. This is our lunch-counter moment.
For Future Generations,
Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr.
Rev. Lennox Yearwood, Jr. is President of the Hip Hop Caucus.
Much needed online donations to his legal defense fund can be made at: www.hiphopcaucus.org
You can also mail a donation via check to:
Hip Hop Caucus
1112 16th St. NW, Suite 600,
Washington, DC 20036
You can contact the Hip Hop Caucus at 202.787.5256 or at email@example.com.