Saturday, December 29, 2007


We Gotta Netflix It: Esther Iverem's Top 10 Movies of 2007's Top Ten 2007 Movies
By Esther Editor and Film Critic

Full disclosure statement: in a media world of fakery and distraction, I do favor movies that are about something real and that speak to our lives today. Despite some outrageous duds such as “Norbit,” 2007 also offered a rich array of movies, both in theaters and on television, which satisfied my need for the real. Here are my top 10 picks of movies by and/or about Black people for 2007. The links will take you to a complete review of the movie. See you at the movies in 2008!

Read the excellent list here:

Thursday, December 27, 2007


"Goodbye, Body" by Sandy Taylor

Sandy Taylor, best known as a publisher and advocate for poetry, was also a very fine poet himself. A sample:


on which I’ve carved
a few victories
and a thousand defeats,

old map,
scar on my leg
long as Chile,
broken knuckle
that shortened a finger,
city of distress
etched on my face
and forehead
like scratches on birchbark,

Thank you for your
kind shelter,
your hilarious jokes,
your nerve-endings
where pain warned me
of your reasonable

What a pal you’ve been!

If you forgive my excesses,
my wild longings,
the way I’ve let life
beat you
like some dumb animal,
I’ll forgive you
the thousand tight spots
you put me in
with your excess
of hormones, your
abundance of
kinetic energy,
your mad dreams
that propelled me
through the night.

- by Sandy Taylor

With thanks to Bob Clawson

Saturday, December 22, 2007


Sandy Taylor, Co-Founder of Curbstone Press, 1931-2007

A heartbreaking loss to the poetry world and the cause of justice. Curbstone's Poetry Like Bread: Poems of the Political Imagination, is one of the great anthologies of the last 20 years. From the obituary:
Taylor died Friday, at age 76. Formerly a teacher at Eastern Connecticut State University, with his wife, Judith Ayer Doyle, he built a press that gained international respect and attention for its commitment to human rights and intercultural understanding, with a focus on works by Latino and Vietnamese authors...
Wayne Karlin, whose book "War Movies: Journeys to Vietnam: Scenes and Out-takes," was published by Curbstone, e-mailed to Doyle Friday."I'm sitting here in Hanoi thinking of all that would not have happened in the world without his vision," Karlin wrote. "A great loss, but a great life."

For former Connecticut Poet Laureate Marilyn Nelson, Taylor was "a man of conscience, commitment, and courage, a man who believed in books and words and in the efficacy of language as a weapon of truth."People like Alexander Taylor do not die."
Read the full obituary in the Hartford Courant here:,0,1664046.story

In tribute, a poem by a very different kind of poet, Mary Oliver, whose latest book, Thirst, charts the grief after losing her partner of many years.

When the Roses Speak, I Pay Attention

“As long as we are able to
be extravagant we will be
hugely and damply
extravagant. Then we will drop
foil by foil to the ground, this
is our unalterable task, and we do it

And they went on, “Listen,
the heart shackles are not, as you think,
death, illness, pain,
unrequited hope, not loneliness, but

lassitude, rue, vainglory, fear, anxiety,

Their fragrance all the while rising
from their blind bodies, making me
spin with joy.

- Mary Oliver, from Thirst

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Poetry of Disability Culture

A terrific essay by Sharon Wachsler, editor of Breath & Shadow: A Journal of Disability Culture and Literature, at Word Gathering:

Disability culture grew from the disability rights movement, and thus includes its tenets, such as that disability is socially constructed (as are gender and race) and that disability is normal - not aberrant. Paradoxically, disability culture espouses that people with disabilities have a unique, enriching perspective to contribute to the world. Thus, disability culture embraces both the normalcy of disability and the peculiarities of living with disability.
Read the essay, which talks about several disability culture poets, including our own Kathi Wolfe, here:

Monday, December 17, 2007


Click on logo above to see gorgeous rotating photos of Split This Rock featured poets. With thanks to the spectacular Dan Vera!

Thursday, December 13, 2007


Ann Darr, in memoriam

We note with sadness the passing of Ann Darr, a prominent DC poet. Dryad Press has started an 'In Memoriam' page on their website that is terrific. The link reprints poems, and gives biographical information.

The publisher of Dryad, Merrill Leffler, also invites anyone who is moved to do so to contribute their remembrances of Ann as a teacher, friend, influence, etc. Send him emails at, and Merrill will add to the page.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Whiskey on the Poetry Foundation Blog

I am humbled and moved and delighted by a review of Whiskey in the Garden of Eden by Rigoberto Gonzalez on the Poetry Foundation's blog Harriet. The Shout Out includes my whole poem, "Another March," then continues:

The value lesson here: it’s not about where one comes from (“Mt. Pleasant, Parsippany,/ Oneonta, Chattanooga”) or even who one is (a transvestite, a rabbi, Muslim from Texas), but about keeping hope and the possibility of change alive.

Read the review here:

Sunday, December 09, 2007


Weirding Word On Writers

At Weirding Word, we believe that “language creates reality.” How does language create reality in your life? In your writing?

SB: I think as writers we always have to struggle to maintain an authentic language, especially in a culture that is drowning in the language of commerce, the language of propaganda, the language of subtle coercion. These are dead, artificial languages. We have to wrestle with language, keep it on its toes, keep it alive. That's what gives me the greatest shot of pleasure -- when I feel like I'm engaging the language, and if I'm lucky, and working hard, maybe, just maybe, doing something a little bit new.

Read Part II of Gaea Honeycutt's interview with me here:

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


Groovy Holiday Shopping

Lots of alternative options for the DC area. Two to keep in mind:

Winter Update #2

Dear Infoshop Friends,
Here's a few items of interest, as winter moves in and the holidays approach...

The Brian MacKenzie Infoshop's annual holiday sale - 20% OFF (almost) everything - is coming up soon: December 14, 15, and 16. Mark your calendars so you don't miss it. It's the perfect time to stock up on gifts for the holidays, or just to find a new book or two for yourself. The sale is our way of saying thank you for another year of support and patronage, and it also helps the infoshop raise funds that help during less busy months.

We've been busy stocking our shelves with new books and restocking them with old favorites. A sampling of what's arrived in the past week or two. Don't miss these key new titles, plus many more:

NEW DERRICK JENSEN! - "As the World Burns", a GRAPHIC NOVEL from Jensen and comic artist Stephanie McMillan
Chainbreaker Bike Book: A Rough Guide to Bicycle Maitenence (from Microcosm)
Do-It-Yourself Screenprinting: A Graphic Guide

We've also restocked many favorite Microcosm titles (Making Stuff&Doing Things, Please Don't Feed the Bears Cookbook, Doris Book, etc.) and have a huge order of new titles and restocks on the way from AK Press, including many vegan cookbooks and a thourough restock of our Anarchy section. We've also greatly expanded our poetry section in recent months, with lots of innovative and/or political poetries.

Slingshot Organizers + 2008 Calendars
Just a reminder that the always popular Slingshot organizers are instock, in both small and large sizes, and numerous colors. We also have a selection of 2008 Wall Calendars as well: Nikki McClure, Colors from Palestine, and Ceartian Days: Freedom for Political Prisoners.

The infoshop will have a table at the Black Cat's annual ROCK N SHOP on December 7. We'll have a selection of books and music, as well as lots of Slingshot Organizers. Visit for more info.

And lastly, we're continuing our effort to have and keep more reliable hours. Our December hours are as follows:

December 1-23
Mondays and Tuesdays - CLOSED
Wednesday through Saturday - 12-9
Sunday - 12-7

Monday Deceber 24 - 12-6
Tuesday December 25 - CLOSED

We hope to see you soon, and as always, thanks for your support!

The Brian MacKenzie Infoshop

Monday, December 03, 2007


A Question of Impeachment at the Culture Project, NYC

Don't miss the last three weeks of A Question of Impeachment

"Finally, backboned America has a forum besides Dennis Kucinich's website!"

Monday, December 3 at 7pm, actor and activist ALEC BALDWIN joins attorneys and community organizers, as well as Lewis Lapham, Bobby Cannavale and Tracie Thoms to explore Article III: Criminal Negligence in Response to Hurricane Katrina.

Monday, December 10 at 7pm, DemocracyNow! Host AMY GOODMAN joins former Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman, attorneys from the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Brennan Center for Justice, and performers including KRISTEN JOHNSTON, for Article IV: Warrantless Surveillance.

Sunday, December 16: CLOSING DAY
At 2pm, Harper's contributor SCOTT HORTON, attorney Marjorie Cohn, and performers including Josh Hamilton and Tracie Thoms take on Article V:
Expansion of Executive Power.

At 7:30, a special closing celebration includes performance and commentary from JACKSON BROWNE, NAOMI WOLF, DUNCAN SHEIK, John Nichols, author of The Genius of Impeachment, and others.

Tickets: or 212-352-3101

Prior programming can be viewed at
Tell us what you think at


More good Whiskey news

I am delighted to announce that Whiskey in the Garden of Eden made Kim Roberts's list of Five Top Books of 2007 when she guest blogged on the Happy Booker. It's in excellent company, too, sharing the list with new books by Kyle Dargan, Rod Smith, Hiram Larew, and Terence Winch.

See the list here:

And remember, Whiskey makes a great holiday gift! Buy it at the Word Works site or at either Busboys & Poets location.


Split This Rock Seeks Poetry Films

Great news! Split This Rock is partnering with the Poetry Center of Chicago to produce a poetry film program during the festival. Curated by Francesco Levato, the Poetry Center's new Executive Director, we are seeking innovative films in the spirit of Split This Rock. Guidelines below.
Split This Rock Poetry Festival: Call for film and video

Deadline: postmarked by January 30th, 2008
Entry fee: $15.00
Notification by February 15th, 2008
Festival dates: March 20th-23rd, 2008

Poems of Provocation & Witness
Poets have long played a central role in movements for social change. Today, at a critical juncture in our country’s history, poetry that gives voice to the voiceless, names the unnamable, and speaks directly from the individual and collective conscience is more important than ever. The festival will explore and celebrate the many ways that poetry can act as an agent for change: reaching across differences, considering personal and social responsibility, asserting the centrality of the right to free speech, bearing witness to the diversity and complexity of human experience through language, imagining a better world.

Film & Video Submissions:
We are looking for artistic, experimental, and challenging interpretations of poetry that explore critical social issues. Selected films and videos will be screened during the festival’s film program.

Entries must be submitted on DVD (NTSC only) or CD (.mov format only), no HD formats. Please note: videos with h264, divx compression or any format not mentioned above will not be accepted.

Running time for entries should not exceed 15 minutes.

All entries must be in English.

All work submitted must be original. If portions of the submitted work contain material from third parties, author must have and be able to provide written permission to use such material.

All entries must include:
- Completed entry form
(download at:
- Entry fee (check made payable to: The Poetry Center of Chicago)
- A short synopsis, artist's bio, and artist's statement (on one page only)

Please label all DVDs and CDs with title, running time, director’s name and contact email.

Please mail entries to:
The Poetry Center of Chicago
37 S. Wabash, Suite 704
Chicago, IL 60603
Attn: Francesco Levato/Split This Rock submission


For more information:,

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