Wednesday, October 07, 2015

The President has been wanting to have the conversation we're hosting today for a long time. He's been mentioning it in meetings -- and in remarks -- for months.
Today, it's happening.

Right now, a group of workers, union leaders, worker advocates, and forward-thinking businesses are arriving in the East Wing of the White House. They'll have breakfast together, hear from the President and Vice President, and then hear from one another. They'll break out into groups. They'll ask each other questions and share their own personal stories. Then they'll engage in a conversation with the President. We'll be focused one singular mission:

How do we empower workers' voices in our 21st Century economy?
We're calling it the White House Summit on Worker Voice, and you can follow along and add your voice to the conversation, no matter where you are. You can participate from your desk or your kitchen counter.

Here's how:
You can watch events from throughout the day -- from the President's remarks, to the breakout sessions, to the conversation he'll be hosting later in the afternoon -- live and make a commitment to start a conversation in your workplace here.

You can ask a question or share a thought ahead of the President's conversation with workers here.

And you can follow @USDOL where participants and panelists will be back stage answering live questions and reflecting on the day.

It's clear why having a real voice in the workplace is beneficial to workers themselves -- but most people don't realize that the most successful companies are the ones that are doing this right. It's in the numbers -- firms with unionized workers have higher retention and higher productivity.

Multiple studies have confirmed this -- and even more evidence shows that unionized firms with workplace practices that give workers input into the production process have the highest productivity, above that of both nonunionized firms and unionized firms without these kinds of workplace practices.

The bottom line? There's really not much to claims about unions' negative impact on businesses.

Everyone who's contributing to this country's economic growth ought to be able to share in it. That means having an effective voice, and some influence, in their workplaces. And making sure that happens in more businesses across this country requires an inclusive, honest dialogue like the one we're having today. It only works if as many folks as possible add their voices.

The President doesn't always get personally involved in the shaping of events we hold at the White House -- but I can tell you that this one is different.
So we hope you'll watch and participate.

Valerie Jarrett
Senior Advisor
The White House

When baseball season ends the lead back to first base becomes shorter. This was a disappointing year for The Nationals and every fan who loved Ian Desmond. How long must we continue to wait for the Great Pumpkin? What’s wrong with us?  Why are so many men walking around this city talking to themselves? Mental illness is knowing the pitch is coming but being unable to hit it.  Too many of us drop our bats in front of home plate and have problems deciding whether to walk out into the field or turn and simply hide in the dugout.

This year found me several times at the ballpark with friends. I will remember this on Thanksgiving Day. On a number of occasions I had a sweet seat for the game. Yes, I saw some poor managing up close and frightening. I guess the owners did too. Remember when fans ran out onto the field and delayed the game while overweight security guards tried to tackle them?  I love nostalgia. If one is not careful it can become as comfortable as losing. Yes, I wanted to do the funky butt behind second base. Oh, and Mr. Met has a big head.

I want to believe next year will be better for The Nationals. I want to hear a song I can slow dance to. This season there was a period in which about 15 guys on the roster were hitting below their weight. Calling in a relief pitcher from the Nats bullpen was similar to catching the # 53 bus on 14th Street, NW.  You keep waiting for it to come but it doesn’t. I’m still counting the walks in that game against New York.

If I were younger The Nationals would have placed me in therapy. Give me my meds and a Storen in the 8th inning. Still, there is something beautiful about baseball’s pain and fever. Yes, Job was a Cub fan and I’m starting to take notes. The Devil was always against interleague play.

It’s almost the end of the year. I turn 65 this month and it feels like my season might end too.  I’ve never been the winter type. The cold and snow never made the fireplace romantic for me. I love sweaters but nudity can be contagious. The idea of a few months without baseball might be a blessing. There were so many games this year that made me unhappy. I found myself getting upset with players. Not a good sign or a thing you do if you’re a true fan. But I can still see Ramos running slow to first base.  I think it was almost December when he finally touched the bag.

Soon I’ll be checking next year’s calendar like a pitcher waiting for spring training to begin. Baseball is eternal Spring. Even as I turn my collar up against the cold, there is always the feeling that hope like warm air, is a late inning rally. Soon President Obama will enter the last year of his presidency. He will walk out of the White House with Michelle, board a helicopter and wave good-bye. So many Nats will have departed before him.  Washington remains sometimes best seen from the sky. On the ground we struggle to win.  Like Yogi once said – “it seems like déjà vu all over again.”

Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards 2015

Last night the Institute for Policy Studies  (IPS) held its 39th Annual Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Awards at the Carnegie Institution for Science. This has become the key location each year.  The LM Awards follow the annual Sheridan Circle Memorial Service which was held last month at Sheridan Circle. Each year we honor and remember Orlando Letelier and Ronni Moffitt who were killed in a car bombing on September 21, 1976. This crime was traced back to the Pinochet government in Chile.

Last night IPS honored Daryl Atkinson and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) and Almudena Bernabeu and the Center for Justice and Accountability( CJA).

Here are links to the two organizations they represent:

Below: John Cavanagh, Daryl Atkinson and Almudena Bernabeu.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Center for Black Literature at MEC, CUNY
Pre-Registration Has Begun! National Black Writers Conference 2016
Thursday March 31, 2016 at 1:00 PM EDT
Sunday April 3, 2016 at 6:30 PM EDT
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Medgar Evers College, CUNY
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See photos from our NBWC Biennial Symposium and other past conferences in our photo gallery.

Pre-registration has begun!

Thirteenth National Black Writers Conference
Writing Race, Embracing Difference

Thursday, March 31, 2016 - Sunday, April 3, 2016
Medgar Evers College, CUNY
Brooklyn, New York

Honorary Chair

Rita Dove
      Former Poet Laureate of The U.S.
Edwidge Danticat, Woodie King Jr., Michael Eric Dyson & Charles Johnson
The conference features panels, author readings, and roundtable discussions on the theme of "Writing Race; Embracing Difference."

Fees & Donation will increase.

Invited panelists include: 
Chris Abani, M. K. Asante, 
Paul Beatty, Farai Chideya, Breena Clarke, Cora Daniels, 
Cornelius Eady, Nelson George, Charles Johnson, 
David Kirkland, Kiese Laymon, Joan Morgan, 
Morgan, Okey Ndibe, Nnedi Okorafor, 
Jewel Parker Rhodes, Tricia Rose, Lalita Tademy, 
Sheree Renee 
Thomas, Afa Michael Weaver, 
and many more.

Vendors welcomed, including independent authors & publishers!


A good purchase this month is the 50th Anniversary edition of THE WASHINGTONIAN magazine.
It's filled with great pictures and stories of DC history from the last 50 years. The oral history account of Lawrence Taylor breaking Joe Theismann's leg back in 1985 is worth the price of admission into this issue. Of course you could also purchase the magazine just to see my face on page 73.

Monday, October 05, 2015


From the writer Jonathan Coleman:

I know it may seem a stretch, but I can see E. Ethelbert Miller in the dugout next season.  He has the stern demeanor that this club requires--there would have been no Papelbon--Harper skirmish on a Miller-managed team--but he also has the ability to inject levity where needed.  He is used to traveling a lot.  The players would respect him.  I know the Lerners will not want to pay Miller what he is worth, but this move is the one to make.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

The E Project:

Take Your Pick (But Choose Wisely)

A chat with Kirsten Porter, editor of the upcoming The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller

There is no set recipe for the making of a book of collected works.
An editor’s choices should bring something new to the table.

Choices. Please do not ask me if I want Chinese take-out or pizza. In a crowded movie theater, do not tell me to choose where we will sit. Packing for a trip, I will throw in my suitcase six blouses in different shades of purple and end up wearing only one. I can teach a course on indecisiveness.

But now I must master the art of decision making as editor of a book of collected poems. How do other editors navigate through so many choices? As I mentioned in my previous post, I turn to my own bookshelves for ample research to answer this question. My home office becomes the site of a new building project as I make towers of books—the collected poems of Walt Whitman, Gwendolyn Brooks, C.K. Williams. My floor disappears under a stack of selected works by William Stafford, Maya Angelou, and Dylan Thomas. My Pomeranian narrowly misses knocking over the leaning tower of poems by Elizabeth Bishop, Langston Hughes, and Louise Glück. When I finish building, I begin to research the collections to understand my editorial options.

And then I was able to breathe. The art of my decision making for this collected poems project was rooted in the knowledge that there were many choices to make but no set rules for the blueprint of my book. For as many collections as I pored over, no two editors followed the same arrangement. This was a relief—I had freedom to make my own choices. This was also a small moment of panic—I had freedom to make my own choices.

So, I began making decisions, one choice at a time. An epigraph to start off the collection? Sure. How about using two? Quotes by artist Andy Warhol and author André Gide were strong openers for Ethelbert’s Collected Poems. No, let’s go with one. Warhol won the honor. Acknowledgements at the beginning or end? Let’s start the book with gratitude, thanking those who have supported this project and are eagerly awaiting its publication. (Note to self: don’t forget to thank your parents here.) And now for the arrangement of the poems.

I had to take special consideration on many of these choices based on the project at hand. With such a large body of poems spanning over forty years of Ethelbert’s career, I needed to create some organizational features. The book was demanding sections—fourteen sections, to be exact. The first section would be called the Early Poems; this was work dating back to the 1970s when Ethelbert’s career as writer and literary activist was just beginning. These first poems, many of which few readers have seen before, were pulled from Ethelbert’s personal collections and from his archives at the Gelman Library in Washington, D.C. The next twelve sections would be from already published collections, both hard-copy and online publications. The last section would be called the New Poems. Like the early poems, this final assemblage of new poems would be a gift to those familiar with Ethelbert’s work and new readers alike as most of the poems in this section had never been published before.

Choices. Many to make, and these were just a few editorial decisions I needed to sift through, weighing out the pros and cons while holding tight to the vision I had created for this project with Ethelbert. In the end, maybe I’m not as indecisive as I thought.

Okay, let’s do pizza tonight. Deep dish or thin crust? Which toppings? Extra cheese?
Oh, you decide.  

Join me next month for some archive diving. Like Adrienne Rich, we’ll go “diving into the wreck” to search for the treasures within Ethelbert’s early work. Scuba gear optional!

*Coming Spring 2016: The Collected Poems of E. Ethelbert Miller


Nice to see two short reviews of books by David Nicholson and Percival Everett in the New York Times Book Review today. I read Nicholson's FLYING HOME in manuscript. Yes, the man writes with "sensitivity and grace." Everett is a genius; we need to read beyond ERASURE. The next time someone decides to give out one of those lifetime achievement awards give this guy a call. 30 books already?  His new one is HALF AN INCH OF WATER.

Be sure to read "Barberism" by Terrance Hayes in the New York Times Magazine. It's a gem of a poem.

During the month of October I'll be returning to the work of Stanley Crouch. I spent the morning reading ALWAYS IN PURSUIT. The essays made me pull my Ellington out. Oh, the transbluesency of another day.

Saturday, October 03, 2015


Has it been a decade already?  10 years of Busboys and Poets. Wow!  I did one of the first programs there with television anchor Wendy Rieger. Andy still had brown paper covering the windows back then. Over the years Busboys and Poets has been a place not just for food but also intellectual nourishment. I have no idea how many times I've spoken at one of the locations. I do know  the Busboys located at 14th and V Street, NW is where I met Grace A. Ali who would become a very special friend; that was 10 years ago. Today Grace is a digital curator and the publisher of the online OF NOTE MAGAZINE. She contacted Andy earlier in the week and told him she couldn't attend last night's big event. But many folks did turn out - hundreds by my estimation  - including Mayor Bowser, Angela Davis and Bill Ayers. IPS was well represented. I saw enough poets to compile another anthology. It was great to hug the talented Holly Bass again. I gave a long speechless embrace to Philippa Hughes - a person I admire and love dearly. I hadn't seen her in a spell. Oh, and there in the crowd with wife-wonderful was Marc Steiner - the man who hosts one of the best radio programs in the country. Fun to laugh with him and be progressive crazy. Talkin' crazy - I spent a good part of the evening talking baseball with a few folks. So much agreement on who not to let back into the Nats clubhouse next year.

Below a picture of Andy Shallal and Denise King-Miller.

Friday, October 02, 2015

The Magazine of Africa and the Diaspora, est. 1961
Issue 118 - I Can Be Lightning

 118, "I Can Be Lightning," contemplates the power of certain narratives and the impulse to subvert, challenge, or suppress these stories.

For the first time since publishing Julius Nyerere in 1961, Transition is thrilled to present a piece by the president of an African nation. His Excellency President Issoufou Mahamadou of Niger considers how the lessons in both undersung and more familiar historical records might propel Niger and other African nations toward a unified, thriving future for the continent. 
Also in the issue:  Noted anthropologist J. Lorand Matory disrupts the notion of Sweden as a model state with his examination of unexpected intra-cultural fissures that transcend xenophobic or racial lines. Plus, Evan Moffitt discusses the work of Nigerian-born photographer Rotimi Fani-Kayode, whose subversive, vibrant, erotically charged images confronted colonialism, explored sexuality, and bravely addressed the hysteria surrounding the nascent AIDS pandemic of the 1980s.
Issue 118 also offers a range of significant new voices including Robin CosteLewis' lyric tour de force, Ark, which considers the artic exploration of Matthew Henson and what it means to journey toward the philosophical and actual unknown. Kaitlyn Greenidge's Nymphadora of Spring City, 
Click here to view 118 Artists
1929, an excerpt from her forthcoming novel, describes a progressive school teacher's encounter with a boundary-crossing ethnographer, and Otosireieze Obi-Young's rending tale of desire and friendship, A Tenderer Blessing.

118 Featured Article

Bénédicte Boisseron observes that black people and dogs have often been at odds in the fight for freedom and civil rights. Tracing the historical interaction between blacks and dogs, she explores the tremendous impact perceptions of goodness or badness have had from slavery through today's Black Lives Matter movement.
Alejandro de la Fuente, Editor
Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, Visual Arts Editor
Sara Bruya, Managing Editor
Nicole Terez Dutton, Editorial Assistant
Transition Store | Website | Order: 800-842-6796   
November 20th, 2015 - 7:00 pm

Save the Date!!  Join Transition 118 editors and contributors at the Harvard Book Store for readings from the issue. Details to follow.
Submit to Transition
Transition back issues

Limited quantities of select back issues of Transitionfrom the 1990s - 2000s are available through the Harvard Book Store online.

TRANSITION: The Magazine of Africa & the Diaspora
Hutchins Center for African and African American Research, Harvard University
104 Mt. Auburn St., 3R  Cambridge, MA 02138
617-496-1312 | Email | Website



Slowly getting things in order. Working on projects, pushing myself to do more. The key is to develop a productive work schedule and routine.
It's October so I need to prepare myself for my own playoffs.

Reading the work of Stanley Crouch this month. Starting with -
ALWAYS IN PURSUIT: Fresh American Perspectives, 1995-1997

Rain the puddles.
October Spotlight on 
Michael Platt
Michael Platt, High Jumpers. Pigment Print.
Michael Platt is widely recognized for his fusion of digital and conventional photography, drawing, and printmaking as a means to explore/expose "the human particular, the history and experiences of African and African Diaspora culture." His work involves tension between setting and subject, history and identity, and conventional imagery with non-conventional representation.
Michael Platt, Entering Through the Green Door. Pigment Print.
Platt's subjects - "the marginalized and the survivors" - exist in spaces that are discarded - a bare forest, a drained fountain, a crumbling room. The self-described "image-maker" assumes the role of storyteller as the supernatural presence of a human figure stirs spirit back into these forgotten places. 
To see more work by Michael Platt please contact us at 202.234.5112

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About International Visions Gallery and Consultants
Our mission is to promote and provide contemporary multi-cultural original works to museums, private collectors and art enthusiasts by national and international artists. International Visions Art Consulting is committed to encourage cross-cultural exchange with diverse collections of artists from the Washington area and under-represented parts of the world.


Tim Davis, founder

Thursday, October 01, 2015


The President just delivered a statement on today's shooting in Oregon.

And one thing he said is certainly ringing in the minds of Americans across the country right now, no matter their politics:

"We are the only advanced country in the world that sees these shootings every few months."

As the details surrounding today's tragedy continue to unfold, this is something every American should watch.
Watch now.
The President speaks on the Oregon tragedy
Beltway Poetry Quarterly
We are entering the Fall season with a bang! The newest issue ofBeltway Poetry Quarterly is now available.

Beltway Poetry Quarterly is proud to announced the publication of "Nine Women Poets," featuring Elizabeth AcevedoDeborah AgerSunu ChandyMary Stone Hanley,Meta DuEwa JonesFatemeh Keshavarz,Sarah D. LawsonTyler Vile, and Suzanne Zweizig. Authors are represented by a larger number of poems than most literary journals provide, for an in-depth look at the work of a handful of authors from the greater DC region whose poetry we admire.…

What these nine diverse authors share is an intense engagement with the world around them. reflected in poems with a passion for justice, that address gender, race, the economy, and religion. As editor Gowri Koneswaran writes in her introduction: "Some of these poems bear witness to lived experiences that have, at long last, begun receiving critical attention—such as Mary Stone Hanley’s invocation of 'Amadou, Trayvon, Tamir, Michael, Eric, Sandra, all' in the first poem of the issue, 'Black Matters'; Tyler Vile’s candor in speaking about her body as a trans woman in 'Sex Hex' and 'Uterus'; and human rights attorney Sunu Chandy’s juxtaposition of a lighthearted experience among cousins with reflections on migrations across country borders in 'Just Act Normal.'"
The editor continues: "Other poems translate histories we may not know into evocations we can access through poetry—like Elizabeth Acevedo’s 'The Last Cacique' about the indigenous Taino woman leader Anacaona; Sarah D. Lawson’s meditation on the Jewish custom of celebrating a girl’s bat mitzvah in 'Thirteen'; and Meta DuEwa Jones’s 'Black Hymnal,' a poem dedicated to one of the four young girls killed in the 16th Street Church bombing in Alabama in 1963."
We are honored to present such powerful work by nine poets from the greater Washington, DC region. Their poems are accompanied by visual art by eight women artists with strong ties to the DC region: Mignonette DooleySusan GoldmanJudy JashinskyKathy KarlsonKathy KelerSheila RotnerBetsy Stewart, and Ellyn Weiss.

Issues of Beltway Poetry Quarterly are available for free.…

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Beltway Poetry Quarterly is an award-winning online literary journal and resource bank that showcases the literary community in Washington, DC and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic region.