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What is Poetry? Nuthin’ to Explain April 11, 2010: The body calls. The proper music is searched for, the dust blown away. Fond memories dance on air. Sorrow and disappointment are gently pushed aside. Like the night’s chill, the evils of the world are shuttered out, the room made warm, lights lowered, the fireplace lit. The body calls. Rhine glasses for one or two are blessed with amaranthine [...] by

A Hunt for Spoilers in the Deep of Jazz-Scented Night April 10, 2010: There’s something insidious about discussions on the origins of human consciousness in the west. Who’s going around taking credit for cooking up that uneaten mess of christianos y negroes? Make mine American. Frajos and rojitas make conversation crazy enough. Everyone knows eggs obbligato requires separating the yellows from the whites. Those [...] by

3-Word Sonnets and Poems Shaped Like Bears April 9, 2010: What about author intent? What happens when poets who specialize in the vernacular are assessed by poets who disdain it? What happens when the blues or sophisticated jazz rhythms are presented to the tone deaf, those with tin ears, or those who prefer other kinds of music? What happens when the poet who writes in tongues or religious fervor has [...] by

FEAR OF BLOGGING January 31, 2009: As a poet and writer, still struggling in the woeful margins of our society, gathering the courage and mustering the time to participate on HARRIET has been challenging. Too, being born on the cusp of the first Baby Boom—a post-WWII generation that refuses to kowtow to Father Time, but many of whose intellectuals remain stubbornly recalcitrant [...] by

WHAT TILLIE OLSEN TAUGHT ME January 31, 2009: Would that cultural, literary and community action panels were less about self-promotion (my book, my poem, my looks), more about the issues at hand—a true dialogue, if in brief, under the pressures of public scrutiny—and less dull (like those unfortunately bookish or ill-spoken, if deserving, souls who appear so frequently on C-SPAN). Perhaps [...] by

ON ORAL WORD— BEAT TO “DEAF” JAM SLAM January 30, 2009: Slams—once the bane of poetry, if the boon of grungy environs, has left the barrooms and stormed academia, as the first conference on hiphop and rap took place in Norfolk, Virginia at the turn of this century. Still—the Def Jam generation has yet to produce giants as impressive as Ginsberg, Kerouac and Kaufman, although it has been a joy to [...] by

BELATED VALENTINE January 30, 2009: Needing a quote for a project in 2006, I tracked down Eileen Kaufman, wife and amanuensis to poet Bob Kaufman (the Black Rimbaud, April 18, 1912-January 12, 1986), with the help of San Francisco’s Kush Cloudhouse. She was in an assisted-living facility in the Richmond, California area. After a number of false starts, we finally connected. She [...] by

A NATIONAL MUSEUM OF POETS & WRITERS? January 29, 2009: In the mid-90s I became aware of competing factions writing proposals for a museum celebrating American poets, from Antoninus to Zukofsky. I did not keep up with their progress—if any. It was a great idea, although criteria for such an edifice might prove a nightmare, given the diversity and pettiness of American poetry. Too, if I had my [...] by

MY OWN PRIVATE INAUGURATION January 28, 2009: It is January 20th, 2009 and I am here. I come from every state and territory, and from all over the world. I walked, I bicycled, I hitchhiked, I drove by car, I flew by plane, I rode the A-train—I watched on TV and listened on the neighbor’s radio. I am the millions who made the hajj to Washington, D.C., recorded and documented—bona fide [...] by

ASK January 24, 2009: Black History Month approaches, and, it seems, is amazingly becoming a daily affair with the election of Barack Hussein Obama as our nation’s new president. I have never seen so many identifiably African-American faces on programming outside of BET, if most of our females look like White women dipped in molasses. This is both boon and bane. The [...] by