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Ethelbert Miller’s E-Box: Books & Friendship

A few times a year, Washington, D.C. poet and literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller (and his wonderful wife) put together an E-Box for another poet. An E-Box contains books specifically chosen for that poet from Ethelbert’s vast personal library. But it contains more than books. Its best gift is the friendship and kindness which the books can only represent. I count myself fortunate to have received the final E-Box of 2013. But more than the books, I count myself fortunate that Ethelbert is a poet-brother and a friend. As I’ve said introducing him to audiences on a few occasions, Ethelbert builds Dr. King’s Beloved Community “one poem at a time.”

Many people have asked me to let them know what books the E-Box contained. I’ll do that here because it’s a fascinating and rich collection. But more importantly, I want to point out the best gift in this box: the friendship.

One day last week, Ethelbert emailed me to inform me the E-Box was ready so I went to his house that night. The E-Box waited on this dining room table, decorated with letters and stickers of baseballs, numbers, hearts, and of course, plenty of E’s. We sat at his dining room table where we talked and laughed until his wife came home.

When I got home, here’s what the E-Box contained:

1. a lovely card with a kind message from Ethelbert
2. The Colour of Anger by Nigerian author Naiwu Osahon
3. Who Took the Weight: Black Voices from Norfolk Prison Intro by Elma Lewis
4. Soul Mountain by ago Xingjian
5. Ar’n’t I a Woman: Female Slaves in the Plantation South by Deborah Gray White
6. Encounters with Chinese Writers by Annie Dillard
7. Eating the Honey of Words by Robert Bly
8. A Revolution in Taste: Studies of Dylan Thomas, Allen Ginsberg, Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell by Lewis Simpson
9. Almost a Woman by Esmeralda Santiago
10. Daphne’s Lot by Chris Abani
11. Illusion & Reality by Christopher Caudwell
12. Rediscovering America: 35 Years of the NEH
13. Alone with America: Essays on Poetry Since 1950 by Richard Howard
14. Poem Story Poem by Jill Jorgensen Hill
15. Blue Benn Review: Bennington Writing Seminars
16. Mississippi Writers: Reflection of Childhood & Youth, Ed by Dorothy Abbott
17. The Call of Stories, Ed by Robert Coles
18. Liliane by Ntozake Shange
19 Man Made of Words by M. Scott Momaday
20. Hail Babylon by Andrei Codrescu
21. Storyteller by Leslie Marmon Silko
22. She Has No Place in Paradise by Nawal El-Saadawi
23. Atlantis by Samuel R. Delaney
24. What There Is: Crossroads Anthology Ed. by Heather L. Hirsch
25. Less Than One: Essays by Joseph Brodsky
26. William Faulkner: Man & Artist by Stephen B. Oates

Thanks Ethelbert!

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