• LHughes copy
Joe'sDjembe

2018: Protest, Write, Heal, and Drum

2018 is here. As my American Literature students know, Henry David Thoreau urges us to “live deliberately.” They also know that Langston Hughes wrote repeatedly about the tragedy of “a dream deferred,” part of which can be understood as the need for intensity and focus in pursuing our dreams. One thing I’ve learned in this life […]

Continue Reading · 2
IMG_1163

Gratitude & Free Throws

As 2017 comes to its end, the daylight grows and we move toward more light. I love these days between the Winter Solstice and Christmas– and the first days of the new year, 2018. As a teacher, I have these days off but am looking forward to the new semester, its students, its poems. These […]

Continue Reading · 1
Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C.

When Your Doctor Says “Cancer” — Part Two

Two months ago today, a urologist at George Washington University Hospital diagnosed me with low-grade prostate cancer. It’s interesting how the mind and heart internalize that kind of information, over time. While this diagnosis is likely very manageable and treatable, my mind has gone to several places with it over these last two months. As […]

Continue Reading · 3
Boulder Bridge, Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C.

When Your Doctor Says “Cancer”

About a month ago, I was diagnosed with low-grade prostate cancer. It was not discovered because of symptoms, but through a regular blood test during my annual physical exam. In fact, I feel great. Back in the summer, my annual physical showed a slightly elevated PSA, the common test for prostate cancer. My primary doctor […]

Continue Reading · 13

Sarah Browning’s New Poetry Collection: KILLING SUMMER

Few poets can navigate the personal and the public. Sarah Browning is one of those rare poets. Her new collection, KILLING SUMMER, from Sibling Rivalry Press, makes its way beautifully through these rich and challenging waters. These poems think, they remember, they push, they lament. I will be reading and thinking over these poems for a […]

Continue Reading · 1
AmLitHughes

Teaching Matters

America is churning these days. We have so much work to do, so much justice and goodness to build that it sometimes feels overwhelming. In these days just past the Charlottesville events, we are reminded again, how racist, violent, and cruel our country can be. We have to name these realities and face them or […]

Continue Reading · 5
IMG_2133

The Lesson of August

There is something glorious about August. For those of us whose lives are marked by the academic year, August marks the beginning of the end of summer. It’s warm. It’s alive. It’s green. August teaches me to savor everything. August is thirty-one days of bliss. While it marks the beginning of the end, it’s not […]

Continue Reading · 1
IMG_2135

Poetry, Justice, and the Holy Cross Sisters

Sometimes a poetry reading turns into something you do not expect. One of my readings last month became more beautiful than I could have planned. This summer has held many readings in support of my new book, Ache. Two of those readings were in South Bend, Indiana, where I lived for many years. The first of the […]

Continue Reading · 1
FDHouse

This Is No Time to Celebrate America

We have too much work to do. We have too much cruelty to confront. We have too much that needs healing. This is no time to celebrate America. While that might sound harsh, it’s how I’m thinking about this July 4th, 2017. It is no time to celebrate America when police officers are killing unarmed […]

Continue Reading · 0
LoganHoops

Hidden Hoops No. 1 #HiddenHoopsDC

When I was a boy, I played basketball in the alley behind our house. Our neighbors put a backboard and basket up above their garage door and we played there year round. In the summer, we had a light out there so we played until 9:00 or 10:00 at night. During the school year, I […]

Continue Reading · 0
MONTGOMERY, AL - MARCH 25:  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaking before crowd of 25,000 Selma To Montgomery, Alabama civil rights marchers, in front of Montgomery, Alabama state capital building. On March 25, 1965 in Montgomery, Alabama. (Photo by Stephen F. Somerstein/Getty Images)

Strangers Can’t Build Dr. King’s “World House”

How well do we know the challenges others face? How much do I know about what worries people of color? How deeply do I understand the fears of people who are different from me? The answer is often: not very well, not very much, not very deeply. In Rev. Martin Luther King’s final book, Where Do […]

Continue Reading · 0
james-baldwin-time

2017: The Year of Speaking Up!

Here we are. The first day of 2017. We are in a world seared by war, racism, fear, and indifference. We, as writers, teachers, and citizens, must make this the Year of Speaking Up. In the United States, we have elected a president who demeans women and minorities, who mocks handicapped people, who threatens a […]

Continue Reading · 0
undergroundrrtrail

2016: Remembering Small and Beautiful Moments

2016 might mostly be remembered for its disheartening presidential campaign. The mocking, cruel, and dishonest language by the Republican nominee will not go away any time soon. But there were other events, mostly small, in the life of this poet-teacher, which brought beauty and joy into the world. Here are some reflections on these events, […]

Continue Reading · 0
giotto_nativity

Christmas & Vulnerability

I love the Christmas story. While belief presents me with other challenges, loving the story is easy. The story being simple– God becomes human. And the details of that humanity matter. They matter a lot. God becomes human in a child born in peril, in a vulnerable place and time. This child was not born […]

Continue Reading · 0