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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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, […]

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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 […]

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Darkness and Light

We are living the darkest days of the year. Today in Washington, D.C., the sun rose at 7:21am and will set tonight at 4:48pm. Only 9.5 hours of light. As we inch toward the Solstice, darkness will grow and then we will make a turn toward the light. We will make a turn. At least […]

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Jeff Rath’s THE OLD UTOPIA HOTEL: Poems that Name and Save

Jeff Rath’s new poetry collection, The Old Utopia Hotel describes a world marked by sorrow, loss, and decay. This is a hard book. Its beauty lies in its honesty and its craft. While one might think poems about sorrow, loss, and decay are a bit heavy– and some are heavy– the craft, the delicacy, and the surprising […]

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Aaron Counts’ STRANGE-TONGUED NAMES: Aware and Alive

Aaron Counts’ new poetry chapbook, Strange-Tongued Names offers us the chance to look at ourselves. This talented poet asks us who we are, where we’ve been, how we love. These are beautiful poems, elegant and smooth in their craft. But they are also important poems, these poems can help us be our best selves: aware and alive. […]

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When Conversation Heals

My last blog post, The Bloody Summer of 2016, recalled the violence we watched unfold this summer. The police killings of unarmed Black people, the slaughter at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, the killings of police officers in various cities. On my return to school, our Head of School urged us to gather students to […]

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Writing and Teaching: The Bloody Summer of 2016

This has been a brutal summer. For sure, there have been some personal moments of tenderness and beauty. But taking a larger view, the summer of 2016 has been bloody. On June 12th, we woke to the horror of the massacre at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida. A gunman killed 49 people and injured […]

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Ethelbert Miller & I Talk Poetry, Jazz, Race, & America

Check out this great conversation here from “On The Margin” August 4th at 9:00am, where my friend, poet and literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller, and I talk about ACHE, my upcoming book of poems, on WPFW 89.3 FM in Washington, D.C. We had a beautiful conversation about poetry, John Coltrane, jazz, Nelson Mandela, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Henry […]

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