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The Opposites of August

August is my favorite month. It always has been. I love August because it is the month, in the northern hemisphere, when one can feel summer in its full, unrestrained power. August means sunshine. August means rich, full, green trees. August means short pants and bare feet. August means the beach. August means swimming. When […]

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“Voices of Haiti” — Our Common Humanity

I have never seen a more stirring and crafted fusion of poetry, photography, and music, than in “Voices of Haiti: A Post-Quake Odyssey in Verse.” Poet Kwame Dawes, composer and poet Kevin Simmonds, singer Valetta Brinson, and photographer Andre Lambertson combined their significant collective talents to create a masterpiece. “Voices of Haiti” gives voice to HIV-positive […]

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The Necessary Truth of Deserts

When I was a boy, my family frequently camped at Joshua Tree National Park, a huge and beautiful desert park in Southern California. It was there I learned to savor and love deserts. While we often think of deserts as barren, empty places, they are nothing of the sort. At first glance, deserts can seem, […]

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MEETING BONE MAN in La Jolla

Many thanks to Dennis Wills, of DG Wills Books in La Jolla, California, where we had a terrific reading on Saturday night, July 7th. I’m so grateful to the many friends and family members who made their way to La Jolla on a cool, quiet Saturday. DG Wills Books is an amazing bookstore, packed from […]

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Remembering My Father: Sam Ross 1918-2012

It’s hard to find photographs of my dad by himself. That alone, speaks volumes about the man he was and the life he lived. This photograph, taken at a little restaurant in Ramona, California, near San Diego, captures his generous spirit: his smile, his joy at being with one of his granddaughters, his good humor […]

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Neruda’s Last Books

Last week, I received the last two William O’Daly translations of Pablo Neruda’s poems from Copper Canyon Press. Neruda’s second-to-last book, The Separate Rose, is a book-length poem about his trip to Easter Island. The final book is The Sea and the Bells. This book is made up of poems found on Neruda’s desk after […]

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Split This Rock 2012

The Split This Rock Poetry Festival, 2012 is now a few weeks behind us and I want to share some reflections on this terrific event. For me, it was 4 days of renewing friendships, making new ones, hearing remarkable poetry, and gaining energy for the journey. The photograph to the right, taken by Alan King, […]

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Piotr Gwiazda’s “Messages”

Piotr Gwiazda’s new book of poem Messages is a beautiful book that certainly has something to say. Pond Road Press has come up with a unique and interesting kind of publication. Messages is essentially a chapbook of poems, 45 pages, followed by 13 pages of an interview with the poet. This format allows the reader a sampling […]

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Poetry & Graffiti on the Red Line

Knowledge Commons, DC is “a free school for thinkers, doers, and tinkerers…” It’s a creative and innovative organization run by the magnificent and energetic Lucy Burnett. Knowledge Common’s core belief is that everyone should be able to take classes and everyone should teach classes. I’ve participated twice now in their programs and have loved the […]

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Spring’s Slow Walk

This past week, as I walked to my car in the early morning, I heard songbirds everyday. Soaring melodies and low laughs. The sun was just warming the horizon, adding its cast of morning orange to the black sky. This is how we do Spring in Washington, D.C. It’s slow. We’ll have a 70 degree […]

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“Poetry Out Loud” at Banneker

I became a convert. A couple of weeks ago, I served as a judge for the Poetry Out Loud competition at Washington, D.C.’s Banneker Senior High School and I became a convert. I used to think that poetry recitation contests were a little dry and that I’d rather use my energies to help students write […]

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Yusef Komunyakaa’s Voice

I heard Yusef Komunyakaa read on Thursday night of this past week, at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. The reading was part of the Folger Shakespeare Library’s O.B. Hardison Poetry series. It was a thoughtful, rich reading. I have read Komunyakaa’s poetry for years but had never heard him read. It’s always interesting to […]

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Split This Rock Poetry Festival 2012

Once again, the poets are coming to Washington, D.C. From March 22-25, 2012, Split This Rock Poetry Festival takes place here in Washington, D.C. This will be the third Split This Rock Poetry Festival, previous Festivals took place in 2008 and 2010. I have participated in all three of these Festivals and they are magnificent […]

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Chinua Achebe’s “Chike and the River”

Chinua Achebe is one of the world’s literary treasures. His novels and short stories have moved and taught us for decades. Recently, I revisited one of his stories, that I read many years ago in high school. It moved me again, though in more nuanced ways. Chike and the River is one of those rare, […]

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Melanie Henderson’s ELEGIES for NEW YORK AVENUE

Melanie Henderson’s new book, Elegies for New York Avenue turns remembering into a fine art. Winner of the 2011 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, the poems in this book are moving, generous tributes to the human skill of remembering. New York Avenue, like many places in Washington, D.C. is at once changing, and at the […]

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Dr. King’s “Ten Commandments”

When we think of the skills required in political movements, we often consider shrewdness, a willingness to destroy the adversary, and clear communication as the essentials. It’s useful to explore what Dr. King expected, and required, of those who would join his protest movement. In his book, Why We Can’t Wait, which is the story […]

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