Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Poems: Nathaniel Mackey + Halloween Bizarrerie

Poems by Nate Mackey
MackeyI'm reading Nathaniel Mackey's newest collection, Splay Anthem (New Directions, 2006), now, and like all of his books--of poetry, fiction, criticism--it requires you to proceed slowly, word by word, line by line, in order that you don't miss the swift and subtle transitions, allusions and elisions, rhetorical shifts and shimmies that accrete to create each complete poem. Although I've met Mackey several times and heard him read twice, it wasn't until Eric Baus gave me a CD of him reading, which I'd listen to from time to time during the day this past summer, that his voice lodged in my consciousness, so now as I make my way through these newest songs of the Andoumboulou, I hear his gentle, lilting intonations under each line. I would argue that most of Mackey's poems, which are written in serial fashion, are non-excerptable, but this collection, like the others, includes poems in various sections, some of which can be broken off to be savored, so here's one section from "Song of the Andoumboulo 42":


Premature rebirth, fake book of the
dead. Burned or embalmed cosmic
body by default...Screen outside a
screen inside a screen, dreamt im-
munity. Said goodbye having
begun... Sang with a catch in our throats
cough caught in our throats...
Sang to
have been done with singing,
not enough

And here is one that seems to fit almost perfectly within the narrative of his haunting, philosophically profound novels Bedouin Hornbook (which none other than Thomas Sayers Ellis first introduced me to, back in 1989), Djbot Baghostus's Run, and Atet A.D.; it's from the poem "Song of the Andoumboulou 44":

It was a night nowhere near where
we were. Eyes popped, no one saw
me... I bit my reed, it was a black
bone... All I wanted was to
walk with an ushering wind at
each elbow, a bead of blood
poised on the bell of the horn's
lip... the world was only a dream I
dreamt at a stoplight in San Francisco,
Valencia just up the block
me alive

Copyright © Nathaniel Mackey, New Directions Publishing Corporation, 2006.

Halloween Bizarrerie
I haven't witnessed a car accident in a while (thank God), but I saw one tonight. A man in a pretty beat up Toyota was buzzing down my Chicago street; I say buzzing, because it that was the sound; it was clear his gears were audibly stuck or something. As he careered down the street, he was chatting on his cellphone. All of sudden, near the end of the block, he slammed right into the side of a white Jeep Cherokee that was the last legally parked car on that side of the street. My own little car sat almost right across from it. The man in the Toyota stopped after the crash, not getting out, not getting off that damned cellphone, then tried to back up, but his gears were stuck. As he tried to get away, a throng of children, teenagers and adults, many of them in full Halloween costume, rushed out of the building at the corner, right in front of where the Jeep was parked, and within a few seconds kids strolling the nearby streets joined them. Now the man realized he couldn't get away, so he stepped out of his car and started muttering something. I couldn't tell if he was drunk, but I did try to photograph his license plate. Because it was so dark, my cellphone picture was both dim and blurry. So I called out the license plate to the crowd around him, and one young woman repeated it aloud, which led several people to repeat aloud it to a woman who was on the phone with the police. As this was occurring, a young guy in a hoodie, standing pretty far away, starting chanting "Kick his ass! Kick his ass!" Please don't let a full-scale brawl erupt, I thought. But despite the frisson of the accident and its perpetrator standing there, no one appeared in the mood for a melee. The crazy driver got in his car, slowly backed it up (nearly hitting another car!), the drove it around to the cross-street, where he parked it. As he did this, smoke started to billow from his hood, and the gears ground furiously. A boy yelled out, "His steering wheel is on fire." Someone else announced the license plate number again. At this point, I figured they weren't going to let him get away, so I called out to the owner of the Jeep, "He was on a cellphone." That brought a nod of recognition and then a head shake. I went inside--who needed the Halloween Parade in Boystown with such hijinks going on? It was too bizarre, and the moon was only 3/4ths full!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Garry Wills on the Theocrats + Iraq Is Great, Jump Off a Cliff

Garry Wills on W's Theocracy
I haven't had a chance to get to some of the interesting books on the gathering theocracy in Washington, but I did recently read Garry Wills's recent piece, "A Country Ruled by Faith," in the New York Review of Books. To put it directly, he writes about the theocratic underpinnings of the current administration. He starts off by noting that from 1789 to 2000, no American government was "highly religious, specifically highly Christian, and even more specifically highly biblical"; then George W. Bush was appointed by the US Supreme Court, and the fix was in. Wills goes on to state throughout the piece, as he assesses the breadth of the extremists' governmental network of influence, that most Americans have no clue as to the extent of the Talevangelicals's (Dobson, Robertson, etc.) presence or power in our government, though at times it has come to the fore, such as when Harriet Miers' nomination occasioned an outcry and the tidy right-winger John Roberts Jr. and the less tidy Samuel Alito were placed on the Supreme Court. I'd add that that whatever outrages they've been involved in have been so regularly superseded by even greater ones, the Iraq-mire the greatest or worst of them all, that it would take a flowchart the size of one of the Grand Canyon walls to register all of them. I'd forgotten about John Ashcroft's demand that hospitals turn over information on all women having abortions back in 2001, or that attacks against abortion clinics had jumped from 209 during Bill Clinton's final year to nearly 800 during Bush's first--but then again, the horrorshow of September 11, 2001, effectively--and I mean this in the worst way--wiped the memory slate clean for so much of the crap the Bushites rushed to implement before that terrible, enabling event.

I urge J'sTheater readers to check out the piece. Some or even much of it you may know, but there are probably tidbits that you haven't seen before, such as the politicized buying off of Black ministers; of course this use of "taxpayers' money" ($1.5 million to a Milwaukee bishop, for example) fobbed off on Black folks provoked none of the usual Republican outcries, because, as Wills points out, Republican candidates implied that the bribes faith-based coins would be flowing only with their election. Of course there's much more. At any rate, Wills, an acclaimed historian, is quite thorough. He does, according to Tristero on the Digby (Hullabaloo) site, make several errors involving the creationist Discovery Institute. But overall it's an informative, fact-based piece, and it buttresses accounts by former insiders like David Kuo. It is probably fair to say that these crackpots should be kept as far away from federal governance as is humanly (and divinely) possible.

Iraq Is Great, Jump Off the Cliff
Okay, I'm pretty clear on what denial and delusion look like and how they function psychologically and socially. Nevertheless, I have a challenge for anyone who claims that Iraq is "great," "going well," that it's "better than the media portrays," that "Baghdad is as safe as Manhattan," or any of the other deranged rhetoric that we hear periodically. To those of you who spout this crap, I can't promise you any money, but I will blog about you if you can provide documentation (no fake pictures taken in Turkey, now!) that you are an American but not a member of the US military and that you've spent TWO WEEKS living in any part of that country (and this includes Iraqi Kurdistan) OUTSIDE THE HEAVILY PROTECTED GREEN ZONE, WITHOUT US MILITARY PROTECTION, à la former Chicago mayor Jane Byrne's famous stunt where she moved (for a nanosecond) into Cabrini Green, or Corey Booker's actual extended stay, during his council terms, in working-class housing project in Newark.

Because isn't it reasonable to expect that if you are continually asserting that it's so great over there--so great that our Secretary of State, Dr. Condoleezza Rice, had to fly corkscrew fashion into the airport for fear of getting shot down, so great that she had to wear a bulletproof vest, so great that she had to be helicoptered from the airport to the Green Zone lest her convey be blown up by a roadside bomb, so great that as she met with the Iraqi president the lights went off for a while, etc.--certainly some of the diehard champions of the great policy this country is currently pursuing there will have no problems fulfilling this simple challenge. Hell, Republican Congressman Peter King stated that "being in Baghdad is like being in New York." Wow, so it really must be great. I guess King can do us the honor of staying in Baghdad OUTSIDE THE GREEN ZONE, since it's so like Manhattan. I'd love to see a tape of him enjoying the "liberty" and "freedom" his overlord frequently brays on about; wouldn't you like to see him just strolling wherever he wanted when he wanted, as he might on 125th Street or 2nd Avenue or Maiden Lane or Broadway or West End Avenue, because as in Manhattan, a sniper's bullet or IED wouldn't blow a hair of that blowdried pompadour off his astoundingly vacuous head. Maybe some of those diehard Young Republicans or the Bush babykinfolk will do us the honor. Please. I mean, I'm from the most dangerous city in America (according to certain questionable methods), which is in the "Show Me" state, so please, show me and the rest of America how truth-based (as opposed to truthy) your rhetoric is. And hey, no resorting to the private security firms whose bills are devouring our "taxpayers' dollars," you hear? I suggest a week in either Nasiriyah or Basra, since we're constantly told that the "south" of Iraq is so safe, so great, so wonderful, so stable.

Meanwhile, back in the reality-based world, we have this military verdict on the president's brilliant, great, superb policies. It's enough to make you want to take up the Bible and the bottle simultaneously:
The top U.S. military commander in Iraq, Gen. George W. Casey Jr., predicted last week that Iraqi security forces would be able to take control of the country in 12 to 18 months. But several days spent with American units training the Iraqi police illustrated why those soldiers on the ground believe it may take decades longer than Casey's assessment....

"I wouldn't let half of them feed my dog," 1st Lt. Floyd D. Estes Jr., a former head of the police transition team, said of the Iraqi police. "I just don't trust them."....

[Jon Moore, the deputy team chief] estimated it would take 30 to 40 years before the Iraqi police could function properly, perhaps longer if the militia infiltration and corruption continue to increase. His colleagues nodded.

"It's very, very slow-moving," Estes said.

"No," said Sgt. 1st Class William T. King Jr., another member of the team. "It's moving in reverse."

THIRTY TO FORTY YEARS! But then today the President, at a spectacular neo-fascist style rally down in Georgia, shrieked: "the Democrat (sic) goal is to get out of Iraq," while "the Republican goal is to win in Iraq." God knows, if this debacle is "winning," we are beyond f*cked....

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Things and Such

Fall Is Here
"Season of mist and mellow fruitfulness / close bosom-friend of the maturing sun," John Keats's "Ode to Autumn" begins, but I've never been particularly enthusiastic about the fall. My favorite seasons are summer, by an overwheming margin (sun, sun, and more sun!), and then spring (breezes, rains, flowers, truly mellow temperatures), and I've always seen the fall, with its colorful, nudescent trees, its waning hours of daylight, and its rising chill, as the first step to those months I most dislike--frigid, freezing-rainy, sleety, snowy, dim December, January and February. The early evenings, like the cold winds (especially in Chicago) and graying skies take a psychological toll that not even a periodic trip to the nearby beaches, where the steel waves endlessly hammer against the shore before a sunlit horizon, can fully dispel. t also seems as though over the last few years, various personal tragedies involving those close to me have occurred during the fall, though this year, like last, has thankfully so far not taken that turn. (And then there is the fact that I'm away from C and home--and sometimes the distance seems like a continent instead of just half of one.) One fall sensory experience I do cherish, in addition to the sight of Halloween pumpkins and costumes and the flavors of Thanksgiving meals is the taste of cider and its aroma when warmed and mulled, with the right amount of cinnamon, cloves, brown sugar and lemon zest. I bought some cider today at the store, and I'll be mulling it on those evenings when the thermometer begins to drop below the mid 40s and the stacks of work-related materials start to touch the ceiling. I can already taste it now.

Tipton-Palmer Reading and the Gwendolyn Brooks Conference on Black Literature and Writing Keynote
Since we had a visiting fiction writer-in-residence at the university all week, I was unable to attend the 16th Annual Gwendolyn Brooks Conference on Black Literature and Writing at Chicago State University--which is all the way on the other side of the immense nation of Chicago--until yesterday. (Even by car it is quite a trip.) This year's keynote speaker was Walter Mosley; other honored writers at the event included Quincy Troupe and Louise Merriweather. I've seen all of the writers speak and read before, and even had the great fortune to be in an unforgettable Cave Canem workshop class led by Elizabeth Alexander at which Walter Mosley was present and sitting right beside me, drawing and offering gentle critiques and generally effervescing in that lowkey way of his (which led to me writing a poem on the spot that was, for all purposes, complete, a first for me), but I did want to catch at least some of the event, so I made my way down in time for the reception and

Walter's remarks, which, as were the case with prior ones he's delivered there and elsewhere, provocative, incisive and unwilling to let the audience off the hook. The gist of his comments last night were that we are to blame for the state of things; we don't speak up or out enough, and we should hold ourselves and those we call our leaders to far greater task for failures to address the crises of humanity, not only over here (Katrina, the prison population, etc.) but across the globe (Darfur, Iraq, the slave-labor camps in China, and elsewhere). We must be the instruments of action and change. It sounds pretty simplistic, but Walter wove in a great symbolic story about a man who isn't sure what's wrong with him but seeks a diagnosis, and can't deal with the physician's thorough examination to get to the root of the problem, to illustrate his point, and I thought as he wound towards his conclusion that his point hit home especially as we approach national elections that in so many cases are leaving us with few options except the better of two unappealing choices. The other highlight of every Gwendolyn Brooks Conference is seeing, talking with and spending time with all the great people who come through, especially writers I know. This year I got to chat briefly with the person who runs the conference, fellow CCer Quraysh Ali Lansana, meet and get Bayo Ojituku to sign my copy of his new, highly praised Chicago novel 47th Street Black; and hang out late into the night with poets Ruth Ellen Kocher, Matthew Shenoda, Gregory Pardlo, Delisia Daniels, Delana Damron, and the dynamic Chicago duo Toni Asante Lightfoot and Krista Franklin, and a few other of the other attendees and panelists. (How to get them up to Evanston, that is the question.) We even had the experience of witnessing a moment of live, contemporary minstrelsy, at the attendees' hotel in Oak Lawn (a couple dressed as a "Rastafarian" and a "Gypsy," with the man in brown makeup, no less), but I'll say more about that when I get the photos.

Earlier in the day, on my way south, I'd stopped in at the Harold Washington Library Center (one of the great treasures in Chicago) downtown to catch poets John Tipton and Michael Palmer inaugurate the 2006-7 Chicago Poetry Series. I'd never heard Tipton read before. Both were on form, and some of Tipton's work, in particular the final poem from his collection Surfaces, which drew from a theoretical concept by Noam Chomsky as well as the mathematician Richard Dedekind, was a revelation. (Come to think of it, I'd really only seen smaller pieces that had appeared on various online sights or in emails.) Palmer read from The Promises of Glass, The Company of Moths, and a new, gathering collection, introducing the poems with wit and a light touch, even as some of their thematic material had a sharp edge. I'd been babbling only the day before about how I try to will poets to read my favorites of their poems, and Palmer didn't disappoint, as he included his poem "Untitled," dedicated I believe to Pura López Colome, among his selections. (He did not read another of my favorites, the anaphoric gem "I Do Not Want," however.) At the risk of sounding like a poetry social diarist, I will note that among the attendees were my university colleagues, Reg Gibbons and Ilya Kutik (whom I'd never met before); one of the poets I most admire, Ed Roberson; organizer Margaret Sloan; and a host of younger Chicago-area poets, including my colleague Robyn Schiff, Erica Bernheim, Srikanth Reddy, Sarah Lang, and John O'Leary (I think I got his name right). I only got an opportunity to speak with both Tipton and Palmer briefly, but the reading put several bees in my ear for future university events.

Brazil's Incumbent Wins Again
Brazil's incumbent President, Luiz Inácio "Lula" da Silva (below center, Caio Guatelli/Folha Imagem) won reelection to the presidency of Latin America's largest nation, defeating former São Paulo state governor and physician Geraldo Alckmin in a 61-39% runoff blowout. Despite a series of scandals involving his party, the leftist-socialist Workers Party (Partido de Trabalhadores), that wracked his first term, Lula was strongly ahead in the polls leading up to the October 1 first round of federal voting (which also included balloting for Brazil's congressional lower house, one-third of the seats for its upper house, and the state governorships). Then, yet another spectacular new scandal, involving Workers Party members' alleged attempts to pay $770,000 (packed into a briefcase, no less) for dirt on Alckmin, exploded in September, leading enough voters across Brazil to back off Lula to deny him the absolute majority (51%) needed to win outright.
Lula venceu
In the month since, he has campaigned furiously, and used the allegation that Alckmin would privatize industries and cut off a popular program, Family Allowances, that underwrites food and other necessities for some 11 million families across Brazil, to regain popularity. According to the Folha de São Paulo, Alckmin did win the most populous and richest state, his native São Paulo, as well as the three wealthy southern states and three others, but Lula racked up wins across the rest of Brazil. Since he took office four years ago, Lula has been far from the fiery socialist he was during his previous four failed attempts at the presidency. He has generally pursued neoliberal economic policies, helping to bring inflation down, thus lowering the cost of goods, but has not enacted land reform or many of the other policies his party and its allies championed. Overall his success at creating decent wage jobs for Brazil's educated middle-class, as well as its undereducated poor, has been middling. In fact, he has governed more like the moderate leftist leaders of Chile and Uruguay than Argentina's Nestor Kirchner, Venezuela's Hugo Chávez, or Bolivia's Evo Morales, with whose country Brazil has been engaged in a dispute over gas shipments. One ongoing problem for Lula, which looks to worsen, is Brazil's problematic congressional system, which permits a wide array of parties to gain seats, thus requiring the president and his party (if they don't have an absolute majority, which they don't) to form alliances and coalitions, almost in parliamentry fashion, except that there is no prime minister. Lula will probably have to establish coalitions with parties to the far left as well as center-right to pass legislation (and some of the scandals of his first term involved payments by Workers' Party operatives to gain the support of the opposition), though it is more likely that he will encounter stalemates until he and his party clear a series of prosecutorial hurdles, which will certainly arise over the next four years. Unsurprisingly, he has promised dialogue with the opposition and political reform as his first orders of business.

One little-discussed change during his tenure has been the advent of affirmative action quota programs at various Brazilian universities. The University of Brasília (in the capital city and district) was the first to institute quotas, in the second semester of 2004, and after a period of public debate and then a hullabaloo that arose over the use of photographs to assess racial qualification, the program has generated much less controversy. (Similar programs are now operational at other federal universities, such as those in the state capital cities of Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Bahia, which have sizable to predominant populations of people of African descent.) I am not really aware of Lula's position beyond general support for the quotas, so I can't attribute their implementation to him; on other issues pertinent to Afro-Brazilians, he has made an effort to establish stronger ties not only with the Lusophone African nations such as Mozambique and Angola, but also with Nigeria, and has appointed at least one high-profile cabinet minister, musician Gilberto Gil. He has not, as far as I can ascertain, been particularly proactive on any other fronts in this regard.

Plane Crash in Nigeria

I read today about the terrible plane crash in Nigeria, in which over 100 people are thought to have died shortly after takeoff from the capital, Abuja. Among them were the chief spiritual leader of Nigeria's Muslims and several politicians. Usually I do not comment on here about tragedies of this sort (or post all the obits that catch my eye) because there always so many and I don't want the blog to become a repository for the macabre, but the scale of these losses is so awful and saddening....

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Brad Kessler @ the University

Brad Kessler's Visit
Birds In FallFiction writer, essayist and goat farmer* Brad Kessler was the visiting fiction-writer in residence at the university this past week. Kessler is the author of several books, including the novels The Woodcutter's Christmas, Lick Creek and Birds In Fall, as well as several highly-regarded books for children. As per usual custom, he spent a week in the undergraduate Writing Major Program, reading and speaking with the senior-year students, talking to the upper level class, and giving both a reading and a talk. His reading on Thursday night was one of the highlights of his visit; he read from the first chapter of Birds In Fall, and I would suggest to any fiction writers that close study of the opening chapter of this book could serve as an instructional unit, particularly given the precision of his prose, his skillful ordering and placement of imagery, figuration and incident, and his masterful juxtaposition of lyrical first-person narration and dramatic action (to put it mildly). On Friday he delivered a talk on poetry's consolatory power, and explored how John Keats's "Ode to a Nightingale" worked, in his opinion, its particular magic for him. He placed it in part in the incantatory, musical aspects of the poetry, and how its logic and statement at times work against, or in tensive relation to, the various deft aesthetic choices (such as the succession of assonant "ow" sounds, to evoke a howl, etc.). During a downtime chat earlier in the week, we'd spoken earlier about turning to poetry at times of crisis and consolation, and I'd mentioned how both abstruse, seeming nonsensical but very musical and lyrical poems, as well as specific content-heavy works, sometimes did the trick for me, but I also recalled how at one point I found myself turning and returning to a poem I find both inordinately beautiful and painful, Robert Hayden's "Those Winter Sundays," whose insistent music and statement both seize your attention. (Reggie H. of course recalls the time I walked around the area behind the monastery at Esopus, memorizing this poem for Michael Harper's and my own satisfaction--and I'm glad I did!) The ending of that poem is one of the finest in literature: "What did I know, what did I know, of love's austere and lonely offices?" Who has not felt that more than once in life? At any rate, it was great to spend time with Brad, who's funny, knows his stuff, loves fiction and poetry, has a New Yorker's sense of strolling, and seems like he'd be a great person to study with. I highly recommend his work, especially Birds In Fall.
*He also makes his own goat-milk based cheese; I could not find a fancy word for this profession, though I know there is one. I even came across it once in a dictionary and once online. Does anyone else know this term?

Friday, October 27, 2006

St. Louis Cardinals Win World Series!

The Saint Louis Cardinals won the World Series, defeating the Detroit Tigers 4-2 to take the Major League Baseball Championship, 4 games to 1! The scrappy 83-78 team that was given up for dead before the playoffs began defeated the San Diego Padres and then the superior New York Mets to win the league championship and now, after walloping Detroit, they have their 10th Series championship, placing them second after the New York Yankees in baseball history.

I especially have to give it to the starters. Jeff Weaver, Anthony Reyes and Jeff Suppan all pitched far above what they showed all season, and Chris Carpenter returned to his mid-season form with a combined shutout. The closers also pitched far above their regular season form, especially their late season performances, when the team fell into a swoon and nearly lost their division. The position players also really played superbly, getting hits when they really needed it, and never letting up. Series MVP David Eckstein (a towering 5'7") set the pace by batting .364 and driving in 4 runs, but Scott Rolen and Yadier Molina, who had the lowest average of any regular season starter in the league at .216, also got on base repeatedly and finished with a .412 average. Albert Pujols was able to slack off a bit after carrying his teammates for much of the season (his 19 regular season homers (out of a total of 49) to put the Cardinals in the lead and win games was one of the highest totals since this stat has been recorded.)

But it wasn't only the Cardinals' great play, though; the young and unseasoned Detroit team's many errors were crucial. Luck always plays a role, and the Cardinals capitalized on almost opportunity. In fact, had Manager Tony LaRussa taken a different tack in the second game, in Detroit, the Cardinals very could have wrapped it up in 4 games instead of 5. But 5 was perfect.

The Cardinals usually have their World Series trips bunched up every 20 years, and they usually win at least one, so I'm glad they did it this year!

C A R D I N A L S!!!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

NJ Supreme Court on Same-Sex Marriage + Voting + WS + Congrats to Jess + Ciudidano Cero

Oh well--Blogger continues acting up. After I'd corrected the link to Zack Barocas's review (thanks Reggie, for pointing it out) and added "more" of what I had intended to add to yesterday's post, particularly after I learned about the New Jersey Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, Blogger again wouldn't either save or let me access the page, and so I lost a good portion of the post. I did copy over some of it, so I'm posting that below.

NJ Supreme Court Issues Ruling on Same-Sex Marriage
Yesterday at 3 pm the New Jersey Supreme Court issued a "compromise" ruling stating that the New Jersey State Constitution required equality of benefits for all persons, which is to say, same-sexual couples, under state law, yet it also said that there was no specific right to "same-sex marriage" in the Constitution, and left it to the state legislature to figure things out. Ironically enough, in light of the national Republicans' anti-gay and anti-same-sex marriage stances, the retiring Republican chief justice, Deborah T. Poritz, dissented, going further than the rest of the court by stating that in fact that gay marriage should be legal. The majority left the decision in the hands of the Democratic-controlled state legislature, which now has about six months to decide whether the state will allow civil unions, gay marriage, or some differently named, expanded version of the domestic partnership law that now exists. Since New Jersey has no law barring out-of-state couples from marrying in state, as Massachusetts does, it could quickly become the chief destination for same-sex couples from other states who seek then to launch lawsuits in their home states. (Some pundits are already crowing that this will empower the anti-gay right, but my sense is that after Foley-Kolbe-page-gate, and the outings of vile Republican hypocrite closet-case US Senator Larry Craig and, most recently, Florida's GOP gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist, gay marriage's motivating power for the Talevangelicals has been considerably blunted.)

My feelings about marriage and same-sex marriage are complex, and while I have many criticisms of the institution of marriage as it's developed over the centuries, I nevertheless think that same-sex couples should enjoy equality under the law without hesitation. C and I signed up for the domestic partnership option not long after New Jersey instituted it, but it isn't universal across New Jersey and has little to no legal standing outside the state. With a marriage or civil union option, we and other couples could receive equal and transferable treatment, I imagine, in Vermont and Massachusetts, and vice versa, and as more states shift to some comparable form of equality, either by legislative or judicial means, a same-sex version of the Full Faith legislation will come into play. Yet for now federal discrimination continues. Returning to New Jersey, I'm curious to see how far the Democratic legislature, under the guidance of a progressive governor, Jon Corzine, is willing to go. New Jerseyans are pretty open-minded--increasingly so on social issues--and have already ratified domestic partnerships, so I don't see either civil unions or same-sex marriage, called that, as being too much of a leap. But we'll see.

Vote, Vote, Vote
I voted last week via absentee ballot, and I want to urge all J's Theater readers to vote in the upcoming federal and local elections. Every election is important, but the upcoming one is crucial. It could determine whether we have two more years of unimpeded, reckless misgovernment in Washington or something resembling, however indistinctly, a functioning divided governmental system of checks and balances. In my own case, I had to try my best not to retch as I cast a vote for Robert Menendez, the current sitting Democratic junior Senator from New Jersey. He's in a very tight race against a laughably underqualified Republican scion, Tom Kean Jr., whose aristocratic, self-styled "moderate" father, Tom Kean Sr., one of New Jersey's former governors, has been part of the Bush administration protection racket for the last few years. Kean Sr. not only did his best to shield Bush from any real scrutiny while serving as the co-chair of the 9/11 Commission, but just recently he served as a front for ABC's right-wing version of narrative leading up to the Al Qaeda attacks in 2001 and the early period of the US War in Afghanistan. The son, for his part, has been a dear friend to a number of business interests and doesn't turn down a corporate fundraising dollar if it comes his way, but far more worrying is the likelihood that he'll become the good little Republican zombie he was born to be and will enable George W. to continue his reign of tyranny.

Yet Menendez leaves a lot to be desired as well. Scandals ring him like rain clouds. His associates have been the subject of valid state and federal investigations, and as a member of the Hudson County Democratic organization, he has had ties to Bob Janiszewski, the disgraced former County Executive who wore a wire for the Feds and ended up being convicted of extortion and tax evasion. Moreover, Menendez was constantly battling Jersey City's beloved first Black mayor, Glenn Cunningham (who tragically fell dead before completing his first term), and maintains an extremist position, out of step with the Democratic Party and many fellow Cuban Americans, on Cuba. On top of this, he voted for George WPE's and the Senate Republicans' horrible torture bill, the anticonstitutional Military Commissions Act of 2006, which is utterly inexcusable or unforgivable. (Reggie H. has a very thoughful piece on this very bill.)

So what to do? There were Green, Libertarian, Democratic Socialist, and other candidates on the ballot, but I effectively saw this vote as coming down either for Kean Jr.-Bush or against them, so it had to be Menendez. Still, if he is indicted after winning, I hope our dear progressive-leaning governor, Jon Corzine, appoints someone who's not so tainted with the whiff of corruption. I know he wanted to make history by appointing the first Latino Senator from New Jersey, but there certainly have got to be other Latino Democratic figures--or figures of any race, gender, etc.--who could better represent the state.

The Democrats need six seats to retake the US Senate. It looks like Menendez will hold his seat, as will Democrats in Maryland (Cardin is barely ahead of Steele), Minnesota (Amy Klobuchar is well ahead of Mark Kennedy), Washington State (Maria Cantwell leads Mike McGavick), Michigan (Debbie Stabenow has opened up a widening lead over ultrarightist Dick DeVos), and a number of safe states (Massachusetts, New York, etc.). Democratic candidates in Rhode Island (Sheldon Whitehouse), Ohio (Sherrod Brown), Montana (Jon Tester) and Pennsylvania (Bob Casey Jr.) are leading their incumbent Republican opponents. In Missouri (Claire McCaskill vs. Jim Talent), Tennessee (Harold Ford Jr. vs. Bob Corker), and Virginia (Jim Webb vs. George Allen), the races are very close and could go either way. One thing I'm realistic about is how conservative some of the Democratic candidates, like Casey Jr. (who is anti-abortion) and Ford Jr. (who is about as right-wing a Black Democrat as you're going to find) are, and how easily they buy into the right-wing rhetorical echo machine without actively challenging its illogic. Yet I also keep in mind that if the Democrats win the Senate, the committee chairs will include the likes of Pat Leahy, Tom Harkin, Carl Levin, Kent Conrad, and others who are likely to press investigations and provide an overt challenge to the Bush-Rove juggernaut of signing statements, steady arrogation of unitary executive power, and complete and total suppression of Congress's oversight roles. The Republicans have decided to dump $5.5 million into the Kean Jr. campaign, but I hope it will turn out to be as bad of a decision as their focus, late in 2000, on pumping up Bush in New Jersey. He lost, history records, by a sizable margin to Al Gore. I'm not at all for wasting more than $5 million, but if it's going to a good cause, like stripping the Republicans of another dangerous weapon, I'm all for it.

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Detroit Tigers
PujolsThe World Series has begun, and as of last night, the St. Louis Cardinals lead the Detroit Tigers 2-1 in wins. All of the pre-matchup hooplah basically dismissed the Cardinals as also-rans, and suggested that they would be trounced, in four games or, as Bernie told me, one wag suggested "three." Although they swept the San Diego Padres and defeated the National League's best team, the New York Mets, in 7 games, the Cardinals weren't given much of a chance. Detroit, which trounced its opponents for most of the season and then handily won in the post-season, was the overwhelming favorite. (And Detroit fans I know have been predicting a rout.) Yet the Cardinals won the first game 7-2, behind stellar pitching by rookie Anthony Reyes and timely hits, and after dropping the second game in Detroit, to a pine-tar-palmed Kenny Rogers (this drama continues to fill airwaves and Internet discussion boards), their Cy Young-winning starter Chris Carpenter took the mound in St. Louis Tuesday night and threw 8 shutout innings. The rain forestalled last night's game and if it's all stormy in St. Louis as it is today in Chicago, there may be another day's delay. Either way, the Cardinals have exceeded the expectations of all the naysayers, and with hope, they'll win the whole damned thing and be done with it.

Congratulations to Tyehimba Jess
LeadbellyCongratulations go to fellow CC brother and extraordinary poet Tyehimba Jess, who was awarded a 2006 Whiting Writers Award for his poetry. Jess's first book of poems, the National Poetry Series-winning volume Leadbelly (Verse Press, 2005). A wonderful brotha and an exceptional book of poems! Congratulations!

Rey Emmanuel Andújar's Ciudidano Cero
Ciudidano CeroThis past spring I wrote about picking up one of the exciting young Dominican author Rey Emmanuel Andújar's (at right, in Ciudidano Cero) books at the International Festival of the Book/Feria Internacional del Libro in Santo Domingo. He dropped a few comments in to J's Theater, and has continued to send me updates on his projects. For anyone in Santo Domingo this November, he'll be presenting his ongoing "laboratorio," which take the form of a performance piece entitled Ciudidano Cero (Citizen Zero) at the Santo Domingo International Theater Festival, which runs from November 9-19, 2006. (There is another piece, entitled "Cero," by Waddys Jácquez, which also will be going up, but according to the press note, the pieces are dramatically different.) The press note also states of Andújar's project, begun in 2001, that "es el resultado de un laboratorio desde la dramaturgia del escritor al texto ejecutado desde la miseria del circo caribeño partiendo de un cruce antropológico con la cultura Hip-Hop dentro de la estética marginal" (roughly: "it is the result of an experiment from the writer's dramaturgy, a text created out of the the misery of the Caribbean circus, starting from an anthropological crossing with Hip-Hop culture within a marginal aesthetic/aesthetics of the margin.") Andújar's email includes a link to a video, posted on YouTube, that features scenes from "Ciudidano Cero," with the hiphop group Lo Correcto. It's well done, and if you haven't heard any Dominican hiphop, want insight in musical form into the experiences of DR's poor and working-class youth, and have no familiarity with Andújar's work, it's a fine introduction.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Second Sun(day)ing

Thanks to Blogger, I lost a longish post last night. In it, I talked about my participation in a reading at Emily Evans's, Krista Franklin's and Toni Asante Lightfoot's Second Sun Salon this past Sunday at Naïeveté Studios on Chicago's Northside. (I also see that yet again, Blogger is posting a "Scheduled outage at 2PM PDT" at the head of the posting page--is this a sign of a trend now that Google has snapped them up?) A. Tacuma Roeback, Erin Teegarden (who's one of the lights behind the Rec Room readings in Chicago), and Maria Eliza Hamilton Abegunde, an incredibly luminous poet and fiction writer, were on the bill, as was I. It was exciting to read with them, especially since this was the first opportunity I'd had to present more than a few pieces from Seismosis since it was published. Toni (pictured above, at right, after the event) joined me in an improvised reading of "Analysis II," one of the poems that, in dialogue with the drawings that precede and face it, as well as with several other pieces with a similar name, attempts to embody textual simultaneity. I'd never read this piece before, but Toni gamely agreed to try it with me, and the experience was thrilling (and led to really engaging conversations afterwards, including one with one of Chicago's most talented younger playwrights, Idris Goodwin). I was reminded of a performance by two of my former students, Tai Little and Eileen Korte, several years ago, at Northwestern's Senior Writing Major end-of-the-year readings; they read a section of parallel texts from Tai's brilliant honors novella, and the effect was electric. I had a similar initial impression (at least) of the reading by John Ashbery and Ann Lauterbach I saw this past summer of Ashbery's "Litany," though the senior poet's phlegmatic manner and flat tone somewhat dimmed the effect after a little while. The experience got me to thinking what it would be like to hear Samuel Delany, Thomas Glave, Chris Mazza, Deborah Richards, Mark Danielewski, John Cayley, or the late John Cage, to name a few of the people who immediately came to mind, reading some of the parallel texts in their works simultaneously. The aural experience is quite different from the nearly impossible visual one, especially with each of these authors' denser prose texts.

I'll try to post more later, but I always want to note that Seismosis received what I believe is its first online review, by poet Zack Barocas. It's a brief but perspicacious piece that drives right to the core of what Chris and I were trying to do--and did. Thanks, Zack!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Black Performance Studies Conference

Another pinnacle of this past week was the Black Performance Studies Symposium, organized by two of my colleagues, E. Patrick Johnson and Dwight McBride, that took place at the university this past Saturday. I was trying to think of superlatives to describe it, but I'll suffice by noting that although I was getting over a cold contracted the prior weekend and felt exhausted from all that was going on during the week (teaching and administrative duties, etc.), I eagerly got up early on Saturday morning and spent almost the entire day listening in enthrallment to discussions with which I had only some familiarity (I am not a scholar of performance theories or studies, though I incorporate what I know of them into most of my courses and work), taking copious notes that I realized only afterwards filled nearly six pages. The conference confirmed for me that this is one of the most exciting areas of humanities-centered inquiry occurring these days. There was not a speaker from whom I did not gain some new insight. To give a sense of the panelists, I am reproducing a condensed version of the schedule below:

Black Performance Studies: A Symposium
9:00-9:30 Introductions: E. Patrick Johnson,
Northwestern University
Welcome: Barbara O'Keefe, Dean, School of Communication, Northwestern University
Opening Remarks: Harry Elam, Stanford University
Dwight McBride, Northwestern University

9:30-11:00 Panel 1
Moderator: Margaret Thompson Drewal, Northwestern University
Keynote: Awam Ampka, New York University
Archetypes, Stereotypes and Polytypes: Theatres of the Black Atlantic
Faculty Respondent: Hershini Young, SUNY-Buffalo
Student Respondent: Olateju Adesida, Northwestern University

11:15-12:45 Panel 2
Moderator: Tracy Vaughn, Northwestern University
Keynote: Brandi Wilkins Catanese, University of California-Berkeley
Are We There Yet?: Race, Redemption, and Black.White.
Faculty Respondent: Paul Bryant Jackson, Miami University of Ohio
Student Respondent: Javon Johnson, Northwestern University

2:00-3:30 Panel 3
Moderator: Jennifer DeVere Brody, Northwestern University
Keynote: Louis Chude-Sokei, University of California-Santa Cruz
"The Darky Act Makes Brothers of Us All": Pan-African Soundings of the African American Voice.
Faculty Respondent: Sandra Richards, Northwestern University
Student Respondent: Lori Baptista, Northwestern University

3:45-5:15 Panel 4
Moderator: Huey Copeland, Northwestern University
Keynote: Daphne Brooks, Princeton University
"Fucking A": Toward A Genealogy of Black Feminist Profanity
Faculty Respondent: Harvey Young, Northwestern University
Student Respondent: Tamara Roberts, Northwestern University

5:15 Closing Remarks:
Stephanie Batiste, Carnegie Mellon University

I was familiar with the work of my university colleagues (like Patrick, Dwight, and Jennifer), but not with some of the other scholars, or I'd only read essays by them or sections of their books (Daphne Brooks), so it was refreshing to hear about their new research and to hear them engaging in dialogues with other figures in the field and with the non-academic participants (this is one of the regular features of many of the university's scholarly events that I most enjoy, the presence and participation of non-scholars). Particularly revelatory for me were the theoretical frameworks involving archetypes, stereotypes and polytypes, and Afromodernities and countermodernities that Ampka laid out, which made me think about a brief email exchange that I'd had a while back with Mendi on the topic of archetypes (and my failure to pass on to her a not-very-interesting essay in a reader I've used in that past); Louis Chude-Sokei's tracing of a geneology (which Sandra Richards deftly praised and problematized) between cross-intra-racial minstrelsy (in the embodied performances of Bert Williams) and networks of pan-African performance and performative circulations, ranging from Carnival celebrations to hiphop, as well as his discussion of the now "un-marked" aspects of African-American popular culture, as a sound-sign-system for American imperialism, and the resultant backlash, in African Diasporic sociocultural systems; Brandi Cattanese's discussion of Ice Cube, the narrative of progressivity and the horribly failed experiment of the TV show "Black.White"; and Daphne Brooks's recuperation of minstrelsy's "dark humor" in the cultural production and work of Josephine Baker, Suzan-Lori Parks and Kara Walker. It would not be too much to say that Brooks helped me to rethink in some key ways my habitual (conflicted) responses to Walker's work, though I wish I could have had the chance to ask her about audience and expectations, which is to say, the sociopolitical space in which Walker's artifacts (are expected to) perform.

The audience's questions and responses were also excellent and provocative; more than once Hershini Young, Stephanie Batiste, Daphne Brooks, and others posed questions or formulated comments that reframed the talks and led to new insights on the discussions at hand. One concepts that were burbling both here and at the Cave Canem conference were "resistance" and "authenticity"; certainly performance studies and other theoretical interventions, like generations of African-American literary and cultural production--African-American lives and living, have called into question any simple notions of the Black authentic, as Elizabeth Alexander I believe labels it in her study, The Black Interior, and yet condensed, indexical and sometimes reductive notions of Black authenticity (or any other kinds of authenticity, relating to gender, class, sexualities and sexual orientations, etc.) inhere, not only outside the theoretically open space of conferences like this, but sometimes inside them. It was enlightening to hear how performance studies scholars and practioners interrogated--that's an academic word for you--often through discussions of a variety of performances, various kinds of authenticities. Another recurrent concept was that of minstrelsy, as a central site of inquiry; although I've read a range of books on the topic, I found myself opening my mind to other ways of thinking about minstrelsy's historical and current work in our society, in its numerous forms. As I've felt often after such mind-enriching experiences, I hope that some of this brilliance enters the broader public discourse, especially the Black public sphere(s).

One irony for me, which I voiced to my colleague Jennifer Brody, however, was that at a performance studies conference there wasn't more, well, innovation in performance of the material. I couldn't stop referring to the Cave Canem 10th Anniversary celebration, which included a number of moments that broke the usual performer-audience spell, including, as I've shown below in some of the photographs below, Ronaldo Wilson's concluding statement of 25 pushups; Tonya Foster's disembodied panel presence and uncanny moments of interjection during the New Media panel, and the playing of Mendi + Keith's "The Pink of Stealth" foxhunting game for the audience and Duriel Harris's audioclips; Toni Asante Lightfoot's and Meta Sama's (as well as the audience's) participatory intervention involving Tim Seibles's reading of his poem "Faculty Meeting," which was one of those indelible moments that could never have been scripted; Doug Kearney's electrifying performance of his poem-pieces-critiques at the Outer Workings Panel; Reggie Harris's recitational march down the center aisle, as people kept asking, "Where's Reggie?" to conclude the Schomburg reading; Cyrus Cassells's and others' valentines to Dante Micheaux and Jericho Brown, and other moments of performative interpersonalitextuality at that same reading; and so many more instances of embodiment, space-expanding and boundary-breaking, and so on. Perhaps one expects poets--artists--to be so daring (though so few so seldom are)--but I do hope at a future performance studies event, if I am invited to attend, that more and varied kinds of performances are on display, though the performance of Black scholarship itself, of luminous minds actively cogitating and engaging each other, was a delight and, I must add, never depicted in our mass media. (This is true even for Black-owned and focused media.)

The day (or evening, since things ran till 11 pm!) ended with a remarkable performance, E. Patrick Johnson's staged reading (at left, my cellphone photo) of selections from his upcoming book, Sweat Tea, a collection of some 50 or so oral histories of black Southern gay/sgl, bisexual and transgender men. Patrick introduced and then read about 7-8 excerpts, or rather performed them, literally, changing his voice, speech patterns, gestures, movements (though seated), to embody the characterizations the oral histories conveyed. Some of the accounts were hilarious, some very sad, but all seemed to me to capture the richness and nuances of men whose lives are rarely depicted in any media. (Being from the upper south/lower midwest, I felt many moments of direct recognition.) The speakers ranged from a 24-year-old who was battling heterosexism to a 90+ year old resident of New Orleans who, pre-Hurricane Katrina, lived in the French Quarter. In addition to the parallels and divergences of the narratives, what fascinated me was that although the words themselves conveyed what we might consider to be mimetic representation of the men's lives--they were the men's actual words, shaped certainly and mediated by Patrick--Patrick's skillful performance, which included moments of improvisation, served both to enhance the mimesis and yet also to foreground the artifice of the performance, engendering a space of dialogue, of call-and-response, between scholar-interviewer-actor-performer and interviewees, as well as between the absent interviewees and their performed selves. Patrick mentioned that he wasn't going to add critical commentary to the interviews (except in terms of the introductions), but as soon as he said this, I thought of how the performance itself, and the dialogue afterwards with the audience, represented a kind of critical engagement of the sort that isn't always credited by academe. Respondent D. Soyini Madison spoke about this eloquently in her remarks after the performance, and also spoke of Patrick's ethical approach to representing and revealing these lives (which ar ein some key ways , of course, so close to and yet distant from his own). It made me think that when the book is released, it would be great to have both selections of the live interviews and Patrick's or another actor-performer's performances of them--as related forms of textual production, on CD or DVD, to accompany the text itself. It was the best way to end what was an extraordinary event.

I have many more thoughts, but I'll stop here and welcome comments, thoughts, and anything else!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

More Photos from Cave Canem's 10th Anniversary Celebration

Ditto the last post, which is to say, what a week it's been! Every time I thought I'd post, I found myself doing something else that was necessary, or I couldn't muster the mental energy, and then I looked up a week had passed. Among the highlights of course were the Cave Canem 10th Anniversary Celebration and Reunion, which included some of the most exciting and engaging panels and readings I've attended in a while. The best aspect of the event, if I can single one out, was just seeing and spending time with so many friends and acquaintances I haven't seen in a while. I wished that I could see many of them more often; some of the Chi crew were in town, but so many other fellow CCers live all across the country, and world.

Below are some more photos from the weekend (and Blogger appears to be taking quite a while to upload each of them!), which only barely capture the general feeling of exhilaration--and I know I wasn't the only one who experienced it. Anyone interested in contemporary poetry--African-American or American--could pick up the work of any of the poets shown below, or many others who were present, and learn quite a bit. To all of them, to Cave Canem's founders, Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady, to Carolyn and Sarah Micklem, to all the Faculty members, and to all the other folks who made the celebration happen, I say thank you for a remarkable weekend, and I can't wait to see you all again!

PS: If I've misidentified anyone, please don't hesitate to send in corrections!

From left: Khary Polk looking on at the Black aesthetics panel; Mendi Lewis Obadike's father is noting something in his program; Gina Dorcely is standing against the wall, and sitting in the corner are Erica Hunt and Cherryl Floyd-Miller. I think Tracie Morris is on the right, head bowed.

Reggie Harris and Douglas Kearney having a laugh after the panel

Before the politics panel; Tracy Morris at far left, Nehassaiu DeGannes (?) in the black jacket, DJ Renegade at far right

From left: Gina Dorcely, Sean Hill, and Toni Asante Lightfoot

The New Media panel: from left, Evie Shockley, Duriel Harris, Mendi Obadike, Keith Obadike (and Tonya Foster on the phone)

Audience the New Media panel; Holly Bass is in the center of the picture (visible in the front are Tyehimba Jess and Ronaldo Wilson)

From left: Julie Patton, giovanni singleton (back turned), Erica Doyle, Monica Hand, Reggie Harris

Krista Franklin striking a pose (I asked her to)

Mother Sonia Sanchez reading at the Faculty Reading

People milling about after the Faculty reading; DJ Renegade (Joel Dias-Porter is wearing the baseball cap) is chatting with Brian Gilmore, Tim Seibles is holding papers in his right hand at center, Evie Shockley is wearing the shawl at right

Tim Seibles and Herman Beavers (Karma Johnson has her back turned to the camera) after the Faculty reading

Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon (Patricia Smith is visible over Lyrae's right shoulder)

Tracie Morris, a beautiful poet whose name I don't know, and Patricia Spears Jones (I believe Aracelis Girmay is one of the poets in the background)

The "Inner Workings" panel at St. Mark's Church, from left, Dante Micheaux, Ronaldo Wilson, Gloria Burgess, Phebus Etienne, Jacqui Johnson, and Ross Gay

The incomparable Dante Micheaux

From left: Yolanda Wisher Johnson, giovanni singleton, Kate Rushin (one of the first poets I ever heard read her work live), and Harryette Mullen

People watching the Great Day photo in Union Square--Thomas Sayers Ellis is styling on the right

Teri Cross, Holly Bass, and Krista Franklin posting for a photo

The same photo from another perspective; in the foreground, Valerie Jean; at back in the left, Tracy K. Smith and Jericho Brown

Brandon Johnson, John Murillo, and Toni Asante Lightfoot (Cornelius Eady is visible at right)

Michelle Courtney Berry, CC co-founder Cornelius Eady, Yona Harvey, Terrance Hayes, Brian Gilmore

Some of the many amazing poets getting their photos taken

Mothersista Cheryl Clarke at the Sunday LGBT reading at the Schomburg Center (Photo by C)

Monica Hand (Photo by C)

Dante Micheaux (Photo by C)

Mendi Lewis Obadike (Photo by C)

Venus Thrash (Photo by C)

Reggie Harris, one of the organizers of the Sunday reading (Photo by C)

After the Schomburg Center reading; Keith Obadike in the foreground (Photo by C)

Audiologo, Doug, and Keith

Jstheater himself, with Bryan Glover and Reggie Harris

At the after-rading gathering at Native, in Harlem, from left: Ronaldo Wilson (back turned), Remica Bingham, Venus Thrash, Hallie Hobson, Shia Barnett, and Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

Remica, Venus, Hallie, Shia, Dawn Lundy Martin, Dante, and at far right, Samiya Bashir, one of the organizers of the Sunday reading

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Scenes from the Week So Far

What a week it's been, and it isn't over yet. Here are some scenes from the week.

The artist Niz working on some projects at Naïeveté Studios, before Second Sun

Krista Franklin checking out some of Niz's paintings on skateboards

Hugh Spector's storyboxes, seen from above

Niz speaking about her work

Adriennne Rich, before her reading at the university, on Wednesday (National Coming Out Day); my colleague Robyn Schiff and I hosted a discussion with her earlier in the day, and I'll post that soon.

The Black aesthetics panel at the Cave Canem 10th Anniversary Celebration. At the table, from left, Greg Tate, Elizabeth Alexander, James de Jongh, Yusef Komunyakaa. Farah Jasmine Griffin, standing, was the panel chair.

A shot of the video screen showing Mendi + Keith Obadike's "The Pink of Stealth" project, at the CC10C New Media panel.

Sonia Sanchez reading, at the CC10C faculty reading, Friday night (it was 4+ hours of extraordinary poetry)

Ronaldo Wilson's closing statement (25 push ups!) at the CC10C "Inner Workings Panel" at St. Mark's Church, yesterday (at the table, also on the panel, from left, are poets Dante Micheaux, Gloria Burgess, Phebus Etienne, Jacqui Johnson, and Ross Gay.