The Decatur Book Festival!

Greetings!  If you are in or near Atlanta, Georgia, you should know that there is a terrific *free* literary event happening in your area this Labor Day weekend: the Decatur Book Festival.  I will be reading on two panels:

  • On Saturday, Sept. 5th, from 11:15-12:00 (noon), I’ll be reading with fiction writers Pam Durban and Kirstin Valdez Quade on a panel celebrating the 80th Anniversary of The Southern Review, a journal to which we have all been contributors.
  • On Sunday, Sept. 6th, from 3:45-4:30 p.m., I’ll be reading with Jericho Brown, Denise Duhamel, Laura McCullough, and Afaa Michael Weaver as contributors to The Best American Poetry 2015, edited this year by the one and only Sherman Alexie.

There are many other literary delights you might be interested in, covering topics from history to science, and genres from romance to kids books.  I’m looking forward to seeing the keynote event, featuring Roxanne Gay in conversation with Erica Jong, and appearances on Saturday and Sunday by Elizabeth Alexander, Samuel R. DelanySaeed Jones, Opal Moore, Sharan Strange, Marilyn Kallet, and John Jennings among others!  (So sad to be reading at the same time as Naomi Jackson!  Fiction lovers, go hear Naomi!)

Hope to see some familiar faces and meet some new poetry lovers while I’m at the Festival!  A lovely way to cruise into fall and the new semester . . . .


Black Poetry After the Black Arts Movement – An NEH Summer Institute

Institute Faculty & Speakers

Institute Faculty & Speakers

Greetings!  I’m spreading the word about an upcoming NEH Summer Institute, “Black Poetry after the Black Arts Movement,” to be held July 18-August 1, 2015 at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, KS.  The Institute is headed up by Dr. Maryemma Graham (University Distinguished Professor, University of Kansas), with Howard Rambsy (Associate Professor of English Language and Literature, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville) and myself serving as lead faculty for a week apiece.  I’m sure that some of you will be — or will know — someone for whom this might be a terrific opportunity.  Please see the message below and the embedded links for more details about eligibility and support for the program — and pass the info on!  Thanks!


The Project on the History of Black Writing Announces:

We invite you to learn more about an exciting two-week NEH summer Institute for twenty-five college and university teachers (including at least three advanced graduate students), filled with innovative scholarship, rich dialog, and fertile opportunities for advancing research.
  • When: July 18 – August 1, 2015
  • Where: University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
  • What: An NEH Summer Institute
  • Application deadline: March 2, 2015

What is poetry today? What has changed? How do we teach poetry and transform students’ passion for performance into meaningful analysis? This Institute seeks to strengthen the connections between foundational and contemporary forms of poetry, between the practice of poetry and today’s global society, and between the words and sounds and the spirit of black poetry that refuses to be denied.

If you are a current college or university teacher of American literature or near the end of your graduate studies in this field, please visit our website for more details about this exciting project, including further application instructions.  Adjunct and part-time lecturers are eligible to apply.  The stipend for this two-week Institute will be $2,100 for each NEH Summer Scholar, to help cover travel, housing and food.

Or, if you know of a college teacher who might be interested in applying to this Institute, please share this invitation with them!

When: July 18 – August 1, 2015Where: University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS

the pen and the sword

Sacco's response to the Charlie Hebdo shootings

The first panel of Joe Sacco’s response to the Charlie Hebdo shootings

Happy New Year!  If you can . . .

2015 has announced itself right away as a year in which violence is going to force us to think hard about race, gender, religion, and culture.  In this, it is not unusual.  But unlike other such years in recent memory, 2015 seems to be announcing itself to an audience/participant group (that’s us) that is not going to resist thinking with every ounce of will it can muster.  Reason for optimism, in my world.

This post is short — all my posts will be short, most likely — but I leave you with a link to one of the best responses I have seen to the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris.  I recommend it to anyone seeking to ask questions about this tragedy from a place that honors grief and freedom and the widest possible range of human/cultural self-expression and self-actualization.