Thursday, July 28, 2011


Last Spring, about the time I was working up the syllabus for the seminar I was to offer at the University of Kansas, Steve Tills got in touch with me about doing a chapbook of my poetry. I've always admired Steve and his "chappers" and so was happy to agree to the project.

BUT THEN . . . turns out the chapbook is being produced in Lawrence, Kansas, the very week I am to arrive in town.

In an earlier post I noted my first meeting with poet Jim McCrary. Jim not only contributed the blurb for the chapbook and saw it through press, he arranged for a publication reading in the series at THE TAPROOM downtown. The event started out with an open reading -- Due to unusual tech problems, I don't have a full recording of the event and so don't have the names of all the readers, though Kara Bollinger and Mary Dockery, both participants in the seminar, both read new work.

The other featured reader was Crystal Boson, who, according to Pank magazine, is fascinated by both bacon and roller derby, and whose poetry has appeared in Callaloo. Her own chapbook is The Icarus Series (she did seem to be flying perilously close to the sun that day).

Lots of old and new friends in the room - I couldn't have asked for a better way to celebrate the new chapbook.

The new book is from Hank's Loose Gravel Press.
To inquire about getting copies, contact or

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Just back from two weeks at the University of Kansas, where I'd been invited to teach a graduate seminar for their Summer Institute for Rethinking Literature. The subject of the seminar, and of the public lecture I delivered while there, was contemporary African American Experimental Poetry and Poetics.

Found myself working every day with an exciting and engaged group of scholars from whom I learned much in the course of our discussions.

I don't know what your idea of a summer vacation might be, but three hours a day reading and talking about poetry with this group was just what I needed to get through that heat wave that enveloped most of the country this July.

As it turned out, my time in Kansas coincided with the final stages of the Women's World Cup, so it was off to the Buffalo Wild Wings Grill to watch the championship game on their big flat screens.

At the close of the seminar, we all went to "The Pig" (don't ask) for a final and joyful goodbye.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Burning Kansas Remembers Gil Scott Heron

Saw this display in a window on Massachusetts Street in Lawrence, Kansas last night on my way to the poetry reading. It's going home with me. Thanks to the store staff.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

In Lawrence

I'm at the University of Kansas for their Institute for Rethinking Literature. Whenever I'm about to start rethinking literature, I like to meet up with a poet for drinks first. Jim McCrary (note the San Jose State baseball cap here depicted) kindly welcomed me to the Free State Grill, where I got a John Brown Tee shirt. Jim shared his memories of David Bromige with me. Max Douglass was someone Jim had known both in California and Kansas -- If you've never heard of Max Douglass, you should first read Kenneth Irby's great poem For Max Douglass and then you should try to locate a copy of Douglass's Collected Poems.

From Jim's own poetry, here's a passage out of Dive, She Said:

Some too will agree
it doesn't go
towards our finish
when that might be
fence and
moving fast

Ahh what's the use
we do go on
this old way

Friday, July 08, 2011


I'm heading off to the University of Kansas for their Institute for Rethinking Literature.

If you happen to be passing through Lawrence, be sure to drop by --

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Ed Roberson - Winner of the 2011 Stephen Henderson Award

The Stephen Henderson Award for achievement in literature was established by the African American Literature and Culture Society in memory of one of America's most respected literary critics, the author/editor of Understanding the New Black Poetry. This year it was my honor to introduce Ed Roberson on the occasion of his receipt of the award in Boston. It was my last official act as president of the society and I could not have asked for a better way to finish my term.

Ed read passages from his most recent book, To See the Earth before the End of the World, and was greeted by an enthusiastic audience.