Tuesday, March 25, 2014


Poor boy took all he had, started down the road,
Carried a four course load,
And that's no way to get along.

The D.C. flag was looking a bit rag timey as I crossed over. But I was back, rolling into town for reunion.

Nearly three decades after earning my doctorate from the George Washington University, I was back to give a lecture supplying some historical context to the poetry of the Dasein group of poets. My framework was a poem published in Burning Spear in tribute to a performance of The 'JFK' Quintet at the Bohemian Caverns.
The Caverns, built under a drug store, had started out as Club Caverns, had then crystalised, and became bohemian in time for the Beat era. The club was a burnt out shell in my day, but has now been gentrified and singularized; evidently there's only one cavern today.

Mr. Hugh was there, chief U.S. apostle of Swami Gotchyanumba.

AND I visited Howard University, scene of my first full time teaching position, to meet with Meta Jones's students, grad and undergrad. The class, as it happened, met in the same room as my last class there, just down the hall from the office I'd shared with poet Calvin Forbes. Wonderful meeting the young minds that hold the fort where I once worked -- The city has changed so much, but O brave new world / that has such people in it.

And that'll be the way to get along.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014


I'd originally wanted to go to the U.C. Merced conference on the Black Arts Movement because it was one in a series of events that were to lead up to Amiri Baraka's 80th birthday. When news of his death came in January, I wanted even more to attend, and reconfigured my paper a bit to start at the beginnings of Baraka's long discography of recordings with musicians, with further installments to follow (including at the ICA in London next month). At Merced, I was part of a panel titled "Word, Sound and Power," with papers by Geoffrey Jacques on Langston Hughes's The Panther and the Lash and Anna Everett on teaching Black film and other media of the era. And let's face it, I'd go anywhere to see Juan Felipe Herrerra with a banjo.

Another attraction was the chance to meet up with so many old friends, and to make new ones. In the audience at our panel I discovered somebody who had been a student at Federal City College in the same years I was there.  

We all owe a deep debt of gratitude to Kim McMillon, President of the African Diaspora Student Association, and her many colleagues and students who pulled off such a vibrant weekend, starting pretty much from scratch.