E. Ethelbert Miller, Another Busy Week…

23 Apr

Another busy week. I’ve been working everyday on my E-Channel.  This is my one year interview project with the novelist Charles Johnson. It’s challenging trying to develop several questions each week. A number of people have suggested this project be made into a book, among them Jerry Ward and Stanley Crouch. It’s something I might consider but it’s not on my things to do list right now. Next year I hope to spend a year interviewing the presidential historian Doug Brinkley.

Yesterday morning I spent about an hour walking around under Dupont Circle (in Washington D.C.) with a group of representatives from various arts organizations. Folks are trying to reopen the abandoned Dupont Circle trolley station to promote and showcase visual arts, design, and performing arts. The space is huge. It was strange walking around in the dark with flashlights. There is no way I could be a miner. Here is a link to the Arts Coalition for the Dupont Underground: www.dupontunderground.org. I will be working with the advisory board.

Talking about boards, much of my time during the next few weeks I’ll be working on the restructuring of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS). This is a major task but an exciting one. I’ve been chairing the IPS board for almost 8 years. IPS is the leading progressive think tank in the country. What an amazing group of fellows and activists we have. I’m constantly learning about issues that are changing the world. This type of work has an immediate impact on my poetry and creative work. Just last week I was in Northern Virginia, reading my poetry at a cultural event organized by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. After the program I participated in a candlelight vigil and march to the Alexandria’s Potomac River coal-fired power plant. We would like to close this place down and end the pollution of regional air.

New books come into my space everyday. Here are some recent titles:

  • The Heart of The Race Problem: The Life of Kelly Miller by Ida E. Jones
  • Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris & Charles Molesworth
  • The Indignant Generation: A Narrative History of African American Writers and Critics, 1934-1960
  • The Art of Gaman: Arts and Crafts from the Japanese American Internment Camps 1942-1946 by Delphine Hirasuna
  • Camera Obtrusa: The Action Documentaries of Hara Kazuo

Hey – the new issue of Poet Lore is out. This is the oldest poetry magazine in the US. It was founded in 1889. For the last several years I’ve been editing it with my friend Jody Bolz. In our latest issue you can find the work of Kelly Cherry, Jan Beatty, Marie- Elizabeth Mali and David Wagoner. You can also read the last radio interview with Lucille Clifton that was conducted by Grace Cavalieri.

Upcoming trips (for me) in the next two months will be to Minnesota and California. I’m excited about conducting a workshop and giving a reading at The Loft in Minneapolis. I love the Twin Cities. In California, I’ll spend several days in the Bay Area. I’ll walk around and remember June Jordan. It’s important to keep some people in the center of your heart. It’s a reminder of how to love and what the living should always do.

E. Ethelbert Miller is a literary activist. He was born in 1950 and grew-up in the South Bronx. A graduate of Howard University, he was one of the first students to major in African American Studies. Today he is the board chair of the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank located in Washington, D.C.  Mr. Miller is also the director of the African American Resource Center at Howard University, a position he has held since 1974. In 1996, he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Literature from Emory and Henry College. Mr. Miller is the former chair of the Humanities Council of Washington, D.C.  The author of several collections of poetry, he has also written two memoirs, FATHERING WORDS: THE MAKING OF AN AFRICAN AMERICAN WRITER (2000) and THE 5TH INNING (2009). FATHERING WORDS was selected by the D.C. Public Library for its DC WE READ, one book, one city program in 2003. His poetry has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, German, Norwegian, Tamil and Arabic. Mr. Miller has taught at UNLV, American University, George Mason University, and Emory and Henry College. For several years he was a core faculty member with the Bennington Writing Seminars. Mr. Miller is often heard on National Public Radio.

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