An Open Letter to Americans on Immigration

Dear Americans: Raise your hand if you chose your birthplace. I see no hands going up. Raise your hand if you earned, paid for, negotiated to be born in the United States. Again, no hands. I am not trying to be obnoxious. But the questions above mean to assert a simple, clear, but often ignoredContinue reading “An Open Letter to Americans on Immigration”

Poems of Memory & Sorrow- CROSSING THE RIFT: North Carolina Poets on 9/11 and its Aftermath

I once thought Lucille Clifton was the only American poet who wrote anything worth reading about 9/11/2001. For awhile, she was. Her simple, searing poems moved me in a world that had gone mad with patriotism, anger, and revenge. Years later, I was at St. Mary’s College of Maryland for a reading, where Clifton taughtContinue reading “Poems of Memory & Sorrow- CROSSING THE RIFT: North Carolina Poets on 9/11 and its Aftermath”

Pamela Uschuk’s REFUGEE – Poems of Beauty & Anger

Pamela Uschuk is, in my view, one of our country’s best poets. Her new book, REFUGEE, shows precisely why. Her poems rise up from careful craft, scattering beauty, detailed descriptions, merged with an anger at injustice and a persistent hope for the world that we could create. Her insistence, that her poems are not justContinue reading “Pamela Uschuk’s REFUGEE – Poems of Beauty & Anger”

Frederick Douglass: The American Founder

He was born into slavery in Talbot County, Maryland, approximately seventy miles from Washington, D.C. His mother was sent to a neighboring plantation shortly after his birth, he recalled never seeing her in the light of day. He endured the horrific poverty of enslavement as a child, never having clothing for the lower half ofContinue reading “Frederick Douglass: The American Founder”

Block 13 Kakuma Refugees Need Your Help

These people are the most vulnerable refugees in the world. I have been in touch with people here for over a year. I know some of them. They have become my friends. Here are some basic facts about their situation. I hope you will read this and consider taking action. As of this writing, JuneContinue reading “Block 13 Kakuma Refugees Need Your Help”

If You Love the Living, Get Saida Agostini’s “let the dead in”

Poetry books work in different ways. Some teach, some inspire, some surprise, some provoke. Saida Agostina’s collection, let the dead in, reminds me. It reminds me to remember the richness of living, the beauty of love in places we don’t expect. This beautiful collection of poems is a tap on the shoulder, followed by thisContinue reading “If You Love the Living, Get Saida Agostini’s “let the dead in””

Trayvon Martin’s Murder Changed Everything

When Trayvon Martin, a 17 year-old Black child, was murdered in Sanford, Florida, I was teaching at Carroll High School in Washington, D.C. I taught in the English Department and directed the school’s Writing Center. That year, I was teaching nearly all seniors. Carroll High School was more than 90% Black and those students taughtContinue reading “Trayvon Martin’s Murder Changed Everything”

Keeping Watch: Refugees Guard Refugees in Block 13 Kakuma Camp, Kenya

It’s hard to imagine what it’s like for my friend, Deo, to keep watch through the night in Block 13 of Kakuma Refugee Camp. The night is dark. The sky is salted with stars, maybe a moon offers some light. Maybe he sits in complete darkness. I am sure he listens and watches. Hoping forContinue reading “Keeping Watch: Refugees Guard Refugees in Block 13 Kakuma Camp, Kenya”

A Radical Transformation: Martin Luther King Day, 2022

A powerful, necessary, and provocative gift came into the world on January 15, 1929. Of course, at the time, no one knew it. He was a preacher’s son in Atlanta, Georgia, largely protected by his family, from the destructive power of white supremacy. He went to Morehouse College, where he realized his reading skills wereContinue reading “A Radical Transformation: Martin Luther King Day, 2022”