2 comments on “Ananda’s #HeartofHaiti Post: Sending Haitians Positive Energy on Their March 20th Presidential Election”

Ananda’s #HeartofHaiti Post: Sending Haitians Positive Energy on Their March 20th Presidential Election

 

Yesterday I listened to a discussion about former Haitian President Jean-Betrand Aristide’s plans to return to Haiti after a seven-year exile in South Africa on NPR’s Tell Me More. Tell Me More host Michel Martin and Jacqueline Charles, the Caribbean correspondent for the Miami Herald, engaged in a lively discussion about the impact of Aristide’s return on Haiti’s presidential run-off election on March 20. Click here to listen to the show.  Former First Lady Mirlande Manigat and pop singer Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly are the presidential candidates.

Martin and Charles’ discussion reminded me of the many presidential candidate posters I saw on houses and buildings during my recent trip to Haiti as a Heart of Haiti blogger ambassador in February.  Sweet Micky”s posters appeared to dominate Port-au-Prince, Croix-des-Bouqets, and Jacmel. No matter who wins the election, I hope and pray Haiti’s next president will help stabilize, heal, and rebuild Haiti and the lives, families, and businesses of her daughters and sons.

0 comments on “Celebrating E. Ethelbert Miller, One of My Favorite African American Poets”

Celebrating E. Ethelbert Miller, One of My Favorite African American Poets

E. Ethelbert Miller

Greetings All,

Today I am celebrating poet and literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller, the “godfather of poetry” in D.C.  I met Ethelbert in the early 90s at Howard University’s Afro-American Studies Resource Center.  Ethelbert has been the Director of the Center since its inception in 1974.  During our first meeting, Ethelbert became my literary mentor and brothalove friend.  Since then, Ethelbert has played a major role in my literary work.  That’s why I had to write a poem about him for my new book That Which Awakens Me (available on Amazon.com – http://tiny.cc/7uFsg).  See the poem below. By the way, I call Ethelbert “E-bert.”

To learn more about E-bert, visit his web site –  www.eethelbertmiller.com and blog – http://eethelbertmiller1.blogspot.com.

FYI – Yesterday, Ethelbert sent me a Twitter message about his February 11th interview on NPR’s Speaking of Faith.  The show’s theme is “Black and Universal.” It is rich and juicy!  I think the interview will give you an opportunity to really learn about Ethelbert is as a person and how he thinks.  Click here to listen to the interview:  http://speakingoffaith.publicradio.org/programs/2010/black-and-universal.

Enjoy!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for E-bert’s Passion for Poetry and Black folks,

Ananda

Excerpt from That Which Awakens Me

Copyright 2009 by Madelyn C. Leeke

Ethelbert

Inspired by E. Ethelbert Miller’s City as Memory: Lyrical City
Writing Workshop held at Busboys and Poets on May 3, 2009.

#1

Toni told me I had to go and meet Ethelbert if I wanted to
take my poetry to the next level.

Every couple of weeks, she reiterated her recommendation.

Before I made the call, I walked to Vertigo Books on Dupont
Circle and read some of Ethelbert’s poetry.

His words felt like jazz improvisation that could easily be
featured on one of WPFW’s radio shows.

It teased me to the point of curiosity.

So I took the plunge and called Ethelbert.

The first thing I noticed when he answered the phone was a
genuine kindness in his voice.

My ears heard the welcoming tone of a long lost friend.

Hints of New York City appeared in the middle of his soft
spoken sentences.

The rhythm of his conversation opened my heart and invited
me in.

#2

My first visit with Ethelbert happened on a sunny day.

I think it was springtime in 1994.

I had just published my second chap book of poetry and was
rather proud.

We met in his office located in Founders Library on the campus
of Howard University.

His desk was filled with paper and books.

I think we might have even had some tea.

Our conversation was just that … a conversation.

It included shared interests, questions, stories, laughter, pauses,
and comfortable silences.

It traveled down Georgia Avenue, waved at the Wonder Bread
Factory, found itself on 4th Street, got dizzy going around
Anna J. Cooper Circle, and came all the way back up to
Georgia Avenue before parking itself in front of the School of
Business.

Before I left, I mustered the courage to ask him to review my
work.

His smile offered a generous grin as he extended his hand to
receive a copy of my lavender chap book of poetry.

We hugged and agreed to meet again.

That afternoon as I walked across Howard’s campus to Soul
Vegetarian Café, I realized I had just received my first taste of
Ethelbert’s mind and humor.

And it was delicious.

#3

Ethelbert left me a message on my answering machine.

It was the kind you wanted to keep forever.

It started with one of his trademark phrases, at least the ones
he used with me.

“Hey Love. This is Ethelbert. I read your work and would like to
talk with you about it.”

I quickly called him back and scheduled an appointment.

This meeting was different from the last one.

I can’t remember what the weather was like, how his office
looked, or whether we had tea.

All I can remember is he talked and I barely listened.

When he opened my chapbook and attempted to review each
poem, I could only focus on the red pen marks that decorated
most of the pages.

Although Ethelbert was kind in his delivery, I was naïve and
unprepared to receive his comments and suggestions as the
D.C. godfather of poetry.

They stung me and left an open wound.

If I had been by myself I probably would have started singing
the blues like Billie Holiday about how my creative heart lost
its virginity before it is was ready.

#4

It took me a minute to digest and accept Ethelbert’s comments
and suggestions.

I purposely stayed away from his delicious mind and humor
for months.

They were a dangerous combination.

At one point, I felt comfortable calling him to say hello, but
when he asked me what I was working on, I gave him a vague
response because I didn’t want him to know about or review
my work ever again.

One day I found the courage to read Ethelbert’s feedback.

It forced me to unpeel layers of myself and dig a little deeper
to find my own voice.

#5

I was at work early one morning.

From my office window, I could see autumn leaves falling
from trees in Dupont Circle Park.

D.C. traffic was moving at its normal pace.

It kept me company as I logged onto my computer.

My AOL account announced loudly, ”You’ve got mail!”

It was a message from emiller698@aol.com.

By this time, Ethelbert had become E-bert in my world.

My eyebrows raised themselves up and past my forehead as I
read his request for a poem that would be included in a poetry
anthology he was editing for Black Classic Press.

As I sipped green tea from my Starbucks cup, I wondered,
“Why did he write me?”

Maybe he made a mistake.

Turns out it was no mistake.

E-bert wanted an original poem by moi.

My creative heart was no longer naïve.

So I sent one I had just written about my grandfather dying
with no expectation of publication.

When E-bert wrote back and said my poem was fine, I couldn’t
believe my eyes.

I called him to make sure he was really serious.

Something happened inside me when I heard him say, “Hey
love, your work is beautiful. Keep writing.”

It took me a few years to figure it out.

It was an act of someone noticing my maturation as a writer
who travels inside herself daily to fi nd her voice in each
subsequent moment.

It was a gift my creative heart needed to receive.

And one only E-bert could give.

0 comments on “Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm’s autobiography Unbought and Unbossed”

Celebrating the 40th Anniversary of Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm’s autobiography Unbought and Unbossed

Greetings All,

Today I listened to NPR’s Tell Me More with journalist Michel Martin and learned that 2010 marks the 40th anniversary of Congresswoman Shirley Anita St. Hill Chisholm’s 1970 autobiography Unbought and Unbossed.

I first learned about Sistalove Shirley when my mother Theresa supported her 1972 presidential campaign.  She was my mother’s shero and later became mine.  Sistalove Shirley ran for Congress and headed to Washington, D.C. in 1968 to represent her Brooklyn community.  In 1972, she became the first woman and African American to run for president of the United States.  She had her own mind and was a true force of nature.  Sistalove Shirley rocked her entire life and always told her truth in her own words.  Her legacy inspires me to do the same.  FYI – I wrote a poem about her in my new book That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (available on Amazon – http://tiny.cc/7uFsg).  See below.

During Tell Me More, Martin spoke with one of my favorite filmmakers Shola Lynch, who created the film “Chisholm 72: Unbought and Unbossed,” and Barbara Ransby, a professor of History and African-American Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago.  Click here to listen to the show (17 minutes): http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122984022.

Poem

Chocolate Bar (from That Which Awakens Me’s Chapter Two: Girlhood Memories. Defining Self.Identities. Archetypes.)

Copyright 2009 by Madelyn C. Leeke

My mother flipped through JET as we stood in the line at the grocery store.

I was busy trying to con her in to letting me get a chocolate bar from the candy stand located near the checkout counter.

She paid me no mind.

Persistence was my middle name.

So I continued and eventually got on her last nerve.

She threatened to use her Dr. Scholl’s on me.

I quieted down for fear of her wooden shoe.

That’s when she showed me a picture of this coffee-colored woman with glasses from some place in Brooklyn.

At first glance, the lady looked like a school teacher.

My mother proudly told me that she was Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman to run for President.

I smiled and thought my mother might bend and let me get that chocolate bar, but she wasn’t having it.

Maybe if this lady wins the election I might be able to get a chocolate bar then.

Enjoy your day and week!

Peace, Creativity, Joy, Compassion, and Gratitude for Sistalove Ancestors,

Ananda

0 comments on “What is your definition of service?”

What is your definition of service?

Greetings All,

Today I listened to NPR journalist Michel Martin’s conversation with James Braxton Peterson, assistant professor of English and Africana Studies at Bucknell University, about the meaning of service and its connection to Dr. Martin L. King, Jr.’s legacy of service.  It was aired on Martin’s NPR show, Tell Me More on January 18.  Click here to listen to the conversation (11 minutes): www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122626581.

Michel Martin

Professor James Braxton Peterson

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

I was really moved by Professor Peterson’s definition of service:

“Service has got to be not just the action but also a mind state and that’s something that’s got to be sustained over the course of the year, throughout your life. It’s a very, very important act, particularly people of color and people who come from certain circumstances understand that service is what helps folk who are underprivileged to rise above and transcend their own circumstances.”

I totally agree with the idea that service is a mind state.  My mind state of service started when I was growing up in my parents’ home.  They both believed in service to their family, friends, local neighborhood in P.G. County, Maryland, and St. Joseph Catholic Church.

My mother exposed me to the meaning of service through her active membership and participation in Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc.  Sigma’s motto is “Greater Service, Greater Progress.”  It became my personal motto when I joined Sigma in 1983.  It also helped me develop my personal plan on how I contribute to my community and the world.

During Martin’s radio show, Professor Peterson also shared the following remarks:

  • “Remember, the idea around service is that it’s grassroots so that if everyone does a little bit, then actually that’s where the movement comes in. So, every small contribution does count. And listen, if you don’t have time contributing a few dollars to particularly service-oriented organization, it’s very, very important.”
  • “Part of community service is being an outstanding, contributing citizen within your community. That’s the first step, that you actually are someone who handles their own economic business, their family business and is responsible as a citizen in the United States.”
  • “So if everyone helps the elderly person to cross the street or if everyone goes into a school and tries to mentor one child even if it’s for one day, that’s going to be very, very powerful. That’s going to be extremely powerful. So, every little bit counts. We’re thinking aggregate here. And we’re thinking and hoping that everyone will rise to the challenge and the responsibility of service in our society.”

WOW! Professor Peterson’s really hit home with me.  They made me go back and read my path of service discussed in my new book, That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery (available on Amazon.com – http://tiny.cc/7uFsg).  I have included an excerpt below.

Excerpt from Chapter Seven: Service. Vocation. Answering Your Life’s Calling. (one of my favorite six-word memoirs – www.smithmag.net)

Copyright 2009 by Madelyn C. Leeke

The Birth of Service

A thousand thoughts ran through my mind as I tried to trace the birth of service in my life.

Three thoughts cemented themselves into my psyche.

Thought #1 – My parents taught me the more you have, the
more you are called to give through service they provided to
their neighborhood, church community, and membership
organizations.

Thought #2 – The Catholic Church reinforced this teaching by
promoting charity to others.

Thought #3 – Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority required its
members to perform community service as an extension of its
motto: Greater Service, Greater Progress.

One question followed.

How did these thoughts shape my ideas and commitments to
service?

My journal opened itself and soul searching unfolded onto its
pages.

Each page was decorated with one sentence.

I read them out loud and realized they were affi rmations I can
use to create a service creed for guidance and reminders.

I serve because I want to honor my ancestors by leaving Mother
Earth better than I found her.

I serve based on a family legacy that cherishes giving back through
volunteerism.

I serve from the center of my spirit which is rooted in sacred
teachings that promote charity, compassion, and contemplative
practices.

I serve individuals, communities, and organizations that connect
to my deepest passions: creativity, healing, yoga, meditation, Reiki,
green living, people of color, and women.

I serve because my work contributes to greater service, greater
progress.

I serve because giving creates a vacuum for receiving, completes a
cycle of abundance, and says to the universe I claim my oneness
with everyone and everything.


What is your definition of service?

How do you serve in your life?

Enjoy your day and week!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Service,

Ananda