Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A Sentence: 10 Years of Detention

I love my _o_. I love my _o_. I love my _o_. I love my _o_. I
love my _o_. I love my _o_. I love my _o_. I love my _o_. I love
my _o_. I love my _o_. I love my _o_. I love my _o_. I love my
_o_. I love my _o_. I lo

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Now, it's Literal

AS I AM SIPPING my 3rd cup of joe, freshly brewed in the company breakroom, I receive the following e-mail from the Facilities Manager:
Our water supply is still slightly discolored. This problem is affecting our neighbors as well. I have contacted the Forsyth County Water Department. They are sending someone out to investigate. I will keep you posted.

This place is killing me.
Sip, sip, sip...

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Live a Little

SOME OF YOU MAY ALREADY KNOW, but in a very strange twist of irony, this Spring I'll be a McEver Visiting Chair in Writing at Georgia Tech. Those of you who've been following this blog know that I, er, left Georgia Tech as a Junior Electrical Engineering major over 11 years ago because, when I needed it, no such program existed.

Since 2002, Poetry at TECH has become the premiere reading series in the city, showcasing such voices as Billy Collins, Rita Dove, Gerald Stern, Stephen Dobyns, and Lucille Clifton. When I was enrolled, Tech only offered one poetry workshop... every two years.

Live a little, the old folks say.

In addition to teaching an undergrad Creative Writing workshop in April, I'll be one of five poets (Sharan Strange, Travis Denton, Anthony Kellman, and Thomas Lux) conducting a free Community Poetry Workshop in early 2007.

The day-long workshops are open to the public, but space is limited. The application deadline for all of the workshops is November 10, 2006. To request an application, e-mail travis.denton@lcc.gatech.edu, or call Poetry at TECH at 404.385.2760.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Return to the Slave Plantation (Part II)

HERE'S THE TRULY AMAZING THING about blogging. You make connections in ways that would have been virtually impossible in the Pre-Virtual Era.

In this case, I bumped into a descendant of John Fitz Jarrell. Rather, a descendant of John Fitz Jarrell googled his family name and discovered my March 2005 blog entry, Return to the Slave Plantation (Part I), in which a phone call to the Jarrell plantation was the final in a series of futile attempts at locating a slave cabin to visit.

The descendant posted anonymously - pleasantly enough. So, I'm posting our dialogue here.

At 11:29 AM, Anonymous said:

As a descendant of John Fitz Jarrell, I can tell you that the reason there are no slave cabins there is that the plantation became what most plantations became after the Civil War...a family farm - same thing as before, just farmed by former slaves. The cabins weren't needed so they were torn down or allowed to fall down. The family was working hard to survive, why would they put effort into maintaining buildings that were no longer being used? Jarrell plantation is a realistic view of a real plantation - not some sprawling, manicured Tara-like estate, but a medium-sized family-owned farm.

Then, At 7:39 AM, M. Ayodele Heath said:

Thank you, Anonymous, that's the most information I've received to date regarding my difficulty in finding a slave cabin to visit in Georgia. Someone should tell that to the groggy woman answering phones at your forefather's plantation. Your information is revelatory.

It once again stresses the importance of each individual taking responsibility to tell/preserve his/her own history. You're correct: Why would a family working hard to survive put effort into maintaining buildings no longer being used?

Of course, slave cabins have historical value today as do concentration camps in Europe. The experience of visiting these no-longer-used facilities has great spiritual value for the descendants of those who suffered there.

Your information also stresses the importance of my actually visiting an actual slave cabin and using my gift to report on it in verse. For if the physical buildings don't exist, how else will the memory of those who suffered be kept alive?

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Crossing the Pond (Part 1)

TODAY, THE PHONE AT MY DESK RINGS AND it's a good friend who lives in Florida with whom I don't get to chat very often.

"What's happening?" I say.

"Not too much, man. We've been playing phone tag and I figured I'd try you during the day when I knew you'd be at your desk."

"Ah, cool, cool. So, what's going on witcha?"

"Well, two things," he says. "One, I just got some good news."

"Yeah? Spread it!"

"Well, you know, my performance piece, _ri__, that my group performed at the NYC Fringe Festival a couple of months back?"


"Well, there was this guy there with this theatre festival in England that just called and invited us to come perform it there."

"Man, congratulations. That is good news."

"Thanks. Well, the second part of the news is that I'm planning to go over a little before the festival to do a few spoken word shows..."


"...and I was thinking it would be nice if we could do the shows together."
Goal 25 here I come!

"Ah, cool. So, when are you talking?"

"... October."

"As in, a-coupla-weeks-from-now October?"

To be continued...

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED #2: I'm sittin on the FRONT row

I NEVER SIT ON THE FRONT ROW at anything. Something about being that close to a lecturer/performer typically makes me uncomfortable. I can't quite put my finger on what it is, but I think it has something to do with feeling on the spot. It's like, say, being on stage. You might think it odd that a performer would be uncomfortable with being on the spot, but that's me - odd!

When you're on the front row, everyone knows your business - when you're going to the bathroom, when you're doodling, or when you're - God forbid - nodding off. So much pressure!

So, here I am - not going to the bathroom, not doodling, not nodding off - but sitting on the front row with my two very lovely New England College classmates, Issa Lewis and Tara Betts, at Ira Sadoff's lecture during this on the poetry of Frank O'hara at this summer's residency.

Mission Accomplished #2: Sit on the front row at anything.

Thursday, September 07, 2006


TALK ABOUT IRONY. For those of you familiar with my poem, "On Closing Woodruff Park," which I wrote a little over ten years ago about the eviction of the homeless from the park, now the homeless are being invited back to the park with the

Yes, the Woodruff Park Reading Room.

First of all, class, today's vocabulary word is room. Rhymes with broom. Let's say it together now:

room (n.): an area within a building enclosed by walls and floor and ceiling.

Now, re-read the definition. Ceiling. Say it with me: Ceeeeeeeiling.

Since when did parks have ceilings?

I suppose the effort to foster literacy is commendable. But on the other hand, instead of working toward providing affordable housing downtown where monthly rents are $1500 plus, the idea is to make it more comfortable to live outside?

I can see the promo:

We could split a latte, if we had mo change.
Now, hurry up with the Funnies before it rains!

I feel another poem brewing...

For those of you unfamiliar with the poem, you can hear it at my website. Follow the Words link in the navigation bar.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


IN THE 10TH GRADE, I'D PRACTICALLY reached my maximum height somewhere between 5'10" and 5'11", and I weighed 145 pounds.

I was a rail, an ectomorph - what is commonly called a "hard-gainer."

I received all sorts of magical weight-gaining advice from friends - Eat a potato everyday - and from coaches - Do lots of heavy squats - and family members - Wait till you're married! None of that worked. Well, I didn't exactly try marriage.

And I don't know about others' experiences with weight-gain formulas, but every one I tried sent me straight to la toilette. How sexy is extra mass when you're strapped to a commode?

Granted, I did gain a "freshman-fifteen" over my early 20's which put me around 160, but it seemed, no matter what I did, that I just could not gain weight! (I can feel you rolling your eyes; but, hey, we all have our problems.)

Whether it was a combination of accomplishing goal 8, goal 69, or whether it was hitting age 30, I'm not sure, but, at any rate, I'll take it!

True, if you look at me today, I still look slim, but at least there'll be no more Starvin Marvin jokes!

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED 86: Achieve and maintain a weight of 170 pounds.