Showing posts from 2010
photo by Bill Larsontaken at Austin Peay University Clarksville, Tennessee 2010
To the Heart of Things
When I listen to people with terminal illnesses talk about the time they have left, it often takes me awhile to remember that I have had to deal with that, too. Maybe it's because I am fifteen years away from the diagnosis. I was forty-three years old, too young to expire according to many, not the least of whom was myself. However, people have died soon after they were born. People die at all ages, but I was busy doing stuff, as they say, when the diagnosis came and along with it the only solution, according to the doctors. They wanted to give me a new heart. I refused to be put on the waiting list. I wanted to try exercise, change of lifestyle, the geographic cure, and most of all, a return to my Taiji and all the related aspects of what we call Chinese medicine.
But all that seems like chit chat. I think now of the place where I lived, an apartment on Philly's West Sid…
This was once the corner store across from Fort Worthington Elementary School East Baltimore

circa 1957
I loved arithmetic so much that when the teacher announced it in the 4th grade I hollered out "Yippee!" Call me the king of nerds. My classmates helped me understand that it was inappropriate expression in the context of their ideas of classroom decorum. Mrs. Miller was our teacher, and she thought it was rather cute of me to express my enthusiasm for math class. She was a stern woman, and I only remember her as being tall and beautiful, a dark brown-skinned woman with a stately demeanor. She was a little mean, too. Many a knuckle got cracked with that wooden ruler she kept ready on her desk.
Mrs. Miller was taken away unexpectedly, murdered by a man. I don't remember if it was her husband or boyfriend. I've always thought it was her boyfriend. Maybe so.
With the exception of Mrs. Tang, a longterm substitute, all of our teachers were black. I remember Mrs. Tang…
by Afaa Michael Weaver The Wire/Urban Decay and American Television edited by Tiffany Potter and C.W. Marshall is the first published collection of critical essays on the HBO program “The Wire.” The book includes an essay of mine entitled “Baltimore Before the Wire.” What follows here is my response to the project at Harvard University.In The Wire Collington Square Park is used to portray Marlo, an ambitious young drug dealer, in meetings with his guards and assassins. They stand on a knoll where Johns Hopkins hospital stands in the background. I know the park as the one adjacent to the school where my son and two youngest siblings attended the Head Start program in the seventies. As a poet who did his literary apprenticeship as a Baltimore factory worker, my life has taken me across the spectrum of the city covered in this television series that has garnered the attention of Ha…
Paul Robeson 1993 The Year of the Rooster My 42nd Birthday Year
Afaa Michael Weaver 蔚雅風 Wednesday July 14, 2010
Entering the place, it has the appearance of catacombs, the underground tombs constructed by ancient Romans. Each storage locker has a sliding aluminum door, either vertically or horizontally hinged. I have one of the largest. It's where I have kept and managed the accumulation of memories, bricks that assemble the past.

When I lived in West Philadelphia, I had a locker in a company that was not as nearly well-kept as the one I have here in Somerville. Inspired by a colleague at Rutgers, I put all that I had accumulated up to that point in there for safekeeping. When I came out from the cardiac unit where I was treated for congestive heart failure in the summer of 1995, I returned to teaching at the Camden campus of Rutgers that fall. Walking was a precarious thing, and I was making my way up the hallway when a colleague urged me to take care of my things.

"Make sure…
Afaa Michael Weaver 蔚雅風 June 8, 2010
Memorial Day on www.democracynow. org was celebrated with the posting of a video of a speech Noam Chomsky gave several weeks earlier on the subject of the need to revitalize radical reform energies in this country, and he made a comment that crystalized a few things I often toss around. For the last few years I have been working on a scholarly article about cultural intersections in the blues poetry of Marilyn Chin, and so I have been focusing on the latter nineteenth century, a fascinating and important time in American history. Chomsky said the deliberate criminalization of African Americans at that time was central to the rise in the American industrial revolution.
Leaves of Grass appeared in its first edition in 1855, and ninety-nine years later, the Supreme Court issued the Brown decision, the most far-reaching and effective civil rights legislation in a history of the same going back into the nineteenth century. Sla…
Abena Joan Brown, Founder and Producer ETA Creative Arts Foundation Chicago, Illinois
Curtains Rise in the Ramada at Lake Shore Afaa M. Weaver May 20, 2010
I sat on the edge of the bed in my room at the Lake Shore Ramada as I waited for the meeting to begin. My play "Elvira and the Lost Prince" had won the Playwrights Discovery and Development Initiative, or the PDI Award. It was a few months before my 42nd birthday, and I had just had my first professional production a few months earlier in Philadelphia of a full length play of mine, a two act I named "Rosa." It seemed I had officially entered the world of professional theater after six years of trying.
As I sat there peeping out the curtains at the parking lot, I saw two figures walk out of the pages of black theater history, Woodie King and Ron Milner. It was a stunning moment for me. I had read Woodie's well known "Black Drama Anthology" years before, and Ron's play "What the Winesellers …