The paranoid, pathological touchiness of brother’s writing literary fiction in the '80s wasn't lost on the poor and working-class women in Tacoma( and a hellcat of a writer a few of them helped raise.)

The panel he put the women on looked like a dock, and I have never gotten that image out of my head.

I had taken the bus from a children's drama camp to my aunt Pam's basement room apartment. My aunt Marilyn and my mother watched a Phil Donahue rerun from her new color television. Ntozake Shange, Maya Angelou, Michelle Wallace, Angela Davis, and Alice Walker…


The spectacular poems of Richard Wilbur’s Things of this World will last long after his pleasant pastoral ballads have faded from memory. Published in 1956, the collection of form and structured free verse centered on the New England countryside made him a superstar, establishing a template for Wilbur and modern nature poetry as we know it. In subsequent decades, he would transform the book’s aesthetic conceits — traditionalism, naturalism, Emersonian sensibility — into a kind of brand; it must be said that Wilbur wrote enough superb poems to give that brand validity. …


Brief notes on the former champ’s painful 1st round knockout loss

The tragedy of Evander Holyfield is one whose great themes are faith and pain. From an Atmore Alabama abandoned by modernity, then the industrial complex hell of the Bowen Homes housing projects, Holyfield depended on his faith to deliver him, a performative Christian orthodoxy in which he would find salvation by absorbing agony. Manifested in the ring, this made him one of the most exciting athletes to watch in sports history. Holyfield hyperextended his body in countless heavyweight fights to either produce gritty fistic masterpieces against tough opponents, win…


From one of the most important figures of the anti-fascist youth movement in English language poetry in the middle of the 20th century. The resistance shown here-literary, erudite, of the mind, body, and human spirit- resonates.

Every time I re-read Delmore Schwartz, I am humbled by how much he had to carry. For a good deal of his early career, he served as a titular figure in the fight against literary antisemitism, a one-man band of literary excellence and Democratic values against the poison spewed by TS Eliot’s Bishop Sheen, and colleges with Jewish quotas. “In The Naked Bed, In…


Evander Holyfield’s comeback fight against Vito Belfort brings back frightening memories of the former California contender’s last fight and steep decline.

Bellflower, California is a four-and-a-half-hour flight to Evander Holyfield’s Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1906, It was a farming community for the bulk of the century, drawing immigrants of all colors to work in its apple, milk, and potato production centers. What they were paid and how they were treated was another matter. The poverty that came from its bulk housing was a pure indictment of United States labor conditions. …


Danielle Rose being fired from Barren Press reminds this writer of another poet who ended his career ostracized and shamed over a measured take.

In “That Boy Leroi,” his review of Amiri Baraka’s The Toilet ( New York Herald Tribune Jan 8, 1965) and an essay on his poetics of murder( Black World, Winter 1965), Langston Hughes went in on the author antisemitic, horrorcore sensibilities and his insistence that the black canon before him be replaced by Black Dada Nihiisms “The last thing we need is black imitators of neurotic white writers who themselves have nothing which to be proud…


He was the first person my age to tell me to grow up. I was 17 and hadn’t lived in the neighborhood for two years, but would come back to do dirt every chance I could. When my mother was working, I would take the same bus I took when I was younger to go to suburban schools and head to Al Davies Boys and Girls club to find places to drink, pop pills, chill with old homies, and wild the fuck out when they didn’t want to remember the good times. People had tolerated me; some even felt sympathy…


Almost 10 years after her passing, Amy Winehouse’s music shows her to be an honored guest of the culture.

Like her cross-cultural ancestors ( Dusty Springfield, Laura Nyro, Teena Marie) Amy Winehouse was an R&B wonk, a diligent stylist whose cognitive appreciation for the genre endeared her to many a misanthropic soul fan. Unlike them, however, she danced on some dark cultural fault lines. Whereas Springfield, Nyro, and Marie made their trade intimating that solace from the blues could be had by immersing and intermixing musical ideas, Winehouse took her blues and drenched them on every fiber of her art…


On the 50th Anniversary of Pieces Of A Man, a personal reflection of what Gil Scott Heron and the record meant to the smartest black music expert I ever knew: my grandmother.

My grandmother, Rosa Mae Johnson, obtained half a century’s worth of knowledge about black music from her years of running a pool hall. As a retired elder, she would subscribe to Blues and Soul to keep tabs on what “the babies” were doing(something she would do until Ice T’s popularity became too much for her). When I was 9, she hired me to be her “Lil Drink and…


There are sublime moments in Robert Lowell’s most famous book. There is also more than enough manipulative dreck.

Like the poetry and the genre he created, Robert Lowell’s Life Studies is torn by its polarities. Published in 1959, the book is considered to be the birth of confessional poetry, shocking readers with dishy personal observations and a language that could be traditional yet deliciously nervy. Today, Life Studies reads like a great writer struggling for his soul, an artist adept in language and rhetoric veering between impulses of humanism and self-destruction. Gradually, Lowell would lose this struggle (doing so in…

Robert Lashley

Writer. Author. Former Jack Straw and Artist Trust Fellow. The baddest ghetto nerd on the planet.

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