My friend Abdul Ali has curated a new exhibit he’s been working on for about 2 years (if I remember). Trust me, when a poetry museum comes to Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue, SE, take it as a sign of something magical in the wind. Abdul sent me this announcement:

The American Poetry Museum will host an exhibition opening for its newest exhibition “The Washington Caravan”. The event will take place on June 20th, 2009 at 1pm at the American Poetry Museum’s Anacostia Gallery (1922 Martin Luther King Jr Ave SE Washington, DC 20020). The exhibition will feature photography and poetry to documents over twenty diverse living poets whose work has both been influenced by the capitol city as much as Washington’s literature has been impacted by their unique voices. The admission is free and the Gallery is open Tuesday-Thursday 11am-4pm and Friday-Sunday open by appointment.

Photographer Mignonette “Mig” Dooley and poet Abdul Ali are the curators of The Washington Caravan.This exhibit represents only a sample of Washington’s literary artists. A portrait of each poets and their poem creates a fuller portrait of who they are and what might their concerns be living in the capitol city. This exhibit is an homage to the groundbreaking anthology The Negro Caravan edited by Howard University professors Sterling A. Brown and Arthur P. Davis.


The soft-spoken influential former Republican Iowa Congressman Jim Leach has been nominated by President Obama to become chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Jim Leach is a graduate of Princeton University where he has been a visiting professor of political and international affairs at the Woodrow Wilson School. He served as interim director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, and founded and co-chaired the Congressional Humanities Caucus during his term in the House of Representatives; Leach represented Iowa from 1977 – 2007. In August 2008 Leach broke ranks with his party and threw his support behind then presidential candidate Barack Obama. I admit, this took me by surprise. Apparently cultural reporter Judith H. Dobrzynski saw the sign, and gave a heads up as as early as May 24 on her blog Real Clear Arts.

Leach clearly brings the scholarly background that previous NEH chairs share, including the former chair, Bruce Cole (Oberlin graduate) whose background was in art history. But, perhaps, aside from the perk of supporting a winning candidate, Leach may be able to bring more visibility and support to the NEH on the Hill. President Obama is proposing increasing the NEH’s budget by 10.5 percent from $155 million to $171 million. It seems the humanities has yet to catch up with the arts in a campaign to make it identifiable and vital not only in the eyes of the general public, but lawmakers. This effort has to be more than just waving a pocket Constitution and launching a public restoration project. Even Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr. is digging up Oprah’s roots.

Another surprise. David Carradine was found dead – hanging inside the closet of a Bankok hotel. The cause of death is assumed to be suicide. Carradine was 72. Depending on how old you are, or how much of a fan you are, you may know David Carradine from the two “Kill Bill” movies, the 1970s “Kung Fu” TV series, or being part of another Hollywood family dynasty as the son of actor John Carradine. Most people will remember Carradine from “Kung Fu.” [Carradine took a bit of a hit years later when the Bruce Lee biopic “Dragon” was released, revealing the “Kung Fu” series was based on a concept by the Chinese actor/martial arts star Lee who was too Asian to play an Asian at the time.] Even as a bad guy in “Kill Bill” the Carradine found dead today seems out of character with the the Taoist, zen, Confucian characters he played as well as the teacher in tai chi how-to videos, and author of the memoir Spirit of Shaolin, and David Carradine’s Introduction to Chi Kung: The Beginner’s Program For Physical, Emotional, And Spiritual Well-Being.