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for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes


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Omar reads so much about black history / and black heroes, I tell him he's gonna

be left behind living in a pyramid or something. / Omar says he looks Egyptian




Books by E. Ethelbert Miller


How We Sleep on the Nights We Donít Make Love  /  Fathering Words  / In Search of Color Everywhere


First Light: New and Selected Poems Where are the Love Poems for Dictators?  /  Whispers, Secrets and Promises


Beyond The Frontier: African-American Poetry for the 21st Century  / Season of Hunger/Cry of Rain


Synergy: An Anthology of Washington D.C. Black Poetry


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Omar, Books and Me

By E. Ethelbert Miller

Folks call Omar a bookhead and me a bookend.

I don't read too much because I don't have time.

I don't even wear a watch to remind myself.


Why should I look at lines

on a page if they don't move

like the movies?


Omar reads so much about black history

and black heroes, I tell him he's gonna

be left behind living in a pyramid or something.


Omar says he looks Egyptian and maybe I should

look in the mirror and find myself too.

He laughs at me and takes a swing at my head.


You gonna be a bookend forever with folks

pushing you out the way like you at the end

of the shelf of life.


I listen to Omar and shake my head.

The end of the shelf of life sounds

like one of those soap shows Natalie watches.


She's always crying about some fool in love.

Omar says Natalie is my other bookend

and maybe that's why I'm afraid of books.


I laugh and tell him Natalie is his girlfriend.

You read your face Omar.

Boy, you should read your face.


I run down the street with my sneakers untied,

tripping over myself and being silly.

Omar runs after me shouting about how he plans


to bookmark my but.

You too slow and can't run I holler.

I'm running to the end of the world.


I turn the corner

as fast Omar

can turn a page.


Source: E. Ethelbert Miller. How We Sleep on the Nights We Don't Make Love. Curbstone Press, 2004.

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The 5th Inning by E. Ethelbert Miller

The 5th Inning is poet and literary activist E. Ethelbert Miller's second memoir. Coming after Fathering Words: The Making of An African American Writer (published in 2000), this book finds Miller returning to baseball, the game of his youth, in order to find the metaphor that will provide the measurement of his life. Almost 60, he ponders whether his life can now be entered into the official record books as a success or failure.

The 5th Inning is one man's examination of personal relationships, depression, love and loss. This is a story of the individual alone on the pitching mound or in the batters box. It's a box score filled with remembrance. It's a combination of baseball and the blues.

To see a clip of Ethelbert reading The 5th Inning click here:

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Ancient African Nations

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Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues

1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        


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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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update 2 August 2008



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