Posts from the ‘Poetry’ Category

Camron ~ Invest in a Young Poet

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to fledgling poet, Camron McDonald: the 13-year old son of my former Little Sister, Alette. (When she was ten years old, she and I were matched for eight years through Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Marin and we’ve stayed in touch.) Now I’m thrilled to work with Camron. Once a week for the past three months we meet to revise the poems he began writing in a 2017 summer enrichment program. His natural affinity and sheer joy of exploring emotion through words amazes me. How many 8th grade boys do you know who’d spend three hours after school seriously revising poems?

Back in November 2017, on our first day of revising, I promised Camron that as long as he showed up and worked I was happy to help. He is still holding up his end of the bargain and here’s an opportunity for you to help, too:

Camron is in need of a laptop to do homework and work more efficiently on his poetry. I’m asking you to invest in this young poet. Through our small family foundation make a donation—of any amount—toward the purchase of the laptop and receive a copy of his debut chapbook:


Still I Rise ~ Maya Angelou


From Maya Angelou’s 1978 poem “And Still I Rise”.


Maya Angelou 1928 ~ 2014

Through her words, her undeniable presence and voice she left an indelible mark on the world. She wrote this poem two years into President Jimmy Carter’s term; the year Harvey Milk became the first openly gay member of the San Francisco City Council. Who knew that 36 years later the poem’s sentiment would be still be so relevant. Watch a video of her reading And Still I Rise

 Transcript of this video version~

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may trod me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
Just ’cause I walk as if I have oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like suns and like moons,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hope springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries?

Does my sassiness upset you?
Don’t take it so hard
Just ’cause I laugh as if I have gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You can shoot me with your words,
You can cut me with your eyes,
You can kill me with your hatefulness,
But just like life, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness offend you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance as if I have diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past rooted in pain
I rise
A black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak miraculously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the hope and the dream of the slave,
And so—naturally there I go rising…




Harlem Hopscotch ~ Music Video: Maya Angelo

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Harlem Hopscotch

 by Maya Angelou
One foot down, then hop! It’s hot.
Good things for the ones that’s got.
Another jump, now to the left.
Everybody for hisself.
In the air, now both feet down.
Since you black, don’t stick around.
Food is gone, the rent is due,
Curse and cry and then jump two.
All the people out of work,
Hold for three, then twist and jerk.
Cross the line, they count you out.
That’s what hopping’s all about.
Both feet flat, the game is done.
They think I lost, I think I won.

Nikki and Nikky @ ASU in Albany, GA


This was very cool:

How could the 1000 people who recently attended Albany State University’s 8th Annual Poetry Festival possibly process the enormity of the event: being in the same room with Nikki Giovanni and Nikky Finney? With Frank X Walker, Hoke Glover and Lita Hooper.

Kudos to my mother, Irene Jones‘ alma mater and HBCUs everywhere.

Dr. Maya ~ Evermore

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Dr. Maya has not fallen silent ~ death gives her voice
the power of perpetuity.
She has joined the ancestors.

Now she, too, can be everywhere all at once.

She and my mother, Irene Gaines Jones, were born on April 4th.
My mother was 2 when Maya was born.
Dr. King was assassinated on their birthday in 1968.



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My homage to The Great Lady, Maya Angelou: (poem)

I was a well-behaved colored girl, easy to get along with. My militance was undetectable.

I became an articulate Negro.  No need to cringe or be afraid when I spoke.  And I was (am) only too loud sometimes.

I am a creative African-American, having my way with words. I adapt to any situation. I love to dance, my cooking is above average and I only talk in the movie house when it’s absolutely necessary.

I provide opportunity. For diversity. I give permission. It is said I pave the way—still—for others to follow.

I am often a black onyx island in an alabaster sea.

Floating, observing, I am just like you: we are born of our skin and not confined nor defined by it.

We are descendents of the world’s heinous history and the world’s boundless beauty.

Together ~ let us cry and laugh; let us dive and soar.

~ agj 2014

Keep scrolling  for photo gallery ~

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With Amiri Barka at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

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With the erudite James Baldwin, writer.

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Celebrating her 82nd at home in Winston Salem, North Carolina.

Billy Collins is himself a poem

I’m sure it’s illegal somewhere to do what the erudite Billy Collins does so well with the 26 letters of our alphabet. And I’m so glad he gets away with it. If a poem is a cultural artifact then Billy is a poem… Read more…

Botlahle ~ 11 years old. South African. Poet. Prophet

I’m no big fan of  “Got Talent” shows, but this is too good not to share. I have my dear friend Judith on The Park in Brooklyn to thank for sending these links:

I’ve never seen anyone quite like this 11-year old South African girl, Botlahle [bo-TA-lay]. Read more…

Robust Work

Baby Miranda and I celebrate Betty's birthday in San Francisco, Dec 11, 1996.

Toddler Miranda and I celebrate Betty’s last birthday in
San Francisco, Dec 11, 1996.
~Photo by Rob~

Happy Birthday, Betty Jean…
born 63 years ago today…

My sister, Betty, loved poetry. This one is for her:

Yards scream for attention,
sending vines running up outside walls,
choking trees and fences.

Read more…

Ancient Calls

Free write

by Anita Gail Jones
(written Oct. 23, 2009)

Albany, GA    • Photo by Anita Gail Jones  © 2012

Wrap the children in revival language
Swaddle them in the sound from our past,
the liquid coos and grunts of ancestors,
left to us like ancient calls from birds
now extinct but remembered through the
the Mockingbird’s song on my garden fence.

The sound of our past carries through,
rides the waves of time and people
to arrive safely on our lips—
not to languish there,
but to be passed on,
a hot potato—don’t drop—don’t stop—
let it fly like an aeroplane,  catching wind;
like a balloon filled with the hot air of desire not
to to be forgotten,
to live forever in the hearts and minds of
all who hear,
and all who know what it is like

Head Off and Split ~ Poems by Nikky Finney

A while back in my Skinny Widget, I posted video of Nikky Finney—born Lynn Carol Finney—accepting the 2011 National Book Award for Poetry, her speech —a poem itself—is already legendary for its power and originality. (Scroll down to see it). Many of you missed that Skinny so I’m back to bring more attention to her book and amazing body of work.

“My responsibility as a poet, as an artist is to not look away.”  ~ Nikky Finney

She is more skilled with language than her fishmonger could ever be with his whale knife, cutting and shaping images and emotions, leaving you shaking your head tryin’ to figure out what kinda hurricane called Nikky just hit you. I ate many a mullet fish from the Flint River growing up on Hazard Drive.

Buy the book.

“The girl is sent for dinner fish. Inside the market she fills her aluminum bowl with ice blue mackerel and mullet, according to her mother’s instruction. The fishmonger standing there, blood on his apron, whale knife in hand, asks, Head off and split? Translation: Do away with the watery gray eyes, the impolite razor-sharp fins, the succulent heart, tender roe, delicate sweet bones? Polite, dutiful, training to be mother, bride, kitchen frau. Her answer, Yes.” ~ from book Head Off and Split

Listen to her read poem, Left on page 13 of book:

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