"The Theatre of Language: the Living Poem" - USC's Voices & Visions, 2008
2016 David Dukes Tennis Tournament
• Please go here to view more photos from past tournaments.
Annie Muske-Dukes speaking at her dad's posthumous induction into Redwood High School's (Marin County) "Hall of Fame" - March 3, 2017
2011 National Book Festival
"Channeling Mark Twain" Interview with Terry Gross
Listen to Carol Muske-Dukes' interview on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross from July 5, 2007 >>
Summer in East Hampton - dogwalks on beach with Mark Doty
• Carol Muske-Dukes is part of the curatorial team of America: Now + Here and directs the poetry aspect along with Bob Holman.
David Dukes Memorial
Donate online today at the USC Online Giving Site Please go the website to make a secure credit card donation. Your donation is tax deductible and a USC gift receipt will be sent to you via US mail.
The scholarship, established in memory of the late actor David Coleman Dukes, is awarded annually to a third-year Theater Arts student working toward a career in stage acting. A bronze plaque commemorating the scholarship benefit held in David Coleman Dukes' name can be seen in the lobby of the Bing Theater, off Queen's Court on the USC campus.
- Madeline Puzo, Dean, USC School of Theatre
The Dukes Tournament
Proceeds from the David Coleman Dukes Memorial Tennis Tournament benefits the USC School of Theatre David Dukes Acting Scholarship.
PLEASE CHECK OUT "THE PIECES I AM" — the superb documentary about the life and writing of Toni Morrison, just out from Magnolia Pictures!
It is an unforgettable exploration of the two "sides" of Toni Morrison's existence — her personal ("Chloe Wofford") life and that of her Nobel Prize-winning authorial presence that (as a professor notes in the film) broke the written canon apart and made it new again. Her boldness, majesty and originality — and her refusal to accept any limitations on her ground-breaking style continue to inspire all who attempt to express themselves freely in written language.
Her quote for my novel, "Channeling Mark Twain", (Random H, 2003) meant a great deal, for obvious reasons. But her kind generosity to a poet attempting to write novels — was a personal gift. I've known Toni since she was an editor at Random House. She supported the prison writing program I established at the Women's House of Detention on Riker's Island, which expanded to all NY State prisons as "Art Without Walls/Free Space" in the '70's and '80's.
Here is her quote, to be treasured always:
"Effortlessly, the narrator's story becomes one with the stories of the women in prison. Rarely do we encounter a prospective clear as glass, through which the characters look back at the narrator without mirror or microscope, false hierarchy or romanticizing."
See the documentary, if you can — and tell others. It is a source of wonder — like Toni Morrison herself. I am grateful to her, always — for what she has given to all of us.
Now that we're living in an Orwellian universe - those who have never read him give his warnings their reality!
"Certain commissars with large followings patrol the precincts of social media and punish thought criminals, but most progressives assent without difficulty to the stifling consensus of the moment and the intolerance it breeds — not out of fear, but because they want to be counted on the side of justice.
This willing constriction of intellectual freedom will do lasting damage. It corrupts the ability to think clearly, and it undermines both culture and progress. Good art doesn't come from wokeness, and social problems starved of debate can't find real solutions." (Quote is from "A Re-Review of 1984, The Atlantic, July, 2019.")
Kickstarter project for Choice Words, a remarkable anthology of writings by women!
It's incredibly important to remember that the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision protects a woman's PRIVACY, her right to control her own body and make decisions based on her choice. As Justice RBG has stated, if this right is not protected and preserved - women cannot be considered equal to men.
Our right, our privacy, our choice, OUR choice, not the State's.
Pay attention to these CHOICE WORDS!
I'm so lucky!
Blue Rose was on the long list for the Pulitzer - along with my fellow Penguin poet, Terrance Hayes & other wonderful poets!
DOWN MEMORY LANE - as poet Greg Orr retires from the University of Virginia - we were all part of a reading Way Back When. Name those poets!
AN UPDATE ON USC's NEED TO "RE-MAKE" ITS BLOATED BOARD OF TRUSTEES
All one has to do is look at the vapid chirping vlog of "Olivia Jade" (from her dorm room at USC) to get that, for some parents & their offspring, the world is made up of "selfies", not schoolwork. As a USC prof, I try, along with my colleagues, to teach undergrad and grad students how to think for themselves, how to read and analyze, how to "grow" intellectually. Most of our students are present & accounted for because they have that urgent desire to learn. But what happened re "Olivia Jade"? Simply this: her "helicopter" parents morphed into the new "bulldozer" parents: the ones who seek to remove all obstacles from the path of their children, thus infantilizing them and also "teaching" them that money is power, that character doesn't matter - and that working hard is not necessary for success. Success will be provided for you. THAT is what led to the bribes and scams and "side door" sleaze-trickery that have now been exposed, media-wide - to the shame of the scam artist Singer, the bulldozer parents - and the schools that allowed a climate of CEO, celebrity and major ka-ching to permeate some of its departments and employees. An institution of higher learning is not supposed to be a corporation, as most universities define themselves now. & btw, should a Board of Trustees, (significantly weighted by moneybags) who have no idea what academic freedom is, no idea of how education works - be the ones to choose the chief pollicy-maker (pres) of a university? If you don't want your kid to ever have to learn to think, to problem-solve, to read seriously and widely, to be independent - then, please: don't follow the path of "Olivia Jade". Don't let your parents lie and cheat to get you into college. Just let Olivia J. be your role model for vlogging & your career of "Influencer" - and let your parental servants keep bulldozing the way for that "influence" you will leave as your own legacy: like the creepy shine of lip gloss on a corpse.
This is a belated but heartfelt message - joining the chorus of women throughout the world on this day of acknowledgement of women everywhere!
I received an invitation from a woman who is a journalist and translator in IRAN, who asked me to talk about International Women's Day and sent questions. The questions didn't "translate" well - so I simply sent a short statement about how freedom of thought through reading (I mentioned "READING LOLITA IN TEHERAN" - that brilliant brave book) as a way for women to resist oppression that is intellectual as well as physical.
KEEP READING & THINKING TOGETHER - WOMEN ARE CHANGING THE WORLD!
REENA'S EXTRAORDINARY ORATORIO IN SEVERAL LANGUAGES, "THE LOVE BETWEEN US", RECENTLY ENJOYED A COMMAND PERFORMANCE AT DISNEY HALL JUST BEFORE THE HOLIDAYS.
PLEASE FOLLOW REENA'S AMAZING COMPOSING CAREER (& HER WORK ON SKID ROW IN L.A.) & CHECK OUT MY NEW BOOK OF POEMS, BLUE ROSE, AS WELL!
TED CRUZ wants my support to de-fund Planned Parenthood.
A troll or two have put Count Choc-ula Look Alike, Ted Cruz - on my case. Because he believes that "the sanctity of life" begins with erection, he has sent me a letter asking me to help him defund Planned Parenthood & also help Trump appoint another anti-choice justice to the Supreme Court.!
In fact, I plan to make a donation to Planned Parenthood in Ted Cruz' name. I hope you will join me in this effort.
Btw, Cruz has a fundraising arm for this "initiative" creepily entitled the Susan B. Anthony List, Attn. Ted Cruz, PO Box 1852, Merrifield, VA. 22116
I wonder what Susan B. Anthony would think of his use of her name?
Instead of pondering this, please do donate to Planned Parenthood in Mr. Ted Cruz' A.K.A. Count Chocula's name.
This is sparkling ruby-topped Nanci Lee, artist & hair genius (!) surprising me with red velvet cupcakes for my birthday!!! Talk about making my day!
CMD & Sandra Tsing Loh, after Sandra's dazzling holiday satire of the Sugar Plum Fairy at Skylight Theatre - go see it, it will make you laugh & feel better about everything!
Once upon a time at the LA airport — Mark Twain & me
Here are some thoughts about ethical protocols and judging of award candidates.
I mention this because judges are expected to follow rules. There are obvious cases where a judge must recuse herself.
Back when I reviewed regularly for the New York Times Book Review - there was a form that the Times required of its reviewers. The form's questions included (in paraphrase, in memory) something like the following:
"Is the person you are assigned to review, a close friend or lover? Has he or she been, or is s/he now a student of yours or a colleague - or an employee of yours? Does this person owe you money or do you owe this person money?"
The form continued in this vein.
I've been a judge (& shortlist finalist in Poetry) for the National Book Award & a judge for the Kingsley-Tufts Prize, as well as the Kate Tufts. I've judged for the NEA, Poetry Society, Y Discovery and Sarabande Books, etc. The rules always apply - judges should know when to recuse themselves.
I have been planning for a while to withdraw from FaceBook and now that it has been reported (NY Times, "Delay, Deny and Deflect: How Facebook's Leaders Fought Through Crisis") that Mark Zuckerberg & Sheryl Sandberg not only misrepresented the reality to Congress re their knowledge of Russian & other interference in the 2016 election but more frightening - about their profit-making from their massive repository of our private data, it seems imperative. Rather than Zuckerberg & Sheryl S. immediately instituting radical change at FB in the face of these revelations - it was left to their employees to confront them with the evidence of wrongdoing. Again, instead of acting to correct these violations (or stepping down!) they chose to engage a Republican opposition-research firm to discredit other "data" companies & also the liberal philanthropist George Soros, who is Jewish - the attacks on Soros have been seen as anti-Semitic. This should be enough for any of us to re-think our addiction(s) to FBook. I admit that it is difficult to disengage from what has become the major source of information and communication among friends, colleagues & family groups - but (as I've been saying, with others, for a long time) this non-stop private data mining and sharing has made us all immediate targets of instant "profiling" - for shopping and political (& trolling) margin promotion. Facebook's "eyes" are on all of us, all the time - and reviewing the facts above - it becomes more & more difficult to continue being a soft target. The customers of FB are not "us" - they are the corporate and political entities that "buy" into FB, in effect - "buy" us all.
I've also found that almost inevitably, each time I register an "opinion" on a post on FB - there is ugly blowback, if I speak out "against" the sentiments of the post. Recently I noticed a post that asked a specious question "opposing" the "three meals a day, etc. etc." that inmates of prisons enjoy - vs. the degraded conditions of many nursing homes. On the face of this, the post would appear to imply that U.S. prisoners have it "better" than nursing home patients, who do not enjoy the mandated "care" of prisoners. Immediately (in my opinion) one would have to ask the question, "who is behind this false "pitting" of two admittedly troubled "institutions" - and what is their intent?
Recently, Trump actually agreed (or appeared to) a major prison reform bill that would seek to improve inhumane incarceration conditions that have existed for decades - & have worsened as prisons have become "corporatized" & money is being made on increased incarceration. (I founded a prison writing & arts program throughout New York state years ago - which I started at the Women's House on Riker's Island) - and though conditions for prisoners were beyond shocking then, they have grown far worse now, especially for women inmates, who (as before) are jailed with lengthy sentences for what used to be called "victimless" crimes or for being "accessory" - or for minor drug possession, etc. When women are incarcerated or even detained (detention can last longer than a year, despite "habeas corpus") - their children routinely become "wards of the state" - which means that they are put in foster care.) Mothers do not know where their children are placed and have to fight to get them back upon release. (Please see recent New Yorker article on incarcerated women in Oklahoma.) Recent horrific "border" crimes against humanity in separating immigrant children from their parents - are routinely suffered by women who lose their children to the "system".)
But one might wonder, why the questionable "comparison" & false equivalency presented in the FB post - comparing, as I said, nursing homes & prisons? Could it have anything to do with Trump's (unbelievable) seeming recent support for prison reform. ? Question: who has something to lose if prison reform takes place? Maybe the huge corporate structure that profits each time an individual (or immigrant!) is thrown in jail?
This, to my mind, is the type of "loaded" post by an unknown source that is typical of Facebook's enabling of political influence in "hidden" drops into FB "consciousness".
I do not expect anyone to agree with my opinions on this or anything else. But when I find myself confronted (on-line or otherwise) for having a "wrong" opinion on this - rather than having some heed of the warning to "follow the money" -- to interrogate the source of the post/"ad" - it is alarming, it's FB shocking, as always.
I understand that it is v difficult to remove oneself from FB - but I intend to do so gradually. I don't want to lose touch with close friends & family - but I know that if there is real desire to stay in touch, it won't be necessary to show up always on a data-harvesting site! Maybe a brief glimpse of photos on Instagram (I know, I know, also "owned" by FB!) could be enough to satisfy the urge to keep up constantly?
My web designer is posting this for me - I'm recovering from the flu and other struggles.
Best to all,
My Question to Evangelical Supporters of Trump -
Evangelical Christians: you profess to believe in life - so I am wondering how you can refrain from condemning murderous terrorist bomb attacks by Americans on other Americans - as implicit in your backing of a "president" who encourages individual and crowd violence and an agenda of hate? Please consider voting Common Good!
UPCOMING BLUE ROSE READING AT TRINITY COLLEGE
Blacksmith Poetry Series | CCAE
Carol Muske-Dukes reads from her new book, Blue Rose, with Sophie Cabot Black, author of The Exchange.
Quite a few friends & acquaintances seem to think that I'm "on" LINKED IN - I am not. I apologize to those who keep asking to join my "network". The only network I belong to is the one that is in my overloaded memory!
My dazzling niece Amy & me at or near the beach in Oxnard. Photo credit: Amy's wonderful Nate.
More beach fun - love this shot!
My beautiful daughter Annie, post-reading, with Mom!
So many poems in my new book, Blue Rose, for & about her!
The amazing Jane Mead & Carol - after great reading at Powell's Books in Portland!
Well, it's happened! God (who's a woman) has spoken to me through my pal, Pope Frank. Frank tells me that God has HAD IT with Trump & she is about to take major action against him! Hold onto your hats or whatever keeps your hair on your head! (Unlike Trump!) Justice is on the way!! Ora pro nobis, domina vobiscum.
As you can see, I have been granted a halo through which I receive Messages from Her - telling me what the future is for the Orange Diabolical.
DANGER BLUE: Dana Goodyear interviews Carol Muske-Dukes
My amazing daughter Annie & I at my brother & sister-in-law's splendid Christmas Eve gathering with family & friends! Happy holidays to all!
A HAPPIER NEW YEAR'S EVE FROM A PAST HOLIDAY— Here we are, our little group of celebrants: Mimi Kennedy & her husband, and John Lithgow & Mary Yeager, his wife - and my late husband, David Coleman Dukes - and me! I "toast" this happy time we all had for a few years, so long ago. AULD LANG SYNE!
- who had a great heart & shared her "good gossip" with panache.
Here's a long-ago nod from her - for my wedding day: at City Hall, NYC - to the late David Coleman Dukes, whom she "celebrated" regularly. May she rest in sweet peace!
My little dog Coleman
My little dog Coleman (aka The Ewok) has cancer. He had surgery today & came through very well. Thanks for all your prayers & good wishes - it's been a long day & night!
Protest and Precincts
Everyone: I've been critical of FaceBook before this - I don't like its gobbling up of our private lives & our own willingness to "share" 24/7 -- but after the revelations of social media's cooperation with Russian trolls & hackers in attacking our democracy in the 2016 election, I intend to show up even less in its getting-creepier pages. It's good for keeping family & friends who are real friends somewhat close & for announcing this & that - but I can live without the ugliness of some exchanges, including the ugliness of these social media giants selling us all out, apparently unable to guess why some eager trolls wanted to pay in rubles..? Time to return to reading. Books.
So the torch of Wonder Woman was passed this Halloween from the great-aunt in California to the great-niece in Minnesota!
Here is strong, brave & amazing Piper (complete with magic lasso!) celebrating kick-ass women on the holiday - just as her elderly aunt was in L.A. Here's to our wonder women who are the future, Piper - & here's to you! Love, Auntie Carol
The Culture of Male Silence: Men Treat Sexual Assault Like America Treats White Supremacy
HAPPY HALLOWEEN! From Ben the Bananna & me at USC! Photo credit: Prof. Bill Handley
TO FRIENDS & COLLEAGUES OF JANE MEAD
Jane's family home, her dear dogs, her personal effects (& poetry) & the vineyard barns & equipment were all lost in the terrible wildfires in Napa (& beyond) here in California.
She wanted me to let people know that she is alive, she barely made it out - but she is alive.
This is devastating - no words for what she & so many others are going through here as our state goes up in flames.
Driving Westward, in Golden State, Burning
Here is my author's photo for my new book of poems (forthcoming, Penguin, April 3, 2018) - photo credit goes to my niece, Kelsey Anne Muske!
HEY EVERYONE: TODAY'S THE DAY! THE ANNUAL TOURNAMENT IN DAVID'S NAME - WITH PROCEEDS GOING TO THE USC SCHOOL OF THEATRE SCHOLARSHIP ALSO IN HIS NAME! THANKS! CMD
Here are images of the remarkable Owen Max at a cafe here in Santa Monica - where you can see a wee bit of his Mom, Elizabeth Metzger -- & a bit of me - but mostly Owen! How could you not fall in love with that face? Photos by Dan Attanasio.
Note from Carol (August 14, 2017)
Hi everyone - I've posted a lot of "please adopt this dog" pleas yesterday on FB - I hope someone will respond! I'm on FB so rarely & in NYC right now, where many many are in the streets protesting against the brainless puppet of white supremacists & nazis (who some may call our president, not I). We need to try to save our country, our world & the most helpless, inc. animals - This is not an over-statement: we must act to keep the sick poison of hate Dumpf represents from destroying us all. Please protest & please join together to rescue our world.
Adding two notes: former President Jimmy Carter has offered words of diplomacy & wisdom re North Korea. (& Madeline Albright traveled there in 2000 & made real progress in diplomacy there.)
& please remember that the women targeted by Gamer Gate warned that there were on-line hate groups rising up back then!
My daughter Annie & I sip wine @ the Dancin vineyard in Ashland, Oregon
Jubilant Antarctic House Bear!
SO GRATEFUL FOR THESE TWO: PLEASE READ ALL THE WAY THROUGH, PLEASE!
AS I SAID ON TWITTER EARLIER - COMPARE THE TWO "LEADERS OF THE FREE WORLD": FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER CONTINUES, AT 92, TO BUILD HOUSES FOR THE POOR THROUGH HABITAT FOR HUMANITY. OUR CURRENT "PRESIDENT" SEEKS TO BUILD WALLS OF HATE AND DIVISIVENESS TO PROP UP GREED & IGNORANCE. WHICH EXAMPLE WOULD YOU CHOOSE FOR YOUR CHILDREN TO FOLLOW?
PLEASE READ THIS - RIGHT ON TARGET RE HILLARY - SEXISM, MILLENNIAL FEMINISTS, ETC.
See the thrilling movie WONDER WOMAN --all you who believe that, (as a strong woman recently said), "Women's rights are human rights! It is going to change Hollywood, with Gal Gadot's electrifying brainy performance & director Patty Jenkins' stunning powerful guiding vision. The time has come to kick ass - we need to believe in our own wonder womanhood -- & this film will make you a believer.
A photo of my David & me, with dear friend John Lithgow, at the book party for my first novel, Dear Digby - a memory, a lost treasured moment - just for fun!
Notes on NOT Driving Your Host Crazy: 11 Simple Rules. (My Mother Taught Me Guest Etiquette & I've Never Forgotten It. #1 - Never Arrive Without a "House" Gift - All the Way To: Take Your Host Out for a Meal, please! If You Can't Cook, You CAN Make a Reservation!
As most of you know, I've been no big fan of giving out personal information on FB or websites, but I'm making an exception here. I've been in touch with so many of you, to let you know that I won't be making it to the City this weekend for what was to be a really eventful visit. But I haven't been able to reach everyone. So - I'm not coming, due to a "health issue" which presented itself as I was close to boarding a NY flight on Friday - a wise Delta supervisor advised me not to fly. I spent the day at UCLA for tests & found out what's wrong and it's being "addressed" now.
I'm feeling better physically but feel terrible about having to cancel so many meetings and events in the City - and so many meetings or meals or late nights with you all.
I've had to bow out of the "Resistance, etc." anthology reading in Tisch Auditorium at NYU on the 22nd - which meant a lot to me... and as well I'll also miss being on the WNYC Leonard Lopate live interview show, a B'way play & visiting my late husband's portrait at Sardi's, my ritual, as you know.
(I hope you will all attend the powerhouse Resistance reading - a great line-up of contributing poets! and listen to the LL show with the anthology's editor and Andrea Cohen at 1 PM on the 22nd.)
For all the other cancellations - all I can say is: I'm coming back as soon as I can. In the meantime, here's another something I thought I'd never do: type out my contribution to this "political poem" anthology - my poem on gun control, "Some Say" - a statement to share:
Some say it's High Noon in a big hat, shooting
up the saloon. America? Some say it's your
Second Amendment, those stockpiles of ammo
bought at a chain. Say the next-door kid living in
screen games: exploding heads, walking dead?
Or it's gangs in torched neighborhoods, drugs
running in the brain or a bead drawn on a clinic
doctor, women in line next to a homeless vet
begging. Some say it's armed revolt, racist cops,
bragging hunters, looter-tools, mass crave/rave
for obliviion: Rapture addicts! Here comes one
more drive-by, school invasion, nightclub terror,
bully/bullied, lynch mob, god cult, toddler-a-cide.
O America, shooting from the hip, from the last
of the trees in a national park, your militia surrounded
by SWAT. Say you're an upstanding patriot in an
invented war - defending unborn lobbyists, a double-
sided coin minted by the National Reprisal Association
of the craven congressionals - saying it to history's
final judge. You, great god Gun, in whom some trust:
in bunker-mind, underground condos. O say it in Homeric
chanted dactyls: I sing of arms & the punk self-pumped
up lovers of the Silencer. Dickinson wrote it first,
living god of Gun, you are "without the power to die".
HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to me from my Annie (& her husband Johnny) in Oregon
- & Happy Mother's Day to everyone! The "maternal" in each of us, women & men, is the enlightenment (in my opinion) that will save this struggling fractured world, in the end.
I know Mother's Day is coming soon & here's a photo of my beautiful mother: a graduation portrait. She died not long ago at 99, still reciting Great Poems by heart.
PLEASE READ THIS POEM , "REIGN OF EMBERS", BY MY FRIEND, THE DISTINGUISHED POET, CECILIA WOLOCH: THIS POEM SHOWS US WHY POETRY, (& ALL THE ARTS) MATTER!
Day after wonderful Easter brunch chez moi - with my brother Jim, sis-in-law Kathy, my nephew John & his GF Rachael & my niece Kelsey & Travis, her BF... I cooked & baked from "scratch" - entrees & desserts + everyone brought beaucoup delicious goodies: a feast! & here are some of the flowers - please note the beautifully-decorated "personalized" eggs (created by Kelsey) in foreground. Happy E!
& patio flowers too!
Carol Muske-Dukes at the LA Times Festival of Books
Carol Muske-Dukes, Reading from "Twin Cities" and her Forthcoming "Blue Rose", Saturday, 4/22/2017, 12:30PM, Poetry Stage
Carol will also be moderating a panel called "The Edge of Identity":
The Edge of Identity: Race and Gender in Contemporary Poetry, Saturday, 4/22/2017, 2:00PM, Andrus Gerontology Center
My dazzling & powerful niece Lauren Mueller "models" the Wonder Woman Punching Trump's Lights Out T-shirt! BAM! POW! "SAD!!"
Another moment at dinner in Palm Springs with my sister Michele & Todd!
Here is my new Grandniece, ELSIE JANE LEASE, named for her great grandmother Elsie! Her proud parents are my niece Molly Lease & her husband.
My sister Michele & I, with pups (Sammy, Coleman & Flossie) - 97 degrees in Palm Springs, poolside at their villa
PLEASE SUPPORT NYT SUBSCRIPTIONS FOR STUDENTS, THANKS FOR DONATING TO THE CAUSE OF EDUCATED MINDS!
BAM! POW! SHE'S HAD IT!!
As requested: Tom Lux & me, c. 1980 or so - no heaven then. R.I.P, T.L. (Photo by Kelly Wise)
Breaking news from The Associated Press: Popular vote loser Donald Trump says he'll announce pick to fill Supreme Court vacancy next week.
Antonin Scalia's seat has sat vacant since February 2016 thanks to Republican intransigence. Democrats must obstruct Trump's disaster nominee with equal resolve.
Call Senator Kamala D. Harris at and Senator Dianne Feinstein at (202) 224-3841. Tell them to oppose and filibuster any Supreme Court nominee.
Hi, I'm (say your name) from (say from where you're calling). Donald Trump has promised to nominate right-wing extremists to the Supreme Court. They would be disastrous for civil liberties, civil rights, reproductive rights, protecting the environment and progress. Can I count on you to publicly oppose and filibuster any Trump nominee?
During his campaign, the Cheeto-dusted Führer offered two possible choices to fill Antonin Scalia's seat: William Pryor and Diane Sykes. Both candidates are top picks of the right-wing Heritage Foundation.
Says the federal government “should not be in the business of public education nor the control of street crime.”
He ruled for the restrictive Georgia voter ID law, claiming that “racially disparate effects” are inadequate to prove a violation of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. (The Supreme Court he would sit on has ruled oppositely.)
He has also attacked environmental protection laws, limits on privacy protection, and on the reach of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Diane Sykes, for her part, is even more conservative than Pryor:
She argued for limits on corporate liability for defects in their products, urged overturning of a $1 million award for damages from defects and overturning a $3.5 million judgment for discrimination under the Americans with Disabilities Act.
She took the outrageous view that a prosecutor should be legally shielded from a claim that he fabricated evidence that put a wrongly convicted man in prison for 17 years.
Sykes wrote the 2-1 Circuit Court majority ruling to invalidate the contraception mandate of Obamacare.
She disagreed with the 10 other judges on 7th Circuit when she voted for the strict Wisconsin voter ID law despite its unfair impact on student voters.
She wrote that an anti-gay student group should be allowed to receive state funding and recognition even though it engaged in banned discrimination. Sykes even claimed the group had not discriminated because it allowed membership of gays who vowed not to be engaged in sex. The U.S. Supreme Court subsequently ruled the other way.
For anyone who cares about civil liberties, civil rights, reproductive rights, environmental protections, progress and basic human decency, these two -- or anyone that comes recommended by the far right -- would be disastrous.
We don't yet know who the nominee will be but whoever Trump nominates will be positioned to shape U.S. policy for decades after his administration is dust in the wind. Democrats need to fight every unqualified nominee that comes before them, with every tool they've got.
Call Senator Kamala D. Harris at and Senator Dianne Feinstein at (202) 224-3841. Tell them we need Democrats to do everything in their power to keep ultra-conservative extremists away from the Supreme Court.
Hi, I'm (say your name) from (say from where you're calling). Donald Trump has promised to nominate right-wing extremists to the Supreme Court. They would be disastrous for civil liberties, civil rights, reproductive rights, environmental protections and progress. Can I count on you to publicly oppose and filibuster any Trump nominee?
DON'T WATCH TOMORROW: GIVE THE GRABBER HIS LOWEST RATINGS EVER!
ATTENTION! HELPFUL INFORMATION!
There's a lot of talk about people NOT watching the inauguration. The Grabber will be checking his ratings, and many may not know the way that the tv shows are rated.
To keep his rating LOW, you must have your television turned ON, but NOT tuned into any channel showing ANY inauguration coverage. If you don't turn your tv on, his ratings will show higher because of the percentage of sets tuned in. So set up all your televisions to the geographic channel or cooking channel! Anything that is not covering the inauguration, basically!
- Television must be on, but NOT tuned into channels covering Trump.
Please share this information!
PLEASE READ (& WEEP), THEN FOLLOW MM's INSTRUCTIONS --
Here's why Congressman and civil rights legend John Lewis is right that Trump "is not a legitimate President":
1. Nothing, including an arcane, racist section of the constitution, can change the fact that 3 million more Americans voted for Hillary than for Trump. It's either a democracy or it isn't. If he had won by 3 million, I would sadly admit that Trump is the President the American people wanted. But that's not what happened.
2. He is not well and needs help. He has a number of serious mental disorders that make him unfit to hold office — and they are on display every day in one cringe-worthy tweet after another. He is a full-blown malignant narcissist. He displays sociopathic tendencies. He will say one thing and 30 seconds later say the opposite. He is disconnected from the truth. And he has a stunning lack of human empathy. These behaviors make him a truly dangerous occupant of the Oval Office.
3. The Russians interfered with the election in order to get him elected. Even Trump now admits as much. That alone makes the election tainted and should be voided. We spend trillions on ridiculous weapons and ineffective police state-style homeland security measures to defend us against those who would "destroy our way of life" — but we are to remain silent when a foreign government is caught trying to get THEIR candidate elected as OUR president? AND they succeed! This is a joke of monstrous proportions — and the fact that conservatives, Republicans and patriotic good ol' boys are actively defending this foreign aggression into our country confirms to me what I've feared all along: that they really hate our form of democracy, our Bill of Rights, our belief that "All men (sic) are created equal," our one person-one vote system, that whoever scores the most points wins and that people of all religions are welcome here. They don't believe that, and I'd respect them so much more if they would just simply admit it.
4. The FBI clearly chose sides, and FBI Director Comey's interference in the 10 days before the election most-definitely helped tipped the balance to the FBI's preferred candidate, Donald J. Trump. That our own federal police would so brazenly attempt to throw the election to the person with the least votes is mind-boggling, frightening and must be stopped. Attorney General Lynch must immediately, today, appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate what to me appears to be a criminal offense. If this is true, I want to see FBI Director Comey in handcuffs and behind bars. Short of murder and a few other heinous acts, is there a worse crime in our democracy than the highest ranking cop in the land attempting to throw the election?
5. Trump has nominated in Rex Tillerson the most powerful corporate CEO in the world as "our" Secretary of State. Why would the quarter-billionaire head of the world's richest corporation want a "government job?" So that he, a personal friend of Putin's, can get the US sanctions lifted off Russia so that his company, ExxonMobil, can get back to their exclusive oil deal with Russia — which will eventually net ExxonMobil three TRILLION dollars. This is nothing less than a bold, audacious robbery in broad daylight — and it says a lot about you and me that they think they can get away with it.
6. Trump has potentially committed a number of felonies — and a felon simply can't sit in the Oval Office (I can't believe I even have to state that). From his admitted sexual assaults to whatever he's hiding in the tax returns, to possibly evading taxes, to his committing fraud with Trump U, to his long list of conflicts of interest — the chance of us having to suffer through his impeachment trial in the Senate is just too much to bear.
Donald Trump is, as John Lewis said, NOT a legitimate president. He is unfit, unstable and was elected with help from the Russian government. John Lewis has announced he will not attend the Inauguration, and eight other members of Congress today have joined him. Call (202-225-3121) or write your Congressperson and insist he or she not attend the swearing in of an illegitimate president. It's the least you can do short of standing in front of this runaway train.
— Michael Moore
A POEM FOR TRUMP (WITH APOLOGIES TO DR. SEUSS!)
I DIDN'T WRITE THIS, but "ANONYMOUS" did!
In a land where the states are united, they claim,
in a sky-scraping tower adorned with his name,
lived a terrible, horrible, devious chump,
the bright orange miscreant known as the Trump.
This Trump he was mean, such a mean little man,
with the tiniest heart and two tinier hands,
and a thin set of lips etched in permanent curl,
and a sneer and a scowl and contempt for the world.
He looked down from his perch and he grinned ear to ear,
and he thought, "I could steal the election this year!
It'd be rather simple, it's so easily won,
I'll just make them believe that their best days are done!
Yes, I'll make them believe that it's all gone to Hell,
and I'll be Jerk Messiah and their souls they will sell.
And I'll use lots of words disconnected from truth,
but I'll say them with style so they won't ask for proof.
I'll toss out random platitudes, phrases, and such,
They're so raised on fake news that it won't matter much!
They won't question the how to, the what, why, or when,
I will make their America great once again!"
The Trump told them to fear, they should fear he would say,
"They've all come for your jobs, they'll all take them away.
You should fear every Muslim and Mexican too,
every brown, black, and tan one, everyone who votes blue."
And he fooled all the Christians, he fooled them indeed,
He just trotted out Jesus, that's all Jesus folk need.
And celebrity preachers they all crowned him as king,
Tripping over themselves just to kiss the Trump's ring.
And he spoke only lies just as if they were true,
Until they believed all of those lies were true too.
He repeated and Tweeted and he blustered and spit,
And he mislead and fibbed—and he just made up sh*t.
And the media laughed but they printed each line,
thinking "He'll never will win, in the end we'll be fine."
So they chased every headline, bold typed every claim,
'Till the fake news and real news they looked just the same.
And the scared folk who listened, they devoured each word,
Yes, they ate it all up every word that they heard,
petrified that their freedom was under attack,
trusting Trump he would take their America back.
From the gays and from ISIS, he'd take it all back,
Take it back from the Democrats, fat cats, and blacks.
And so hook, line, and sinker they all took the bait,
all his lies about making America great.
Now the Pant-suited One she was smart and prepared,
she was brilliant and steady but none of them cared,
no they cared not to see all the work that she'd done,
or the fact they the Trump had not yet done Thing One.
They could only shout "Emails!", yes "Emails!" they'd shout,
because Fox News had told them—and Fox News had clout.
And the Pant-suited One she was slandered no end,
and a lie became truth she could never defend.
And the Trump watched it all go according to plan—
a strong woman eclipsed by an insecure man!
And November the 8th arrived, finally it came,
like a slow-moving storm but it came just the same.
And Tuesday became Wednesday as those days will do,
And the night turned to morning and the nightmare came true,
With millions of non-voters still in their beds,
Yes, the Trump he had done it, just like he had said.
And the Trumpers they trumped, how they trumped when he won,
All the racists and bigots; deplorable ones,
they crawled out from the woodwork, came out to raise Hell,
they came out to be hateful and hurtful as well.
With slurs and with road signs, with spray paint and Tweets,
with death threats to neighbors and taunts on the street.
And the grossest of grossness they hurled on their peers,
while the Trump he said zilch—for the first time in years.
But he Tweeted at Hamilton, he Tweeted the Times,
And he trolled Alec Baldwin a few hundred times,
and he pouted a pout like a petulant kid,
thinking this is what Presidents actually did,
thinking he could still be a perpetual jerk,
terrified to learn he had to actually work,
work for every American, not just for a few,
not just for the white ones—there was much more to do!
He now worked for the Muslims and Mexicans too,
for the brown, black, and tan ones, and the ones who vote blue.
They were all now his bosses, now they all had a say,
and those nasty pant-suited ones were here to stay!
And the Trump he soon realized that he didn't win,
He had gotten the thing—and the Thing now had him.
And it turned out the Trump was a little too late,
for America was already more than quite great,
not because of the sameness, the opposite's true,
It's greatness far more than just red, white, and blue,
It's straight, gay, and female—it's Gentile and Jew,
It's Transgender and Christian and Atheist too.
It's Asians, Caucasians of every kind,
The disabled and abled, the deaf and the blind,
It's immigrants, Muslims, and brave refugees,
It's Liberals with bleeding hearts fixed to their sleeves.
And we are all staying, we're staying right here,
and we'll be the great bane of the Trump for four years.
And we'll be twice as loud as the loudness of hate,
be the greatness that makes our America great.
And the Trump's loudest boasts they won't ever obscure,
over two million more of us—voted for her.
- by Anonymous
ANOTHER (& PERHAPS THE GREATEST) DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OBAMA & TRUMP: READING
It was so gratifying to see that the New York Times sent its literary critic to interview President Obama in the White House and ran the story on the front page under the headline: "How Reading Nourished Obama" during his White House years. What followed was testimony to how intelligence and humanity GROW: through reading.
Conversely we look at Donald Trump and see the shocking opposite of a curious, searching mind. This is a man who doesn't read and prides himself on never opening books.
This is a man whose intellect stopped expanding at a very young age, whose overall comprehension - and most important, his potential for EMPATHY (which I believe is the fundamental, life-changing reason to read, to get out of the self and identify with worlds beyond the self) ceased.
I have dedicated my life to reading, writing and teaching - and one of the most important insights I hope to pass on to everyone with whom I come in contact is the importance of reading books, whether in the library, bookstore, electronically or on tape.
The voices in books speak to us from other times - and invite us into conversations with the imagination, the intellect, the dreams and arguments, the power-search and compassion of other minds. Reading operates outside of time, it is timeless, like poetry - and transports us from our pinging, trivia-burdened "devices" and screens into the ages, the galaxies, into the life of a grain of sand.
Reading is the antidote for the Tweet Cemetery - so many "dead" words - no room for the imaginative or the "in depth". (though I think poems at 140 characters could work!)
Just read. Do you want to grow up to be like Donald Trump? With a tiny brain and enormous ego - with no grace or style or charisma - or care for others, ever? Where money is everything, and lies are inventions of a tiny self-protecting sensiblity that knows nothing of the world of ideas?
Sorry - didn't mean to insist. Just think about it. Read the New York Times article on Obama and what he has read during the last eight years.
Then think about how any writer of note has been a passionate reader, forever.
The Writers Resist reading in L.A. (Beyond Baroque, in Venice, Jan. 15) was a huge success, with over 400 people attending - and superb contributions, read aloud by the writers!
Just a quick thought. This powerful national statement by writers came about because of Erin Belieu, poet and activist, who came up with the idea of the literary Resistance!
However, in the "guide" that organizers of the readings received - re creating reading "sites" in cities all over the U.S. (& Europe!) - there was a "cautionary" observation from the writers' organization, PEN (as "sponsor") about not mentioning "the president-elect's" name, rather concentrating on quoting great writers and statesmen of the past, etc.
Yes! to the reading of important words that inform democracy, the arts, free expression, etc.- and that certainly was the order of the day. (Others did talk about Trump - explicitly.) I think we (who agree) should "mention" Trump's name loudly and often! He was the reason we came together at Erin Belieu's suggestion in the first place - to "resist" him, in words - and with our voices.
I think that the "non profits" are feeling vulnerable right now and hence are attempting to stay within "safe margins" in their public events and broadcasting. Even Bill Maher is feeling edgy - and he's not even a non-profit!
But we must not soften our voices - or conform to "polite" standards - to try to stay on the safe side of a vindictive, tyrannical and unreasonable administration, even as I get it that nonprofits could lose their status.
So is the answer to temper the "news", the presentation, the "policy" - in order to keep the status quo?
I don't know.
All I know is - we need as many voices as possible, taking a risk, walking the edge, pushing out the margins of "safe" - to CLARITY about what is going on in our lives as citizens of the United States.
BILL MOYERS SAYS THAT TRUMP ISN'T FIT TO BE A "WHATEVER" ON THE GREAT JOHN LEWIS' POSTERIOR!
THE 2016 "DUKES" tennis tournament - my daughter Annie read the "Dukes" memorial poem - and she and Johnny and my brother Jim, etc. - a wonderful day!
ANNOUNCING: Carol's ninth book of poems, entitled BLUE ROSE is forthcoming - to be published by Penguin (in the Penguin Poets series) in early 2018. Worth waiting for!
THE MUSKE & MUSKE-DUKES PARTY at BRUNCH PRIOR TO THE DAVID DUKES TENNIS TOURNAMENT & AWARDS CEREMONY - the 16th YEAR!
With Jim Muske, John Muske, Kathy Muske, Kelsey Muske, Annie Muske-Dukes-Driggs & Johnny Driggs.
Carol Muske-Dukes' first book of poems was CAMOUFLAGE: Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, which was first runner-up for the International Poetry Forum prize. Next came the Dylan Thomas Poetry Award, 1975.
CAMOUFLAGE was followed by a new collection, SKYLIGHT, from Doubleday Poetry Series, 1981.
SKYLIGHT won a Creative Artists Public Service Program award (CAPS) and (while in progress) the Poetry Society of America's Alice Fay di Castagnola Award.
Then, the John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (spent partially in Italy).
Next was WYNDMERE, from Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1985, awarded a National Endowment for the Arts Grant followed by APPLAUSE, Univ. of Pittsburgh Press, 1989, which garnered an
In 1993, Penguin Books published RED TROUSSEAU, which was a NYTimes Notable Book & Phi Kappa Phi, USC's book award.
And 1997 brought New & Selected Poems, AN OCTAVE ABOVE THUNDER, with poems featured in Best American Poetry. Also the University of Virginia's Rea Writers Award
SPARROW was published by Random House in 2003 & was selected as National Book Award Finalist, short list.
From the National Book Award citation: "SPARROW demonstrates that the requiem, the elegy, and the blues are not always primal cries of hopelessness and despair, but are - at their most sublime- enduring efforts to turn that which is deeply devastating into something beautiful, even transcendent. SPARROW's understated musicality, intelligent architecture, and naked honesty seduce and comfort, even as the poems guide us through the pain of death, the details of marital disquiet, and the grace of marital love. Whether she is employing classical or contemporary forms, Muske-Dukes is teaching us how to grieve and lament, all over again."
TWIN CITIES came out from the Penguin Poets Series in 2011, with acknowledgements – the Harmon Visiting Writer Award & Smart Family Award (Columbia University)
BLUE ROSE, Penguin Poets Series, is forthcoming in 2018.
"On a dark day, when I've read too much, and all the poets start turning into each other, I like to think about Carol Muske, who only turns into more wonderful versions of herself. Her dazzle and virtuosity are one of a kind: Mozartean. That's as high as I know how to go." – Carolyn Kizer
"Effortlessly, the narrator's story becomes one with the stories of the women in prison. Rarely do we encounter a perspective clear as glass, through which the characters look back at the narrator without mirror or microscope, false hierarchy or romanticizing.. Brava!" – Toni Morrison
"Muske-Dukes shows us there is something magical and mighty in the connections that art can forge among human beings." - Los Angeles Times Book Review
"Muske-Dukes takes vast chances with both her voice and her subject matter and ends with a work strongly based on reality but unquestionably elevated into the wondrous realm of art." - San Francisco Chronicle
Carol Muske-Dukes has also been a judge for the National Book Award, for the National Endowment for the Arts, for the Kingsley-Tufts Poetry Prize(s), for the Y Discovery Award and numerous other award-granting entities, including Gold Line Press, at USC.
Besides being included regularly in Best American Poetry & Pushcart Press Prize volumes – she has been the subject of many interviews, from Terry Gross on NPR (twice) to Publisher's Weekly to Michael Silverblatt's "Bookworm" to Renee Montagne's NPR "Morning Edition" to "On Point".
Published widely (New Yorker to APR) and has given readings all over the U.S. - represented by Molly Friedrich Agency, NYC.
Besides founding "Art Without Walls/Free Space" – a statewide writing program in NY State prisons, she has also founded the PhD Program in Creative Writing & Literature at USC.
She has been a professor of English/CW at USC for many years – but has been visiting writer at Columbia University's MFA Program, the Iowa Writers Workshop, the Univ. of Calif. at Irvine MFA program and the University of Virginia's masters program.
New York Times "T" Magazine: An Artist and a Poet Capture Death in a Hospice Room
My new poem with artist's image by Nari Ward in this Sunday's New York Times' T Magazine >>
Early Bird Books: April 11th Deal of the Day for Saving St. Germ
Today's Early Bird Books features Saving St. Germ. Saving St. Germ will be down priced at $2.99 for today (4/11) only.
INVITE-ONLY READING AT THE NEW BROAD MUSEUM IN APRIL
Carol Muske-Dukes will be presenting her amazing USC graduate students (PhD) in an art-inspired ekphrastic reading at the new Broad Museum in L.A. in April (Carol reading one poem as well). This is an invitation-only event. TBA
POETRY MONTH CELEBRATION WITH CHOO-CHOO'S! (UNION STATION)!
Metro Art Poetry Month Event:
In collaboration with the Poetry Society of America, Metro Art presents local poets in a poetry reading at Union Station in L.A.
Carol will join Dana Goodyear and Amy Uyematsu, who will give readings on April 21st from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM in the East Portal of the station.
NATIONAL POETRY MONTH: ACADEMY OF AMERICAN POETS' GALA - APRIL 27th, NYC, ALICE TULLY HALL, 7 pm
On April 27th, Carol Muske-Dukes will be one of the Honorary Hosts at the Poetry & the Creative Mind VIP reception, which supports educational programs, and this year marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month.
Honorary Hosts: Poets Catherine Barnett, Sophie Cabot Black, Mahogany L. Browne, Mark Doty, Jorie Graham, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Kimiko Hahn, Marie Howe, Saeed Jones, Yusef Komunyakaa, Deborah Landau, Joseph Legaspi, Carol Muske-Dukes, Alicia Ostriker, Ron Padgett, Gregory Pardlo, Sonia Sanchez, Vijay Seshadri, Susan Stewart, Craig Morgan Teicher, and Anne Waldman. >>
Carol's Schedule at AWP (Associated Writing Programs National Conference)
Sneak Peek: A Late Style of Fire—the Larry Levis Documentary
Room 411, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
Friday, April 1, 2016
1:30 pm to 2:45 pm
This panel provides a "sneak peek" screening and discussion by the filmmaker and participants of A Late Style of Fire, the revealing, unconventional feature-length documentary film about Larry Levis. The film explores his life and work through narration unveiled in words from his own poems as well as photos, videos, and artful visual explorations, and featuring interviews with Philip Levine, Charles Wright, Carolyn Forché, David St. John, Carol Muske-Dukes, Norman Dubie, family members, lovers, friends, and more. Music by Iron & Wine. >>
USC Creative Writing Faculty Reading
Room 515 A, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level
Friday, April 1, 2016
4:30 pm to 5:45 pm
This is a reading by USC creative writing faculty, in fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction, all of whom teach in the PhD in Creative Writing & Literature Program. >>
FORMER USC PRESIDENT, STEVE SAMPLE: In Memoriam
LA Times: Feminist, poet and a good neighbor: Spielberg, others, remember former USC President Steven Sample by Zahira Torres, Jason Song and Matt Hamilton >>
California's former poet laureate and USC professor Carol Muske-Dukes recalled how she met Sample: through an exchange of correspondence.
Muske-Dukes had read a story about a cheer squad at USC, and she wrote a note to Sample telling him that she thought the way the group was presented did not provide a positive image of women.
Sample disagreed -- his wife, Kathryn Brunkow Sample, had participated in cheer squads when she was younger.
Their conversation, in a series of handwritten letters, quickly expanded into a discussion of feminism. Sample, the father of two daughters, considered himself a feminist, she said.
"We got to know each other through my big mouth basically," Muske-Dukes said. "He was a friend. I really liked him as not only a man who spoke his mind very directly, but also he was a closet poet."
Muske-Dukes said they often talked about poetry. Robert Frost's "Birches" was among his favorites. She recalled how happy Sample was when she was named poet laureate for the state. He even had a copy of one of her poems in his office.
When her husband died more than 15 years ago, Sample drove from his home in San Marino to Hancock Park to be with her and her daughter. They all held hands as he said a prayer, then a poem.
"It was so touching and so typical at the same time," Muske-Dukes said, adding: "It's an indescribable loss of a secret poet as well as a great president of a university."
Friends, don't make me beg. Just send $ -- every little bit helps -- to this funding platform & if you want a part in a cool film - give a lot!
Early this morning (September 24, 2015), my mother, Elsie Muske, passed away in her sleep in St. Paul, Minnesota. She was a poet at heart, and as her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren knew, she had countless poems by heart and could recite them all. "Sunset and evening star and one clear call for me / May there be no moaning of the bar when I put out to sea." She was 99 years old.
Huffington Post Blog Piece - "Gale Force"
Gale Force by Carol Muske-Dukes (Posted on Sept. 8, 2015 | Updated on Sept. 14, 2015) >>
Republican leaders are threatening to shut down the entire federal government for the second time in three years unless Congress cuts funding for Planned Parenthood. We cannot let them get away with it!
Planned Parenthood is a lifeline for millions of women, providing cancer screenings, contraception, and basic preventive health care to women across the country.
That's why I signed a petition to The United States House of Representatives and The United States Senate, which says:
"STOP the war on women and Planned Parenthood. Don't cut a dime in federal funding for Planned Parenthood."
Will you sign the petition too? Click here to add your name:
CAROL'S PLAY, "I MARRIED THE ICEPICK KILLER" : READINGS!
Two staged readings in Manhattan coming up! On September 11, 2015, the play will be read at the HOWL HAPPENING Gallery/Theater Space at 6 East 1st St. -- at 7 PM as part of the New Play Festival, benefiting the Actors' Fund. There is an admission charge - less if done on-line - $8. (Suggested donation) Directed by Christopher Grabowski, with actors Caroline Kinsolving, David Joseph, Ann Pellegrini and others.
The second staged reading will be at the Stella Adler Studio Center (affiliated, NYU TIsch) on December 17th, 2015, time TBA.
Please plan to attend if you're in the City!
Extra! Extra! Read All About It: It's a Way of Looking at the World!
The Virginia Quarterly Review (Summer 2015): Carol Muske-Dukes and the Art of Empathy by Debra Nystrom >>
"A writer and poet whose verse recently appeared in the Spring issue of The Paris Review–Carol Muske-Dukes has long been interested and active in presenting a public face of poetry. A former poet laureate of California and a teacher for many years, she founded the Ph.D. program in Creative Writing at the University of Southern California and began a writing program, in 1972, at the Women's House of Detention on Rikers Island in New York. On the heels of National Poetry Month, I spoke with Muske-Dukes at her home in Southern California about the many contemporary approaches to reading, writing, and thinking about the art of poetry, from hip-hop to "unoriginal genius" and how language matters."
Open Letter Poem: Huffington Post - November 14, 2014
A single fact to start: Nicholas Kristof (and others) have reported that more women were killed in the last 50 years just for being women than all of the men in all of the wars of the 20th century! Come again? It's a fact. The men bought it in World Wars or regional wars or battles sanctioned by the State -- the women all died because they had female body parts!
Do we all know that a 27-year-old, critically ill woman (26 weeks pregnant) died recently while undergoing a Cesarean section ordered by a judge in Washington, D.C., in his attempt to save the fetus? (The judge, by the way, was aware of the great risk to the young woman's life.)
The world was outraged by the YouTube beheadings of journalists by ISIS, but, folks, women are beheaded (or stoned to death) with appalling regularity in countries like Saudi Arabia. Just for "being women" -- or for acting on human desire, for having an opinion, for seeking to be educated.
Sixteen-year-old Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai is shot in the head by the Taliban for standing up, in Pakistan, for the rights of young women to go to school. (You know the saying: The Taliban doesn't fear bombs or drones -- they fear a young woman with a book.)
From deadly gang-rapes in India, to rapes in the U.S. (and the billing of rape victims for rape kits!) to sexual harassment in the military to sexual violence on campuses across the U.S. -- hey, sisters, look around? Former President Jimmy Carter says in his book, A Call to Action, "The world's discrimination and violence against women and girls is the most serious, pervasive and ignored violation of basic human rights."
What will it take for our feminist leaders to speak out? What will it take for our politicians (both parties) to finally admit that this assault on every aspect of a woman's existence has gone far enough?
I'm a poet. Who listens to poets? Nobody! But since it seems to me that very few other women (with some exceptions) are pushing back against this ongoing and universal assault on our sex, I've (yes!) written a poem of protest. Laughable? I intend to write more about this gender war. But for now, here is a poem about birth control. Yes, a poem.
When it is said that the tea party fundamentalists (like all fundamentalists, in whatever religion) are obsessed with "lady parts" -- and their critics charge that they are condemning us to the "dark ages" -- I offer this poem in response.
If the "dark ages" are understood to be any century prior to the one in which we (briefly) live -- then surely, if we go back to 6th and 5th centuries, B.C.E., to huge Cyrene ship trade from North Africa to Rome and beyond, we find that the biggest "seller" was a plant called Silphium, whose resin was a highly effective form of birth control. So effective and so wildly popular was this plant that a whole economy was built around it, and a currency -- a silver coin depicting a woman bowing to Silphium was as common as quarters are now.
But there's more. The symbol of this "safe sex" plant (or its seedpod, which resembled a woman's private parts) became the shape of what we call the "heart," the romantic sign of love.
It's obvious that our heart muscle doesn't look like the Valentine cartoon that fuels are image of romance and affection. The Silphium plant, however, and its curvy "pod" was painted on signs in the ancient world advertising safe sex and gave us that symbol. Which our ancestors were smart enough to know was necessary, fair and respectful of women. And men.
So next time you see a Valentine, think of birth control. That's where that sweet red symbol came from.
The missing history of the heart is here
Where the shape of Love originated -
Double lobe of an ancient seedpod.
Senator, our universal symbol of Love, the heart,
did not come from a pumping lump, but from
this pharma sign in ancient doorways, on walls,
meant to mimic a woman's intimate parts.
The good plant's ovary: an ad for safe sex,
Love without fear, when one sipped its elixir.
Look! Here is my sister, a talking vagina, re-
Minding you that a woman's sex is not a draw-
bridge, though girls can learn to crank a chain.
Would that it grew again, Senator, recultivated
Centuries after it was harvested to extinction.
Would that we could rocket back to that one
Shimmering patch of North African till-able.
The only place on earth it consented to grow.
Call up the cargo ships again, the winged vessels.
Women waited in the world's harbors, they wait still.
Not for "I want you", but for "I want you in small doses".
Paid for in coins from the temple of Silphium: mint image,
a woman, bowing to a plant between her legs. We pay in hearts now,
fake shapes of romance, boxed Valentines from your Church of Holy Come, becoming an eyelash of cells you won't be Daddy to, yet stamp your face
on the Mommy coin. Babies & guns, Senator: the heart of America!
But the smiley faces are frowning now: they "heart" the Right.
The drawbridge draws in. My sister, the talking vagina, remains silent.
Mark Strand & Carol Muske-Dukes at a Poetry Society event
THE WAR ON WOMEN WIDENS ITS BATTLEGROUND TO GAMING
NYTimes: Feminist Critics of Video Games Facing Threats in 'GamerGate' Campaign
Petition: Revoke the Tax-Exempt Status of the National Football League
I just signed the petition "Congress: Revoke the Tax-Exempt Status of the National Football League" and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.
Our goal is to reach 500,000 signatures and we need more support. You can read more and sign the petition here:
THE VOICE OF WOMEN IN AMERICAN POETRY:
with Cyrus Cassells, Carol Muske-Dukes, and Maggie Nelson
Thursday, Sep 18, 7:00pm
Pasadena Central Library Auditorium
285 E. Walnut St.
The PSA's 2014 National Series pays tribute to the immense achievement of a wide range of poets, from Emily Dickinson and Emma Lazarus to Sylvia Plath, Gwendolyn Brooks, Adrienne Rich, and Wanda Coleman. In this Pasadena installment, distinguished contemporary poets will celebrate the lives and poetry of three 20th century figures, discussing their influence and reading poems of their own in tribute:
Cyrus Cassells on Ai
Carol Muske-Dukes on Ina Coolbrith
Maggie Nelson on on Eileen Myles
Co-sponsored by the Pasadena Central Library. For more information, visit PoetrySociety.Org.
A Tribute to Mark Strand (Thursday, Oct 9, 7:00pm)
The New School
The Auditorium at 66 West 12th Street
66 West 12th Street
New York, NY
Please join us as we celebrate the 80th birthday of legendary poet Mark Strand. With readings and tribute by Jonathan Aaron, John Beer, Peg Boyers, Timothy Donnelly, Jorie Graham, Edward Hirsch, John Koethe, David Lehman, Honor Moore, Carol Muske-Dukes, Jacqueline Osherow, Mary Jo Salter, Alan Shapiro, Vijay Seshadri, Charles Simic, Tom Sleigh, Susan Stewart, Rosanna Warren, Charles Wright, and Andrew Zawacki.
Co-sponsored by the Academy of American Poets, the New School Writing Program, and the Poetry Foundation
Mom at 98 with daughter (me) & great-grandaughter Louisa
At the Guthrie Theatre - in the "amber box" overview - with my sister Michele Mueller & sis-in-law Jane Pates Muske, August 21: Minnesota
Ebola Research Slow-Down by Big Pharmaceutical Companies: Meanwhile we look at our navels through big-sell "reality"
August 5, 2014 - Huffington Post - Augmented Reality
Order Poetry, Fiction & Essays by Carol Muske-Dukes from OPEN ROAD MEDIA — re-published as E-BOOKS!
OPEN ROAD INTEGRATED MEDIA LAUNCHES EBOOKS BY FORMER
CALIFORNIA POET LAUREATE CAROL MUSKE-DUKES
Muske-Dukes was hailed by Donald Justice as "One of the best poets of her generation."
"Accomplishes just what art is supposed to accomplish: it makes the world new." —The New Yorker
"The linkage of blood and blood; the hummingbird, symbol of all that is luminous, swift, and ephemeral; the light, sure touch-these are characteristic of [Muske-Dukes'] art." —The New York Times Book Review
(New York, NY—June 10, 2014)—Open Road Integrated Media, a digital publisher and multimedia content company, announced today that it will release and market seven works by Carol Muske-Dukes on June 10:
· Dear Digby
· I Married the Icepick Killer
· Saving St. Germ
Carol Muske-Dukes is the author of eight books of poems, four novels, and two essay collections, and is an editor of two anthologies, including Crossing State Lines: An American Renga, which she coedited with Bob Holman. Many of her books have been New York Times Notable selections. Muske-Dukes is a professor of English and creative writing at the University of Southern California, where she founded the PhD program in creative writing and literature, and she recently fulfilled her appointment as poet laureate of California, appointed by the governor's office. Her poetry collection Sparrow was a National Book Award finalist and she is a six-time Pushcart Prize winner. She writes for the New York Times Book Review and the New York Times op-ed page, the Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post, and the New Yorker's Page-Turner blog. Her poems have been published and anthologized widely, including in several editions of Best American Poetry. Muske-Dukes has been the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Library of Congress award, Barnes & Noble's Writer for Writers Award, and many other honors. She lives in Southern California and New York.
About Open Road Integrated Media: Open Road Integrated Media is a digital publisher and multimedia content company that creates connections between authors and their audiences. Open Road has published ebooks from legendary authors including William Styron, Pat Conroy, Alice Walker, James Jones and Virginia Hamilton.
The Voices and Faces of Palestine - Summer, 2014
POETRY & PHOTOGRAPHY - Confessions at Midrange by Nathalie Handal >>
Carol Muske-Dukes visited Hotchkiss on September 25, 2013
Recent Poems in The Paris Review & Smithsonian Magazine
Click here to read "Mark Twain's Dream", a new poem published in Smithsonian Magazine. Another recent poem, "No Hands", is in the current issue of The Paris Review (No. 208, Spring 2014).
Annie & Mom make traditional candy cane cookies for Christmas - Annie's house - Oregon
Please use the following high-quality resolution photos for all press and articles:
The second photo is by Carlos Puma.
The third photo is by Micah Baird (Women's Wear Daily).
Yale AIDS Memorial Project
"Paul Monette and his friend Carol Muske-Dukes exchanged poems during difficult periods of their lives. The poems and their correspondance is featured in the following slideshow link, along with Carol's reflection on these exchanges." >>
The Magical Poetry Blimp Pilot's Guide #2 is now available at Amazon. >>
2011 National Book Festival
Academy of American Poets — Poem-A-Day
Carol Muske-Dukes' After Skate is featured as the Poem-A-Day for May 20, 2013. >>
The Best American Poetry 2012 is available at Amazon and other bookstores. This anthology includes a poem by Carol Muske Dukes. For more information, visit the book's website.
Slouching Toward a Brief Literary History of Southern California
Read this essay by Carol Muske-Dukes, originally published on October 19, 1997 in the Los Angeles Times Book Review. >>
Carol Muske-Dukes: A Partial New York Times Archive
• Past New York Times articles by Carol Muske-Dukes >>
Note from Carol Muske-Dukes
Though I've stepped down as California Poet Laureate - I am still committed to The Magical Poetry Blimp (and GET LIT/Words Ignite)! Please help The Blimp fly high with our continuing projects -- provide a tax-deductible donation:
Click on http://getlit.org/support-us/ in order to donate to the Blimp (Magical Poetry Blimp is found under the "Organization" drop-down menu) --
• Channeling Mark Twain, 2007
• Life AFter Death, 2000
• Saving St. Germ, Viking, 1993
• Dear Digby, 1989
• Married to the Icepick Killer:
A Poet in Hollywood, 2002
• Women & Poetry, 1997
• Crossing State Lines: An American Renga, co-edited: Carol Muske-Dukes & Bob Holman, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2011
• The Magical Poetry Blimp Pilot's Guide, editor: Carol Muske-Dukes, with Diana Arterian, Figueroa Press, 2011
Many of these collections were New York Times Most Notable Books.
A sophisticated and lyrical new collection from one of today's finest living poets
Carol Muske-Dukes is an acclaimed novelist and poet whose latest collection, Sparrow,
a haunting elegy for her late husband, was a finalist for the National Book Award. Twin
Cities is an emotionally rich book of poems about how things double - by reflection,
by reproduction, by severance. The poems embark from the twin cities of Minneapolis
and St. Paul, divided by a legendary river, and then move on to the parallel histories of
a life lived and a life imagined - and the random intersection of the two. Lit by loss,
these moving poems navigate between the poles of love and grief, curse and blessing,
abandonment and rescue - they are two, and they are one.
Praise for Twin Cities:
"Exploding with capacity and ambition, Carol Muske-Dukes' new poems are the
strongest yet from a poet whose work has long been essential reading. Twin Cities
formal and architectural intelligence is stunning, as well as heart-stopping in its insight
into 'how damage is made.' The richness of the language is made to carry the maximum
bearable amount of emotion - political, spiritual, social, familial, erotic - via brightly-lit
imagery which astounds with its originality, felicity, and honesty."
- Jorie Graham
Poet, essayist, and novelist Muske-Dukes discerns metaphorical resonance in her birthplace, St. Paul,
Minnesota, and its twin city, Minneapolis. The symbiosis between the twin cities with a river between
them inspires reflections on various forms of doubleness in poems as beautifully contoured and polished as river stones turned and lathed and buffed by deep currents. Muske-Dukes' language is earthy and
unadorned, and yet, within her gleaming lines, common words shape-shift and morph into fresh and
disarming imagery and realizations. In vibrant tableaus, wrenching stories, portraits, elegies, social
objections, and metaphysical equations, the poet––lyrical, mournful, and funny—considers such "twins" as
life and death, past and present, war and peace, men and women, art and life, yes and no. Ice-skaters do the whip; two kids labor over a condolence note; a mirror frames the essence of a relationship. The poet,
Muske-Dukes muses, is a "go-between," a "double emissary," and she nimbly and exquisitely performs the
poet's spirit-sustaining art of observation, remembrance, protest, connection, and drollery in a lucid,
involving, and deeply gratifying collection.
— Donna Seaman (from BOOKLIST)
• Note from Carol on Nora's passing >>
• Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien! - Nora >>
Huffington Post Blog
• SOLDIER TO POET: An Exchange >>
• Soldier to Poet (Part II) >>
• Soldier to Poet: Naming of Parts (Part III) >>
• Singing School: A Chorus >>
• Diving Into the Wreck: Reviewing the Reviewer >>
• Patt in the Hat: Not Coming Back?? >>
• Wizard of OZ - Romney >>
• Nowhere Man >>
• Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien! - Nora >>
• Obama + Shelley Get it Right: Poets ARE the Unacknowledged Legislators of the World! (An OMNIBUS Book Review) >>
• April is National Poetry Month. The Women's Conference and California's First Lady Maria Shriver want to honor the importance of art, creativity and poetry in our lives. During April, they'll be sharing some of their favorite poems. They have chosen to feature two of Carol Muske-Dukes' poems (Twin Cities and Boy) here.
• Voice of America -
US National Poetry Month Encourages Reading, Writing Verse >>
• Suttee at Slate.com. You can also listen to a podcast of Carol reading this poem. >>
• Video clips of The Creative Community and Poetry Readings >>
• Podcast of Carol's 2007 interview on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross >>
• Poets Rita Dove, Carol Muske-Dukes, Marilyn Nelson and Lisa Russ Spaar perform as "The Pink Tuxedos" at the 2001 conference of the Associated Writing Programs (AWP) in Palm Springs, CA. [Watch video clip]
Crossing State Lines:
An American Renga Edited by Bob Holman and Carol Muske-Dukes
Order at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
A collaborative poem about America, from fifty-four of our best poets
Crossing State Lines: An American Renga is a poetic relay race across the continent: fifty-four poets responding to ideas of America-and to each other. This is a collaborative journey of impressions-from the election and inauguration of President Obama, through foreclosures, job losses, chords of country music, and bombs in Baghdad, to a poet-soldier's rifle-sight in Afghanistan.
The renga itself, in the ancient tradition of Japanese linked verse, provides the form of this historic conversation among the poets, as they meditate, within ten lines, on a moment in America. Crossing State Lines begins with Robert Pinsky's recounting of a line of poetry by Lincoln as fall deepens and "maples / kindle in the East," and ends some five hundred lines later, with Robert Hass's "greeny April" on the Pacific coast.
All proceeds from sales go to America: Now + Here.
• Sotheby's Benefit Auction for America: Now & Here in New York on June 23, 2010. From left to right: actress Swoosie Kurtz, playwright Marsha Norman, poet Carol Muske-Dukes, and poet Bob Holman.
The Magical Poetry Blimp Pilot's Guide is available at Amazon. The Magical Poetry Blimp Pilot's Guide #2 has also been released recently. >>