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Archive for January, 2014

PORTRAITS: Iranian-American poet Majid Naficy’s dramatic new bio-video-poem

Friday, January 31st, 2014


Photo © Ruxandra Guidi/KPCC-FM | Clickable image

L.A.-based poet Majid Naficy near a portrait of his father.

Iranian American poet Majid Naficy narrates poetically the story of his inner and outer life in a dramatic new bio-video-poem in the Portraits series.  30 minutes | in Farsi with English subtitles

Eight paces from the gate

“… Eight paces from the gate.”


Portraits: Majid Naficy (English version))

PORTRAITS Majid Naficy 2

Majid Naficy was born in Iran in 1952. He published poetry, criticism and an award-winning children’s book in Iran. During the 1970’s Dr. Naficy was politically active against the Shah’s regime. After the 1979 Revolution, as the new regime began to suppress the opposition, his first wife, Ezzat Tabaian and his brother Sa’id were amongst the many to be executed. He fled Iran in 1983, eventually settling in Los Angeles with his son Azad. He has since published six volumes of poetry in both English and Farsi, as well as numerous books of criticism. His most recent volume of poetry in English, Father and Son, was published in 2003 by Red Hen Press and his poem “I Don’t Want You Petroleum” appears in Sam Hamill’s Poets Against the War (Thunder’s Mouth Press / Nation Books, April 2003). He holds a doctorate in Near Eastern Languages and Cultures from the University of California in Los Angeles. His doctoral dissertation, Modernism and Idealogy in Persian Literature: A Return to Nature in the Poetry of Nima Yushij (University Press of America), was published in 1997. Dr. Naficy is also the co-editor of Daftarhaye Kanoon, a periodical in Farsi published by the Iranian Writers Association in Exile.

Night (Persian | English)
Narcissus Flower
(Persian | English)

See previous page on Majid Naficy and his work at



Friday, January 31st, 2014


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Friday, December 27, 2013


 Please Note: The following list of books is not organized according to any personal hierarchy of the relative value of each individual book. Rather it is a list that seriously considers ALL of the books listed here to be of equal intellectual and cultural value and interest, albeit for different reasons. The bottomline on this list is that each one of these books is extraordinary and invaluable in their own right and represents some of the very best writing published in the United States in 2013.
Kofi Natambu, Editor
Harlem Nocturne: Women Artists and Progressive Politics During World War II
by Farah Jasmine Griffin
Basic Civitas,  2013
The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History, and the Challenge of Bebop
by Guthrie P. Ramsey
University of California Press,  2013
I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education and Was Shot by the Taliban
by Malala Yousafzai  (with Christina Lamb)
Little Brown and Company,  2013
Fear Itself: The New Deal and the Origins Of Our Time
by Ira Katznelson
 W.W. Norton & Company  (Liveright Publishing Corporation), 2013
Mingus Speaks
by John F. Goodman
University of California Press,  2013
Paul Robeson: A Watched Man
by Jordan Goodman
Verso, 2013
The Rebellious Life Of Mrs. Rosa Parks
by Jeanne Theoharis
Beacon Press,  2013
Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker
by Stanley Crouch
Harper, 2013
Black Against Empire: The History And Politics Of The Black Panther Party
by Joshua Bloom and Waldo E. Martin, Jr.
University of California Press, 2013
Mo’ Meta Blues: The World According To Questlove
by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson  (with Ben Greenman)
Grand Central Publishing,  2013
Toussaint Louverture: The Story of The Only Successful Slave Revolt In History  (A Play in Three Acts)
by C.L.R. James
Duke University Press,  2013
Remembering Medgar Evers: Writing the Long Civil Rights Movement
by Minrose Gwin
University of Georgia Press,  2013
Told You So: The Big Book Of Weekly Columns
by Ralph Nader
Seven Stories Press, 2013
FOR Discrimination: Race, Affirmative Action, and The Law
by Randall Kennedy
Pantheon Books,  2013
Ebony & Ivy: Race, Slavery, and the Troubled History of America’s Universities
by Craig Steven Wilder
Eslanda: The Large And Unconventional Life Of Mrs. Paul Robeson
by Barbara Ransby
Yale University Press,  2013
Blacks In and Out Of The Left
by Michael C. Dawson
Harvard University Press,  2013
Hate Thy Neighbor: Move-In Violence and the Persistence Of Racial Segregation In American Housing
by Jeannine Bell
New York University Press,  2013
 A Black Revolutionary’s Life in Labor: Black Workers Power in Detroit
by Michael Hamlin  (with Michele Gibbs)
Against the Tide,  2013
The American Way of Poverty: How The Other Half Still Lives
by Sasha Abramsky
Nation Books,  2013 


Madiba A to Z: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela
by Danny Schechter
Seven Stories Press,  2013

Bending Toward Justice: The Voting Rights Act and the Transformation of American Democracy
by Gary May
Basic Books,  2013

The Baroness: The Search for Nica, the Rebellious Rothschild
by Hannah Rothschild
Alfred A. Knopf,  2013

My Beloved World
by Sonia Sotomayor
Alfred A. Knopf,  2013

March On Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights
by William P. Jones
W.W. Norton.  2013

© 2013 Panoptican Review | Kofi Natambu



PETE SEEGER (May 3, 1919 – January 27, 2014) in memoriam

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014


“It is better to have struggled and lost, than never to have struggled at all.”
— Pete Seeger

Young Pete Seeger Courtesy photo
Read about the illustrious Seeger Family at the Library of Congress’ Folklife Center


Visit the newly launched Pete Seeger Appreciation Page

toshi seeger Clickable
This Pete Seeger Appreciation Page would be incomplete if it failed to pay tribute to Toshi Seeger, Pete’s wife and partner for almost seventy years; they were married on July 20, 1943. Once Pete wrote: “Thanks to my wife Toshi, without whom the world would not turn nor the sun shine.” She remained by his side through it all, and they both survived with their honesty, their integrity, and their love intact. Sadly, Toshi Seeger passed away on July 9, 2013, just eleven days before what would have been their seventieth wedding anniversary.This photo of Toshi Seeger was taken at the annual Strawberry Festival by Econosmith.
Pete and daughter Mika
Daily Entertainment News

The world of folk music has lost its legendary singer Pete Seeger, who passed away on January 27, 2014 in New York. He is survived by his son Daniel and daughters Mika and Tinya Seeger.

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(Girl from Guantánamo)

GUANTANAMERA ~ words by Jose Martí, music by Pete Seeger.
Guantanamera‘ is poet Jose Martí’s most famous lyric worldwide.

Jose Feliciano

Sung & played by José Feliciano


Weavers 1951 Button-Play-32x32

The Weavers 1951

A collection of all the video recordings for Snader Telescriptions filmed in 1951.
00:00 Tzena Tzena Tzena
02:51 Around The World
06:03 So Long (It’s Been Good to Know You)
09:16 Goodnight, Irene
12:38 The Roving Kind


LB-WithKing Highlander Research and Education Center

Martin Luther King, Pete Seeger, Charis Horton, Rosa Parks, Ralph Abernathy at Highlander Folk School (Monteagle, TN), 1957


Pete Seeger Tells the Story Behind
“We Shall Overcome”

seeger in sunhat magnifying_glass_icon Magnify

in History, Music | January 28th, 2014 | open culture banner

Pete Seeger in 1970 on ‘The Johnny Cash Show’

 Pete Seeger Johnny Cash Button-Play-32x32 Watch



Pete Seeger, Songwriter and Champion of Folk Music, Dies at 94

© New York Times


WSWS banner

American folksinger Pete Seeger dead, at 94

By David Walsh
30 January 2014


Peter Seeger was born in 1919 into a highly intellectual and musical family, with “Yankee Protestant” roots. His father, Charles Seeger, was a Harvard University-trained composer and musicologist, who developed left-wing views, including sympathy for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), and was essentially fired from the University of California in Berkeley for his vocal opposition to World War I.

Seeger’s mother, Constance de Clyver Edson, studied at the Paris Conservatory of Music and was a talented violinist, who later taught at  the Juilliard School. According to David King Dunaway, in How Can I Keep from Singing?: The Ballad of Pete Seeger (1990), “Classical music dominated her life. She communicated through her violin.” His parents divorced when Seeger was very young, and in 1932 his father remarried. Seeger’s stepmother was Ruth Crawford Seeger, a well-known modernist composer.

Seeger began attending Harvard on a scholarship in 1936 (John F. Kennedy was a classmate), but dropped out after his second year, dissatisfied with the cynical atmosphere and restless in the face of the Depression and the threatening events in Europe. While at Harvard, he joined the Young Communist League (his father had also become sympathetic to the Communist Party) …

arrowTo read in their entirety David Walsh’s reflections on Pete Seeger’s life and career, go to the original


©the nation logoJanuary 30, 2014

Pete Seeger, 1919-2014


Bruce Springsteen celebrated Pete Seeger’s ninetieth birthday by telling the great folk singer and activist, “You outlasted the bastards, man.” And so he did. Seeger, who died on January 27 at 94, was singing with Woody Guthrie when “This Land Is Your Land” was a new song. And because he meant and lived the words of the oft-neglected final verse—“Nobody living can ever stop me, / As I go walking that freedom highway”—Seeger was hauled before the House Un-American Activities Committee in the 1950s, blacklisted and sent to the sidelines of what was becoming an entertainment industry. But Seeger just kept singing “This Land,” kept writing songs like “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” kept playing a banjo inscribed with the message “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender,” and kept rambling across the country and around the world—for every cause from labor rights to civil rights to peace.”
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Mike Iverson: ‘A Folksinger’s Perspective’
‘Why Pete Seeger Is One of My Heroes’
Mike Iverson Head Sketch


How to Play 5-String Bank Look Inside  Clickables
How to Play Five String Banjo cd Download liner notes



For Seeger, Years of Singing and Sailing to Save His Hudson River

Joseph Berger
© New York Times
January 28, 2014

About 65 years ago, he built a one-room log cabin on a hillside on the town’s edge, hand-hewing the wood, laying down the stone foundation, eventually adding a bedroom for his wife, Toshi, and himself, always splitting the logs for the fireplace and wood stove himself. From that base, he worked to clean up the river that flowed nearby — his beloved Hudson, which was suffering death by pollution at the time.

John Cronin, the former head of the environmental group Riverkeeper, remembers spying a solitary older man about two years ago on the Beacon waterfront scooping litter into a plastic bag. When the man stood up he recognized the signature ramrod bearing of Mr. Seeger, his slender six-foot longtime friend.

arrowRead all of Joseph Berger’s story about how Pete Seeger helped save the Hudson River


Pete & Toshi Seeger 2013

Pete with his lifelong partner Toshi Seeger, who died in July of 2013

seeger ny daily news 2013
© NY Daily News (2013)


BEAUTY: A Short Video by Rino Stefano Tagliafierro (Vimeo)

Monday, January 27th, 2014


BEAUTY VimeoButton-Play-32x32

L’enigma della Bellezza

«Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion’s paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger’s jaws,
And burn the long-lived phoenix in her blood;»
(W. Shakespeare, Sonnet no. 19)

Sulla bellezza da sempre aleggiano le nubi del destino e del tempo divoratore. La bellezza è cantata, raffigurata e descritta fin dall’antichità come l’attimo fuggente della felicità e della pienezza della vita inesauribile, fin dall’inizio destinata ad un epilogo tragico e salvifico.

In questa interpretazione di Rino Stefano Tagliafierro la bellezza è riportata alla forza espressiva di un gesto che egli scaturisce dall’immobilità del quadro, animando un sentimento sottraendolo alla fissità museale. Come se in quelle immagini che la storia dell’arte ci ha consegnato fosse congelato un movimento che l’oggi può rivitalizzare grazie al fuoco dell’inventiva digitale.

Una serie ben congegnata di immagini della più bella tradizione pittorica (dal rinascimento al simbolismo di fine ottocento, passando per il manierismo, il paesaggismo, il romanticismo e il neoclassicismo) sono accostate secondo un’intenzione che rintraccia il sentimento sotto il velo delle apparenze. Un’ispirazione che ci restituisce il senso di una caducità e della brevità esistenziale che l’autore interpreta con la dignità tragica di uno sguardo disincantato, capace di cogliere il senso profondo di un’immagine.
La bellezza in questa interpretazione è la compagna silenziosa della vita che inesorabilmente procede dal sorriso del bambino, attraverso l’estasi erotica, verso la smorfia di dolore che chiude un ciclo destinato a ripetersi all’infinito.

Significativi, da questo punto di vista, sono l’incipit di un’alba romantica nel cui cielo volano grossi uccelli neri e il finale del tramonto romantico con rovine gotiche che compie l’opera del tempo che fugge.

Giuliano Corti



The Enigma of Beauty

«Devouring Time, blunt thou the lion’s paws,
And make the earth devour her own sweet brood;
Pluck the keen teeth from the fierce tiger’s jaws,
And burn the long-lived phoenix in her blood;»
(W. Shakespeare, Sonnet no. 19)

Over Beauty there has always hung the cloud of destiny and all-devouring time. Beauty has been invoked, re-figured and described since antiquity as a fleeting moment of happiness and the inexhaustible fullness of life, doomed from the start to a redemptive yet tragic end.

In this interpretation by Rino Stefano Tagliafierro, this beauty is brought back to the expressive force of gestures that he springs from the immobility of canvas, animating a sentiment lost to the fixedness masterpieces.

It is as though these images which the history of art has consigned to us as frozen movement can today come back to life thanks to the fire of digital invention. A series of well selected images from the tradition of pictorial beauty are appropriated, (from the renaissance to the symbolism of the late 1800s, through Mannerism, Pastoralism, Romanticism and Neo-classicism) with the intention of retracing the sentiment beneath the veil of appearance.

An inspiration that returns to us the sense of one fallen, and the existential brevity that the author interprets as tragic dignity, with an unenchanted eye able to capture the profoundest sense of the image.

Beauty in this interpretation is the silent companion of Life , inexorably leading from the smile of the baby, through erotic ecstasies to the grimaces of pain that close a cycle destined to repeat ad infinitum.

They are, from the inception of a romantic sunrise in which big black birds fly to the final sunset beyond gothic ruins that complete the piece, a work of fleeting time.

Giuliano Corti
(English translation: Thomas McEvoy)

© Rino Stefano Tagliaferro

Rino Stefano Tagliafierro (1980) is an Italian experimental animator and director based in Milan. His output includes music videos (for artists such as Four Tet, Stumbleine, Digitalism, Mobbing, M+A and ORAX) and fashion videos (Antonio Marras, Kenzo). In addition to collaborating with teams and video artists creating interactive video projections for exhibitions, museums and special events, he has participated in many festivals and competitions, and has received numerous international awards in recognition of his work.



Revolutionary Hope: A Conversation Between James Baldwin and Audre Lorde (MoCADA)

Sunday, January 26th, 2014

Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts

MoCADA logo

Revolutionary Hope: A Conversation Between James Baldwin and Audre Lordejas baldwin audre lorde

© Essence Magazine, 1984
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JB: One of the dangers of being a Black American is being schizophrenic, and I mean ‘schizophrenic’ in the most literal sense. To be a Black American is in some ways to be born with the desire to be white. It’s a part of the price you pay for being born here, and it affects every Black person. We can go back to Vietnam, we can go back to Korea. We can go back for that matter to the First World War. We can go back to W.E.B. Du Bois – an honorable and beautiful man – who campaigned to persuade Black people to fight in the First World War, saying that if we fight in this war to save this country, our right to citizenship can never, never again be questioned – and who can blame him? He really meant it, and if I’d been there at that moment I would have said so too perhaps. Du Bois believed in the American dream. So did Martin. So did Malcolm. So do I. So do you. That’s why we’re sitting here.

AL: I don’t, honey. I’m sorry, I just can’t let that go past. Deep, deep, deep down I know that dream was never mine. And I wept and I cried and I fought and I stormed, but I just knew it. I was Black. I was female. And I was out – out – by any construct wherever the power lay. So if I had to claw myself insane, if I lived I was going to have to do it alone. Nobody was dreaming about me. Nobody was even studying me except as something to wipe out.

JB: You are saying you do not exist in the American dream except as a nightmare.

AL: That’s right. And I knew it every time I opened Jet, too. I knew that every time I opened a Kotex box. I knew that every time I went to school. I knew that every time I opened a prayer book. I knew it, I just knew it.

JB: It is difficult to be born in a place where you are despised and also promised that with endeavor – with this, with that, you know – you can accomplish the impossible. You’re trying to deal with the man, the woman, the child – the child of whichever sex – and he or she and your man or your woman has got to deal with the 24-hour-a-day facts of life in this country. We’re not going to fly off someplace else, you know, we’d better get through whatever that day is and still have each other and still raise children – somehow manage all of that. And this is 24 hours of every day, and you’re surrounded by all of the paraphernalia of safety: If you can strike this bargain here. If you can make sure your armpits are odorless. Curl your hair. Be impeccable. Be all the things that the American public says you should do, right? And you do all those things – and nothing happens really. And what is much worse than that, nothing happens to your child either.

AL: Even worse than the nightmare is the blank. And Black women are the blank. I don’t want to break all this down, then have to stop at the wall of male/female division. When we admit and deal with difference; when we deal with the deep bitterness; when we deal with the horror of even our different nightmares; when we turn them and look at them, it’s like looking at death: hard but possible. If you look at it directly without embracing it, then there is much less that you can ever be made to fear.

JB: I agree.

AL: Well, in the same way, when we look at our differences and not allow ourselves to be divided, when we own them and are not divided by them, that is when we will be able to move on. But we haven’t reached square one yet.

JB: I’m not sure of that. I think the Black sense of male and female is much more sophisticated than the western idea. I think that Black men and women are much less easily thrown by the question of gender or sexual preference – all that jazz. At least that is true of my experience.

AL: Yea, but let’s remove ourselves from merely a reactive position – i.e., Black men and women reacting to what’s out there. While we are reacting to what’s out there, we’re also dealing between ourselves – and between ourselves there are power differences that come down…

JB: Oh, yes…

AL: Truly dealing with how we live, recognizing each other’s differences, is something that hasn’t happened…

JB: Differences and samenesses

arrowClick here to read the rest of this recovered conversation between Audre Lorde and James Baldwin.