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Mary E. Weems Table



Books by Mary E. Weems

Public Education and the Imagination-Intellect: I Speak from the Wound in My Mouth  / Tampon Class

An Unmistakable Shade of Red & The Obama Chronicles

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Mary E. Weems, Ph.D. is an accomplished poet, playwright, author, editor, performer, motivational speaker, and imagination-intellect theorist. Weems has been widely published in journals, anthologies, and several books including Public Education and the Imagination-Intellect: I Speak from the Wound in My Mouth (Lang, 2003), developed from her dissertation which argues for imagination-intellectual development as the primary goal of public education. She won the Wick Chapbook Award for her collection in 1996, and in 1997 her play Another Way to Dance won the Chilcote award for The Most Innovative Play by an Ohio Playwright. Her most recent chapbook Tampon Class (Pavement Saw Press, 2005) is in its second printing. Mary Weems currently teaches in the English and Education departments at John Carroll University, and works as a language-artist-scholar in k-12 classrooms, university settings and other venues through her business Bringing Words to Life. Contact Professor Weems,, for readings and more information.

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Mary E. Weems. Public Education and Imagination-Intellect: I Speak from the Wound in My Mouth. New York: Peter Lang, 2003. 125 pp. $24.95. African American Review, Fall 2005 by Meiko Negishi, Anastasia Elder

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Feds Authorities in Meridian, Miss. Violated Rights of Black Children10 August 2012—The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division has released investigative findings determining that children in predominantly black Meridian, Miss. have had their constitutional rights violated by the Lauderdale County Youth Court, the Meridian Police Department, and the Mississippi Division of Youth Services in what civil rights investigators allege is a school to prison pipeline with even dress code violations resulting in incarceration. . . . Also in the findings letter the Civil Rights Division alleges that “Lauderdale County and the Youth Court Judges violate the Fourth, Fifth, and Fourteenth Amendments by failing to provide children procedural due process in the youth court. Lauderdale County, the Youth Court judges, and the Mississippi Division of Youth Services violate the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments by failing to provide children procedural due process rights in the probationary process.” . . .

“The system established by the City of Meridian, Lauderdale County, and DYS to incarcerate children for school suspensions ‘shocks the conscience,’ resulting in the incarceration of children for alleged ‘offenses’ such as dress code violations, flatulence, profanity, and disrespect.” The Justice Department findings letter noted.abcnews / photo left Mayor Cheri Barry

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This is nothing but convict leasing—I suspect, cause somebody is definitely getting PAID big time. Have you seen the PBS film "Slavery by another Name?" Talks about what happens coming out of reconstruction...a few families of white, former slave owners start this interconnected system which started with making 'everything and anything' a Black man does (spitting on the sidewalk, looking somebody white in the face, walking on the street while somebody white is on it, 'not' having any money etc.) as a crime, next, judge gets paid to find them guilty and send the to jail where they (most of them illiterate and dark skinned) put their mark on a document which basically says while there's an end date, the jailer can extend it for reason or no reason at will.

THEN, you get unscrupulous companies (LTV steel being one of them) to PAY you to lease these poor brothers (and a few white men) out to do all kinds of work.

This policy was in effect and barely challenged until 1942, when the death of a white male in this circumstance a couple years before resulted in legislation to stop it.

Course I argue that our 'current' public education system is accomplishing the same thing—it's just not being intentionally organized by the folks involved.

The fact that this is happening at the hands of Black people, I can't get inside—but I do think greed and internalized racism are at play here (been hated so long you hate yo damn self).

Will be waiting for Obama and others of 'us' to speak and act out against this.—Mary

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What’s Going On: Black Studies and the Arts

Historically, Black artists and scholars have used their work to investigate and articulate the heart of the global Black experience. We seek work that addresses innovative ways visual art, music, poetry, literature, dance and other art forms critique, illuminate and/or bear witness to problems and solutions to critical issues in k-12 and postsecondary education. These issues include but are not limited to use of the arts as an integral part of the curriculum, to critique or explore the achievement gap, to report on the consequences of No Child Left Behind, use of the arts in Teacher Education programs, and the experiences of Black artist scholars in academia. We are interested in author's doing qualitative research using interpretive methods including auto/ethnography, ethnography, poetic inquiry, narrative, and ethnodrama; as well as interview and focus groups. What's Going On welcomes work from all educational disciplines and will also consider collaborative book projects on the cutting edge of crucial issues facing Black people today pertinent to the field.

Help me spread the word about Peter Lang's, Black Studies and Critical Thinking (BSCT) series and contact me at  or  with questions about What's Going On or to suggest folks who might be interested in submitting proposals. Also, note the other series editors and their areas below.

Peace, Mary E. Weems, Series Editor, Black Studies and Critical Thinking, Peter Lang Publishing

Other Series Editors

Marsha Darling, History

E. Patrick Johnson, LGBT  

Judy Alston, Black Leadership 

Judson L. Jeffries, Political Science

 Ernest Morrell, Youth & Childhood Culture

Mitchell Rice, Public Policy & Administration

 R. Deborah Davis, Education

Sandra Jackson, Black Women and Gender Studies


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LeBron James: 3rd 'Vogue' cover boy

LeBron James is striking a pose.

The Cleveland Cavaliers' superstar will appear on the April cover of Vogue, joining actors Richard Gere and George Clooney as the only men to do so in the influential fashion magazine's 116-year history.

Wearing a tank top, shorts and sneakers from his own Nike clothing line, James appears on the cover dribbling a basketball and screaming as if in game mode while throwing one arm around supermodel Gisele Bundchen with Tom Brady nowhere to be found. USA Today

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En Vogue


            *LeBron James on Cover

                of Vogue Magazine, March 2008


Being Black and male

always been a commodity

this brother not for sale

being sold every day

on dotted line

line is long

white folks who hire

see money-green, Black, and go-rilla

remember movie

that affirmed Darwin’s theory

his evolution of the races

not taught—known by almost everyone.


LeBron knows basketball, charity,

love and what he was taught in American schools.

U.S. His-tory a white lie.


James builds a dynasty

moves across shoes

long line of Black men

who couldn’t play basketball

with whites, but lived an America

sans Civil Rights, heard


I wish Cotton was a monkey”

on The Little Rascals

knew what it meant.

By Mary E. Weems


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Spring Break
New Jersey
Jacob Lawrence, 1946
The couple stepped out of Princeton
took a New Ark. On the white sand
color separated like oil and water
Princeton perched under umbrellas
drank from umbrella-topped frosted
glasses. The sweat on the glass
like the wet all around them
night arms and legs lifting and toting
with both sides, keeping their eyes
down to keep the look in them
from getting them

A poem from unpublished manuscript titled "Night Gallery."

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Eulogy for Bernie Mack


I’m gon’ miss Bernie Back

like 45 mothafuckas

my first and last Big Mac and fries,

The Mack in Superfly one, two, three,

and four


He made me laugh so loud

I thought my teeth, tongue and gums

would drop like a man caught sneaking

through his bedroom window drops to the ground,

like somebody just told me all his jokes at one time,

like it was the last laugh I was evah gon’ have


Bernie Mack was so funny he didn’t have to cuss,

watchin’ his sitcom like being at home when I was growin’ up,

except with a refrigerator fulla food and popcorn


his comedy took you from laughin’ ha! ha! to aha!

as he hit Black life, poverty and politics on the head


When Bernie Mack conjugated mothafucka,

I almost choked on laughter wellin’ up in my throat

like volcano mud, rememberin’ how many umpteenth times

I’ve used that word to talk about everything under the sun,

moon and stars


Thank you God for sendin’ us this brother,

this world his comedy club, the next blessed

to have him at the mike.

Mary E. Weems August, 2008

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Mary Weems
Tampon Class


Pavement Saw Press Chapbook Series
ISBN 1-886350-49-3
32 pages, 5.5 by 8.5, 2005 / $6.00

Poems in this chapbook first appeared in Calyx, Mirror of the Arts, Moondance, Obsidian III: Black Literature in Review, Pavement Saw, Reed Magazine, Woman Made Gallery's Her Mark 2002 Calendar, XcpCross Cultural Poetics.


Tampon Class

The 10-cent tampon dispenser
in the state college john
is chipped, rusted, dented
white metal, slick
from fast fingerprints,
plucking the contents in a hurry.

The 25-cent tampon dispenser
in the downtown office building
is brass, engraved with insert
instructions.  The product shoots
from the small side chute.

The 50-cent tampon dispenser
in the mall is black and chrome
with an invisible coin slot.  It plays
music as coins drop and a secret door
opens, placing the tube in your hand

singing, thanks for bleeding.

Source: Pavement Saw Press

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Say it Loud: Poems about James Brown

This is a shout out for help. Almost a year ago, when brother James Brown made his transition, I posted the following Call for Poems about the impact his lifetime of music has had on anyone within the reach of the call. To date the “response” has been powerful but as of today—February 20, 2008, the number of poems submitted for consideration number less than 50. Poets we need at least another 150 poems, to put together a strong anthology. I know a lot of people hit this drum. I’m asking each person who reads this call to “stop” and take a minute to forward it to at least “3” people they know who are either poets or who know poets. If you belong to other listservs, consider helping us out by “posting” this call on it if possible. If ya’ll don’t have a James Brown poem—consider writing one and sending it to us. I realize all things come in their own time, but on the practical side—books like these have their “time” too—May 6, 2008, will mark a year the world’s been without James Brown. In his honor, get down—send us your James Brown poems today.  Peace, Mary Weems

Say it Loud: Poems about James Brown. Edited by: Mary E. Weems, and Thomas Sayers Ellis. We grew up on James Brown’s hit me! When he danced every young Black man wanted to move, groove and look like him. Mr. Brown wasn’t called the hardest workingman in show business because he wasn’t. Experiencing a James Brown show was like getting your favourite soul food twice, plus desert. His songs, like black power fists you could be proud of and move to at the same time.  When Mr. Brown sang make it funky we sweated even in the wintertime.  Losing him was like losing somebody in our family. This is a shout out for poems about the impact James Brown had on our lives.  Poems that will help people remember, honour, and celebrate his legacy. Don’t be left in a cold sweat, send us your old and new James Brown poems today.

Submission Guidelines:  3-5 Unpublished and/or published poems with acknowledgement included. No longer than 73 lines  Deadline: April 30, 2008  (Receipt not postmark) Send hard copies along with a Word Document and short bio on a CD to: Dr. Mary E. Weems / English Department /  John Carroll University / 20700 North Park Blvd. / University Hts., Ohio 44118 / Send via e-mail attachment (Word Documents Only) to:,  and

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Book Review

Public Education and the Imagination-Intellect

I Speak from the Wound in My Mouth

By Mary E. Weems

This unique "auto/ethnographic, sacred performance text" . . . invites readers to critique the public education system. It posits that education should promote the artistic alongside the scholarly, and that one's intellect (thinking) and imagination (creativity) are always connected. Through various literary forms, Weems simultaneously explains and models her vision for public education. Her writings utilize many forms of expression (expository, plays, poetry) to convey a variety of feelings, ideas, and situations regarding her own journey through public education, and what she envisions it could and should be.

The book explains an ideal vision and follows it up with powerful portrayals of Weems's own experiences that helped to shape her thinking. In this way, the text serves as a compelling example of self-expression, and demonstrates the kinds of products one could expect if public education promoted imagination-intellect. Weems sees the school as an important agent that can produce activists to challenge social problems, in particular, those surrounding issues of race and ethnicity.

Her writing follows in the footsteps of a Harlem Renaissance writer such as Zora Neale Hurston and a Chicago Renaissance writer such as Richard Wright. Weems's writing is also inspired by the accomplishments of artistic African American women, such as Toni Morrison and Anna Deveare Smith; and is influenced by multicultural, educational theorists such as Paulo Friere and Maxine Greene. Each chapter contains unique poems, plays, and essays that invite the reader to envision a more ideal educational system and to confront racism.

Chapter One: "Utopia: Critical Imagination-Intellect as a Pedagogical Focus," describes ideal education. Weems proposes that teaching environments be loving and respectful of students from diverse backgrounds to foster each student's imagination-intellect. She proposes a curriculum that includes five areas critical for her educational utopia: art appreciation, oral expression, written expression, performance, and social consciousness. In this system, students' awareness of social injustice and diversity inspire them to be creative and thinking critically through various arts. In her school, "Classrooms are without walls.., and talking and movement while learning is encouraged--never punished ... the school has a nurturing environment of love, mutual respect, reciprocal learning, and sharing ... each eight-week period is marked by student performances.... There are three categories: Rhetorical Debate, Scientific Discovery, and Creative Performances grounded in literature, history, math, and any of the physical sciences."

Chapter Two: "Transitions," the author brings the reader to the past through her poetry:

The plantation divides like separate arms

some hold the whip, trace his footsteps

report the smell of freedom in the grass.

Images of slavery, suppression, and racism serve as grounding for the remainder of the text, and comment on the ever-present racism in US society.


Chapter Three: "Why I Speak from the Wound in My Mouth," is autobiographical. This section describes her youth, family, community, and the experiences that contributed to the cultivation of her artistic gifts. The reader begins to understand her path to becoming an educator, poet, and activist. Weems grew up in an artistic family, but not an ideal family or community. She recalls, "We had plenty of problems: alcoholism, unemployment, my relationship with my mother was lousy during my adolescent years, and my father was not around to be a father to me, but my grandparents loved us. . . . "

She further connects narratives of her experiences from kindergarten to high school to jobs to graduate school. She describes her personal evolution: how she came to enjoy poetry, her discovery and awareness of social injustice, and her developing self-confidence in her artistic and intellectual abilities. In school and at work, she faced institutionalized racism and sexism, but she also met people who encouraged her return to college and her degree in poetry. As it is often the case, the difficult situations challenged and strengthened her. Moreover, they led to the development of her bold, artistic inner voice.

Chapter Four: "Dirt: An Autoethnographic Play"  consists of four scenes with a single character named Nuby, who is an African American woman in her 40s. In each scene, dirt is used as symbols for land (where one is from), path (where one is going), belongings (one's self), and potential (what one has inside). As an African American and as a woman, Nuby looked for "dirt" to find who she was and what she wanted in each stage of her life; when she found it, she nurtured it.

Source: Find Articles

Mary Weems is the eldest daughter of four, the mama of one daughter, Michelle E. Weems, and the blessed-to-be-with-him-wife/partner of James Amie. Proud to have been raised by her mama, and to be from a poor, working-class background, Mary started writing poems when she was thirteen to learn to love herself.


This took a while. Since then, her creative spirit-eye has turned more and more outward to include her take on the African-American experience from a personal and political perspective as well as the universal complexities of being a woman and anyone alive in the world. Mary E. Weems Table

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#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

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#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

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#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
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#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Life on Mars

By Tracy K. Smith

Tracy K. Smith, author of Life on Mars has been selected as the winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly noted the collection's "lyric brilliance" and "political impulses [that] never falter." A New York Times review stated, "Smith is quick to suggest that the important thing is not to discover whether or not we're alone in the universe; it's to accept—or at least endure—the universe's mystery. . . . Religion, science, art: we turn to them for answers, but the questions persist, especially in times of grief. Smith's pairing of the philosophically minded poems in the book’s first section with the long elegy for her father in the second is brilliant." Life on Mars follows Smith's 2007 collection, Duende, which won the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets, the only award for poetry in the United States given to support a poet's second book, and the first Essence Literary Award for poetry, which recognizes the literary achievements of African Americans.

The Body’s Question (2003) was her first published collection. Smith said Life on Mars, published by small Minnesota press Graywolf, was inspired in part by her father, who was an engineer on the Hubble space telescope and died in 2008.

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Allah, Liberty, and Love

The Courage to Reconcile Faith and Freedom

By Irshad Manji

In Allah, Liberty and Love, Irshad Manji paves a path for Muslims and non-Muslims to transcend the fears that stop so many of us from living with honest-to-God integrity: the fear of offending others in a multicultural world as well as the fear of questioning our own communities. Since publishing her international bestseller, The Trouble with Islam Today, Manji has moved from anger to aspiration. She shows how any of us can reconcile faith with freedom and thus discover the Allah of liberty and love—the universal God that loves us enough to give us choices and the capacity to make them. Among the most visible Muslim reformers of our era, Manji draws on her experience in the trenches to share stories that are deeply poignant, frequently funny and always revealing about these morally confused times. What prevents young Muslims, even in the West, from expressing their need for religious reinterpretation?

This collaborative text set the tone for later conferences in which writers and scholars worked together to promote, disseminate, and critique the literature of Spanish-speaking people of African descent. . . . Cited by a literary critic in 2004 as "the seminal study in the field of Afro-Hispanic Literature . . . on which most scholars in the field 'cut their teeth'."

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

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

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posted 14 March 2008




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