END OF 2015 LETTER
November 25, 2015
Greetings from New Orleans.
2015 has been odd, a year immune to rational explanations. Dying is so commonplace. Death matters. We celebrate and grieve for those we knew well. We stare in anger at death we believe was uncalled for. We are peppered and salted with vivid, detailed, socially networked narratives of how much death we can produce daily. We tell lies to ourselves, saying that life matters; in fact, we lie as effectively as lawyers who use verbal magic to transform lies into truths. We actually mean death matters more than life. Anything that resembles love of life must fight desperately.
A person who tries to use reason to sort out global tragedies (natural and unnatural) and the horrors of domestic terrorism, especially a person who seeks to discover which agents of Evil operate the centers of genuine power, is deemed insane or unpatriotic or just out of touch with reality. Have our hearts become so cold that our enemies within have grown obese? Why does the Zeitgeist that tortures us refuse to call out its name? Why does it repeatedly punch us in the eyes?
Should it sadden us that all the candidates for the American Presidency feel that they must pretend to be clowns and owls in order gain our attention and our votes? No, it shouldn't.
It is difficult to blame the candidates for anything other than their being stereotypical politicians. After all, American citizens have created the climate of mutual hatreds, unethical greed, worship of amoral capitalism, self-hatred, and promiscuous entitlement which allows these candidates to flourish. It is difficult to blame others for our transmogrification of so-called democratic ideals. We cooperate fully with dreadful international dynamics in shaping our fates. We have thrown reason to the wind, and in due time we shall have a rich harvest.
Among the candidates, Donald Trump and Ben Carson take the prizes for being the greatest pretenders, the best clowns, and the most frightening owls. Laugh at them if you must, but also listen to what they are revealing at the dawning of the Age of Post- Future- Fascism.
November 26, 2015
People in the United States of America who believe that common sense, a primal form of reason, can benefit humanity, improve our character, and direct us toward goodness are not crazy. They are dangerous. They are in touch with actuality, and for having the courage to look at the many faces of the Absurd, they are pitied, maligned, murdered literally or figuratively, cursed or treated as if they do not exist. Few of us have the strength and resolve to deal with the entanglement of life. The majority of us are content to exist on the animal farm of disposable realities.
November 27, 2015
2015 was not all bad. I turned 72 in July. Only twelve more years remain in my life sentence. I have always been in one minority or another, and I faithfully cultivate the virtue of poverty. I tried to be good at least sixteen hours each day, to write, to teach invisible students, to pledge allegiance to righteous indignation, and to pray that my soul will bury my soul properly.
November 28, 2015
I've not yet abandoned belief that moments of peace and joy can lighten the burdens which you and I and others are condemned to carry. Although common sense informs me that 2016 will be more exquisitely hellish than 2015, I insist on wishing that you and your family will discover happiness in a future of mysterious promises
Jerry W. Ward, Jr.
Professional Activities 2015
January 14---Reading and conversation with Jonathan Klein’s creative writing class, Edna Karr
High School, New Orleans, LA
February 26-28 –Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration
February 27 –“Genius and Daemonic Genius: Crafting the Life of Richard Wright,” NLCC panel on
“Mississippi’s Four W’s in Literature: Tennessee Williams, Eudora Welty, Margaret Walker, and Richard Wright”
March 12 –“Alvin Aubert: Literature, History, Ethnicity II,” Panel on the Alvin Aubert Papers, Xavier
University of Louisiana Library, New Orleans, LA
March 19 ---Poetry Reading with Loren Pickford and Gray Hawk Perkins at the Gold Mine Saloon, 701
Dauphine St., New Orleans –benefit event for the New Orleans Institute for the Imagination
March 25 – Panel discussion on Margaret Walker with Robert Luckett, Maryemma Graham, and Carolyn Brown, 22nd Oxford Conference for the Book, University of Mississippi
April 16 – “Richard Wright: Daemonic Genius: Margaret Walker’s Experiment with Autobiographical Biography,” Richard Wright Library, 515 W. McDowell Rd., Jackson, Mississippi
August 29 --Poetry Reading, Latter Library, New Orleans
May 2 ---Election Commissioner, Ward 14, Precinct 10, Orleans Parish
September 24-26 ---"Peripheries, barriers, hierarchies: rethinking access, inclusivity, and infrastructure in global DH practice, " Institute for Digital Research in the Humanities forum, University of Kansas
October 9 and 10, 2015 --post-performance discussion leader for RITUAL MURDER, Chakula Cha Jua Theater production, Ashe Cultural Center, New Orleans, LA
October 12, 2015----review of Oxford Bibliography essay on Richard Wright for Oxford UP
October 17 , 2015----post-performance discussion leader for RITUAL MURDER, Chakula Cha Jua
Theater production, Ashe Cultural Center, New Orleans, LA
October 24, 2015----Election Commissioner, Ward 14, Precinct 10, Orleans Parish
November 6, 2015---"Remarks on Tom Dent," Tom Dent Literary Festival 2015, Dillard University,
New Orleans, LA
November 21, 2015 ---Election Commissioner, Ward 14, Precinct 10, Orleans Parish
“Ishmael Reed and Multiculturalism.” The Social Science Studies (2015): 208-210. Translated into Chinese by Qin Sujue, Sichuan Normal University.
FRACTAL SONG. Lawrence, KS: Jayhawk Ink, 2015. A special publication by The Project on the History of Black Writing, July 23, 2015.
"This Mississippi River Is." Down to the Dark River: Contemporary Poems about the Mississippi River.
Ed. Philip C. Kolin and Jack . Bedell. Hammond: Louisiana Literature Press, 2016. 187. [Actually published in August 2015]
"A Collection Remembered." MELUS 40.3 (Fall 2015): 14-15.
"America's Soul Unchained." Black Hollywood Unchained: Commentary on the State of Black Hollywood. Ed. Ishmael Reed. Chicago: Third World Press, 2015. 99-101.