When we move our focus
from competition to contribution
life becomes a celebration.
Never try to defeat people.
Just win their hearts.
I said the words at the top of this web page in a talk I gave in 1990 on a panel for young writers at the District of Columbia Art Center soon after my first publications. The title of the panel was, "Why Do We Write?" I have been clear about the purpose of my writing for over 30 years.
Rather than writing for fame, clout, favor, or competition, I write to contribute to the wellness, critical thinking, and happiness of the world. Sometimes happiness comes with simply being entertained and escaping life's troubles, and so, along with very serious themes, my writing also values accessible, entertaining ways of being.
Most of all, I write to build insightful, warm-hearted, and inclusive relationships with the public. Storytelling—written, visualized, spoken, and physicalized—is my lifelong method to realize a caring, inquisitive, and reflective world. Deep down, I am a poet smitten with narrative and healing is almost always the theme of my writing regardless of the genre or form.
I would be grateful for all feedback on my essay entitled "Compass Me About With Songs of Deliverance," which was published in the Spring of 2018 in Re-Imagining Magazine, a journal beautifully edited by my friend, Dr. Theodore Richards.
Essays, Poems, and Fiction
My essays, poems, and fiction have appeared in 30-plus literary magazines and journals since 1988, including Re-Imagining Magazine; Prick of the Spindle; Capitol Black Arts Bulletin; Mountain Record: The Zen Practitioner's Journal; Transfaith; Dance Research Journal; Ploughshares; Good Foot Magazine; Fence Magazine; Identity Principle; Locus; Press Board Press Magazine; Spoon; Ploughshares; The New Baltimore Visitor; The Journal of Homosexuality; Urbanite; The Formalist; Columbus Alive; The James White Review; Journal for the Anthropological Study of Human Movement; Hook; The Washington Review; Tomorrow Speculative Fiction Magazine; and several other venues.
As a staff or freelance journalist, or as a staff or freelance copyeditor, I wrote or edited for VICE, The Advocate, Baltimore Alternative, National Minority Politics/Headway Magazine, Unspoken Magazine, Baltimore City Paper, Philadelphia City Paper, Baltimore Times, Columbus Alive, Emerge, Dance Magazine, Colours Magazine, and many other publications. As a journalist, I began as a city desk, news, and crime reporter and then broadened to cover the arts, politics, urban affairs, technology, human rights, public policy, education, and health. In addition to my freelance journalism, I held the following positions as a staff journalist listed below.
Baltimore Alternative and Unspoken Magazine
From 1988 to 1994, I was a part-time reporter and copyeditor for the Baltimore Alternative. The late William J. Urban (or Bill, as we affectionately called him) founded and published the paper in 1986. The paper quickly became one of the most dogged investigators of the AIDS epidemic in the greater Baltimore-Washington area as well as a fierce chronicler of under-reported stories about city politics and issues of injustice. I was proud to work for an openly gay publisher in the alternative media at a time when professional LGBT people faced grave peril and I learned a great deal from my newsroom colleagues' expertise and zeal in investigative reporting at the paper.
As a cub half-time reporter (working on the night shift) for the Baltimore Alternative, I focused mostly on two beats: city politics and education, and it was my prose that appeared in many of the publication's unsigned, hopefully level-headed and fair-minded digests about the latest city-wide legislative and political controversies. Bill later asked me to write about crime and performing arts for his short-lived long-form magazine, Unspoken Magazine.
Baltimore City Paper
From 1992-1995, I was a part-time reporter and editor for the Baltimore City Paper during Sono Motoyama’s editorship. While I began writing about city politics and crime, I eventually became the publication’s first dance critic, a position that then passed to a truly wonderful, pathbreaking writer named Chris Dohse (check out his writing here and here about NYC concert dance) on my recommendation when I left the city to move to Columbus, Ohio. During this period, my dear friend, the late Dawn C. Culbertson and I were the most prolific reporters on the business and the art of performance in the greater Baltimore area.
Philadelphia City Paper (and beyond)
Since 1990, as a journalist, I have gravitated to five main beats (or areas of interest): 1. urban crime; 2. education; 3. performing arts (especially dance); 4. health; and 5. gender and sexuality.
I feel very blessed to have written for great alternative publications in the Mid-Atlantic region long before standout journalists like the late David Carr made it an honor to be an alternative journalist. David began his work writing and editing for the Twin Cities Reader, Washington City Paper, and other non-mainstream publications outside of New York City.
Only one year apart in age, Bill Urban and David Carr were friends and allies in the national alternative journalism world. As his national profile grew in the middle 1990s, I lost contact with David after Bill died. During that period, so many journalists and writers that I knew were dying of AIDS or drug abuse. Or, we were being laid off as payment for alternative journalism waned. In 1991, David gave me three of the best points of feedback that I have ever heard about being a journalist outside of the mainstream (and here I paraphrase):
From 1988-2013, I was also a freelance copywriter with Pendulum Press, Uniworld Group (WPP), and Berg Publishers, contributing marketing copy for food retailers, technology companies, and tourism organizations like Publix, Giant Eagle, Compaq, Penn Hills Resorts, GraceKennedy Ltd., Massy Group & P&O Princess Cruises. My copywriting aims to incisively tell the story of brands, connect customers to services, and build profitable interest in products. I contributed copywriting to food retailers, dining companies, cruise lines, hoteliers, greeting card companies, and more.
I am humbled to have written and edited speeches, policy talks, commemoratives, and other public addresses for Richard Failla, Nell Carter, Bernard Taylor, Gregg Burge, Guy C. McElroy, Eldon W. Ward, David McReynolds, and several other dignitaries. As a speechwriter, I relish the opportunity to collaborate with leaders to effectuate the style, tone, approach, narrative voice, and content that reflects their unique public voice.
I am blessed and humbled to have been awarded three commemorations for my writing:
A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls.
—Ursula K. Le Guin
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