Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Guest Blog: War Reporting and Embedded Journalists: Whatever Fits by Izzy Woods

War Reporting and Embedded Journalists: Whatever
Fits by Izzy Woods

The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have dragged out over the last ten years, and even now are still going on. When the military action began the media coverage was universal, and unless you never watched TV or read newspapers, you would have had something about the war pushed in your face.

But now, even though troops are still fighting in Afghanistan, the media coverage is sparse. Negative public opinion of the conflicts may have something to do with this, as with is being ‘old news’ nowadays. But the way these conflicts have been reported is different to previous conflicts.

The battles fought at the beginning of the 21st century were reported by embedded journalists, reporters that became part of a military unit.

Front line journalism

"Embedding" involved journalists being integrated into combat units, which meant they ate, slept, and traveled with soldiers, experiencing battles first hand and witnessing the combat their unit participated in. There was no room for journalists to bring a new writing chair or comforts they enjoyed in the office back home.

While this arrangement offered the journalist on the front line a greater degree of protection, there are claims that it gave the military too much control over what was being reported. This was often the opinion of "unilateral" journalists, which were able to write about the war in all its aspects.

Nevertheless, embedded journalists were in a position to see the military in action first hand and with the advanced technology available which ensured all the action could be recorded, compiled, and broadcasted at incredible speed. They were able to connect live feeds from the battlefield to newsrooms around the world with the help of satellites, and often reported directly from the frontline.

With the help of technology, journalists were able ensure vast amounts of information and images to be broadcasted. Consequently, reports were often unedited and the quality of reports dropped as deadlines had to be met while more events were constantly unfolding.

New technology allowed instant contact from the battlefield to viewers back home, and ensured numerous reports and video links to be broadcasted, but this also created security problems. There were instances of journalists revealing crucial details of military plans, like the case committed by Geraldo Rivera, who put an entire unit of the American 101st Airborne Division in danger. He drew a map of Iraq in the sand and showing where his unit was in comparison to Baghdad, and even where they were heading next.

Symbiosis or parasitism?

The dependency the embedded journalist had on the military was mainly for information and support, which ultimately left the commanders in control as they could decide on what the journalists saw, and what they would not see. There have been claims that the embedded journalist gave a sanitized picture of events, which is likely to be a result of the forced constraints of being embedded. The effect the military had on the embedded journalist was to almost make war seem acceptable, and there were instances when information passed on to reporters by the forces was unfounded, presumably to ensure "good" news about the war. There is evidence that journalists would prepare delicate reports for their various units out of loyalty to their attachment. This was a result of the dependency the journalists had on their unit, and the fact that during combat the soldiers were their protection.

Being restricted by the unit they were assigned to, combined with new technology, deadlines, and competition, journalists wrote reports that were mainly factual. The Project for Excellence in Journalism conducted a content analysis of embedded reports on television and found that reports were primarily factual and combat focused. Its seems clear that embedded journalists were given little chance to report other aspects of the war, like the people who fall victim to it or the towns and villages that became areas of conflict.

The journalists that were stuck with troops had very little chance of separate movement, and although they were able to communicate effectively with other reporters and information services, they weren’t given the opportunity to see the war from any other perspective. This lack of overall observance would have dampened the journalist’s understanding of the conflict and how it affected the civilian population.

Wikileaks has released files that show how the military and soldiers acted during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, and any reports of this nature would never have seen the light of day if written by an embedded journalist.

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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

25 Female Writers Who Changed History

Courtesy of

Female writers have given us some of the greatest novels, short stories, poems and essays ever written. But this kind of recognition didn't come easily for most women. For centuries, female writers struggled to get their work noticed, let alone praised. Some used male pen names, initials or remained anonymous so that their work wouldn't be discounted because they were female. Thanks to the work of progressive female writers, women finally earned the same fundamental rights as men and people began noticing their talent before their gender. In no particular order, here are 25 female writers who changed history:

1. Charlotte Bronte: Charlotte Bronte was an English poet and author, who is best known for her novel Jane Eyre, which was written under her pen name Currer Bell. Although she had a small number of published works, Bronte made a significant impact in both the literary world and society by highlighting the daily struggles of oppressed women in her written works. She was truly one of the most modern women of her time, and certainly helped pave the way for modern feminism.

2. Virginia Woolf: Virginia Woolf was a literary genius who broke the mold for 20th century novelists. The modernist was known for her experimental fiction writing and influential feminist essays that enlightened readers on Britain's class and gender differences. Woolf's work has impacted readers, writers, historians, scholars and all those who've studied her innovative work and mastery of the English language.

3. Harriet Beecher Stowe: Harriet Beecher Stowe changed history with her influential anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin. Not only was Uncle Tom's Cabin the best-selling novel of the 19th century, but it also played an important role in the development of the Civil War. Stowe was a progressive thinker and fierce abolitionist, who wrote about real life issues of inequality and stereotypes and had the power to open up millions of Americans' hearts.

4. Jane Austen: Jane Austen is best known for her popular romantic fiction novels, such as Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice and Emma. Austen's work is the focus of academic study for scholars and critics because of its historical context and mastery of literary techniques. Austen greatly influenced English literature with her use of literary realism, social commentary and techniques that told the compelling stories of 18th century and 19th century women.

5. Maya Angelou: Maya Angelou is arguably the most famous African-American autobiographer and poet in history. Angelou broke the mold when she wrote her six autobiographical volumes in a nontraditional structure that completely challenged the genre. Angelou opened up to readers and shared her controversial life stories without shame or censorship. Her candidness and unique literary style pushed the boundaries for all female writers and changed the face of autobiographies forever.

6. Emily Dickinson: Emily Dickinson was an influential poet whose style was unlike anyone else's. Dickinson was an innovator, who used unconventional techniques, such as short lines, slant rhyme and unusual capitalization and punctuation that garnered both attention and criticism. During the late 19th and early 20th century, critics denounced Dickinson's individual style and literary prowess, but later praised her originality and talent as a pre-modernist poet.

7. Louisa May Alcott: American author Louisa May Alcott was best known for her novel Little Women. Alcott received critical acclaim for her literary work, as well as her involvement in various reform movements, including women's rights and ending slavery. Through her professional and personal life, she has inspired and empowered women of all ages to be independent and follow their dreams regardless of what society says.

8. Mary Shelley: Mary Shelley is a British writer, who is best known for the widely-read Gothic novel Frankenstein. Shelley pushed the boundaries of traditional Romanticism and Gothic fiction when she developed her own brand of the artistic movement that criticized individualism and challenged the traditional 18th century school of thought. Shelley's work has been at the forefront of feminist literary criticism and academic study for decades. She is now regarded as an influential writer and Romantic figure, who wasn't afraid to voice her political beliefs.

9. Harper Lee: American writer, Harper Lee, is best known for her 1960 Pulitzer Prize winning novel To Kill a Mockingbird. It is Lee's only published book, but the critically-acclaimed bestseller made quite an impact on its own. Much of the book is autobiographical and details what Lee saw as a child growing up in the South. The powerful story deals with racial inequality and injustice in the Deep South. Lee's classic novel has had a profound effect on Americans of all ages, races and backgrounds, and her contributions to social justice and peace earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

10. Ayn Rand: Ayn Rand was a Russian writer who is most widely known for her two best-selling novels The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. Rand's written works were heavily based on her political views and emphasis on individual rights. Her books received vast amounts of praise and criticism, but were commercially successful, nonetheless. Rand's eye-opening work has impacted various political, social and academic fields and encouraged readers to re-evaluate their political and ethical views.

11. J.K. Rowling: British author J.K. Rowling is best known for writing the ever-popular Harry Potter fantasy series. Rowling's whimsical novels have inspired generations of kids to read and get excited about what they're reading. Her books have also inspired readers on a social, moral and political base. Even her personal story of rags to riches has influenced readers to never give up on their dreams.

12. Sylvia Plath: Sylvia Plath was an acclaimed American poet and novelist. Plath was best known for her confessional poetry collections: The Colossus and Other Poems and Ariel. She became the first poet to win a Pulitzer Prize posthumously for her work. Plath's compelling poems spoke to women of all backgrounds, and were extremely influential during the feminist movement.

13. S.E. Hinton: American novelist S.E. Hinton is best known for her young adult books, most notably, The Outsiders. Hinton began writing The Outsiders at 15 years old and it was published when she was 18 years old. Hinton became a household name and instant success with The Outsiders, which still sells more than 500,000 copies each year. Hinton has made a lasting impression with her literary work that effectively connects readers to the emotions and experiences of teenagers.

14. Margaret Mitchell: Author Margaret Mitchell is best known for writing the American classic Gone With the Wind. The novel was an instant success, selling more than a million copies in the first six months. Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for her wildly popular novel. Mitchell changed history when she wrote arguably the best romantic novel of all time. Not only did the story capture the hearts of millions of readers worldwide, but Mitchell's masterful use of symbolism and treatment of archetypes made it truly original.

15. Judy Blume: American author Judy Blume is best known for her children's and young adult novels that touch on a wide variety of controversial topics, such as racism, religion, teen sex and menstruation. Blume has changed history for the better by tackling real-life issues and questions that affect children and young adults. Her books are often challenged in school libraries because of inappropriate content, but Blume has dedicated her efforts to fighting censorship and preserving intellectual freedom in literature.

16. Flannery O'Connor: Flannery O'Connor is an American fiction writer, who is famous for writing in a Southern Gothic style and emphasizing the grotesque. O'Connor was one of the strongest apologists for Roman Catholicism and often wrote about morality, ethics and contemporary issues. O'Connor had an important role in American literature and, despite increasing secularism at the time, she maintained her theme of divinity. O'Connor was a master of irony and comedy, which came through in each piece of work. Her books are some of the finest examples of comedies in American literature.

17. Pearl S. Buck: Pearl S. Buck was an inspirational American writer who is most widely known for her Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Good Earth. A great deal of Buck's childhood and adult life was spent in China. Many of her novels describe the peasant life in China, and try to bridge the gap between Americans' views of Chinese people and reality. Buck changed history with her first-hand accounts of life in China and progressive humanitarian efforts that are visible in her written work.

18. George Eliot: George Eliot was an English novelist and leading Victorian writer. Eliot is best known for her novels The Mills on the Floss, Silas Marner, Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda. She was known for implementing realism and psychological insight in her work. Eliot used her famous male pen name to make sure readers took her work seriously, and to avoid any stereotypes for woman writers of the time. Eliot's work was very influential for the Victorian era and beyond. She broke the mold by writing about politics and societal issues that were taboo for the time.

19. Laura Ingalls Wilder: American author Laura Ingalls Wilder was most widely known for writing the Little House series of books, specifically the Little House on the Prairie. Wilder based these novels on her childhood and growing up in a pioneer family. The popular Little House books continue to be a main staple in American children's literature and have been translated into 40 different languages. Wilder's compelling stories and mastery of literary techniques helped set the precedent for future children's books.

20. Mary Wollstonecraft: Mary Wollstonecraft may have been known as the mother of Mary Shelley, but Wollstonecraft was no stranger to writing. Wollstonecraft was an accomplished author and influential public figure, who helped develop British feminism and philosophy. She is best known for her book, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, which is one of the earliest works of feminist philosophy. Thanks to her outspoken stance on women's rights and denouncement of 18th century educational and political theorists, Wollstonecraft helped grant women equal rights.

21. Alice Walker: Alice Walker is most famous for her novel The Color Purple and she holds the title as the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Walker's writing career and personal life has mostly centered on race and gender inequality. Her written work and political involvement have made her a respected figure among African-Americans and female audiences around the world.

22. Agatha Christie: Agatha Christie was a famous British crime writer who produced popular novels, plays and short stories. Christie is the best-selling female author of all time and the most translated individual author. Christie's commercial success and public appreciation came from her masterful writing skills and ability to build a suspenseful whodunit plot with well-developed characters. Not only did Christie pave the way for crime writers, but she also inspired female authors of all genres to follow suit.

23. Helen Keller: Helen Keller was a world-famous speaker and author, despite her inability to see or hear. Keller wrote 12 published books and articles throughout her life. She published a couple of autobiographies that told her amazing story. Keller is best remembered as the woman who overcame all odds by learning how to read, write and communicate despite her disabilities. Her personal story and determination truly set Keller apart from any other historical figure.

24. Sue Monk Kidd: Sue Monk Kidd is an American writer who is best known for her novel The Secret Life of Bees. This book was an instant success and has spent over 2.5 years on the New York Times bestseller list. It has also been adapted into a play and movie. Kidd's fictional work often focuses on the struggles and victories of women living in the South. Her literary contributions have made quite the impact on readers and Southern writers alike.

25. Edith Wharton: Edith Wharton was an American novelist and short story writer, who is most famous for her Pulitzer Prize winning novel The Age of Innocence. Wharton was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for literature. She was fluent in French and several other languages, and many of her published works are printed in both French and English. Wharton is praised for achieving both social satire and criticism in her work, while mastering the art of humor.

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Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Mother Teresa - Life is...

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.
Life is beauty, admire it.
Life is a dream, realize it.
Life is a challenge, meet it.
Life is a duty, complete it.
Life is a game, play it.
Life is a promise, fulfill it.
Life is sorrow, overcome it.
Life is a song, sing it.
Life is a struggle, accept it.
Life is a tragedy, confront it.
Life is an adventure, dare it.
Life is luck, make it.
Life is too precious, do not destroy it.
Life is life, fight for it.

- Mother Teresa

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Friday, February 4, 2011

PinkSpeak: Breast Cancer Journeys in Poetry & Prose with host Jill Eikenberry - Feb. 10

The Inspired Word Presents PinkSpeak: Breast Cancer Journeys in Poetry & Prose - a fundraiser for the Young Survival Coalition: Young women facing breast cancer together.

It will be hosted by Golden Globe award-winning actress and former L.A. Law star Jill Eikenberry, a breast cancer survivor herself, and feature 2005 American Idol finalist Anwar Robinson, OBIE award winning playwright Susan Miller, singer/writer Khadijah Carter, author/poet Pamilla deLeon-Lewis, actress Alice King, award-winning playwright Andrea Lepcio, actress/poet Gha’il Rhodes Benjamin, authors Jane Kelley ("Nature Girl") and Michelle Malavet ("Cancerland and The Other Side of Sick"), actress Shona Tucker, spoken word poet Joanna Hoffman, and three-time Fringenyc award winning performer Cyndi Freeman.

100% of the proceeds will be donated to YSC and the event is dedicated to the memory of Dorothy Geffner, who died of breast cancer in 1973 at the age of 52.

When: Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011

Where: (Le) Poisson Rouge (downstairs Gallery Bar)
158 Bleecker Street (between Thompson and Sullivan)
Manhattan, New York City
Phone: (212) 504-3474

Time: 6:30pm

Miminum Donation: $20 (though you are welcome to give more)

Must be 21 years of age or older. Please make sure to bring ID.



Jill Eikenberry, diagnosed with breast cancer in 1986, is an award-winning actress and former star of NBC’s long-running hit series "LA Law." Winning both a Golden Globe and Obie Award, as well as earning four Emmy nominations, Eikenberry has appeared in such classic films as “An Unmarried Woman," " "A Night Full of Rain,” and “Arthur,” and her extensive career on and off Broadway includes starring in “"Life Under Water;” "Moonchildren;” “The Beggars Opera;” "All Over Town," directed by Dustin Hoffman; "Save Grand Central;” and Wendy Wasserstein’s "Uncommon Women and Others.” She also co-produced a one-hour documentary for NBC entitled "Destined to Live," which dealt with the emotional aspects of breast cancer, from diagnosis to recovery. It was honored with a Humanitas Award.

Featured Writers/Performers

Anwar Robinson is a singer most recognized as one of the top finalists in television's American Idol 2005 competition. He will perform a song he wrote and arranged in honor of people who have won and/or lost their battles with breast cancer, “Chosen.”

Susan Miller is an OBIE award winning playwright and Guggenheim Fellow whose work includes the critically acclaimed one-woman play, My Left Breast (Obie), which premiered in Louisville’s Humana Festival and has been performed across the U.S, Canada, and France. Her play A Map of Doubt And Rescue won The Susan Smith Blackburn Prize; and she received an OBIE for Nasty Rumors And Final Remarks. She’s been produced at The Public Theatre, Second Stage, Naked Angels, NYStage & Film, and The Mark Taper Forum, among others. Her articles have appeared in O, The Oprah Magazine, American Theatre, The Dramatist, Girlfriends, The Bark, and MS. Miller was a Consulting Producer/writer on the first season of The L Word as well as a Story Editor on ABC’s landmark series, “Thirtysomething.” She’s written original screenplays for Disney, Universal, Warner Brothers, and her short film, The Grand Design, was directed by and starred Eric Stoltz and Frances Conroy. She is currently Executive Producing and writing, along with Tina CesaWard, the hit dramatic web series, Anyone But Me, which airs on and with fans in France, Brazil, Germany, Australia, Greece, Argentina, and the U.K. Susan lives in New York City with her partner and their dog, Henree. Her son is also a writer, living and working in L.A.. For more info on Ms. Miller, please visit

Cyndi Freeman is a three time Fringenyc award winning performer as well as a playwright, and theatrical producer. She has created and produced several solo shows. Including: I Kissed Dash Riprock, which was performed as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival at the Assembly Rooms, and won a "Best in Festival Award for Excellence" at the 2002 New York International Fringe Festival. I Kissed Dash Riprock also enjoyed success in Boston, toured the UK with Guy Masterson Productions and was presented by Xaviera Hollander in Amsterdam. Inside Cherry Pitz was presented at the Edinburgh Fringe at The Gilded Balloon, in NYC at The Midtown International Theatre Festival and at The Cherry Lane Theatre as part of the Downtown Urban Theatre Festival. Greetings From Hollywood was spotlighted on CNN, received a "Best in Fringe Festival" award at the NY International Fringe Festival, and was voted "Best New Play of New England -1998” by the Independent Reviewers of New England. Greetings From Hollywood was also presented at the Edinburgh Fringe at the Gilded Balloon. She lives in NYC. For more info, please visit

Shona Tucker is the Acting Professor at Vassar College. She recently finished performing in Almost Maine with the Half Moon Theatre Company and Eclipsed at Yale Repertory Theatre. She spent three years as a company member at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, acting in such plays as Fences, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Gem of the Ocean and Bus Stop. Her Off Broadway theater credits include: New York Theater Workshop, The Actors Center, Lincoln Center Directors' Lab, The Public Theater, Circle in the Square, Playwrights Horizons, Manhattan Theatre Club, and La MaMa.. She has worked at numerous regional theaters including Williamstown Theater Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Stageworks/Hudson, Arena Stage, The Acting Company, and American Conservatory Theater. She can be seen in the upcoming film shorts: Framing Delores, North Country and the short WALK THE FISH which in the feature film Cosmopolitan and the upcoming FOX television series, “Lights Out”. Other television and film credits include: Preaching to the Choir: On the One , Third Watch , New York Undercover , Law and Order , One Life to Live , and Trinity. A Schomburg Fellow and Fulbright Scholar, Shona earned a BS from Northwestern University and MFA in Acting at NYU/Tisch School of the Arts.

Jane Kelley is the author of NATURE GIRL, which Booklist called “funny, fresh, and charming.” The novel tells the story of how a New York City girl and her dog survive alone on the Appalachian Trail. Her next novel, THE GIRL BEHIND THE GLASS, will be published in August 2011. She has also written dozens of science and social studies books for children. Jane grew up in Mequon, Wisconsin and is a graduate of Northwestern University. In March 2001, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. After surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, she is grateful to be healthy and happy to have this opportunity to help others who are coping with cancer. She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and her daughter.

Pamilla deLeon-Lewis is the author of Smiling Thru The Tears: A Breast Cancer Survivor Odyssey and Side Effects: The Untold story. Miss deLeon-Lewis is a Motivational Speaker, a certified Life Coach, a certified Laughter Yoga Teacher and the Brooklyn Team Leader of the Legislative Ambassadors for the ACS; she is a performance poet who is passionate about empowering survivors as she raises breast cancer awareness globally.

Khadijah Carter, diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003 at the age of 28, is an inspirational singer, prolific writer, and spokesperson for breast cancer survivors. She has traveled nationally and internationally on behalf of the Young Survival Coalition to bring more awareness to the healthcare industry about young women with breast cancer. In 2007 and 2008, she was a model for the Avon Foundation’s print PSA Breast Cancer campaign, which was featured in The Oprah Magazine, People, Mademoiselle, Essence, and Elle. She is often asked by the media to share her testimony and has been profiled on The CBS Early Show, BET, The Montel Williams Show, and others. She released a CD: “This Day: A Compilation of Inspirational Songs & Poems”; proceeds benefit various non-profit organizations. For more information, please see:

Michelle Malavet, writer and illustrator of Cancerland and The Other Side of Sick, was diagnosed with breast cancer the day after the 2008 Superbowl. A week later her father was diagnosed with stage IV renal cancer. During the time they spent together in treatment, he demonstrated to her what it is to live with cancer. He passed away in May 2009. Today, she is an impassioned young adult survivor. As a designer, her works span the realms of print and digital media, industrial, exhibit, and stage design. Her multi-media art was exhibited in Visual Diaries: Snapshot of the Young Adult Cancer Experience at the West Chelsea Arts Center. A collection of her poems and flash fiction was featured by the NY Writers Coalition. She is also the founder of Dream On, an organization committed to serving the life purpose of cancer survivors in the world. She lives in Astoria, NY with her cat. She can be contacted at

Andrea Lepcio’s Looking for the Pony was a finalist for the Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award along with Ruined, The Orphan Home Cycle, Circle Mirror Transformation and The Brother/Sister plays. The play was also a finalist for the NEA Outstanding New American Play Award. A third production was presented by Venus Theatre in October of 2010 and Detroit Repertory Theatre will produce a fourth production in July 2011. Also upcoming: Room 16 (book by Andrea Lepcio, music by Stephen Sislen, lyrics by Stephen Sislen and Ben H. Winters) will be presented at the Festival of New Artists at Goodspeed Opera House. In April, Welfleet Harbor Actors Theater will workshop Tunnel Vision (formerly Sad, Mad, Glad, Bad). Her screenplay, A September Spring, won the Sloan Foundation Dramatic Writing Award. A two-time finalist for the Heideman Award, her short plays and monologues have been published in Plays and Playwrights 2003, Estrogenius, lichen and by Smith & Kraus.Since 2004 she has been the Dramatists Guild Fellows Program Director and was a visiting faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University. She holds an M.F.A. in Dramatic Writing, Carnegie Mellon University and a B.A. in Human Ecology from College of the Atlantic.

Gha’il Rhodes Benjamin is an award winning actor, poet/spoken word -recording artist via her own production company Talking Poems and Storytelling Productions. Gha’il performs her one-woman show with live musical accompaniment throughout the tri-state area and the country bringing to light the inner complexities of every day characters with raw simplicity and humor. From classrooms to college campuses, nightlife venues to Lincoln Center, The Schomberg, The Knitting Factory and Symphony Space of New York she motivates, uplifts and inspires audiences with words and phrases that stick to your ribs. Talking Poems specializes in creating personalized custom-made poetry (celebrating the greatness within) for every occasion, including weddings, anniversaries and memorial heirlooms for home-going celebrations. Also director and facilitator of various creative workshops and performances, she allows participants of all ages to “project their inner voices." Gha’il is both the visual image and voice of spoken word in collaboration with filmmaker Al Santana in the WBGH Lab Series film titled Reparation Blues, PBS and WLIW. She is also the voice on radio airwaves with her poem titled She got burned, a PSA promoting domestic violence awareness through Safe Horizons of New York. Her debut CD Spiritual Eclipse/ Sacred Moments on a String of Words is a collage of music and spoken-word, a portrait of self-discovery, self-love and renewal...she is the recipient of the 2010 Soul Purpose Award and currently on the public speaking circuit, raising her voice to ignite “self-empowerment and creativity." “She’s authentic, talented, mesmerizing and a breath of fresh air," Les Brown, author and speaker, says of her. For more info, please visit

Actress Alice King recently appeared in the 78th Street Theater Lab and New York International Fringe Festival productions of RECONSTRUCTION, for which Backstage lauded her "organic, at times even palpable, anger, regret, and emotional and sexual passion" performance in the role of a woman who's recently undergone breast reconstruction. She is a member of Circle East Lab (formerly Circle Rep), a former student of Uta Hagen, and an alumnus of Actors Theatre of Louisville. A cancer survivor herself, Alice is the CEO of AliceKingBooks.

The daughter of a breast cancer survivor, Joanna Hoffman is a spoken word poet originally from Maryland, where she was a part of three DC/Baltimore National Poetry Slam teams. She moved to New York three years ago, and has been a member of the 2009 and 2010 Spoken Word Almanac Project. She is the 2011 Women of the World Representative for NYC Urbana, and she currently works at a maternal health non-profit organization.


Inspired Word Staff

Mike Geffner

Brigitte Viellieu-Davis
Artistic Director/Associate Producer

Marvin Mendlinger
Assistant Director

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Our Deepest Fear

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others." - Marianne Williamson

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King Jr. - "I Have a Dream" Speech - Complete Text


In 1950's America, the equality of man envisioned by the Declaration of Independence was far from a reality. People of color — blacks, Hispanics, Asians — were discriminated against in many ways, both overt and covert. The 1950's were a turbulent time in America, when racial barriers began to come down due to Supreme Court decisions, like Brown v. Board of Education; and due to an increase in the activism of blacks, fighting for equal rights.

Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister, was a driving force in the push for racial equality in the 1950's and the 1960's. In 1963, King and his staff focused on Birmingham, Alabama. They marched and protested non-violently, raising the ire of local officials who sicced water cannon and police dogs on the marchers, whose ranks included teenagers and children. The bad publicity and break-down of business forced the white leaders of Birmingham to concede to some anti-segregation demands.

Thrust into the national spotlight in Birmingham, where he was arrested and jailed, King helped organize a massive march on Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963. His partners in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom included other religious leaders, labor leaders, and black organizers. The assembled masses marched down the Washington Mall from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, heard songs from Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, and heard speeches by actor Charlton Heston, NAACP president Roy Wilkins, and future U.S. Representative from Georgia John Lewis.

King's appearance was the last of the event; the closing speech was carried live on major television networks. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, King evoked the name of Lincoln in his "I Have a Dream" speech, which is credited with mobilizing supporters of desegregation and prompted the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The next year, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The following is the exact text of the spoken speech, transcribed from recordings.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation's capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked "insufficient funds." But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children.
Martin Luther King, Jr., delivering his 'I Have a Dream' speech from the steps of Lincoln Memorial. (photo: National Park Service)

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro's legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, "When will you be satisfied?" We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro's basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating "For Whites Only". We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal."

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God's children will be able to sing with a new meaning, "My country, 'tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim's pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring."

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God's children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

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Saturday, January 8, 2011

Epic Lineup of Performance Poets - Thursday, Jan. 13, Manhattan, NYC!

Mike Geffner Presents The Inspired Word - One-Year Anniversary All-Star Extravaganza

Patricia Smith
Willie Perdomo
Vanessa Hidary
Steve Colman
Ocean Vuong
Nathan P.
Jamaal St. John
Tahani Salah
Jane Ormerod
Thomas Fucaloro
Brian Dyksytra
Simply Rob
Rico Frederick
Jane LeCroy
Erica Miriam Fabri with Robin Andre
Advocate of Wordz
Eliel Lucero
Sean Patrick Conlon

Place: (Le) Poisson Rouge
Downstairs Gallery Bar
158 Bleecker Street (between Sullivan and Thompson)
Manhattan, New York City

Time: 6-10pm

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The Inspired Word's Crime Fiction Night - Thomas H. Cook & Bruce DeSilva - Jan 20

Mike Geffner Presents The Inspired Word features two of today's finest crime fiction writers, Thomas H. Cook(Edgar Allan Poe Award winner) and Bruce DeSilva (widely acclaimed for his recent debut novel Rogue Island).

In addition to Mr. Cook and Mr. DeSilva, there will be a 12-slot open mic (open to all types of artists).

When: Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011

Where: One and One Bar & Restaurant (downstairs Nexus Lounge)
76 East 1st Street (corner of 1st Avenue)
Manhattan, NYC
Phone: (212) 598-9126

Time: 7pm

Cover Charge: $10

Must be 21 years of age or older. Please make sure to bring ID.


Thomas H. Cook is the author of twenty-five novels and two works of non-fiction. He has been nominated seven times for the EDGAR ALLAN POE AWARD in five different categories. His book, THE ChATHAM SCHOOL AFFAIR won the EDGAR for Best Novel in 1996. In addition his works have won the MARTIN BECK AWARD of the Swedish Academy of Detection twice, the only author ever to have done so. His book, RED LEAVES, won the Barry Award and he has been nominated for the Macavity, the Anthony, the Silver Dagger from the British Association of Crime Writers and the Hammett Prize. His short story, "Fatherhood" won the Herodotus Prize. His books have been translated into twenty languages. He lives with his family in Cape Cod and New York City.

Bruce DeSilva worked as a journalist for 40 years, most recently as a senior editor for The Associated Press, before retiring to write crime novels full time. Stories edited by DeSilva have won virtually every major journalism prize including the Polk Award (twice), the Livingston (twice), the ASNE, and the Batten Medal. He also edited two Pulitzer finalists and helped edit a Pulitzer winner. His first novel, "Rogue Island," is being praised by 14 A-list crime writers including Dennis Lehane, Harlan Coben and Michael Connelly and has received rave reviews from The New York Times, The Associated Press, and KIrkus Reviews, to name just a few. The Dallas Morning News said the novel "raises the bar for all books of its kind." The Washington Post called it "as good and true a look at the news game as you'll find this side of "The Front Page." And Publisher's Weekly called its protagonist "a masterpiece of irreverence and street savvy." DeSilva is also a book critic whose reviews have appeared in The New York Times book review section and continue to be published occasioonally by The Associated Press. He and his wife Patricia Smith, an award-winning poet, live in Howell, NJ, with their granddaughter Mikaila and an enormous Bernese Mountain Dog named Brady. For more info, please visit his website and blog:

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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

NYC Spoken Word Poetry All-Star Extravaganza - Thursday, Jan. 13

Mike Geffner Presents The Inspired Word celebrates its one-year anniversary with a spoken word/poetry event of a lifetime, a lineup to end all lineups, a night you'll remember.

A special event fundraiser for The Inspired Word, featuring 20 of the best performance poets in the NYC area!

Show your love and support! And feel it right back!

When: Thursday, Jan. 13, 2011

Where: (Le) Poisson Rouge (downstairs Gallery Bar)
158 Bleecker Street (between Thompson and Sullivan)
Manhattan, New York City
Phone: (212) 505-3474

Time: 6:00pm

Cover Charge: $15

Must be 21 years of age or older. Please make sure to bring ID.



Patricia Smith

Willie Perdomo

Oveous Maximus

Steve Colman

Nathan P. 

Vanessa Hidary


Rico Frederick


Brian Dysktra

Simply Rob Vassilarakis

Sean Patrick Conlon


Ocean Vuong

Erica Miriam Fabri with Robin Andre

Jane LeCroy

Thomas Fucaloro

Jane Ormerod

Tahani Salah

Jamaal St. John

Advocate of Wordz (Host/MC)

Eliel Lucero (DJ)

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Sunday, January 2, 2011

WikiLeaks and the Craft of Journalism

As Wikileaks continues to feed media outlets with thousands of classified US diplomatic cables, how serious is the threat by WikiLeaks to other media outlets? And how is WikiLeaks shaping the media industry? Is it the beginning of a new media form?

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