being a single women isn’t easy, but it’s not purgatory or the 7th level of hades either. the purpose of my single women's session was to challenge single women to live their lives to the fullest. to not bemoan or complain about things they either need to accept or change.
at the beginning of my session, a guy walks up and lets me know in no uncertain terms how he might be feeling somewhat discriminated against since I didn’t do a session addressing the single men. well, I promised him (hey amos!) what I knew I could deliver…a blog about the topic. as a single woman, i know the hangups, struggles, and opportunities for growth that single women have, but i'm not schooled on those issues for single guys, so i reached out to a varied crew of fellas to get some answers and boy did they deliver.
I must say, the men who responded did so thoughtfully and honestly, and I learned a lot from reading their responses. so if you’re a single man, pick up some of the free wisdom offered here. ladies, let this post take you to school if you’re willing to learn. ☺
1. Find Your Life’s Work
“Most men are extremely passionate! Channeling that passion in to something healthy and productive is the goal. Our passion is what makes us extremely good and extremely bad. If the good can be expressed and the bad circumvented, we as men would be pretty much unstoppable.”
“Purpose is of paramount importance to a man's sense of self worth. That is why our occupation becomes so important to us, because we usually associate our self worth based on what we do well. From sports, to business, to our sex life, we usually love what it is we DO, and not necessarily who it is we ARE. Love for ourselves can only be found in fellowship with our Father, and only then can we say like David, "I am fearfully and wonderfully made! Marvelous are Your works, and my soul knows it very well!"
“Get a dream - find something that you can pour yourself into...wholeheartedly...with reckless abandonment. find something to do where the "doing" is its own reward. this will not only occupy your time and give you focus, but it has the unintended side effect of garnering attention from the women-folk. exhibited passion is quite the aphrodisiac.”
2. Identify a Mentor
“Since we mostly come from single parent households, men don’t live in households where they see the things they should be doing to keep a relationship alive and they aren’t being taught those things either. Soooo, I think having some vision for those things would be a challenge that we need help with.”
“Befriend a married couple - make a monthly appointment with that older frat brother whose love got locked down five years ago or perhaps an older couple in your church will let you slide over for Sunday dinner. its good and inspiring to see what these folks deal with and how they relate. it can help you identify what you want in a relationship and what you're not ready to take on in your life.”
3. Remember where you’ve been, Evaluate where you are, and Know where you’re going
“I think many single men have a hard time enjoying where they are because quite honestly they don't know where they are supposed to be. There are so many different opinions as to where a man should be at different ages and stages of life. "You should have graduated from college by now", "You should have this type of job by now", You should have a house by now", on and on and on. I think we need to find out where we (as men) are going before we can determine if we can enjoy where we are.”
“Don't forget where you've been: If you forget the kind of women you've dated and not clicked with and just fall into the rut of dating the same kind of woman over and over again because ‘That's what you're attracted to’ then you will find yourself in the same place over and over again, unhappy.”
“Search out and come to terms with your own demons, regrets, feelings of regret or resentment, and fears. More than anything else, these often hidden feelings and perspectives do the most to impede our happiness, growth, and accomplishment.”
5. Develop a Dating M.O.
“Wouldn't it just trip most women out if a man takes them out on a date and he rattles off his M.O. to them? He probably would have more women after him than he could imagine. Men are leaders, and nothing says leadership like SELF leadership. "Here are my standards and boundaries. I promise to respect yours as long as you respect mine."
“Men sometimes leave one relationship for another, or leave for another relationship before the first is even finished. Emotions take time to heal and to jump from relationship to relationship without taking time to heal and evaluate is not healthy. So sit you're bed hopping a-- down for a second, get your mind right and decide what you really want in a woman and a relationship. Then maybe you won't have to jump around so much from house of pain to house of pain and you can find something that will everlast (bad pun but I couldn't help it).”
“The odds of you meeting a quality woman while shouting "My name is [insert your name here]!" over the music around 2:00 a.m. @ Esso's is Slim and Shady.”
“You can't have sex with em all ... you think you can ... you will want to try to ... but you can't! the best thing you can do is find a woman that loves you, that you love in return and live happily ever after because there will always be a girl that's cuter, that has a better body and that's sexier but there will not always be another woman that can make you happy. Once those breasts start to sag and that a-- turns to flab you better be with someone you can love, live and grow with.”
“do NOT let society, your friends, your ego, or unchecked desire drive your partner selection process. Many of the ideals we have about women are void of the most important criteria and focus on surface characteristics that do not stand the test of time.”
7. Surrender to God
“Most men have a hard time with this, but we must trust our lives to the One who gave it to us. If we do what we can, God can do what He wills. The result will always bring us out on top!”
“A woman will only submit to you to the degree that you submit to God. Everyone (men included) are considered to be married to God, in essence God's wives. So in order to be a good husband you must first be a good wife.”
I bought kanye’s first one because everybody had been talking about him. my brother told me a year before college dropout released about a producer turned rapper rhyming with his jaw wired shut. so I purchased the cd and it did not disappoint. in fact that cd still gets some listens from me.
‘ye’s second release, late registration had me curious. his first two singles “touch the sky” and “heard ‘em say” weren’t soundscan bangers, but when I heard he was working with Fiona apple’s producer jon brion, I purchased the album just to see what these two creative minds would come up with. late registration also did not disappoint. it had texture. it felt experimental and I loved the orchestration.
graduation came out right on time. I can’t count how many Friday and Monday mornings I bumped ‘ye on my way to the office of my corporate job. graduation was celebratory and arrogant in all the right places. felt like ‘ye at his best…excluding “drunk and hot girls” of course. :O
now winter is on the way and I must admit I’m jonesin for a good new cd. looks like jay’s not gonna drop til next year and dre 3 stacks is content hopping on other people’s songs, so that left me with kanye and beyonce (who I’ll comment on later) to carry me through the end of ’09. I haven’t been listening to much radio or watching music tv so I hadn’t heard a single from yeezy’s new record, but I had heard the rumors of him singing t-pain style on the album. thankfully kanye and his people saw fit to post the album in its entirety on his myspace page so I could see what I’d be getting into.
after two full listens here are my thoughts...”love lockdown” is my favorite so far., with a nod to “welcome to heartbreak” and “amazing.” i also liked “bad news,” the only song on the album about his mom. (if you can tell me the sample he used here you get some points!) kanye has done a good job mastering the concept album. this album like his previous three releases is consistent and thorough. gone are the goofy skits that must be fast forwarded. gone is the mouthy enthusiasm.
you know what this record reminds me of? the roots’ game theory. game theory was a moody album, not the joint you’re gonna bump in your ride by any means, but black thought had some things to get off his chest and used the mic to do so. clearly kanye’s had a tough year, major breakup and the loss of his mother, and 808s and heartbreak was his place to pour out some of that emotion.
now…let’s talk nuts and bolts…rhymes? not really much to speak on. kanye is vocoder singing most of this album. the lyrics here are not so much cleverly written as they are bare bones honest and vulnerable. production? consistent, 80s, synthesized. if you’re looking for club bangers you’ll be disappointed here. the album is contemplative and melancholy, but because of its consistent sound, you can still listen to it beginning to end. out of 5 stars? I give it 3. it’s not the kanye album I’m used to, but after two listens I can’t say it’s a bad album either.
so all of this to volley back to you...what do you dig or dislike about the album?
back from sacramento
ladies and gentlemen, i survived that ridiculously long flight to sacramento. no offense to all my west coast people, but i'm good if i don't fly west for awhile, unless i can be completely knocked out for the whole trip! LOL on the way there, kimpossible and i took some tylenol pm (thanks for the suggestion on that phil) in hopes of being knocked out for the duration of the flight. um wrong answer. a cute lil boy in front of us found a way to make the most piercing noise to express his dissatisfaction for THE ENTIRE first leg of our flight. now seeing as how his parents were having a hard time handling him, i have to be truthful. i normally don't try to handle other people's children, but the thought of pinching that lil boy like your mama used to do in church crossed my mind more than once as it became apparent that there would be no sleeping on this flight.
while i'm venting let me say that all this charging some airlines are doing now is getting out of hand. charge to check your bag, charge to eat, charge to drink. i'm wondering if we're gonna have to start paying to go through security too! (end of rant)
on a more positive note, been back from sacramento for a couple of weeks and now it's time to get geared up for nywc pittsburgh. gotta give some sacramento shoutouts!...to kimpossible, my manager, sister, and friend, thank you for your insight, the laughs, and your encouraging words. i appreciate you! to my sacramento volunteers destiny and ashlee', thanks for helping a sista's merch table to run smoothly. to clete and the bigstuf crew thanks for the great video behind the poem. looking forward to doing it again in pittsburgh. to spencer...not even sure if you're on myspace but thank you sir for that run dmc shirt! you get mad respect for naming those run dmc songs on demand! and to phil and natalie thanks for letting a sista utilize your studio to record the new poem i wrote for nywc "seriously ridiculous" which can be downloaded on my myspace.
thanks to kevin gibson from worshipodcast.com who interviewed me a few weeks ago. we talked poetry, writing, worship, and i'm sure i told an ignorant story or two! :) check out the interview in it's entirety at www.worshippodcast.com
new cd recording
at the beginning of this year, i had the chance to be a part of a live recording for sublime, the high school ministry at north metro church in kennesaw, ga. well the cd is complete and you can get a hold of it at www.isublime.com. you'll find poems "you," "to worship you," and a scripture piece called "inside out" on the cd along with some songs you'll recognize plus some things written specifically for the project. shoutout to rob greene (got the cd in the mail. thank you!), the sublime staff and students, and the band from the live recording.
ignt youtube video
ok so between my tries at video blogging and the things i've typed here, you have probably figured out that my airplane adventures can get kinda ignorant. lol well courtesy of kimpossible, you can now experience for yourself what's it's like to sit next to me on a flight. this footage was shot on the second leg of our flight, after the no sleep debacle during the first leg. enjoy! lol
Okay, if you've been checking out my blog the past couple of months then you know I've been wanting to get my salsa on for quite some time. Well, I went to two really cool salsa events so far and had to reportback on them. I LOVE salsa! It's a great way to meet people, and the best way to learn how to salsa is to get out there and dance! No leaning against the wall!
Shout out to Raymundo, for deejaying at both events and for teaching me the bachata. Thanks to Julian for the thorough salsa lesson! I felt like I nearly knew what I was doing. :) Thanks to Marvin for being a great salsa partner! Here's more info:
Salsa @ Paris on Ponce – Antique store Paris on Ponce houses a free salsa lesson and party every last Sunday, from 1 to 5pm. Free snacks, free water, free vino, and live performances. www.salsapop.com (check out the pic!)
Havana Nights - Every second Friday at Salsa Havana, 8:30pm until you can't dance anymore! $5 cover. 1 hour lesson.
In the state of Georgia, Monday, October 6, is your LAST DAY to register to vote for the November presidential election. Check out the following do’s and don’ts to make sure you can cast your ballot.
DO get registered! No excuses! You can register online, at your local public library, election office, and at your college registrar’s office. If you haven’t registered, DO IT TODAY! If you know someone who hasn’t registered, gently apply some good old peer pressure. It’s for a good cause. ☺
DO make sure your current address matches the address on your license. Voting in a county different from the one you live in can cause your vote not to count.
DON’T wear t-shirts, buttons, headbands, jersey socks, or earrings tricked out with the face or name of your favorite candidate. Direct quote from the Georgia secretary of state election site: No person may campaign; distribute literature of written or printed matter of any kind; wear campaign buttons, signs, pins, stickers, T-shirts, etc.; circulate petitions; or perform similar activities within 150 feet of the building in which a polling place is located. Check the polling place policy in your state.
DO your research. Be an informed voter. Make yourself aware of the issues not only on the presidential side of the ballot, but the senate, house of representatives, judges, and other pertinent races in your county and state.
Check out these sites:
Nationwide: Rock the Vote, Vote for Change
GA residents: Ballot, Georgia Election Guide 2008
The Tabernacle – For me, the purpose of the live show is to get close to the stage where the speakers are so loud I can feel it in my chest. A typical Tabernacle show will be standing room only near the stage, with seats available in the balcony.
+ If you can stand the crowd you can get close to the stage and see a great show.
- There will be lots of smoke, and ladies, unless you plan on spending the evening sitting in the balcony you might want to leave the heels at home.
Chastain Amphitheater– Imagine listening to Jill Scott with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra while watching the sunset. An outside amphitheater, Chastain seats hundreds while maintaining an intimate concert experience.
+ You can’t go to Chastain without packing a picnic. Break out the basket, the candles, some wine and cheese, and enjoy great music under the stars.
- The show will go on rain or shine, so you may want to bring rain gear or extra cash for a poncho, just in case.
Sugar Hill – A soulful concert venue, Sugar Hill showcases local and independent stars, as well as national headliners. Located in Underground Atlanta, Sugar Hill can be standing room only or cozy with couches near the stage. There is also a seated balcony.
+ You’ll see some of the best soul artists in this venue and it houses regularly scheduled music shows such as Harmony in Life and a Tuesday jam session.
-Ladies you might want to pack a flat shoe in that too big purse of yours. Seats are usually limited.
MJQ –You may have passed by the metal shack door that is the entrance to MJQ and never knew that some of the best partying in Atlanta was taking place beneath its doors. MJQ is an underground club venue where your favorite deejay’s favorite deejay, spins house, hip hop, reggae, and old school.
+ MJQ is about dancing, not holding up the wall. Ladies, no heels necessary. Throw on a sneaker or a Timberland if you want to.
- There will be smoke and sweat. Don’t ruin your good clothes or your good shoes.
Churchill Grounds – One of the best live jazz venues in Atlanta, Churchill Grounds’ The Whisper Room is an intimate music venue where you can hear straight-ahead jazz by local musicians as well as featured out-of-town musicians.
+ Intimate room with skilled jazz musicians playing almost every night of the week. Great date spot.
- There will be a door charge and a table minimum.
[Pics: Cathy Smith, a dance student with instructor Josh Jones. Jorge Morales, one of the founders of Academy Ballroom, instructing me on a little salsa. Paul Kemper, a dance student, and I, on the dancefloor. Cathy and another dance student, dancing the night away. *Special thanks to Cathy for being such a great photographer!)
When I walked into Academy Ballroom, I was a little bit skeptical. The room was filled with mostly older people doing what looked to be the waltz. I was under the impression that I was coming to a salsa party, so I was definitely expecting something louder, faster, and more hip. Since I was already there I decided to take a seat and take a look. I had to give it to them, they made this dancing look effortless and classic. Turns out I had arrived on the wrong night if I was looking for a salsa party. This was Academy Ballroom’s Grand Party, a night for dance students and anyone else interested to come together and dance whatever dance the music led them to.
I wasn’t seated long, and didn’t have much time to ponder whether or not I should stay, before an older gentleman asked me to dance. I responded with what became my intro line of the night, “…uh, this is my first time here, so you’ll have to teach me a little bit.” This gentleman, and most of the gentleman there were not put off by my firsttimeness. He started off teaching me the basic step to the tango. Before the night ended, I had learned the basic steps to the tango, rumba, waltz, swing, foxtrot, and salsa.
One way I like to upgrade my social life is to go to something where I will be walking in to a room full of strangers. This night fit the bill. I started off unsure, but after a couple of hours I had danced so much that my calves were talking back to me about it. This may not be the best place to meet Mr. Tender Fine (and I personally haven’t discovered the corner market for where Mr. Tender Fine and his crew tend to hang out. I’ll reportback when and if I do LOL), but it was a great place to don your classy attire, dance the night away, and enjoy an evening of gentleman respectfully holding out there hand to ask you to dance versus coming up behind you and attempting to shake what their mama did and didn’t give them. Check below for the links to Academy Ballroom and some other places you can get your formal dance on.
09/13 – Academy Ballroom Salsa Social. 8:30pm. Cover $10. www.academyballroomatl.com
09/26 – Tango Night at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center. 8:00pm. $15 cover for tango lesson and party. www.callanwolde.org
09/27 – Academy Ballroom Salsa Social. 8:30pm. Cover $10.
Next up on my upgrade agenda…salsa, FREE events, and (yeah I said it) sports!
The folks at My Steppers Club, showed me a thing or two about how deceitfully easy Kells and his Chi-town cronies make steppin' look. Special thanks to Sarah and Ron, step class instructors, and to the deejay (whose name I sadly didn't get!) for helping me to review the steps I just learned. Here are some things to note about learning how to Chicago step:
1. You can't make stepping up as you go. It has structure and specific steps. I started off with two: The "push off" and the "full 8."
2. In this dance, the man takes the lead and the lady follows…which is a metaphor that could incite a whole other level of conversation but we'll save that for another blog series. ☺
3. Ladies heels are a must so pick a comfortable pair that you won't mind dancing in most of the night.
4. Practice, practice, practice!
For more steppin' check out this event: Sunday, Sept. 7, Hot Steppin' in Red at the Crowe's Nest Mega-Plex. Free Steppin' Lessons from 7-8pm, open dance floor until 12am. $10 cover. Visit www.classactsteppers.com for more information or call 404.663.9269.
Next social life upgrade…salsa lessons!
the studio is wall to wall deep orange with the requisite mirror and small stage for the instructor. I took a belly dancing fitness class, a good instructional for beginners or for those who want to work on their moves as they attend another nazeem class. belly dancing can't be learned in one session, but leena's class showed me the benefits of the art.
1. sorry fellas, but this class is just for ladies. belly dancing is all about hips and curves and celebrates a regular woman's body. it's hard to find anything that celebrates that these days. so ladies, no worries about sucking your stomach in for once.
2. belly dancing works your core. it's a beautiful, but isn't just about looking pretty. the isolated movements required, tighten your stomach, abs, and gluts.
3. the fitness class is actually fun. the instructor teaches you various belly dancing moves to latin, middle eastern, African, and r&b music. we even danced to mary j. blige's "just fine," which was so apropos because a big portion of belly dancing is about your own body confidence. if you're low on that, I think belly dancing on a consistent basis can help you out.
4. nazeem allayl studios have a perimeter and little five points location, plus a very thorough website explaining everything from belly dancing's origin to what to wear to your first class.
5. I thought I knew how to dance, but my body had to learn how to move in a different way to get those belly dance steps right. thankfully, leena and aseelah helped those of us who were belly or hips challenged. after an hour of class my belly could make it dancing through at least one song and what more can you ask for? lol
6. the nazeem allayl studio has six-session belly dancing from beginner to advanced, along with a performance troop. i recommend the six week class if you are serious about teaching your belly to dance..
next up for my social life upgrade: Chicago steppin' and salsa…in the meantime I gotta give these abs a rest. J
first off…I got aholt to some squeaky cheese (a+), fried cheese curds...check the pic (c-), and frozen custard (b) all in a matter of a few minutes, and of course videotaped the whole thing. as soon as I get to the crib and compress the footage I’ll post it here in all it’s goofy glory! lol
ok the championship bout on final stage was crazy good! and I found out who that fourth team was. lol Austin, new york louder arts, charlotte, and boston. final stage opened with a montage of arts stuff. an African band performed and then First Wave, a University of Wisconsin program dedicated to creating a community of hip hop and spoken word at UW danced with some poets mixed inbetween, including Mo Brown and Phenom (Detroit). poet josh healey, head honcho of first wave, performed a great piece about peter Norman, the Australian Olympian who stood with Tommie smith and john carlos at the 1968 olympics as they raised their fists in protest.
nps gave Shannon leigh’s mom, affectionately known as dr. Sheila, the spirit of slam award, followed by a very moving group performance of a poem dr. Sheila wrote about her daughter. during this dedication the poets read off stage, leaving the spotlight and one mic center stage in shannon’s honor. there were lots of tears on this one. Shannon made a definite impact in the poetry community and she is truly missed.
Dasha Kelly, this year’s national slam coordinator, performed an original piece and introduced the hostess with the mostest, Sonya renee. so the judges were in place, scorekeeper and bout manager, at their table, Sonya renee at the mic looking fabulous and an audience full of some Madison residents but mostly poets and poetry aficionados who had traveled across the country for this.
the bout was filled with interesting perspectives from personal accounts of homelessness and domestic violence to comical tributes to the state of texas to a letter from the perspective of charles chapman, a black man falsely accused of rape then exonerated decades later, to his accuser. charlotte stole the show with a group piece likened to the stolen identity commercials, where blkswan stood on stage alone at the mic, mouthing bluz vocal as he spoke from the perspective of a rapist while offstage. the piece was phenomenal and scored the only thirty of the night securing the championship for team charlotte. congrats to bluz, blkswan, starr, carlos robson, and mike simms for doing their thing again this year! down south all day!!!
this was my first year at nationals and I heard A LOT of poetry this week. so much poetry in fact that i might need a poetry break. no haikus, no sonnets, no couplets, i might not even listen to hip hop...ok...that's taking it too far. lol i'll be listening to hip hop as soon as i get back to my wonderful car coltrane. lol), the poetry...some good, some not-so-good, some inspirational, and some so abstract I still don’t get it, some amazing, and some that really spoke to my life.
there’s a slam phrase that gets thrown around quite a bit, that the points are not the point. but when you rehearse for weeks, memorizing, writing, meeting, strategizing how you can win, you start to feel that the opposite is really true. and sometimes maybe it is.
but on the way home to Atlanta (which I have sorely missed), after I rest up from the crazy schedule we’ve been keeping here and settle back into my normal routine, I hope to return to the heart and passion that sent me to penning words in the first place. I hope to remember that twelve year old girl who kept her poems in a steno pad and never thought about if an audience would like them. the freshman in college who just had something to say and stayed up late writing, only to get up early and write some more, wrestling with questions she wasn’t sure she’d ever have the answers to.
art in its truest form is never about the points, whether the points come from a judge’s scoreboard, soundscan ratings, uproarious applause, myspace plays per day, or the amount of dineros paid.
ahem…don’t get me wrong, it’s cool to have points and we all love dineros, cuz artists like to create just as much as we like to know someone’s looking or listening to what we do. and we especially like it if what we love to do can pay a bill or two. ☺ but I hope that no matter how many points or dineros I get for putting these words together that I still find it in my heart to do this because i love it. that waking up with words I can’t ignore is still what sends me to the page. I hope that will always be the point.
not-so-good news, the bout was no cake walk, going up against Hollywood, Austin, Richmond, and Denver. all of the teams were putting up good work in hopes of making it to final stage. we came in third with Austin winning the bout, leaving Austin, charlotte, louder arts (ny), and one other team I’m not sure of, going to final stage tonight. I’ll reportback on that later. ☺
I must say, that is has been a joy being on the slam team with chas, bryan, henzbo (you too henzbro ☺), and gypsee. we have a good time together and it’s cool to admire the work of your teammates and actually dig them as people. so to that…l’chaim!
tonight we’ll be cheering on the four teams who made it to final stage and dear reader, I will be partaking of some Wisconsin cuisine. I hear that you have to have cheese curds (hoping this tastes much better than it sounds) and frozen custard while you’re here, so I am endeavoring to reportback on these food experiences. ☺
I’ll hit you back tomorrow with a final blog on who the winner is.
check out the pics: me, seth and jessica tondry and me at the lit conf, and henzbo, and versiz (detroit) at a prelim bout wed. night
got back to the hotel around two a.m. after watching a really good bout between charlotte, Detroit, Columbus, and cincinatti. great poetry and a lot of creative ideas brought to the stage. charlotte pulled the win with a good combination of creative group pieces and strong individual pieces. went back to the room, packed a little bag, slept for a couple of hours, and with henzbo, henzbro, and bryan in tow headed to the airport for a 6am flight. delayed in Detroit because of birds on the plane, which is decidedly different than snakes on the plane (and brings a kanye line to mind but that’s for another time).
I discovered something the last couple of times I’ve traveled. I don’t like to drink a lot of anything when I’m flying because I hate plane and airport bathrooms. so what happens is, I get dehydrated. and when I get dehydrated my sinuses act a plum fool. so on the flight from Detroit to Jacksonville my sinuses were crazy irritated and I kept sneezing. add to this that I was sitting next to a guy that looked and dressed like Kevin federline. I was sneezing up a storm even as we were filing out of the plane. I sneezed one last time and mr. federline backed away like he was afraid I was going to get him sick. had I not been sneezing like crazy I would have LOL.
kimpossible and I met up in Jacksonville to be a part of the lit conference, an event targeting high school students and encouraging them to live their faith in a way that could change the world. got a chance to meet some cool people, cody and Katie deese who help to run the lit conference, katie’s mom, dad, and brother, 16-year old author/activist zach hunter and worship leader seth tondry and his wife. the video blog is coming together people, I even did some interviews this time, so it is coming soon.
just heard the report from our team historian chas jackson, that we won our second bout. gypsee and henzbo performed a group piece, “sing us a song” which is full of insightful political commentary, bryan did “icebergs and electrical outlets,” chas performed “three-letter word” which is about the hurt of being wrongfully accused of being homosexual, and gypsee closed out the evening with “the universe is a love poem.” I am so proud of our team! l’chaim! ☺
ok I gotta go to bed soon. gotta leave for the airport at 4:30 a.m. to be back in WI for semis. til next time dear readers…
it was nearly 2am here in WI when we got back to the hotel and a sista is drag down tired. we won our first bout against cincinnati, Detroit, and Philadelphia. henzbo went up in round 1 with “shake the world,” a piece about turning world leaders and the status quo topsy turvy for the greater good.
bryan came in round 2 with “spiritual band,” a piece about a sick with it band whose players just happen to be jesus, Buddha, and Muhammad, to name a few. gypsee yo and I did my poem “Margaret” as a group piece, which is an ode to judy blume’s book are you there God it’s me Margaret and all the womanhood lessons that came along with it. and gypsee yo closed out the bout with ema’s poem, a dedication to her young daughter, telling the story of motherhood, and the hope of raising a child in the way she should go.
Detroit gave us a run for our money, they came in second to us by only tenths of a point, following by Philadelphia, and Cincinnati. we went and had celebratory pizza and most of all a sista enjoyed some celebratory sleep. ☺
next up…our next prelim bout is Thursday. I won’t be here for that one because I’ll be scooting down to Jacksonville, fl for the lit conference. but as promised the blogging won’t stop. I’ll keep you posted on the goings on in WI and you’ll get to follow me down to FL as I meet with kim p, steve fee, and a bunch of high school students at lit.
slam nationals is like a relay race where you play your part and hand off the baton to someone on your team to make sure the job gets done and that it gets done right. winning this first bout was like the first leg of the race for us, but of course the ultimate goal is to win the whole shebang.
I’m gonna go catch the last of this continental breakfast and get ready to run through some pieces. ttys
Check here for constant bout updates!
I arrived in Madison, wi for the national poetry slam yesterday. the java monkey team and I will be spending the week up here competing and meeting other poets from around the country. right now, I’m in the lobby of the hotel about to jump on the free continental breakfast. ☺ (check out the pic of me and the crew: bryan, chas, gypsee yo, and henzbo)
those of you who tuned in to my challenge 08 blog are well aware of how I feel about the jet plane. made for a great American song, not for a good stomach experience. ☹ but the little bitty jet from Milwaukee to Madison turned out to be a 15 minute flight. not enough time for a sista to get nauseous. lol couple of things to note:
1. I still stand by Midwest airlines and those freshly baked cookies. you need to fly Midwest at least once in your lifetime. and instead of having first class and coach, they have equally divided the seat space so that every passenger gets some leg room. no more walking by the first class cats as they look down at their newspaper and try not to pity you. equal opportunity leg room and chocolate chip cookies for all!
2. first thing I saw after I grabbed my bag full of too many clothes from the claim carousel was isthmus. madison’s version of creative loafing or the village voice. found out there is definitely more to do in Madison than eat cheese and read poetry which for some reason sounds like a bad combination. in fact, boyz II men and midnight star will be performing in town this week. if I come up on some free tickets I’ll let you know. ☺
3. after a day full of travelling and shuttling between hotel and airport, our team is present and accounted for. bryan and chas arrived yesterday morning, I picked up the afternoon shift and gypsee yo and henzbo arrived last night. our first bout is tonight.
I’ll keep you posted as fast as my fingers can type.
2. Take a class! – Your high school teacher told you to never stop learning and as soon as you graduated you forgot that along with how to say “where is the bathroom?” in that foreign language you studied. Want to work on that screenplay or learn how to merengue? Sign up for a class/workshop and you’ll come out with new knowledge and meet some new people in the process. My last cool class: Beginner’s Acting at Pro Actor’s Studio.
3. Get out of your comfort zone! – Set a goal of doing something once a month that is completely out of your typical routine. You dig sports? Go to an art gallery. Into rock music? Go to a live jazz show. Doing something different every once awhile can keep you from getting too comfortable doing your same ole, same ole. Comfort Zone Stretcher: I usually go to soul/hip hop shows, so I went to a rock show at the Star Bar to see band, The Lord is My Shotgun.
4. Talk to strangers – While you are upgrading your social life, you are bound to see some new faces. Take advantage of the opportunity and become a better conversationalist. Great conversations are about the balance of listening and talking, do too much of one or the other and you may find yourself the central character of someone’s terrible night out story. Site for some convo tips: Did You Know? Conversation Starters
5. Go it alone – Going out by yourself has its plus points. You don’t have to worry about staying at a horrible event too long or leaving too early from a great one all because your ride is ready to go. Rolling solo can also make for a great way to meet people, since you don’t have the comfort of chatting it up with the friends you came with.
6. Feel good – Run, walk, yoga, kickbox, lift weights, skip, cartwheel, whatever you have to do get your cardio up and some endorphins flowing. When you feel good about you, it shows, so tighten up those abs, decrease the complaining, and think a little more positive. My favorite workout feel good: Yoga. I dig how it’s relaxing and strenuous all at the same time. I stand by a Rodney Yee video...I guarantee it! A hot yoga blog is coming soon…
7. Join a team – If you like sports, joining a team can be a great way to expand your social horizons. If you’re like me and you’re not into sports, sweating, and the like, cheering friends from the sidelines can be just as fun. ☺
8. Volunteer – From cleaning up in the community to delivering meals and reading to kids, there’s always something you can do to help someone else. When you volunteer you get to be a part of something bigger than you, and the good feeling afterwards makes the whole thing priceless. Find a place to volunteer.
9. Tagalong – We’ve all got friends that are into some interesting stuff. I for one have friends who love trees, hiking, scrapbooking, Indian food, and a host of other things that I would never have been into before I met them. Let the people you know act as tour guides to a new experience for you. My last tagalong adventure: A tree walk. I know sounds strange at first, it turned out to be a cool experience and now I know the difference between a Japanese maple and a dogwood (thanks Bethany!)
10. Find your passion and DO IT! – If you are struggling to get out of bed each morning and drag yourself to your job, you may need to find an outlet to do something you love to do. If you have a dream you haven’t pursued take at least one step towards accomplishing it. Pursuing my dream as a writer is one of the reasons I’m typing this to you. ☺ How to Find Your Passion
Next up: New social adventures…I will be reporting back on how I’m upgrading my social life, inviting your comments and suggestions along the way.
so for the next few weeks I’ll be embarking on giving my own social life a recharge and writing the tips, suggestions, and ignorant stories I encounter along the way. I invite you, dear reader, to join me in upgrading your social life. but first a pop quiz. ☺
Do you dread Friday night? Has blockbuster become your best friend? Can’t remember the last time you went out and had a good time? Sounds like you need a social life upgrade! Take the following quiz to see if your social life is in need of an extreme makeover.
1. Your typical Friday night consists of:
a) out on the town of course! what else is friday for?
b) sweatpants, blockbuster, and a snack.
c) working on your laptop.
2. In the past two weeks you met ___ new people.
a) 4 or more
3. The last book you read was:
a) by one of your favorite authors.
b) for a class.
c) had more pictures than words.
4. In a room full of strangers you:
a) introduce yourself to the person next to you with a smile and a firm handshake.
b) keep it low key until you see someone you know.
c) hold up the wall most of the night.
5. The last time you did something that stretched you out of your comfort zone was:
b) not too long ago.
c) ....you can't recall.
6. When asked what you like to do for fun you:
a) could talk for hours.
b) after "watch movies and listen to music," you run out of things to say.
c) can't really think of anything.
7. You typically go out on the town:
a) once a week.
b) once a month.
c) a few times a year.
8. When you and your friends go out you:
a) typically suggest a place.
b) go with the flow, whatever they suggest.
c) decline the invitation.
9. The idea of going out alone makes you:
a) excited! You enjoy hanging out by yourself.
b) invite other people to go with you. You don’t roll solo.
c) scared. Who wants to go out alone?
10. In a conversation, you typically:
a) talk the other person’s ear off.
b) a little bit of both.
c) listen quietly.
Mostly As...Social butterfly
You enjoy going out, experiencing new things, and meeting new people. You thrive in a crowd and see a room full of strangers as an opportunity rather than a daunting moment. You don’t let anything stop you from doing the things you like to do and you love to be the life of the party.
Upgrade Challenge: Since you thrive in group environments, spend some time alone. Get to know yourself and the things you like to do separate from friends, dates, and crowds.
You enjoy being social, but don’t mind spending time alone or at home. You are a great listener and your friends like to be around you because of your cool and fun personality. You go with the flow, but don’t take a lot of initiative when it comes to being social.
Upgrade Challenge: Strike up conversation with someone you don’t know next time you are out and about. Offer up an interesting fact you read recently, playing an active role in the conversation by not just assuming the part of the listener.
Mostly Cs...In need of an upgrade
You haven’t gone out in weeks and the thought of going out is not an encouraging one. You like to have fun, but mostly find yourself spending time at home. You may be in a rut, and in need of something to charge you and get you back into enjoying life.
Upgrade Challenge: Pick one new thing to do or place to go each month and do it! No excuses! Whether it’s going out with friends, checking out an event that interests you, or signing up for a class you’ve always wanted to take, you may find that switching up your typically routine will help you to embrace life even more.
Blog Sneak Peek: Next up…10 Ways to Upgrade Your Social Life and Upgrade Adventures: Learn How to Dance.
Upgrade Your Social Life is available on Myspace, Facebook, and in e-newsletter ATL Lowdown.
Published 07.16.08, Atlanta Creative Loafing
By Amena Brown
Photo By Raymond Hagans
Caption: PJ Morton and his band move the crowd.
HARMONY IN LIFE
In Atlanta, the term "harmony in life" is more than hippie talk. It represents a collective of musicians who first came together at the Hard Rock Café's Velvet Underground room and is now anchored at the Sugarhill club in Underground.
What began as a jam session for local artists has grown into a multimedia brand – known as Harmony in Life – that hosts monthly live music. Backed by sick-with-it house band Vibe-Raiders, the show features such homegrown artists as PJ Morton, Algebra and Rahbi, as well as national artists India.Arie, Dionne Farris and Raheem DeVaughn.
With a roster that consists of mostly unsigned soul, R&B and hip-hop acts, Harmony In Life founder Ron Smith has cultivated a network that helps artists get their music to the right audiences.
"We are striving to get good music to the people who want to hear it," Smith says. "We want to create a revolving door of fans, so one artist's crowd can be turned on to another artist's crowd. We're stronger together than we are apart. That's something artists need to know."
Smith and business partner Mike Dawson launched Harmony in Life Records last year to offer independent artists distribution and promotion. The label's first project, the double CD For the Moment/A Soul Acoustic, was released May 7 and features singer/songwriter Dain Harris and guitarist/producer Brandon A. Thomas, both Harmony in Life regulars.
"From the artists' perspective there's a camaraderie [at the show] that's hard to find," Thomas says. "You get to know everybody and there is networking beyond belief. From an administrative standpoint, the label has been my saving grace. It was good to have a team of people to help with that."
In celebration of classic soul, the four-year anniversary show will be a Stevie Wonder tribute and jam session, featuring past Harmony in Life performers Anthony David, Heston, Rahbi, Chimere and more.
Harmony in Life Anniversary show. $10-$15. Sat., July 19. 9 p.m. Sugarhill, 50 Upper Alabama St. 404-658-0068. Purchase tickets at www.ticketalternative.com, Moods Music, Marco's Pita, Soul of Sisa or Cafe Circa.
CW Midtown Music Complex
Atlanta, GA, March 20-22, 2008
Published May 2008 in Southeast Performer Magazine
This year’s fourth annual A3C Hip Hop Festival, held at Atlanta’s CW Music Midtown Complex, delivered three days of record-scratching, beat-breaking, neck-rocking, slick-spinning hip-hop. Each night featured a line-up of hip-hop acts ranging from local artists to consistent national headliners.
Playing to an audience that has never heard your music can be a tough feat to overcome, but Atlanta MC Mojo Swagger rocked the mic during Thursday night’s show at Vinyl as if he were performing at Madison Square. Wearing a boxing glove on his left hand, Swagger described his love for hip-hop to the crowd saying, “Hip-hop makes me feel open. Like smoking my first blunt, kissing my first girl, buying my first car, having my first drink.” MC Dillon Maurer showcased the fun side of hip-hop during his set, while duo Contra Verse dedicated a song to the downside of the mainstream music industry.
On Friday night, Gripplyaz opened the show at Center Stage, followed by eclectic crew Hollyweerds. DJ Klever held the whole night together, kicking tunes from the turntables in-between acts. B.o.B. brought an electric energy to the stage during songs “Haterz” and “Addicted to the Nightlife,” even doing jumping jacks as a part of his performance. Los Angeles MC Blu spit his well-constructed lyrics sans hype man with merely a mic and a Heineken, rhyming, “Heard you was looking for a weapon. My tongue’s right here.”
The evening closed with the much-anticipated reunion of one of hip-hop’s pioneer groups The Juice Crew. Big Daddy Kane was unable to attend due to problems with his blood pressure, but Marley Marl, Biz Markie, Roxanne Shante, Craig G, and MC Shan, performed their old hits and debuted a couple of new ones. MC Shan, a recent Atlanta transplant, rhymed some of his old lyrics over new school beats, while Biz Markie reminded the audience of the power of the beatbox. Biz Markie sang one of his landmark hits, “Just a Friend,” giving the audience permission to sing, whether they could hold a note or not.
Hip-hop has always been about ego, the sheer ability to showcase your skill, prove yourself, or at the very least make your audience believe in what you can do, even if they haven’t seen it yet. A3C celebrates hip-hop by providing a stage for pioneers to exemplify the culture’s history and newcomers to carry on its legacy.
just got back from being a part of the challenge 08 youth conference in salt lake city last week. carried the camera along and tried to get a behind the scenes view. prepare yourself for some shaky camera angles. lol shout out to all the cool students i met at challenge 08! check it out.
this is what I have termed retro blogging. it’s what happens when you don’t blog about stuff right after it happens which forces you to post the event and lean on your reader to act like the post is current. so please dear reader, use your imagination and make believe you are reading this blog on june 13. ☺
I’m into live shows and there are a few artists I will lay down good money to see (i.e. the roots, India.arie, algebra, earth, wind & fire, Stevie wonder, prince) and erro is in my top 5. thanks to a birthday gift from a special gentlemen I was able to attend the eric Roberson show at sugar hill with kimpossible. she and I arrived early, mainly because we wanted to wear heels and were not looking forward to standing on them all night. while we were waiting in line for the doors to open, eric came out and greeted the already lengthening line, stopping to say hello and to take pictures. the guy in front of us was a true erro fan, he had an old erro LP with a cover pic that had eric looking like he was 16 or something, clean fade with the curved part. kim p and I took a picture with erro before our twenty minutes of standing on our heels was up.
about an hour later the venue opened and we found a little cushiony couch to sit on until the show started. algebra opened the show, singing a couple of my favorite algebra joints: “you do it for me,” “my name is algebra,” and “at this time” (which is my favorite song on her new album purpose). I have a thing about being close to the stage when I’m at a show. I like to do this for two reasons. one: it keeps me closer to the music and further away from the people who come to shows and get their talk on all night. two: I’m standing where the music is loud so I can sing or rap the lyrics to my heart’s content. it really recreates the scene I set up in my car almost every day! so kim p and I venture to the front and realize a couple of things. it’s hot. blazing hot. need a church fan with dr, king or the funeral home advertisement on it hot. and secondly we realize if we are going to enjoy ourselves these heels have got to go!
so there we are standing barefoot by the time eric hits the stage. would have been a great time to have packed flip flops in the too big purse I’m always carrying. and I was also thinking if somebody sold flip flops in venues like this, they would probably get a buyer out of me. especially if the flip flops were cute and not too cheap looking. because although wearing heels completes many an outfit, for the most part they’re not comfortable and I’m gonna end up coming out of them at some point.
so eric hits the stage and puts on a SHOW. singing hits from his new album, “…left” and running back over some old ones. he also sang my absolute favorite erro song “pretty girl.” I love that song so much it probably deserves a blog of its own! of course an eric Roberson show wouldn’t be complete without eric kicking a freestyle. this time he had to create a new song using the words: equilibrium, algebra, child support…and dang, I can’t remember the fourth one. if you attended the show help me out. all in all it was a great time, worth the long line, standing in heels, singing barefoot.
side note: before the show i downloaded an eric roberson greatest hits of sorts called the collection. I wanted to know more songs of his so I could sing them at the show. the collection includes a smattering of eric’s hits from previous albums and a new tune “head to toe.” I have been listening to the collection nonstop ever since. favorite songs: “def ears” and “just a dream”
only a couple of weeks after composing my bucket list and I can already cross of number one! the roots along with Erykah badu stopped in Atlanta on may 23. I had heard rumors that sometimes when ?uest is in town he will deejay at a local spot in the city, most likely MJQ. well this time, it was no secret. the event, co-promoted by 4 kings entertainment, was featuring ?uestlove on the turntables as a part of MJQ’s traditional friday night fix. I want to take this time to thank the lifetime member of the scholarship committee who treated me to my bucket list experience. (SCHOLARSHIP!)
dj majestik and dres tha beatnik held it down in the booth playing hits and some of the best songs that you forgot about. after a couple of hours, MJQ was packed, ?uest was ready in the booth, headphones covering afro, and black thought even came through and spit quite a few bars including two of my favorite roots’ songs star and rising up from their new album.
1 down, 27 to go. check out the pics. ☺
I'm probably giving away a money idea, but I've always wished there was a yahoo for the male mind. a place where I could type in the male sentences I had a hard time translating and receive some sort of glimpse into the male psyche that might help me to understand and better communicate. in lieu of malemindyahoo.com, it pays to have good guy friends. ☺
blogging is really about conversation, so I thought it only right to present the male side of my previous blog 10 things single women hate to hear. I sent out an email to the single fellas and siphoned 10 things they hate to hear.
1. We need to talk.
2. There are no good men out here.
"A lot of women are blind and have no clue what a good man looks like."
3. You're such a nice guy.
4. I don't need a man.
5. I'm late.
6. I would like to date a guy just like you.
"This sucks when it's a chick you dig and you're thinking there is no one more like me than ... me."
7. You're like my brother.
8. I'm a classy chick.
"Classy women don't need to say this."
9. I want to get married before I turn 30.
From family and friends…
10. When are you going to settle down, get married and have some kids?
fellas, got anything to add? ladies, what do you think?
we all have ideas of things we dream to do if the world were perfect, if we knew we couldn't fail, if we had an everlasting supply of money. something about dreaming of these things brings the true desires of our heart to the surface. makes things seem a lot more possible than they might at first glance. so dear readers, here is my bucket list, in no particular order and definitely not exhaustive. i'm hoping to add more to the list as life goes on...
1. experience questlove deejaying live
2. get published in essence magazine
3. get published in o magazine
4. get published in urb magazine
5. write and publish at least two books (hopefully more!)
6. travel to italy for at least a two week trip
7. travel to africa for at least a three week trip
8. attend a jay-z concert with my brother robert
9. travel to israel
10. take a cross country road trip when i really have time to take my time and enjoy it
11. research my family origin on both sides similar to african american lives
12. be a part of a mentoring program for young women
13. go to the u.s. open with my grandma and family
14. take my grandma to a real scrabble tournament
15. learn how to salsa dance and chicago step (instead of that fronting i do when step in the name of love comes on :O)
16. finish the scrapbook of all these pictures, programs, tickets, greeting cards, notes, letters etc that i've been saving all these years
17. check out eric roberson's night at SOB's
18. marry somebody i love, who's my friend, and can tolerate me getting on his nerves and vice versa and have some babies
19. organize a girlfriends trip for my close friends, esp the ones i rarely get to see
20. learn how to cook at least 15 dishes very well!
21. make it through 80 minutes of yoga without having to lay down for a few minutes
22. take better care of my health
23. see earth, wind, & fire and frankie beverly & maze live
24. travel to the caribbean
25. take my mom to the schomburg
26. leave life with little to no regrets
27. not let fear keep me from doing anything
28. be real with myself and with God
1. mo better blues
2. malcolm x
3. four little girls
4. do the right thing
5. jungle fever
7. school daze
8. when the levees broke
9. she's gotta have it
10. get on the bus
as an opener for my session, "for single women only," I emailed some of my single female friends to poll them on the things they hate to hear. after receiving humorous emails and ignorant stories I siphoned the list to 10 things. shoutout to all the ladies who attended my session in Orlando and those who attended the first "for single women only" in dallas. for your reading pleasure…
10 Things a Single Woman Hates to Hear
1. When am I gonna have some grandchildren?
I actually just had to deal with this question recently for the first time. for the most part my family encourages me to pursue my dreams and I don't get too much pressure. but in the not too distant past a loved one who will remain nameless recently inquired of when I might be getting on this grandchildren train. I of course shifted focus to other family members who are married with kids, but no such luck. it's clear that this conversation was not about grandkids in general. it was specifically about grandkids with half my genes. lol I told said loved one…let's work on the getting married part first then we can talk about grandkids. lol
2. When is your boyfriend going to propose?
some of the ladies who are boo'd up said that they get the proposal pressure from the family and friends…may be worse around holidays. :O
3. There is someone out there…
I've always wondered about this one. On my most cynical day I was like really…have you seen him?!
4. It'll happen when you least expect it.
Raise your hand single women if you have tried to "least expect it" just so "it" will happen! LOL Dang…but I would have to say every time “it” happened to me, it happened when I least expected it. Okay, maybe there’s some truth to this one! :D
5. I know this really nice guy you'd be interested in.
I would tell my worst "let me hook you up" story but it cannot be blogged about. I must tell it in person. lol all I can say is be wary of letting your co-workers set you up! if you see me in the street I'll spill the gory details.
6. If you just _____, you could get a man.
This is an interesting one. Now, I'm not denying that all of us could probably use some growth, maturity, change. But if your only purpose for changing or growing is to nab a man, i venture to say it's not a good look.
7. I'm not ready for a committed relationship, but I still want to hang out with you.
This one received terrible reviews from my email responses and I quote "This is called: Trying to have their cake and eat it too....HECK NO!!!"
8. You're such a cool girl, why can't my girlfriend be more like you?
Dang, I don't even have a comment! lol
9. Why are you still single?
This was the response I received the most from my single female friends. No matter who's asking, something about this question is highly frustrating. Like if I knew why I was single…wouldn't I change it?! But I think a guy's perspective may help on this one. My friend Caleb shed some light. He said when a man says this to a woman, it's normally a compliment. Like he thinks you're so great he wonders why you're still single. Not like what in the world is wrong with you. LOL So before you answer this one, take a deep breath and have some positive thoughts. :)
10. We're never gonna get married.
At a roundtable of girlfriends, powwowing on the latest dating/relationship escapades this statement is likely to be tossed around. I've said it and I've heard it said. It's the fallback from your last dating experience, the defense mechanism many single women hope keeps them from hurt and disappointment.
Now…I'm not gonna get on my soapbox…at least not in this blog. lol But I firmly believe there's no use in bemoaning where you are in life in hopes of being someplace better. Enjoy wherever you are and live life to the fullest…I'll be covering this topic more in future blogs. I gotta end with a quote that inspires me no matter how many times any of these ten things.
"And don't be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God's place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life." – Paul (The Message)
Single ladies…did I miss any of the things you hate to hear? Fellas anything you want to add? A blog with the male perspective on this topic is coming soon…
1. God is trying to tell you something – the color purple
2. you a liar and you a cheat – the jacksons: american dream (check in at 3:00)
3. thousands of kisses – that thing you do
4. follow the drip – house party
5. kills your brain cells, son. – lean on me
6. When you figure out you want to spend the rest of your life with someone you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible. – when harry met sally
7. the last scene of fatal attraction
8. did I ever ask you for anything?! – the color purple
9. "sista" – the color purple (including "harpo, who dis woman?"
10. proud mary – what's love got to do with it?
Here is an excerpt from the CS Mag Cover Story, March 2008. I'll post the full version of the article in June.
Hear Me Say…
by: Amy Jacobs
Spoken word artist Amena Brown finds her voice in unlikely places
“Are you a night owl?” Amena Brown asked as we exchanged a string of e-mails in hopes of finding time to talk. She’s a night owl – and there’s good reason. Amena juggles work as a spoken word artist, a music journalist, a poet, and still manages to hold down a corporate America day job. So, a phone interview at 11:00 p.m. was a matter of necessity – quite frankly, there aren’t enough hours in Amena’s day.
While we spoke at length, Amena probably should have been packing her bags for the back-to-back conferences where she would be speaking and performing during the next few days. Instead she gave me her undivided attention as she told me what it is to be Amena Brown.
BEYOND THE RHYME
Amena is most commonly known for worshipful poetry she’s written and performed at gatherings such as Passion and LeadNow conferences. Her gift for spoken word led her into the thick of ministry, but that was never Amena’s intention. She simply loved poetry, and was willing to walk through each door God opened.
Amena’s mother instilled in her a love for words, and from a young age she found writing to be her greatest form of self-expression. Years later, as she sat in Atlanta coffee bars and clubs, Amena was exposed to a world of performance poetry that changed her life. “I encountered so many people who are great poets. I heard people who are darn good at what they do, people who knew how to say what they wanted to say. I was inspired,” she shares.
Week after week as she looked around the places she went to hear poetry, she saw people crammed into rooms, shoulder to shoulder. Amena noticed that the audience came seeking something – they wanted to hear truth. The topic didn’t matter as long as someone spoke with conviction and talked about the truth of his or her life. “When I realized that’s why people come to these clubs, I remember telling God that I wanted to go into rooms like this and share who He is,” Amena recalls. “Maybe the audience would identify with it and eventually respect that it’s true.”
Although she comes from a heritage of ministry, Amena never had any ambition of performing in church. In her world, people who performed spoken word did it for the love of poetry. Sure she might write a piece of poetry about God, but she would perform it where all the poets were, not necessarily for a congregation of believers.
Today, most of Amena’s Christian audiences want to hear her poems, and lately she’s been asked to perform and lead breakout sessions at conferences. “From what they hear, they think I’m a worship leader,” Amena says. In her eyes, she’s far from being a worship leader. She’s just sharing a gift God has given her, and she’s as likely to do that in a smoky bar as a church.
shoutouts!: thanks to kimpossible, tim, kwajelyn, celita, ashley, drea, my lovely sister keda, my beautiful mom jeanne, kyana, jon goode, gypsee yo, ebony janice, byron, asha, and myra for showing a sista so much love and support.
this is my third try at making the java monkey team and through the process i have learned that slam is a tricky thing. it's not something to base your value on as a poet. it's a competition, it's numbers, scores, strategy, with a lil entertainment mixed in. i like it because it challenges me, pushes me to take my work and my performance to another level. so at the end of the whole thing you gotta feel good about what you do, about what you say, and at least be able to walk off stage proud of yourself.
kudos to each poet that made it to the finals, the abovementioned and a.p., mista funn, chiara, lady, and stefen. i'll keep you all posted on the prep for nationals.
mrs. perry armed us with white copy paper, markers, crayons, colored pencils and freed our eight year old minds to write poems and draw our own illustrations. once we had written the work, we did what we had no idea many writers must do. we self-published. we were responsible for writing, illustrating, binding, and coming up with cover art. my friend porsha had the genius idea of using old hand towels as the cover. my hand towel had a blue butterfly spread across it which matched perfectly with the electric blue duct tape that would become the book’s spine.
mrs. perry encouraged something that my mom had started in me before I was born. a love for words. mrs. perry’s book assignment showed me the power of not only honoring my own words but that words can be a gift that you leave for others. like an inheritance. today, I don’t have that blue butterfly hand towel or the duct tape, but I’m still writing, illustrating, packaging, hoping that someone will happen upon these words and find encouragement in them. in honor of national poetry month…ten quotes about poetry.
1. Writers don’t write from experience, although many are hesitant to admit that they don’t. ...If you wrote from experience, you’d get maybe one book, maybe three poems. Writers write from empathy.—Nikki Giovanni
2. I always write a good first line, but I have trouble in writing the others.-- Molière [Jean Baptiste Poquelin]
3. But all art is sensual and poetry particularly so. It is directly, that is, of the senses, and since the senses do not exist without an object for their employment all art is necessarily objective. It doesn’t declaim or explain, it presents. – William Carlos Williams
4. All poets, all writers are political. They either maintain the status quo, or they say, ’Something’s wrong, let’s change it for the better.’ – Sonia Sanchez
5. One ought, every day at least, to hear a little song, read a good poem, see a fine picture, and if it were possible, to speak a few reasonable words. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
6. The trouble with America isn’t that the poetry of life has turned to prose, but that it has turned to advertising copy. – Louis Kronenberger
7. My role in society, or any artist or poet’s role, is to try and express what we all feel. Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but as a reflection of us all. – John Lennon
8. I grew up in this town, my poetry was born between the hill and the river, it took its voice from the rain, and like the timber, it steeped itself in the forests. – Pablo Neruda
9. At the touch of love everyone becomes a poet. – Plato
10. Poetry is concerned with using with abusing, with losing with wanting, with denying with avoiding with adoring with replacing the noun. It is doing that always doing that, doing that and doing nothing but that. Poetry is doing nothing but using losing refusing and pleasing and betraying and caressing nouns. That is what poetry does, that is what poetry has to do no matter what kind of poetry it is. And there are a great many kinds of poetry. – Gertrude Stein
so I get hooked into a couple of reality shows. america’s next top model. flavor of love (I know, I know…the first step to getting help is admitting you have a problem! LOL). and diddy’s making the band. I stayed caught up on this show until the season finale. inspired by vibe mag’s 20 questions here are ten questions I had about this season of making the band. things that make you go hmmm…..
1. is day 26 a good band name? 2. is donnie’s album ever gonna come out? 3. do you want to go to the dollhouse? 4. doesn’t aubrey look better without all that extra hair and lashes? 5. don’t you really want to say b---a--ness? 6. is bryan still rocking the clippered eyebrows? 7. how did diddy calculate that b----a--ness is down 15%? 8.. is b----a--ness down a notch because gas prices are so high? 9. didn’t danity kane turn out to be a good band name? 10. was anybody really feeling it at first?
I’ve got a couple of top ten blogs coming up that require a little more uh…research so I thought I’d post this one in honor of great singalong theme songs and of course hailing the wonders of youtube. enjoy!
1. fresh prince "looked at my kingdom I was finally there to sit on my throne as the prince of bel air"
2. reading rainbow – "butterfly in the sky…I can go twice as high!" check out these guys doing an acoustic version of the theme song.
3. a different world – seriously…this show inspired me to attend a black college. "it’s a different world than where you come from."
4. cheers "sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name"
5. growing pains "as long as we got each other…we got the world spinning right in our hands."
6. golden girls "thank you for being a friend. traveled down the road and back again"
7. silver spoons – what exactly does it mean to be face to face a couple of silver spoons? I mean if they were in a drawer, would they really be face to face?
8. family ties – "what would we do baby without us?"
9. the brady bunch – check out craiglewis gospelling up this theme song.
10. the wonder years "a lil help from my friends"