Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 Highlights

Here are some of the personal highlights for me from this year:

Highlights of 2010

1. Interview & performance of “Breathless” with Gabriel Newell on Power 94
2. Starting up MANIFEST
3. Having Speakeasy turn 1
4. Being in the paper several times
5. Moving Speakeasy to The Office
6. Performing in (and partying after) the New Reason/New Renaissance Art Show
7. Performing in Rhyme-n-Chatt’s Love Groove
8. Starting Night & the City and performing with Travis Kilgore
9. Playing in Loopstock 2 with Kevin Klein and Butch Ross
10. Interviews and performances on the radio
11. Selling out of Ghosts & Echoes two years in a row
12. Performing at UTC 3 times
13. Live streaming and podcasts of Speakeasy
14. Attending the New Voices poetry reading
15. Playing guitar in the Christian Collier 7 in January
16. Meting a number of new and talented individuals
17. Performing in God’s Trombones (RIP Pastor Strong)
18. Performing in the To Haiti with Love benefit
19. Recording with Kyle MacKillop
20. Recording “Moving On” with Troy Underwood
21. Performing at JJ’s Bohemia
22. Performing with the Rogue Writers
23. Mainx24
24. Creating Strange Bedfellows with Mark Holder

Monday, December 27, 2010

Free Giveaway

Hey Folks,

As some of you know, MANIFEST III is on January 14th. The musical feature this time around is a jazz band called The Undoctored Originals (I've posted about them before). I've recently been given a cd of their best live recordings of this year, so I figured it was a good opportunity to put the music out there for your consumption. If you like what you here, come out in January and see them live. You'll ALSO be witnessing the live visual art talents of Jody Harris, Kristen Rogers, and Whitney-Nave Jones (plus a few poems by yours truly).

You can download the live recordings from the band here:

Sunday, December 26, 2010


Greetings everyone,

As the year winds down, I’ve been thinking a lot about last year and this one. The past few years have really been tremendous for me in a creative sense. However, last year, I had a good deal of turmoil in my personal life. I’ve been holding onto a number of things and have just accepted the changes that have come as a result of last year’s negativity.

In December of last year, I started working on a poem called Weight. The poem is dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr. As I was working on the piece, I did a lot of research on the man and learned a number of things that I didn’t know. Also, all through the course of this year, I continued to research Dr. King, his final days, sermons, etc. All of the things I’ve come across have provided me with a tremendous amount to think about and apply to my everyday life.

Today, with only a few days remaining in 2010, I came across Dr. King’s sermon on forgiveness. If you’re unfamiliar with it, I’ll include it below. Let me know what you think. There’s a line in my poem Weight that reads, “Martin showed us that it takes a special heart/to will itself to do the supernatural/ to both love & forgive those who labor on ruination.” I’m going to challenge myself to try to legitimately forgive those who gossiped about me, worked to soil my name, called me a nigger, etc. My goal is to free myself up of lingering negativity in order to make way for greater things in my life. I’m also going to challenge you who come across this to do the same.

Loving Your Enemies
by Martin Luther King, Jr.

The following sermon was delivered at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, at Christmas, 1957. Martin Luther King wrote it whi1e in jail for committing nonviolent civil disobedience during the Montgomery bus boycott. Let us be practical and ask the question. How do we love our enemies?

First, we must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. It is impossible even to begin the act of loving one's enemies without the prior acceptance of the necessity, over and over again, of forgiving those who inflict evil and injury upon us. It is also necessary to realize that the forgiving act must always be initiated by the person who has been wronged, the victim of some great hurt, the recipient of some tortuous injustice, the absorber of some terrible act of oppression. The wrongdoer may request forgiveness. He may come to himself, and, like the prodigal son, move up some dusty road, his heart palpitating with the desire for forgiveness. But only the injured neighbor, the loving father back home, can really pour out the warm waters of forgiveness.

Forgiveness does not mean ignoring what has been done or putting a false label on an evil act. It means, rather, that the evil act no longer remains as a barrier to the relationship. Forgiveness is a catalyst creating the atmosphere necessary for a fresh start and a new beginning. It is the lifting of a burden or the canceling of a debt. The words "I will forgive you, but I'll never forget what you've done" never explain the real nature of forgiveness. Certainly one can never forget, if that means erasing it totally from his mind. But when we forgive, we forget in the sense that the evil deed is no longer a mental block impeding a new relationship.
Likewise, we can never say, "I will forgive you, but I won't have anything further to do with you." Forgiveness means reconciliation, a coming together again.

Without this, no man can love his enemies. The degree to which we are able to forgive determines the degree to which we are able to love our enemies.

Second, we must recognize that the evil deed of the enemy-neighbor, the thing that hurts, never quite expresses all that he is. An element of goodness may be found even in our worst enemy. Each of us has something of a schizophrenic personality, tragically divided against ourselves. A persistent civil war rages within all of our lives. Something within us causes us to lament with Ovid, the Latin poet, "I see and approve the better things, but follow worse," or to agree with Plato that human personality is like a charioteer having two headstrong horses, each wanting to go in a different direction, or to repeat with the Apostle Paul, "The good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do."

This simply means that there is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies. When we look beneath the surface, beneath. the impulsive evil deed, we see within our enemy-neighbor a measure of goodness and know that the viciousness and evilness of his acts are not quite representative of all that he is. We see him in a new light. We recognize that his hate grows out of fear, pride, ignorance, prejudice, and misunderstanding, but in spite of this, we know God's image is ineffably etched in being. Then we love our enemies by realizing that they are not totally bad and that they are not beyond the reach of God's redemptive love.

Third, we must not seek to defeat or humiliate the enemy but to win his friendship and understanding. At times we are able to humiliate our worst enemy. Inevitably, his weak moments come and we are able to thrust in his side the spear of defeat. But this we must not do. Every word and deed must contribute to an understanding with the enemy and release those vast reservoirs of goodwill which have been blocked by impenetrable walls of hate.

Let us move now from the practical how to the theoretical why: Why should we love our enemies? The first reason is fairly obvious. Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multi# plies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction.

So when Jesus says "Love your enemies," he is setting forth a profound and ultimately inescapable admonition. Have we not come to such an impasse in the modern world that we must love our enemies-or else? The chain reaction of evil-hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars-must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation.

Another reason why we must love our enemies is that hate scars the soul and distorts the personality. Mindful that hate is an evil and dangerous force, we too often think of what it does to the person hated. This is understandable, for hate brings irreparable damage to its victims. We have seen its ugly consequences in the ignominious deaths brought to six million Jews by hate-obsessed madman named Hitler, in the unspeakable violence inflicted upon Negroes by bloodthirsty mobs, in the dark horrors of war, and in the terrible indignities and injustices perpetrated against millions of God's children by unconscionable oppressors.

But there is another side which we must never overlook. Hate is just as injurious to the person who hates. Like an unchecked cancer, hate corrodes the personality and eats away its vital unity. Hate destroys a man's sense of values and his objectivity. It causes him to describe the beautiful as ugly and the ugly as beautiful, and to confuse the true with the false and the false with the true.

A third reason why we should love our enemies is that love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend. We never get rid of an enemy by meeting hate with hate; we get rid of an enemy by getting rid of enmity. By its very nature, hate destroys and tears down; by its very nature, love creates and builds up. Love transforms with redemptive power.

The relevance of what I have said to the crisis in race relations should be readily apparent. There will be no permanent solution to the, race problem until oppressed men develop the capacity to love their enemies. The darkness of racial injustice will be dispelled only by the light of forgiving love. For more than three centuries American Negroes have been battered by the iron rod of oppression, frustrated by day and bewildered by night by unbearable injustice and burdened with the ugly weight of discrimination. Forced to live with these shameful conditions, we are tempted to become bitter and to retaliate with a corresponding hate. But if this happens, the new order we seek will be little more than a duplicate of the old order. We must in strength and humility meet hate with love.

My friends, we have followed the so-called practical way for too long a time now, and it has led inexorably to deeper confusion and chaos. Time is cluttered with the wreckage of communities which surrendered to hatred and violence. For the salvation of our nation and the salvation of mankind, we must follow another way.

While abhorring segregation, we shall love the segregationist. This is the only way to create the beloved community.

To our most bitter opponents we say: "We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We shall meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will, and we shall continue to love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws because noncooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good. Throw us in jail and we shall still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and we shall still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our community at the midnight hour and beat us and leave us half dead, and we shall still love you. But be ye assured that we will wear you down by our capacity to suffer. One day we shall win freedom but not only for ourselves. We shall so appeal to your heart and conscience that we shall win you in the process and our victory will be a double victory."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Strange Bedfellows Wrap-Up & MANIFEST III Info

Strange Bedfellows last night was great! I think everyone had a lot of fun, and Mr. Mark Holder and I got the green light to do it again. Right now, we’re eyeing either January 22nd or the 29th. Of course, when we get it ironed out, the info will be out there with a vengeance.

By the way, I want to showcase some of the pictures that my friend Tolan snapped last night. He’s been doing his thing behind the lens as of late.

Aside from all the fun we had last night, I’m looking forward to MANIFEST III. Our featured musical act this time around will be The Undoctored Originals, who are an incredible improve jazz band. I’ll post some of their youtube videos below so that you can check them out. We’re also going to feature live art by some local visual artists, so it’s definitely something unique to check out.

MANIFEST III is going to be taking place on January 14th. Mark your calendars! I’ll announce the featured organization we’ll be raising donations for by the end of this week. I certainly hope to catch you lovely boys and girls out at the Camp House on that date.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

MAINFEST, Strange Bedfellows, & Speakeasy: Oh My

What a weekend. MANIFEST 2 went very well on Friday. Amber Fults, Dana Rogers, and Holly McCormack all killed it, and I think that the people who managed to make it out for the event got the opportunity not only to see and hear them, but to feel like they know the ladies a little bit.

As you know if you’ve been keeping up with this blog, we were taking donations for Partnership’s Family Violence Center. We managed to raise $50 for them, which made me happy. We were also fortunate to have Carmen, who is a representative from Partnership, speak at the beginning of the night about all the different programs that Partnership has, their primary objectives, etc. I felt very pleased when she approached me about halfway through the night and told me how much she enjoyed what we were doing.

The next MANIFEST event will take place on January 14th. The Undoctored Originals (I’ve posted about them before) will be our featured musical act. Also, we’ll have live artwork produced, as well. It’s going to be dope. If you’re a lover of improve jazz, visual art, and some poetry, come check out what we’ve got going down. It’s a good way to start 2011 off.

Switching gears, STRANGE BEDFELLOWS is going down Saturday, Dec. 18th. We’re getting underway at 8:30. It’ll be held at the MOCCASIN BEND BREWING COMPANY (4015 TENNESSEE AVE). Admission is $3. Megan Hollenbeck, Marcus Ellsworth, Brandi Alexander, Mark “Porkchop” Holder, etc. will be performing. Also, I received confirmation a few days back that children ARE welcome to attend.

Lastly, keep in mind that the last THREE Speakeasy poetry/spoken word open-mics of 2010 are ahead of us. It’ll be a new year before you know it. If you dig poetry and haven’t come to The Speakeasy (or were unaware of it), we do it every Wednesday night @ The Office (901 Carter St. It’s in the lounge of the downtown City Café). I put the list out at 8 and, because we’re doing live streaming and podcasting now, we get rolling at 9. You have to be at least 21 with a valid I.D. to attend, but if that’s not an issue, come on down. There’s no language restriction and I’d be more than happy to put you on the microphone (if you just want to listen, that’s fine as well.)

Well folks, that’s all I got for now. I’ll catch up with you later. Don’t be strangers.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Mainx24 Aftermath

So, yesterday marked my very first Mainx24 in Chattanooga. I am very pleased to say that I had an amazing time. It was very inspiring to see so much going on artistically in the city, and to actually be a part of it. All in all, I ended up performing three sets at different spots downtown before finally calling it a night.

I had the pleasure of doing a 15-minute set at Create Here, and it was big fun. When I came in, Blues Hammer were finishing up. I set myself up on the microphone on the other side of the room and kind of eyed the audience. I knew it was going to be a situation where most of the people wouldn’t know what to expect from me, but I always dig the challenge that that presents.

At 2:15, I got introduced, and I went into my set. I was very pleased with the crowd response (and my promptness. I ended right at 2:30, so I covered my time with a vengeance!). After I jumped off the mic, I met some very nice and interesting individuals, including a discotherapist.

Later on, we did the MANIFEST performance portion of the Camp House schedule, and Hara Paper, Amber Fults, and Sourne Korvid with DJ Spyarms killed it. Every single one of them showed why I hand-picked them to play.

Once again, the crowd response was great. I think people genuinely had a good time. I put the word out about MANIFEST 2, which takes place next Friday, so hopefully, some of the peeps who attended yesterday will make it out.

Obviously, I’m excluding A LOT of my experience yesterday. If you’d like to know more, feel free to ask me about some of the other things that I witnessed. Until then, friends, I’ll see you at Speakeasy and MANIFEST 2 this week. Vaya con dios.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Eyes on December

Happy belated Turkey Day, folks. I hope things went well for all of you and that you and yours are safe and happy. I just finished shooting out the press release for MANIFEST II (I’m late on it, but I’m only one man). Now that that’s out the way, I look forward to working on my set for my performance at the Mainx24 Festival, which takes place on Dec. 4th. I’ve posted it on here before, but to keep things fresh, I’ll be performing at Create Here (1800 Rossville Ave.) at 2:15. Here’s a list of the remainder of the roster for Create Here’s festivities:

Dec. 4
Create Here
Director: Jessica Jollie
Sound: Paul Daniel

12:00-1:00 Gerle Haggard

1:00 - 1:15 Hayley Graham and Caroling Company

1:15 - 2:15 Blues Hammer

2:15-2:30 Poet Christian Collier

2:30-3:30 Free Range Mystics

3:30-3:45 DJ Cletus

3:45-4:45 Moon Slew

4:45-5:00 NIA with Hollee Brock

5:00-6:00 Rick Bowers & the Majors

6:00-6:15 Zanzibar Belly Dance Troop

6:15-7:15 Racing Death

Hopefully, we’ll catch a good number of you fine folks out there. As usual, wherever you can find me, you can find Ghosts & Echoes, my chapbook, as well.

MANIFEST II is right around the corner. It takes place on the 10th of December, and I’m really looking forward to seeing and hearing Amber Fults, Dana Rogers, and Holly McCormack. It is also my hope that you’ve downloaded the digital sampler I posted, and you’ve liked what you’ve heard enough to want to come on down to the Camp House for the showcase.

Later on that SAME NIGHT, I’ll be teaming up with Butch Ross for his Christmas show. I believe we’ll be doing a rendition of “Christmas in Hollis” by a little group called Run DMC. We’ll see what happens.

On December 18th, Mark “Porkchop” Holder and I will be putting a show on at the Moccasin Bend Brewing Company (4015 Tennessee Ave). It’s called Strange Bedfellows, and will feature musicians paired up with poets (and a storyteller). It’s a unique thing, and should be a gang of fun. I’m really looking forward to it. You can expect to see Mr. Marcus Ellsworth (who just released a chapbook), Jim Pfitzer, Megan Hollenbeck, etc. Mark it on your calendars, and hopefully, you can make it out.

Lastly, I’ve just caught wind of some interesting opportunities taking place in Knoxville and in Atlanta, so if everything goes according to plan, Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian will be beating up the road and hitting some different parts of the Southeast. Of course, I’ll keep everyone posted on anything that develops.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

One of the things that I’ve been most thankful for this year has been the New Voices Poetry Reading. It takes place the third Saturday of each month and Ray Zimmerman is the creator/host/organizer of it. Ray has opened the door for a number of the poets who come out to The Speakeasy, and it’s an honor to be able to hear a different crop of poets.

At November’s New Voices, I had the opportunity to perform, and I chose to do two poems that deal with race. The first one is called Acceptance, and the second, which is dedicated to Martin Luther King Jr., is called Weight. The Undoctored Originals, who serve as the house band for the event, accompanied me on the latter piece, and I’m pleased with how it came out. It was spontaneous, but that tends to be the plane that I operate on.

You can peep the videos below, and don’t be afraid to let me know what you think. Fair warning, the video quality isn't fantastic.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

More More More

Hey Everybody,

I’ve been keeping VERY busy for the past few weeks. I did four radio interviews last week for MANIFEST 1, which was a tremendous amount of fun, and a success by all accounts. I want to thank everyone who came out to show their support and the artists I had the honor of sharing the stage with. I also want to let everyone know that MANIFEST II will be Dec. 10 and will feature Amber Fults, Dana Rogers, and Holly McCormack. If you’re not familiar with some or any of these artists, you can peep the videos I’ve posted in my last post, or download the MANIFEST II sampler. It features 6 tracks, 2 from each artist, and serves as a good introduction to what you can expect next month.

Switching gears, I’m preparing for my 15-minute slot at Create Here (1800 Rossville Ave.) during the Mainx24 event. Come check me out if you’re out and about. Even if you choose to abstain from catching me live, you should step out and immerse yourselves in the various activities that are taking place on that day. It’s jumping off on Dec.4th, so peep the schedule and see what’s most feasible for your schedule. Support these artists who are doing their thing and adding some much-needed culture to the Scenic City.

Well folks, that’s all I’ve got for now. It’s back to the grind, for me.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

MANIFEST II: Sisters-in-Arms

Join us for MANIFEST II on Dec. 10th. We are proud to be hosting three of Chattanooga’s best female singer-songwriters. Treat yourself to the talents of Holly McCormack, Amber Fults, and Dana Rogers. This month, donations will be accepted for the Partnership’s Family Violence Center.

You can download a FREE DIGITAL SAMPLER of the three ladies here:

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Interview w/ Richard Winham on 88.1 WUTC

Hey Folks,

I just wanted to briefly pop in to let you know that you can catch the gentleman who'll be performing in MANIFEST I live on 88.1 this Wednesday afternoon. We'll be going on the air around 3:30. Tune in!


Saturday, November 6, 2010

Interview w/ 95.3 WPLZ on TUESDAY!

Mark your calendars! You can catch me on 95.3 WPLZ at 7:15 in the morning on Tuesday. I got a call yesterday, and I graciously accepted. Honestly, I'm not sure of everything to expect, but I'm sure we'll dialogue about Speakeasy, MANIFEST, and perhaps some general info about Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian. Tune in to find out!

For more info on 95.3, you can peep it here:

Thursday, November 4, 2010

November Madness!

Hey, everyone. I’ve had some more opportunities and surprises pop up, so I figured I’d go ahead and post the info.

I mentioned a little while back that I was working on a collage for breast cancer research. Every year, the Tata Gala ( has a contest, so I decided to enter. I finished my piece, submitted it, and didn’t hear anything… for weeks. Much to my surprise, after I got home on Monday, I received an e-mail from the Tata Gala peeps saying that my piece got accepted into the online gallery. As a result, Your Friendly Neighborhood Christian’s collage will be viewed (via some 50-inch LCD screens) during the gallery show in New York.

Also, a good friend of mine and some of his friends put together a publication that made its debut in Chattanooga on Halloween. It’s called DEBACLE. I’m very pleased to announce that you can peep some of my poems in it. If you’re out and about in Chattanooga, you can scoop up copies at the AVA information area (between Blue Skies and the AVA art gallery) on Frazier Ave.

Switching gears, MANIFEST is a little over a week away. I’m very excited, and my goal for this weekend is to really work on crafting a particular set. I wanted to go ahead and let everyone know that, as a special treat, there will be a FREE DIGITAL SAMPLER of the performers who will be performing in MANIFEST 2, which will take place on Dec. 10th at the Camp House. I’ll post a download link on here, and you can also find it on the MANIFEST Facebook page here:!/group.php?gid=152855274750352

On December 4th, there is an event that takes place in Chattanooga called Mainx24. If you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s a 24-hr. festival that takes place along Main St. in Chattanooga. I’ll be doing a set of poetry at Create Here (1800 Rossville Ave.) at 2:15. I'll be hosting a few friends of mine ( Hara Paper, Sourne Korvid, and Amber Fults) later at the Camp House from 4:15 pm - 6:45 pm. It’s all free, so come on out if you’re looking for something to do.

Well folks, that’s all I got for now.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

2 Live Poems

As I mentioned before, I got to do some live recording this past Thursday at the Camp House. I broke the poems up into two audio files, which I just submitted to a few online publications. We'll see what happens as far as that goes. In the meantime, you can check out the poems below. I'm sure many of you have heard them before, but if you haven't, I hope you dig them. Here are Imagination & Appetite and Night Writers live from the Camp House.

1. Night Writers

2. Imagination & Appetite

Friday, October 29, 2010

Good News from the Grizzly (aka the Grind)

I’m happy to announce that we’re implementing something new to The Speakeasy. This past Wednesday, we did a test run of live broadcasting (yes, broadcasting) of the open-mic on the web. Things went pretty well, in all honesty, and we think it’ll be something unique to incorporate into the mix. Next, I’m proud to announce that as of last night, I got confirmation to officially make MANIFEST a monthly event. So, if you’re interesting in getting involved or possibly performing in a future MANIFEST, e-mail for details.

Speaking of MANIFEST, flyers are out and are getting hoisted. Anthony, Marcus, Mark Holder, and I are set to do an interview on WUTC 88.1 on Nov. 12th. It’s rare that I actually admit something like this, but I’m very excited. I’m really looking forward to November.

Last night, I participated in the open-mic challenge at the Camp House and placed third (which was a surprise for me). I wanted to go to get a live recording that I can submit to two online publications, so I was a bit taken aback by making it into the final. I managed to obtain my live recording, which I’ll have to edit out the stage banter (I’ll probably post it on here in the near future), but what I was really moved by was my third poem.

In the final, I decided to perform a new poem. It doesn’t have a title yet, but I’m sure that one isn’t too far off. A few weeks ago, I was talking to Travis Kilgore, who is a good friend of mine and a hell of a bassist, about growing up in the South. We discussed culture, race, etc. During our conversation, I relayed a story to Travis that inspired the poem.

I’m still tinkering with it, but I’ll also probably hoist the text up here before too long. I got a live recording of it as well, but there were a few hiccups on my part. I’d like to nail it. Once that happens, it will definitely make it on the blog.

I got offered to make a LIVE ALBUM last night. We’re tentatively bouncing ideas around now, but ideally, we’ll invite a lot of peeps, some will show up, and we’ll do it for real. I think that’s a cool idea, and definitely something that I’m interested in pursuing. I’ll keep you all posted on the progress.

Switching gears, on December 4th, there’s an event going down in Chattanooga called Mainx24. All along Main St., there will be a number of activities going down. I’ve been asked to put something together for the Camp House, so I’ve pegged Hara Paper, Sourne Korvid (who will be performing in MANIFEST I), and Amber Fults to perform. The timeframe for these performances is 4 – 7. I’ll throw the official schedule up here when I get it ironed out.

Also, I’ve been tapped to do a 15 minute set on Dec. 4th. However, it isn’t at the Camp House. I’ll be performing at CreateHere from 2:15 to 2:30, so if you’re out and about, come see me.

Well folks, be good to each other, and I'll see you when I see you. Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Newspaper Article

You can call Christian Collier a poet. You can call him a performer. Just don’t say he’s one or the other.

By day, Collier, 26, is a family service advocate at Head Start, but by night, he takes hold of a mike and infuses his poetry with a verve words alone can’t achieve.

Last year, Collier, a performance or “slam” poet, founded The Speakeasy, a weekly open mike hosted at The Office coffeehouse on Third Street. Every Wednesday, he breathes life into his work with enthusiastic, dynamic readings while encouraging others to do the same.

Q: What sets Speakeasy apart from other poetry open mikes?

A: Generally, you can go to any poetry open mike in the country and hear the same kind of poets. It doesn’t matter if you change their faces or not; they’re doing the same kind of poetry. I didn’t want that, because that bores me. I wanted to have a venue where we could have academic poets come out, where slam poets were welcome, where ... everyone was on the same page.

Q: What distinguishes academic poetry and slam poetry?

A: With academic poetry, the poem lives more on the page. The execution isn’t focused on bringing the poem to life in a live context.

Slam poetry, or performance poetry, is less about trying to dazzle you on the page and more so in the execution. You might hear a slam poem that does nothing for you on a lyrical level, but someone can knock it out of the park, performance-wise.


Age: 26.

Hometown: Slidell, La.

Education: Graduated from Hixson High School, bachelor’s in English/writing from the University of Tampa.

Day job: Family service advocate with Head Start.


Bands: Miles Davis, Mos Def and Radiohead.

Movies: “Cidade de Deus,” “Bad Santa” and “Malcolm X.”

Books: “The Wild Iris” by Louise Glück, “The Learning Tree” by Gordon Parks and The Easy Rawlins mysteries by Walter Mosley.

Poets: Yusef Komunyakaa, Sharon Olds and Kenneth Rexroth.


Q: Which are you?

A: Depending on who you ask, I’m a slam poet, but I can also be an academic poet. I didn’t want to be a niche writer, because there’s so much to do, so much to communicate, and I wanted to do everything. Personally, I feel adept at both. I feel comfortable in both arenas.

Q: Does slam poetry open up the medium to more people?

A: I would say so. Since we started Speakeasy, I’ve seen some of our more performance-oriented poets go out to the Barnes & Noble open mike at the end of the month or New Voices at Pasha (Coffee and Tea). People are going to new places, and that’s exciting to me. We’re almost like a conduit.

Q: How do you avoid getting tongue-tied or lost in your delivery?

A: It’s the relationship you have with the piece, I think. I’ve been called a hip-hop poet or a slam poet, but I look at the way I put a lot of pieces together ... like jazz. I can follow the rhythm of the words and get immersed in what’s going on.

Q: Other than the words, how much of your delivery do you map out ahead of time?

A: I map it out very little. When it comes to a crowd, every crowd gives you something different. The strategy always changes, and the energy people bring to it is always different.

Q: What attracted you to slam poetry?

A: I started writing poetry in 1998. I was really big into hip-hops. Hip-hop publications at the time started publishing stuff by Saul Williams and muMs da Schemer and Urusla Rucker. I got familiar with people I later found out were staples of the slam poetry scene.

Q: Can any poem be performed slam style, or does a piece need to be written a certain way to work?

A: You probably could deliver any poem slam style, and it probably would be horrible. Every poem is going to be different; the tone of every poem will be different. You don’t have to scream every poem. You have to let these things breathe.


The Speak-easy, a free, weekly poetry open mike, takes place 8-11 p.m. Wednesdays at The Office, 1401 E. Third St. Call 698-4441 for more information.


Christian Collier also is organizing a monthly arts showcase/charity fund-raiser called Manifest. The first event will be Nov. 17 at The Camphouse, 1427 Williams St., and will feature performances by local artists. Admission will be $10, and proceeds will benefit the Chattanooga Homeless Coalition.

Friday, October 22, 2010

New Developments I

Greetings Folks,

I’m a little surprised that I’ve not posted more this month, but at least I’ve been keeping active, if not on the blogging. Let’s get down to business!

I appeared in the Chattanooga Times Free Press this past Tuesday. I was shocked at the size of the article and the picture. I’m very pleased with how it all turned out and what was actually run. You can check out the article here:

It’s really an honor, and I think it helped Speakeasy tremendously this past Wednesday night.

Speaking of the Speakeasy, we are working on doing some live broadcasting and making podcasts in the future. We’re going to give it a test run next Wednesday, and if all the stars properly align, we’ll start officially at the beginning of November. Needless to say, we’re pretty excited about it. It’s going to be a challenge, but a dope one.

Next, MANIFEST is rapidly approaching. I should have flyers by Sunday or Monday, so be on the lookout for those. Also, on the 12th (which is the day of the show), Mark Holder, Marcus, Anthony, and I will be making an appearance on Richard Windham’s program on WUTC 88.1. The interview should take place at 3:30, so if you’re on the fence about going or just want to check out some of what you can expect that night, give us a listen.

I already have December’s MANIFEST confirmed talent-wise, and I’m looking forward to shooting the info out about that one. I’ll let the cat out of the bag on the night of the show (and, most likely, the next day for those who don’t attend).

Switching gears, one of my favorite poets/ best friends is named Marcus Ellsworth. He also happens to be one of the bravest poets I’ve known. We’ll be sharing the stage at MANIFEST on Nov. 12th, and it’s very probable that we both will be performing at the Beggar’s Night Party on October 30th in Wildwood, GA.

Last weekend, Marcus and Brandi Alexander performed at the 2010 PRIDE Festival in Chattanooga. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the opportunity to record Brandi, but I did manage to get Marcus performing one of his pieces. You can check him out below:

Lastly, I’m VERY proud to announce that I have a new poem I’ll be reciting out and about live soon. The poem really got me thinking about a new chapbook, so it’s something artistically that I’d like to pursue. I’m not confirming anything yet, but I plan to start tinkering. I’ll keep you all posted on what shakes out.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

MANIFEST & Other Biz

It's hard to believe it's been over a month since the last time I wrote. I have several things to mention, so hang with me! I've been keeping pretty busy over the last month.

First, I'll be in the Chattanooga Times Free Press this Tuesday as a part of their "People to Watch" feature. It's an honor, and was a huge surprise when I got the phone call. If you're so inclined, give it a peep and let me know what you think.

Secondly, I've recently had the opportunity to put together an ongoing arts showcase called MANIFEST. On November 12th, it will be debuting at The Camp House (1427 Williams St.). The purpose of MANIFEST is to highlight predominantly local artists, and to shed light on a specific cause at every event. The first showcase will feature poets Sourne Korvid, Marcus Ellsworth, Anthony Pollard, and myself (I'll also be serving as host). Mark “Porkchop” Holder, a renowned Blues musician, will be playing am hour-long set of music as well.

MANIFEST begins at 8pm and will end at 10. Admission will be $10. There is also a suggested $5 donation that will go towards the Chattanooga Homeless Coalition, who works to move the homeless into stable housing.

It's going to be a dope event, and, hopefully, the first of many. I already have something completely different (but unique, in my opinion) in mind for December. I guarantee that everyone who graces us with their presence on the 12th will be entertained.

Aside from that, I'm almost sold out of my second run of Ghosts & Echoes. I've said it before, but I'm very humbled by the fact that the chapbook has allowed me to do so many great things, meet so many diverse and incredible people, and share my craft and passion with peeps in all walks. It's been a very affirming experience, and it's hard to fathom that it's almost been two full years since G&E came out.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Worlds - Live Debut

I recently came across something yesterday. In 2008, I had foot surgery and was immobile for pretty much the duration of September. However, I spent that time composing what turned out to be my poem Worlds.

On October 3, I had the opportunity to perform it live for the first time. No one had seen the text, or heard the content. It was an interesting debut, because taken those things into account, it was also the first time I'd put a shoe over the foot I had operated on. Nerves were still growing back, I kept losing feeling, etc.
Fortunately, everything worked out fine.

So, I managed to find the live recording from that night. It really took me back to that night. I remember the backing band, the crowd reaction (which is pretty priceless), et al. I did find it funny that the opening is censored, but I think it kind of adds to it.

Without any further ado, you can check out the poem here:

Monday, September 6, 2010

Projects, Projects, Projects

I have a reputation for being a pretty restless individual, and understandably so. I've occupied my life with a number of activities, and that's kind of become my natural state. I wanted to take the opportunity to write about some of the projects that I currently have on the table.

First, of course, The Speakeasy is at The Office (901 Carter St.) on Monday nights, and everyone is very happy to be there. The vibe is a lot more intimate, and the energy's more raucous, which is interesting to witness and to take in. I look forward to seeing how things progress in the future.

Also, I've been enlisted to write the artist bio for my good friend Amber Fults. She's a singer-songwriter, and her debut album, Center of My Heart, will be available on the 17th of this month. If you're unfamiliar with Amber, you can check out some of her stuff below:

Aside from that, I'm doing a collage for an art competition. The purpose is to benefit breast cancer research. I used to do a lot more visual art, so I thought it was a good opportunity to jump back into that arena, and to contribute to a great (and needed) cause. The deadline is in early October, so we'll see how things turn out. I'm just enjoying bringing something to fruition, and if everything turns out well, I'd love to do a series. Stay tuned!

I have a new Night & the City song that I'm working on. Is there a name yet? No. Has it been formally arranged? No. However, you can expect something a little lighter. There's some finger-picking, a nice bass groove, etc.

Lastly, I'm working on some new poems. I said that before, and it's still the case. It's coming along. When the new pieces are ready, you'll definitely know it. You'll probably hear me shouting them as soon as they come.


Friday, August 27, 2010

The Speakeasy

I am very pleased to say that I host/organize/promote/etc. my own open-mic. It’s called The Speakeasy, and it’s been in existence for over a year now, which is a blessing unto itself.

I am also very pleased to announce that we’ve moved to a new location. This past Monday, we made our debut at The Office (901 Carter St.). The turnout was great, especially when you consider that we’ve been off for a month. The energy was incredible, the staff members were cool, etc. I think we’re going to make a good fit, especially once the rust shakes off and we hit our stride.

You know, I’m a pretty private person, so I’m going to divulge just a little bit here. Last year around this time, I had a lot weighing down on me in my personal life. For a span of months, The Speakeasy was the highlight of my week, my refuge, and my source of inspiration. I, honestly, funneled all of my energy into it, and I sincerely feel that it played a vital role in saving my life.

It is very moving, given all of that, to see what Speakeasy has become, and to witness the opportunities that have come along, and the passions of those who attend. If you are in or around Chattanooga on a Monday night, I strongly encourage you to come pay us a visit. We’re always open for more members of the family.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Loopstock 2

I had a blast last night at Loopstock 2. It was dope, and I was very honored to be a part of it. For those of you who couldn't be there, I've got a few videos that you can see if you so choose.

What was most interesting to me was seeing how each of us who played the show operated with the loop station. The process is fascinating, and I found it really intriguing how each of us constructed our songs.

We had our fair share of difficulties (wiring problems, broken guitar picks, MISSING guitar picks, etc.), but it was tremendously fun. I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and not just because I had the opportunity to share the music I've been working on.

I debuted a few new songs last night. I played "Short Eyes" for the first time in front of anyone, and it came out pretty well. It's the 4th song that I've been working on that I'm currently interested in putting on a demo.

Well folks, that's enough from me. Be good to each other out there.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Night & the City: Upcoming Gig & PLANS!

Hey Folks,

First off, I’d like to invite everyone who comes across this to come out to the Market St. Tavern this Saturday. Mr. Butch Ross, Mr. Kevin Klein, and I will be playing in an event called Loopstock. Each of us will be showcasing songs using loop stations. It’ll be a lot of fun, and it’s something that I’m really looking forward to.

I’m very happy that N&TC boasts my good friend Travis Kilgore on bass live. I enjoy playing the material solo, too, and it’s because there’s a different relationship to the songs. When Travis and I are playing, we feed off each other musically. When I’m playing the songs by myself, the dynamic changes, and it’s more about my mood. It certainly keeps things fresh for me, and, hopefully, for people who’ve seen N&TC more than once.

As an aside, I have four songs that I’m interested in recording for a demo. Once I get that knocked out, I’d like to work on fleshing out some things production-wise and then concentrate on new material. I’d like to incorporate vocals on future songs, and the beats will, most likely, be more elaborate (along the lines of the stuff I’ve produced in the past under the Wetworks guise). Also, don’t be surprised if there are synths and other knickknacks that appear.

Well folks, that’s about it for me right now. Hope to see you Saturday. Stay in the loop!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Monday, July 19, 2010

Night & the City Biz!

As many of you know by now, I'm currently playing music under the moniker of Night & the City. So far, things have been going very well. I've been pretty surprised (but extraordinarily pleased) by the response thus far. The whole N&TC thing has been in existence for maybe a month now, so I definitely look forward to how things shape up in the future.

If you've been following the blog (or if you've known me since 2006), you probably know that I've spent a good deal of time producing beats and electronic music under the name of Wetworks. A few months ago, I got a computer virus, and when I got my comp back, I'd lost all of my production software, the tracks I'd been working on, the kit and library I'd been compiling since I was in college, etc. All of it was gone.

Perhaps it was fate though, because since I started working on the N&TC material, I got the idea to try to marry some of the experimental/post rock kind of stuff I've played for the past few years with the production that I've devoted so much time to familiarizing myself with. One day, I just decided to take the plunge, download a demo version of FL, put a little custom kit together, and make my own beats to build my songs atop.

Within three or four days, I made several tracks that I'm anxious to spring on people. A new song that I'm tinkering with which showcases all of this is called "Hearing Silence." You can peep it on youtube here I look forward to hearing what you good boys and girls think! Keep me posted.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Night & the City

For the past two weeks, I've been immersed in a new musical project I'm calling Night & the City. Of course, that name can change at any point. So far, I'm very pleased with the way things are taking shape. In 2008, I spent a good bit of time playing guitar in an experimental project up until I had my foot operated on that August. This new project is kind of an extension of some of that music.

I'd largely stopped playing guitar aside from a few things here and there. However, a couple of weeks back, I was out one night, and someone asked me when I was going to start playing out. A female friend mentioned that she'd heard that I played, but didn't believe it, so Night & the City was pretty much born there.

Not too long ago, I swapped out some pedals in my chain, and I started tinkering, as I've frequently been prone to do (insomnia will hand you some inspiring activities), and I came up with an idea of how to take what I've really enjoyed in playing music over the past two years, and do it in a solo capacity. Two nights later, I debuted it.

Honestly, I'm excited about the material I've been working on. I like having the ability to execute what pops into my head at 3:38 in the morning and have it make sense. Hopefully, if all goes according to plan, I'll be recording some of these songs in the coming months, so stay tuned on that. Also, feel free to let me know what you think if you catch me live.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

God's Trombones Wrap-Up

This past Sunday, I had the honor of performing in God's Trombones at the Bessie Smith Hall. Before that, we had a rehearsal on Thursday, the 24th, and I was awed. It was the first chance I not only had to meet the people I'd be sharing the program with, but also to see them in action. The choir did a stellar job, and the assorted voices lending their talents to the poems were amazing. I knew that Sunday was going to be something special.

At the show, my expectations were not only met, but exceeded. Even though I was familiar with the poems and James Weldon Johnson, seeing the work executed in the manner that it was really presented it in a different and touching light. Shane Morrow, who culled this event together, performed with a dancer playing Death. She was on her way to bring a woman to Heaven. Brilliant.

I was responsible for running through "Let My People Go" accompanied by Shane Morrow (the marathon man). He sang and played piano behind me. I got amped up while I was running through the text, and I wish there was video of the show, because I'd love to see how it looked. A lot of times when I perform, I venture to another place. It would be interesting to see things from a different perspective.

I'm very proud of what we were able to do on Sunday. This marks my second event with Shane and TheCreativeUnderground. Make sure to stay up on the events that they'll be promoting, and, of course, if I manage to get into another function, I'll put the info out on here and the other tried and true media outlets.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

God's Trombones & More

Some of you might already be aware of this, but I've agreed to take part in a staging of James Weldon Johnson's "God's Trombones" later this month. It will be taking place on Sunday, the 27th from 4-6 at the Bessie Smith Hall. Tickets are $10. I'll have the duty of tackling "Let My People Go" with the Chattanooga Choral Society for the Preservation of African-American Song.

"Let My People Go" tells the tale of the Exodus, so it's going to be a lot of fun lending my voice and emotion to the poem. Plus, I get to be both God and Moses. How grand is that? I hope that a good number of people come out. It's going to be a fantastic experience.

Aside from that, I've been working on a lot of new poems. Some are for the page, others will be for the stage, so stay tuned. I'm very excited with what's been coming out, and I can't wait to start debuting the pieces once they're finished. I'm officially expecting. Mua ha ha.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Table Space

Last Friday, I had the honor and privilege to perform (and kind of host) the most recent session of the Table Space series at Hamilton Community Church. This was my first time having the opportunity to do anything solely for a Seventh-Day Adventist audience, so it was a lot of fun. it was a really relaxed experience and everyone who came proved to be very attentive.

I was glad to have a few people that I know show up and perform, as well. I managed to mangle both the poems that I did, but it happens. It's proof that I'm human after all. I'm glad to have that be the extent of the bad. Honestly, if that's the worst that could happen, you've had a great night.

I'd love to come back to the church in the future. Several members of the church asked if we'd be returning, so that's a good sign. If anything else develops in the future, I'll happily throw the info on here (and everywhere else), and maybe, just maybe, we'll get some of you good folks out there to come out as well. Time will tell.


Saturday, June 5, 2010

New Reason New Renaissance Wrap-Up

Hey Boys & Girls,

The New Reason New Renaissance show went very well. I, myself, had a great time. I ended up helping to host the poetry part, but it was all good. By the night's end, I was exhausted.

I'm very proud of my Speakeasy poets (yes, I'm claiming them like a father). They definitely did their thing, and I couldn't have been happier with the outcome.

I was told by Swirl, one of the organizers, that the next show they have, we definitely have a spot in it. So, for all of you that didn't get the chance to attend this go round, there should be another chance to come out.

If you're interested in seeing pictures from the show, you can check them out here:

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Upcoming Gigs

In addition to hosting The Speakeasy for the next few weeks (and shooting out submissions for publication), I will also be performing in two functions. Here's the skinny.

The first show is called the New Reason New Renaissance Art Show, and it's taking place this Friday, the 28th. Here's some info straight from the sponsor:

New Reason New Renaissance art show will take place on Friday MAY 28th at the Loose Cannon Gallery from 7-10pm. The show features both the visual arts as well as spoken word and there will be a fund raiser for the Veteran’s Association. Come out and have a good time with us…. Special AFTER PARTY at Coltrane’s on 9th.

I hope that those of you in the Chattanooga area will come out and have some fun with us. I've been told that the event is completely free to attend, so all you promosexuals be on the look out.

Next, on June 4th, I'll be participating in the Table Space series at the Hamilton Community Church. On Fridays, they feature different peeps in the arts and allow them to come in, perform, dialogue, etc. It's a very coffee shop-esque vibe, and I'm looking forward to bringing some of my peeps out to get down.

Some of the details are still up in the air, but I'll try to keep everyone posted as best I can when they become more concrete. I'm anticipating receiving confirmation by the end of this week.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

New Voices Poetry Reading

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the New Voices Poetry Reading at Pascha Coffeehouse in St. Elmo. This event is run by Ray Zimmerman, who used to head up the Chattanooga Writers Guild, and features an array of local poets.

I went to support some of the poets who frequent the Speakeasy, and to just have a good time. I was very happy to see a great improv jazz band called the Undoctored Originals serving as the house band for the event, and they were absolutely phenomenal.

Eventually, Ray approached me and asked me if I'd be interested in reading as well, so before long, I'd grabbed a copy of my chapbook and ran through a few poems. The drummer for the Undoctored Originals actually backed me up on percussion while I performed Night Writers, and that was great fun for me.

I encourage everybody who can to make it out to the next one. The New Voices Poetry Reading takes place every third Saturday of the month, and, for all you promosexuals out there, is FREE. Check it out. And you can hear some of what the Undoctored Originals have to offer here: and

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Glide & the New Gig

It's been a while since I've posted anything here, and it's because I've been really busy. I'm definitely not lacking in my activities these days, and haven't been for quite some time. My schedule has consisted of applying for a grant, submitting poems for publication, organizing events, etc. Busy, busy, busy.

Several months ago, I was asked by a friend of mine to lay vocals on some tracks he'd put together. Due to my schedule, it took me a good bit of time to actually tend to the music and come up with anything. However, eventually, I put something together for two tracks, and we recorded about a month or more ago.

One of the tracks has surfaced, and it was very interesting for me to hear it and see what was done with it. I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome. You can check out the track Glide here:

Also, I'll be performing in an art show that is taking place on the 28th of this month. It will be held at Loose Cannon and will feature street art, graffiti, poetry, etc. It should be a very eclectic event. I'll post more information here when I get it.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

Poetry in the Park

Join us this Saturday for Poetry in the Park. This will be taking place once a month throughout the spring and summer, so feel free to come hang out with us.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

What I've Learned

I read an article yesterday equating Hip-Hop in 2010 to indie rock in the 80's. To summarize, rappers have, essentially, had to find other avenues to be heard, seen, and to cultivate their fan bases. I found it really interesting and, though I'm not a rapper (even though people often seem to think so), I think that the struggle for exposure defies genre, generation, and medium.

I published my own chapbook at the beginning of 2009, and I decided to do so to give myself the opportunity to put my work out there. I didn't want to wait around for chapbook contests in order to have a product out. A little more than a year after that, I've learned some things that I think apply to anyone considering going the indie route in whatever medium you so choose. Here's what I've got:

1. Doing anything independently (and artistic, for the most part) is a slow grind. That's just the nature of the design. However, the trek can be very fulfilling and rewarding. By wearing many hats, you have the opportunity to control your product, your appearances, etc.

2. Consistency is vital. Any kind of exposure (open-mics, showcases, reading panels, what have you) helps because it gives you the chance to be the you you want to present to an audience. It also gives you the chance to network and get new opportunities. By consistently being out there, you're working your craft.

3. Audiences are open to different things. I'm sure I've said it on here before, but I've had the honor over the past year to perform on the same stages as rock bands, rappers, etc. Regardless of the medium, audiences have been open to what I've done, and I think that says a lot about the eclectic tastes that people have.

Hopefully, this will help someone out there if they're entertaining the thought of putting out a project themselves. I'd like to compare notes with someone who already has taken the indie route as well. With that said though, enjoy the rest of the your Sundays and the new week ahead!

Thursday, April 1, 2010


My good friend Shawnessy Cargile purchased one of my chapbooks a few weeks ago. We had a conversation about some of the poems, and he told me that really enjoyed one that's called MamaDear. The poem is basically an ode to my grandmother.

Yesterday, Shawnessy hit me up with a link, and when I clicked on it, I was pleasantly surprised to see that he'd put the poem to music. Brilliant idea, and it's one that I never would've thought to do.

For those of you who are interested, you can check it out here:

Also, you can check out the text of my poem below:

She is a song, easy & free,
gliding over jagged decades
that have pushed chocolate children
from thick hips. Each word that bursts
off of the dancing pink of her tongue
should ring like a lark’s melody.
She has boulder eyes, heavy & sharp,
that have held the sights of earth-toned
people having bones beaten into memories
by Caucasian beasts with badges.
When thoughts of this woman, this mother,
gift of God, pirouette into my mind
I cannot help but recall the choir of percussive hearts
she has taught rhythm to & pray this voice
I have will swell loud & deep
so she might hear my thanks
wherever she breathes.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Speakeasy: Daniel Gill

Anyone who knows me knows just how much The Speakeasy means to me. I host it every week, throw in writing prompts, and come up with different things to keep the spirits up and the creative element high. We've been blessed to have several artists do visual art for us. One such artist is Daniel Gill.

Daniel has a website at and I encourage everyone to check his stuff out. He's amazing. He wrote this on his website yesterday.

Speakeasy is an open mic improv hosted by Christian Collier at the Mudpie in Chattanooga. Christian asked me to be the artist guest last evening so I took my Nupastels and tore up some Stonehenge paper and sketched four of the performers. I sold two and have these left of Brandi and Jodi. Charles Niznik Clendenin supplied me with coffee and company and Thompson Galetovic made us some fantastic Nutella Crepes. Yum!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rhyme-N-Chatt @ UTC

On Thursday the 18th, a few members of Rhyme-N-Chatt and I had the opportunity to perform at UTC for a jazz and poetry event. We had a great time and got some initial video taken.

College performances are always interesting to me. You kind of get a sense of what the students find relevant, how they're expressing themselves, etc. For the performing poets, for (I'd venture to say) a good number of the audience members, we're serving as some of the first poets they've seen in a live context. So, on both sides of the equation, it's almost like beginning a conversation. It takes a little bit of loosening up before you hit on the commonalities and let your hair down.

Fortunately for us, that happened. We got a good response, we got to unveil two of our newest members (Brandi Alexander and Mary Wier), and we had either 5 or 6 people fill out applications in order to become members. You really can't beat that.

We'll be back at UTC on the 30th of this month in another program, so we'll see how that venture goes. It would be a tremendous blessing to be able to sustain the momentum we've created. Time will tell.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

"Believe Me When I Tell You..."

Over the years, I've encountered my fair share of interesting characters. A lot of them happen to have been drunks. Regardless of how inebriated and incoherent they've been, they've always taught me something, be it about what I don't want to become or about who I am and hope to be.

Last Friday night, I had the pleasure of performing at Coltrane's as a part of their talent night. I recited my poem Worlds and managed to receive a very positive response. After the poem, several peeps approached me to offer praise and to dialogue. This is where the "interesting character" of the evening saw his in.

I was talking to a woman who goes by Lady Futura when this drunk approaches me. He was lit, but happy, which is definitely better than the alternative. He told me that he liked what I did, but I hadn't reached my peak or found myself. Further, he instructed me to go places, talk to people, etc. and then proceeded to list all the places he's been (he certainly gauged a lot from just hearing one poem while being heavily sauced).

What really irked me was that he kept repeating himself. Whenever he reached what, seemingly, was the end of his point, he'd say,"Believe me when I tell you. I like what you did, but..." The whole shabangabang would begin anew.

Also, the while time he was talking to me, he kept spitting in my face. It was unintentional, but also mad disgusting. It really served to make things worse.

Unfortunately, it took me about fifteen minutes (no jive) to successfully extricate myself from him, and once I did, I promptly washed my face in the bathroom (we're talking soap in the eyes, the whole nine).

I did think of what he said about reaching my peak and finding myself though. Honestly, I hope that I haven't peaked yet. I'm still very far from where I want to be. As far as finding myself, I really don't think anyone does for very long. People are constantly changing as are the environments around us. I think what's unique about artists is that they chronicle the journey and the struggle. The works they produce serve as documents. In my opinion, that's the best that any of us can hope for or aspire to do.


Sunday, February 28, 2010

On February 20th, I had the honor of representing Rhyme-N-Chatt alongside Marcus Ellsworth in the To Haiti With Love Benefit. The whole event was awe-inspiring. There were musicians, belly dancers, etc.

I checked my e-mail yesterday (I've been out of commission for the past week due to being sick), and was pleasantly surprised to see this:

Thank You...To Haiti With Love Benefit

When I reflect on last Saturday, I truly believe we all witnessed an amazing experience; our community joining together to make a positive impact in the lives of those who are in desperate need of support.

Words cannot express my gratitude to all of you for your enthusiasm, professionalism, flexibility, and authenticity. Your efforts exceeded all of my expectations; and the evening was filled with one memorable moment after another.

Special thanks to Urban League Young Professional Association, CreateHere, and Lindsay Street Hall for the successful collaboration on this truly unforgettable evening!

Together we all created a unique and wonderfully spirited benefit for the people of Haiti and for that I thank you.


As I mentioned back when I was able to take part in the Give 5 benefit, it means a great deal to be able to provide any kind of assistance, be it monetarily, creatively, or otherwise. Once again, I encourage everyone to find a cause to champion. So often, we tend to depend on politicians, police, etc. to lend helping hands and make things better. Everyone, regardless of where you're from, economic status, whatever the case may be, has the ability to assist.

Switching gears, I've had a few people ask me about the text of what I performed. I debuted this piece at the Speakeasy last month, performed it with the Poetic Diva at the RNC Love Groove show on the 12th, and presented it at the benefit. For those of you who are interested, here you go:

Today the news televised
the aftermath of Black lives lost
to the eager pulse of fate
that found its way to Haitian mainland
& my golden eyes studied the houses
now reduced to rubble
pinning bodies to the cool nape of the earth.
These people look like me
all honey-hued & honest
in their vulnerability that's documented by video cameras.
They look like me
share my stubborn hair
& skin lacquered by the labor
of the same consistent sun.
I recognized that there's a home
within these faces that
also lies comfortably inside of mine
& I arrived here
riding on the sheer
breath of coincidence
acknowledging the union that's
alive in our resemblance.
But in my stomach there's a solid swell of shame
because it took the will of tragedy
for me to see community.
Truthfully, at times
the awakenings that find us
come as suddenly as rain
lightly christening the spring.
Even though both location & the language
in our tongues separate us
we are one.
We have come from
our skin knowing the hostile
jerking of the earth,
the bite of tightened rope
& segregation in the church.
& still we are a people of hope,
we are a people of dance,
of music
& the bitter tide of struggle.
They look like me
those across the globe
whose lives & souls
expose the courage in
surviving breath to breath.
We are one.