24 hours of Poetry

This past weekend provided another new experience for me in several different areas:

1) First time I was in a French-speaking nation (Belgium).

2) First time since college I had the chance to perform outdoor in front of complete strangers.

market river

3) First time to be surrounded by so many poets from several nations (usually it’s just the locals) and it provided me a chance to get a feel for the different kinds of styles these poets possess (German, Belgian, French, Italian, Turkish, Spanish, and I think some kind of Scandinavian) for a full 24 hours.

With this “poetry retreat” I also came to realize the importance of my poem, the 28th Amendment (if it’s not posted here, then check this video – it’s gotten better, promise!). The more I perform it, the more I feel it resonates within every person that hears and feels it.

For those who aren’t familiar with it, the poem states the importance of unity within the poetry community and pledging our allegiance to continue forward with our craft.

This brings me to my final point, I can’t just rest on what I have written and what I’ve accomplished. I truly feel like I need to continue pushing myself in order to help inspire others.

I will finish my website soon, and am already looking for venues to host writing “classes” and public speaking workshops. Details will come soon!

Bad Date

“Say, you’re not like…black-black…you know?”

She makes this awkward statement,

Unaware of how much of my patience

she’s already testing.

Now, every time someone hits me with this,

they always seem to miss

the social cues such as 1) me shifting ever so uncomfortably in my seat,

2) me shuffling my feet,

3), 4), 5),

I clinch my fists, squint my eyes,

and try with all my might to count to five

before I end up slapping her upside

her head.

___________________________________________

“What do you mean?” I ask.

Knowing damn well that they’re expecting me to wear the very mask

they’ve grown up seeing in the off-chance that their televisions

show a hint of color in between their 24-hour transmissions

of shows

full of people who resemble 50 shades of snow.

“Well, I mean…you’re not like…a nigger, because you don’t rap.”

There it is, the slap

in the face I was waiting for.

This, is when I have to choose which door

to enter. Do I explain the technicality

that most people believe it’s two different words and, in reality,

none of them are restricted to rappin’?

___________________________________________

Should I go on a tirade

to explain it was the actions

of European trade transactions

carried overseas

and people, with rappers, aim to change the negativity

into an endearing, uplifting term crammed into our frequencies?

The problem is, I would likely scare her away.

That’s despite my calm demeanor and trying my best not to say

she’s ignorant more than…hmm five times,

she, like everyone so far, would turn dumb, deaf, and blind,

and will just tell her friends about that angry nigger

she was on a date with.

___________________________________________

“But they always laugh on TV, go figure

I find the one that’s so stiff

(and not in the good way, if you catch my drift).”

You see, these are constant scenarios

I’ve had to deal with, battling multiple types of stereos

stating that there are rules I must abide by

but oddly I am never on the right side

of that thin line.

I thought about walking out.

I wanted to leave, providing absolutely no doubt

that what she said was incredibly stupid

and I’ll feel like I stood strong

after humoring her for so long

but…do you wanna what the honest truth is?

My luck with women hasn’t been so great

and, well, she is pretty so…maybe this isn’t THAT bad of a date?

So Not All My Plans Fail

Usually when it comes to making plans, I’m not really good at them. I suppose this aspect strictly sticks to social plans, because when it comes to writing/performing, everything is going pretty much perfectly.

I can’t recall saying it on here, but after Italy, I stated on Facebook that I might try performing in Vienna, Austria next. I did that and added loads of stages in Germany along with it.

When I returned from that “tour” I said I should move further west next time. Now keep in mind, these were merely me just saying “maybe” or “I should” I wasn’t actively looking for anything specific, I just happened to stumble upon things (for instance I contacted my Italian counterpart and he referred me to these Austrians. Due to me “stalking” a poet in Berlin, I discovered what I’ll mention below).

So with that being said, I am set to fly to Brussels, Belgium to perform in Liege at this 24hr slam poetry event. I hesitated due to it being so “last minute” when I discovered it, but I went ahead and dropped an email and got the go ahead Thursday.

Actually, I think that’s really all I have to say about that, who knows what could come of this! I’m just beyond excited!

In Between Two Nations

From late April up to mid-May, I was traveling back and forth between several German [speaking] cities and Warsaw, Poland, using different forms of travel (trains, too many buses, and an airplane).

I decided to do this due to me quitting my previous job and then obviously found that  I had so much time on my hands. So I selected Vienna, Berlin (for 4 shows), Frankfurt, Karlsruhe, and Stuttgart, all while hosting my own show in Warsaw at the beginning and end of this tour.

What I learned was:

 

The ideal time to do this is during warm weather just in case I have to sleep outside or at a bus/train station. Speaking of sleep, sleeping on buses got old, quick. There were times where I just could not fully stay comfortable any more :(

Germany has definitely embraced slam poetry, and despite it being heavy on comedic poems, there are quite a few very talented folks that have chosen to not follow this path. I met a 17 year old in Frankfurt, it was his first time (and what a stage, around 100+ people were there) performing and whatever he said, I definitely felt it.

Although a good number of these people’s English understanding is a bit high (or higher than in Warsaw for now) it’s still a difficult setting for me to be in. However other poets also suggested it’s partly due to me not focusing on making jokes, as well, which “confuses” the audience.

Never conform. I had a certain strategy when I first went to Frankfurt in November, and due to the constant laughter most poets had the audience in, I decided to try my bus poem that had a funny punch line at the end. A decent poem but it wasn’t strong in comparison to my original strategy. This time, I wanted to spit Time Capsule in each stage, and despite never progressing past the first round (except in Vienna, which was Day 1), I stuck to my “roots” and received multiple praises saying how good that poem really is.

It was a great learning experience, all the connections I’ve made and the parties I went to in between shows was pretty cool. I have plenty of great pictures and I think I might know how to balance things out for the next time I travel around.

Now I hope something comes of all this work.

 

P.S. I met a band in Stuttgart, the singer was interested in getting me to possibly jump on a track or so with them, I should contact them!

Was it Ever America to Me?

I remember these words, three,

the spark of everyman’s dream.

A simple pioneer on the plain

sought out a home where he himself is free

(was it ever America to me?).

_________________________

The welcoming arms of Liberty

fast from the schemes of kings.

A place for many to attain

land away from conniving tyranny

(it never was America to me).

_________________________

Opportunity is real and life is free,

but better if it could be

possible to bring what it once claimed

and provide equality into the air we breathe

(there was nothing equal for my people
in their math not freedom in this “Land of the Free”).

___________________________

There confusion residing within the

down trodden, underprivileged community

argues against the established aims.

That’s when it was asked of me:

“Say, who do you think you are?”

___________________________

I am the First who didn’t know

land was something one could own.

I am the Last Bottle threatening to arrive

and encourage the last of the First to for

as he remains stuck in his reserved sanctuary,

watching the rain wash away his war paint.

____________________________

I was kidnapped, I was sold

and others exploited my soul

(who am I kidding? They’re still doing it).

____________________________

I am anger, I am pain.

These notions have infested my brain

for the better part of three centuries

and still, they ignore me.

____________________________

Yet, I remember these words, three.

It rings true in their speech and their coverage,

in their dismissive labels slapped on every time

I refuse to die quietly.

____________________________

Oh yes, these words, three.

But how can it be America

if I was never allowed to “Let Freedom Ring”?

via WordPress for Phone

http://goo.gl/j6Fzhf

Time Capsule

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This is a long poem designed to be performed in the German slam poetry scene. I tried my best to make it easy to read!

They dig through the rubble
tossing items aside as they struggle
to figure out why someone troubled
the community like this, a more subtle
method must have failed him.
_________________________________________
The dramatically grim
scene slowly clears as the workers dig,
collect, and toss out big
pieces of debris. I do believe
the time was between 2am and a quarter to three
when one of them discovered a key
buried deep within this ashen sea.
_________________________________________
I watched the employees slowly uncover a black box –
unharmed by the incident – they can’t help but gawk
at the smooth cube as one stoops
down and unhoops a loop
and shoves the key into the lock.
_________________________________________
I leaned over their shoulders to look inside
as the others realize that this might be the greatest find
of the decade, perhaps further, because the confined
contents were some of the greatest poems and rhymes
ever mustered by a real poet laureate of his time.
Now you might not care
but it’s my duty to share
some lines that were running through this man’s mind:

“There are days where I’ve nothing to say,
trying to remember what spelling of ‘grey’
fits the weather today as I pretend to pray
that the next juicy story to prey
on happens to walk by this way so I can slay
the owner and convincingly play
as it’s entirely my own.
_________________________________________
It is not really known
how little remorse I’ve shown
because I only care to hone
my skills, increasing my talents
working to find a balance
between trying to impress those who’ve grown calloused
to the effects a few lines of poetry may possess
and burning so bright that it might intimidate those wishing to express
themselves in a similar manner.
_________________________________________
I don’t intend to shatter
confidence, it’s just that the prominent
figures are determined to label me incompetent
and people swallow this, following the so-called politics
of poetry that openly tried to ignore me until recently
when I forced my entry through the German scene.
_________________________________________
I’ve seen how tricky it can be to breakthrough,
I’ve seen people who opted to chew all the way through
Their own dignity, accepting false ministries
as they willfully dismiss the imagery
that I try to provide to the masses.
_________________________________________
Do you know what burns me? Only matches.
I’ve seen flashes of my own brilliant passages
but oddly feared the fashion
of actions that had to happen
to get recognition short of rappin’
so I hid these words inside a cabin
thinkin’ I’d be safe from the dragon
as I apologized for the behavior of my passion.
_________________________________________
It made no sense, I was intimidated by my words
as they strived towards
their own goals, hiding their cards
from me, yet I believed
I could get the party going with two left feet.
_________________________________________
So when I turned right,
I was given a bite
of the apple, orange, the whole fuckin’ garden
oh, I beg your pardon for slippin’ into that margin
of cussing in my poem, I should really sharpen
my vocabulary again, before committing another “sin”.
_________________________________________
Nah, fuck it, I have the pen
and I’ll make the whole world listen
as I Ink and Think
into the shrinks and Professor Frinks
of the world and steady carving
my way and finding those who’ve been starving
for just one enlightening
stanza. As my culinary skills are enticing,
my cuisine cannot, and will not, provide all the answers you seek.
_________________________________________
In fact, I’m not sure you’re worthy to read this.
It’s probably flying over your head.
You’re probably tempted to dismiss
this and read about what “so-and-so be like” instead.
The case doesn’t matter,
my notebooks continue getting fatter
ironically helping me climb that ladder
as I say ‘fuck the moon, I’m aiming for Saturn!’
_________________________________________
So I gotta ignite
this rocket, starting tonight.
See my words are something I no longer fear
my poems are now an equivalent to German engineers,
These are raw metaphors flying high for 3 years and 2 months,
one’s Voyage would not even have to refuel once.
_________________________________________
So I’ll lock this box
and burn this entire city block
and when the tick-tock knocks at Daedalus o’clock
they’ll find my rhymes, gasping in shock
realizing this is how I’ve conquered the Eastern bloc.”

Trains, praise, while avoiding planes.

Such a clever title!

So I just finished the first stretch of my “tour” and have received praises for my poems.
As a warm-up, I got to debut two of my newer poems (Time Capsule and Group Activity), in Warsaw, Poland (April 15) at my Expression Session show to a load of appreciation and admiration.

Then I arrived in Vienna, Austria via train to compete in the Textstrom Poetry slam, reaching the final with Time Capsule and 28th Amendment (currently going to take a few edits to appeal more to a global audience).

After that, I got see more of Germany while riding SEVERAL trains from Salzburg, Austria, to Berlin. It was quite a long day!

After some rest, I walked around different sections of Berlin and got myself ready for the Moabit Slam that night, which also gave me a chance to perform Time Capsule to some praise and laughter (I’ll post the poem later).

 

Overall I did well, but both shows reminded me of something said to me back in Frankfurt, comedy is a big thing at these slams.

It leaves me with something to think about as I prepare to go back to Berlin this weekend for 3 more shows, how to battle comedy and a very likely language barrier.

 

Despite not progressing to a point where I could use my Group Activity poem (the plan was to use it if I won, but I’m tempted to break the typical rules of slam and use it during the actual competition just to see how it goes…hmmm), I still had a great time being a traveling performer. Hopefully this can help open more doors!

 

 

P.S. In Berlin I found a haven full of African/Caribbean guys, music, and food. It was great beating them in dominoes hahaha