Today is the day I get to play a dead mother. Lol. Acting is about turning up and down different parts of yourself, like an equalizer. I loved playing this role of a loving mother, and I can feel it’s healing effects on my womb. The one day running show…”Journey into Blackness” by Bonnie Wright of the Afrikan Woman’s Repertory Theatre.
Don’t call this a film review. It’s more about how I internally processed this product of emulsion of blood, sweat, and tears.
The Triptych (dir. Terence Nance, 2012) highlights the work of artists Sanford Biggers, Wangechi Mutu and Barron Claiborne. It was screened at the Studio Museum of Harlem on August 9, 2013 for Uptown Fridays: No Filter.
I missed the first artist. I was having a drink, on a friend. It had a sprig of thyme in it. However, read on because there is still something to be gleaned from what I did see, and how it affected/challenged me.
Her work is pensive and multi textural /”multi species”, as she somewhat put it. What I do appreciate is that she uses the female image quite often. The only subject I ever used in my college art class was the nude black female body, so I could identify with that.
Being an artist myself (writer/singer), but not an art intellectual, (Cooper Union was the bedrock of Wagenchi’s art school knowledge), I have to say the work was…profound. So profound that I just didn’t get it. Maybe I was too base (chakra), too horny to understand what it all meant.
I like the scenes best where she was filmed at the studio and at school, I feel she was freer there. I enjoyed hearing her speak about her life. It was more relatable to me.
She spoke of wanting to have a crush on everything. Not wanting to know what’s going to happen next. That typifies my life, or what’s left of it. I don’t know I’m not really in the BEST place right now. I’m a point where I’ve just had to give it all up and just wait for the chips to fall where they may. So excuse my rawness. But for some reason I’m struggling to know why it’s important to me, why her work matters and why I’m even writing notes on her. I guess I’m “trying too hard” to get it. As Wagenchi said, “loving art is letting go.” Hmm, synchronicity. ‘Cause that is exactly where I am in my life. There aren’t really any more fucks to give.
I remember him. He actually took test shots of me last summer for a project he was supposed to do, back when I was going hard trying to be a nude model. He never got back to me, and for many a month that day had slipped from my memory.
He’s more vocal, his speech is clear and theatrical. Wagenchi was poetic, ethereal, and harder to follow.
He’s cool. When I was there, at his home studio, he served me tea. How can you not like someone who serves you tea?
The crowd thoroughly enjoyed his rant on the music industry and the difference in treatment of Whites and Blacks. “Race” seemed to be a theme in his segment of the film, understandably considering his work.
Watching him take pictures there, I remembered his process…I remember the background and how he never seemed to stop talking while he worked. With his words, he teaches, through stories. He’s kind of like a griot. But yet, there was stillness. Maybe I was nervous, so maybe I was quiet. And I’m never quiet.
“No one’s life is this miserable,” he says of characters in books like “Black Boy,” as the pages of all the typical books on black life we are made to read in school slowly curl into flames. Yes, some genius (and I do NOT mean that sarcastically) decided to blasphemously burn black classics (evil grin), and Barron’s voice is the soundtrack to that. Ironically, the crowd kind of roared with laughter. I always thought we humans were sick. (Yet somehow, innocent.)
As he paints his skin white, Barron tells that the NY Times never gave him assignments based on race until they realized he was Black, then they only gave him Black people to shoot. “Because they don’t see you as a Universal person.”
His work is so moving. It made my pussy wet. He shoots Black men in a way in which he wants them to look beautiful, their “true essence.”
The film ended with him swinging around his wand like he would a wand was the last scene.
It’s mass appeal balanced the first part of the film.
Oh shit. He’s fucking here.
I nervously stood and asked the first question to what felt like the Rat Pack of independent art films. “What ever happened to the piece I did a test shoot for?”
Barron’s response, “I’ve been taking pictures since I was ten, so sometimes I take pictures over a period of 2 to even 25 years.”
It’s important to note that in my question I slipped in there that I am a journalist and I still wanna be a nude model. I heard gasps. I wanted to repeat myself.
Someone on the panel said that Barron’s work is the most influential in terms of normalizing Black skin; someone else added that he subtly adds cliché notions of black skin in his work. “It is about color,” Barron frankly responds, adding, “I always admired artists who made their own kind of world and people still get it.” We got you, Barron. In more ways than you might even imagine.
As published on www.blackstarnews.com
Thursday July 11, in the City of Brotherly Love (PHILLY, PA)- Bun B, DJ Drama and the legendary Ice Cube teamed up as celebrity judges for the Coors Light Search for the Coldest MC Competition; French Montana was featured as a guest performer.
Expectations were high. DJ Drama says of the competition, “[Electric Factory] is the biggest venue we’ve had so far, so [the contestants] have no choice but to tear it down. Philly MCs are some of the greatest MCs.”
Of Philly’s rich musical history the judges unanimously agree that, Philly is major in Hip Hop because of artists like Fresh Prince, The Roots and more, so these rappers had better do their city justice. Houston, Texas based rapper Bun B also isn’t afraid to admit that “Philly don’t play” when it comes to their artistry.
It’s significant that Coors Light has someone like Ice Cube, who’s been in the game for so long, judging these artists just breaking into the industry. Ice Cube is a veteran and even if he did nothing else in music from this day on, he’s still one of the most relevant Hip Hop artists of all time. Bun B of UGK and DJ Drama are also far from novices and can boast very successful careers in music. Though some feel that there is an age limit on Hip Hop artists, Cube has this to say on there being a glass ceiling: “It’s crazy to think that you have to quit just because of your age.” He goes on, “This is what we do, there is no shelf life if an MC is committed to [their] fans…”
Bun B adds, “Hip Hop is still very young. We are just getting to the point where our fans are 50 [years old]. Even when athletes retire, they still commentate.”
Ice Cube recalls when he did a concert with De la soul and LL Cool J, for the Kings of the Mic tour, and there was a packed house every night. “People think Hip Hop is all for the kids, but auntie and uncle out there too!” Even at the show that night a grandma strutted through with what looked like her daughter, bobbing her head like it was nothing; she belonged there. Ice Cube half-jokes, “When I get 75 or 80 you can see me in Vegas,” assuring his fans that he’s not going anywhere anytime soon.
Now for the competition.
For the first round, contestants and Philly natives Reno Sinatra and Thee General were tested by Ice Cube to do a freestyle on why they deserved to be the coldest. The I’m-the-shit-freestyle is one major component of Hip Hop, as many songs from the beginning of the culture were about being the dopest MC. We’ve seen the subject matter change a bit over the decades but it still remains: Hip Hop is a genre of cockiness. Although it was hard to hear, in order to judge actual lyrical content, the audience seemed less than impressed with and booed Thee General on his freestyle. He was lacking a bit of energy.
“That is just a freestyle” says Ice Cube to calm down the crowd. “You can’t win just freestylin’. It’s only one aspect of MCing; some [MCs] can, some can’t—But every MC should have a hot 16.”
Which brings us to the next round: People were skeptical of Thee General’s 16 bars but once he started riding the beat, the audience started bouncing with one hand in the air like they were feeling it– And thus is the fickle nature of the game, in the blink of an eye you can redeem yourself.
The next and final round of the competition was the original song. Ice Cube says that this is the “true measure of who will be the coldest,” for an MC to have a song that fans appreciate is essential.
Reno Sinatra’s original song “Go Hard” has a musical hook complete with a young and feisty female singer… and at least it’s not about hoes. It’s never good to lead with that–but it’s definitely about money and going tirelessly after your dreams. “We gettin’ money” was the resounding refrain. His other notable single is simply called “Philadelphia,” an anthem to his hometown.
Thee General’s original song, “Bobby Storm,” was completely different. His flow is off center, every line doesn’t rhyme, yet it works. He’s just lacking a little confidence on stage; the song sounds better on the track, rather than live.
What may amaze one the most about viewing this event is that a bunch of people can be thrown in a large room with virtually nothing but music and some cold beer and everyone instinctively knows what to do—look at the stage to see what may be the future of music for years to come.
Bun B rocked the stage, performing his various hits including his classic verse on “Big Pimpin’’ and also covered the late Pimp C’s verse, which still is flawless lyrical representation of Texas.
Later, after a nostalgic DJ set the winner was ready to be announced.
So who was the coldest? If you were just going on the crowd’s reception of each MC you would have predicted that Reno Sinatra would win and you’d be right. Thee General’s less than fresh freestlye is what probably knocked him out of the running, because in the other categories he was actually pretty good and gave Reno Sinatra a good run for his money: $20,000 and more in prizes for winning the competition.
Featured artist French Montana performed a few of his latest hits and even Freeway made a surprise visit to drop his verse on his classic “What We Do.” We waiting on the DJ to play “California Love” to get us ready for some of Ice Cube’s classics like “It Was a Good Day,” and although he didn’t perform, it was still a pretty good day.
The best line of the night rang out like a call and response from French Montana: “If you ain’t worried about a motha-fuckin’ thing then put your hands in the air!” which led us right into his care-free anthem (which one can twerk, bounce or simply ride to) “Ain’t Worried About Nothin.’” For a quick second, a question came to mind: how can a Moroccan born rapper who moved to the Bronx later in life can end up with a southern drawl? But after witnessing a die-hard Philly representative under-dog reach the pinnacle of his career as of yet, a free concert from artists we already know and love, and a couple of free ice cold Coors light, hell, I’m not worried about a damn thing either.
For more pictures of this year’s entire Search for the Coldest Tour, search #SFTC2013
On Saturday May 4th, the Afropolitan Dreams Block Party presented on by MoCADA Museum, an art institution which showcases art of the African Diaspora, promised a day of sunlight, music, style and mingling with creative entrepreneurs. The partnership with local Bed-Stuy businesses fused to create a rich event that truly captured the “Soul of Brooklyn.”
This block party brought out the least likely of characters. Too risky to be named (it’s illegal to house wild animals without the proper license) Brooklyn based brothers brought their 2 giant snakes outdoors for some sunlight, fresh air and impromptu photo shoots with curious children and increasingly intrigued yet worried neighborhooders. A boa constrictor and an anaconda seemed to enjoy the attention. “Her last owner didn’t take her out much,” says the eldest brother. The anaconda spans 14 feet, weighs 155 pounds and eats live 30 pound chickens, although her owner says “rabbits are better for her nutritionally.” With the TLC and patience the owner says it takes to foster wild animals, she’ll have no problem getting to her maximum size of 38 feet and 700 pounds. This is interesting. Because he was rocking the passé urban uniform of baggy sagging jeans, chains, baseball cap and matching t-shirt, you would never expect this man to possess the big sensitive heart it takes to care for wild animals who would otherwise be killed into his home for safekeeping. He expresses that care through his mostly vegan diet as well. That was just one of surprising anomalies I stumbled on that day…
Art by Amit
Lured by a sign fashioned out of an old cabinet door that read “$1 art and plants,” I found a small Macon street garage sale on a block of beautiful brownstones. Amit Sahu is a local painter/sculptor/graphic designer whose pieces incorporate images of lions, naked female seductresses and chalky colors pastelled over chunks of recycled wood which take on the form of the subject in the painting. His card quietly proclaims in small print that he creates “art for the public.” When asked what that means, Amit, who is East Indian, says “my art is not over conceptual.” He works with images that have inspired him from African and East Indian culture. Because of its striking appearance it’s very accessible and consumable for the public…and affordable. I surprisingly walked away with a two piece set for 20 dollars, named “Cleopatra.” When asked about the price of the pieces Amit shrugs, “I’ll work with you,” he says. Lucky me!
The concert was peppered with people…
…Including campaigning politicians. Before the crowd thickened, I ran in to Reverend Conrad Tillard, the “committed concerned consistent” candidate (in his own words). What stood out about his impromptu speech was that he seems committed to the arts, as he wants to allot 1% of city’s budget to arts programs if he gets into office. He represents the Bed-Stuy and Crown Heights area of Brooklyn.
It had gotten so cold that people went home to their nearby brownstones and put more clothes on their children. An hour and fifteen minutes after the promoted time of 7pm, Blitz the Ambassador prepared the crowd for take-off. Rightfully so. This is what many had been waiting for, along with the arrival of international superstars Les Nubiennes. Via simulated airline announcement Blitz informed us that we would be taking a virtual trip to Accra, Ghana. Finally, it was about to get real.
Horns moving in unison
Blitz, with his fast raps, regal Ghanian attire and perfect command of the stage performed songs from his former album, Native Sun. It includes nuts, bolts, and smoothies: a fusion of afro-beat, hip-hop and neo-soul that always sounds better live.
A sample of Fela’s Water No Get Enemy trickles in and at this point the base could be felt in your chest. Literally the heartbeat of that song was that of the city. Blitz starts rapping in an obscure language, Twi. “Akwaaba (the song’s title) means welcome” is the refrain. Ambassador Airlines, our vehicle for this musical journey, flawlessly combines hip hop and contemporary African music. Through his beatboxing and samples of “Soul Makossa”…I’d say he was a pretty good captain. Then came the command to scream: How often do you get to scream at the top of your lungs without being judged? So I screamed as if my life depended on it.
Highlife music resounded, and then a mysterious siren came from nowhere. Our captain of the airline became commander in chief and spoke of martial law and the hornmen became an army. Blitz proclaimed this next song “The national anthem of the crooked African leaders, ‘Free Your Mind.’” Then, along w Les Nubiennes, serenaded the Motherland with “Dear Africa.” His booming evergy blended perfectly with their soft sweet voices that lilt. Talk about an Afropolitan Dream.
“Usually when I fly people to Africa I don’t bring them back, I just leave them there, ‘cause who wants to come back?” The crowd nearly drowned him out with cheers as Blitz the Ambassador concluded that he wishes to take the Afropolitan Dream (Also the title of his new album) Block Party all over the world.
I hope he does. And it’s fitting that he’d begin in Bed-Stuy. With the influx of celebrities moving to Bed-Stuy in the past few years: Solange Knowles, Les Nubiennes and even Blitz himself lived not too far from where he performed…it’s all coming full circle. Of all the talent that originates here and snakes around the world it’s only right that Bed-Stuy would boast an international line up. There’s a bright future for Bed-Stuy beyond the usual implications of gentrification. This event proved that by bringing brown bodies together for one full day of arts community and pure Afropolitan dopeness.
Apollo Music Café’s The New Class concert featured Likwuid along with fresh young underground talent served up in a classy speak-easy setting. It has a VIP environment with a black backdrop, similar to a small black box theatre. Some of my favorite performers for the night were: Cuzimdope, which were the skate boarding-attired duo that reminded me of the backpacker crowd that would pepper the audience back in the day when Likwuid and I would perform at the Bowery Poetry Club. One of the performers from the group donned an afro and looked like a young MJ. They performed three fun and highly energetic new cuts, “The Cable,” “We Get High,” and “Cold Cut Gyoza.” On stage they look like two kids on the playroom floor beating sticks on pots and pans, creating music for the first time. Their music harkened back to simplicity of the bass, kick and snare of early hip hop. The Cranberry Show was another duo that brought out the carefree youngster in all of us, having us bounce around the floor during their Indian influenced “Slumdog Millionaire Bollywood Flow.” This stream of consciousness came from Milwaukee from all places, where apparently black men sound like white boys when they talk. A real mind opener it was. That’s the not the only taste of internationality we got that night, Rich P was a lone rapper who was very nicely dressed in Denim from Paris. It was radio ready music that would fit right in with the harder production of say, someone like Rick Ross’ music. I liked it because it was current. The true throwback of the night was Justine Sky. Her lithe 17 year old frame was clothed a basketball player embossed t-shirt and yellow biker shorts with tall socks and sneakers. Her pressed and curled hair swung about as she goofily introduced herself. But when the music came on, she reminded me of Brandy, music that I grew up on. I was immediately proud. She had that naivety about her that made you want to protect her but the potential that made you want to sell her out to the highest bidder because you know you’d make a killing off of this double threat. (She wasn’t much of a dancer, but who is these days?) I don’t remember ever feeling as vivrant as her though; blending the perfect mix of innocence and sexuality may be something reserved for younger souls, but I’ve got an old one. She explodes with attitude when singing and her voice is solid enough. She takes it as serious as a heart attack but when the music is off she’s back to being a teen girl, reminding us to keep at least a bit of ourselves young forever.
The part of the night I was most excited for because it was why I had come was Likwuid commanding the stage. With her androgynous swag and trademark afro I screamed until my voice cracked for fellow South Carolinian. The first song she performed, “Queendom Anthem,” spoke of the struggle for women to regain their original power. It was fitting, because Likwuid strikes me as a feminist even while having a boyish flavor. Her conscious flow is sick, the beat was hard, and her lyrics are spiritual…and relatable. On the second song she performed with more heart than I had ever seen, and why wouldn’t she… “Give the Drummer Some” was her sliver of the story of her journey to being committed to being a music artist. As she stood up on the shakey table with one leg, I could imagine the house manager cringing, but all I could do was smile inside and squint my eyes in disbelief. My mouth was agape. I was proud more than anything else, because Likwuid has been in this game for a while, and I’ve seen from the outside looking in her many hustles to be free of the chains of the “man.” It worked. She now flourishes as a DJ and lyricist in New York City, one of the toughest cities to make it in.
There was one more group that started out with a doo-wop acapella type of vibe. As soon as I heard it I liked it. It’s worth mentioning because of it’s Sweet Home Alabama/rock n roll tinge along with a healthy heaping spoonful of hip hop. As a bonus, the girl on the guitar looked like me and I wanted to kiss her– I’m in love with myself like that.
As the cherry on top, Amanda Seale was the hilarious host for the concert, or should I say “class.” She spoke of preserving hip hop and talking about it intellectually in order to raise it to the level of Jazz, where it could be studied in Universities and such. It truly is a national treasure that we should take more seriously as a possible catalyst for change rather than just a way to make money and an excuse to make a fool of ourselves. But we should still have fun. Yes, I think Amanda Seale is right about that PSA she made that night. I’ve got my pen and pad ready to take notes. I hope I see someone from the New Class there. They’re sure to bring a new level of understanding to hip hop to the world once they graduate.
I went out into the forest today. It’s a place I often end up when I’m lucid dreaming. Today, I went there in real life. After Hurricane Sandy, I wanted to see the damage that was done, if any. I was really oblivious to the storm. I was cozy in my room, only knowing that the MTA was down, so I wouldn’t be going to work. (My sister and her wife too. Major cause for celebration in this house.)
I expressed these sentiments on Facebook, and most people were concerned for the practical issues: will you get paid while you’re out? My response “Not in money, but in happiness and orgasms.”
The storm brought deep personal shifts for me. I became orgasmic with someone that I wasn’t able to cross that threshold with in the past. Something truly opened up. They say Oya brings winds of change.
To give thanks for being spared anything but more rest, more time to myself, and deep relaxation and all the other blessings the storm brought, I decided to go to the park and commune with Nature. When I got there I found some trees lying about the ground. They looked like they were resting. As you read in my last post centering around the wonders of Nature, “Nature is the New “Church”, trees talk to me. And this is what they had to say this time:
“We are one with the events of Nature. We are not upset or phased when a tree is broken or uprooted because of the storm. What we say to humans is Use Us! There is still good wood here. We understand that we are here as resource to humans that you have taken for granted, but this storm is not a bad thing. Things change. Nature is change. God is change.”
Now, maybe you’ll think about that the next time you decide to count the death toll instead of your blessings. If even the trees who have been snapped off their base or maybe even ripped from the ground are not phased…why should you be?
I thank God that I was spared. For every storm, even since Hurricane Hugo I was spared. I slept through it, curled up like a baby at 6 years old on the living room couch. Maybe that’s why I feel that there’s nothing better than falling asleep on the couch, to this day. That little house built from brick and that little girl inside was kept safe from the wind and rain. It brought my family closer, and I was thankful even then. So, I don’t too much get caught up in the monsoons of life for others. I have work to do here, and although I’m compassionate…I know there’s a reason for every season, every tragedy, every disaster. For my family, even though I am the biggest cryer, I am also the one to take a detached emotional approach to death when someone transitions…since even a pre-teen, saying, “Don’t cry Mom, there is no death…they’re in a better place.”
I don’t take anyone else’s suffering lightly but I also know what to take in and what to block out. That’s why I never watch the news. To each his own. That flooding in the streets became my own when my orgasm flooded out of me, this is how I make the storm personal for me…I won’t take on more hardship than was given to me, not now. I’m OK and believe that everything will BE OK. This is what it means to have peace in the midst of the storm. Thank you, Sandy.
This is so well written and concise, and I would have written it had she not…so I’m very happy to present you with this article about a “pretty picture” and it’s ugly truth:
A blank page is like a new beginning. How many poets and writers throughout the ages have waxed poetic about the thrill they get when they look at a blank piece of paper, whether on screen or in real life? It is a type of thrill isn’t it? It’s a change to begin anew.
I want that chance. I have it every time I start a new piece; it gives me life, and a great sense of accomplishment when I finish what I set out to start.
But do you know how many unfinished drafts I have that I started even as far back as about a year ago? They’re dangling like my cheap $1 earrings, like the particilples that (I hope) never do in any of my published work, like a pair of proverbial testicles which comes to mind anytime anyone mentions the word “cajones.”
I think it shows commitment and tenacity and seriousness when you finish what you start. I wanna do that with my college education, but money is a factor.
There is one man who is doing something about that though, and he is a Negro of all things. (I’m sorry, I’ve been reading a book in which the main character is a racist.)
I know it’s a bad choice of words, but I choose to use that word because it let’s us know that we have progressed a lot as a society, even though we’re still in the process of realizing that we are all one. I just have to sit here and think about how amazing we are as African Americans, Afrikans, Nubians, Moors, etc. We are a group of people who have gone through some of the worst treatment in history, and everyone is still feeling the repercussions about 500 years later…
…We have definitely overcome, that shit NEEDS to be celebrated, and I’m always excited to shed light on one of our shining examples of the unbreakableness of the human spirit.
Read about the man who is helping the KKK (Kommunity Kollege Kids, my fun and eye catching description of his demographic, not his) finish their education: where prices have become too high, Gene Wade, a man of color, has started University Now, an affordable brick and mortar and online college with transferable credits to California local community colleges.
Watch the video below where Gene Wade talks about “Building the World’s Most Affordable and Accessible Private University.” Read about this man . Support the campaign by donating or spreading the word, and by understanding how amazing this model is for revolutionizing higher education in this country. And they say I’m a bad influence on the kids!
My deepest fears of ridicule by the intellectual and academic world are being obliterated now that on this Friday, September 7th, 2012 I will be interviewed by Dr. Richard Cooper for his show “Karamu” (which means “feast” as in “food for thought,” click on his name for his bio), along with the former Director of the Human Sexuality Dept. at Widener University in Philadelphia, and more. Many students from the graduate program of Human Sexuality/Social work will be calling in to express their views. See the piece to be discussed, “Topfreedom: The Right to Bare Breasts” here. It promises to be TITillating!!! Details outlined below:
Date: Friday September 7, 2o12
Time: 4:00PM EST
Show: 900 AM Wurd (http://www.900amwurd.com)
How Listen/Ask a Question: Call 866-361-0900 or 215-634-8065 or go to http://www.900amwurd.com and CLICK ON PLAY BUTTON in the red banner at the top of the station’s website to stream LIVE! But you can’t join the conversation unless you call!
I trust all of you will listen in and post your comments here. Again thank you for your support on my quest to raise important questions and seek personal liberation. Join me!
Update on 9/12/12: THE SHOW WENT WELL! Unfortunately, the former Director of the Human Sexuality Dept. at Widener University in Philadelphia could not join us. Stay tuned for the recording of the show, as I will be sharing it with you as soon as it becomes available for listeners who missed it. Thanks again for the support!
Update on 5/3/2020: Going through my archives, removing the topfree photos as I feel they’ve done their work. There’s no link to that radio show now but you can listen to my very new podcast here. I can smell you following now…😊
…Maybe 40 is a good number for me. I always thought that would be an age where I would really buckle down and focus on my music. I felt that by then I would be fully in my womanhood, settled in my career, maybe be divorced, have a kid who adored me, and be fiercely independent.
This week I attended two events that were 40th Anniversaries. One was the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program‘s 40th Anniversary-Celebrity Pro-Am and Dinner Gala. It was held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York. It was a pretty snazzy venue as dazzling faces of all shades filled the room. Katrina Adams, Executive Director of HJTEP is beautiful, down to earth, and about the mission of the organization. She inspired this young Black Female to be as dedicated to my purpose as she is to bringing tennis to youth from inner-city neighborhoods while offering them opportunities for education and self growth. Some of the youth stood at the podium to receive recognition and give honor to various leadership in the organization, one of which is my best friend, Mekellah Matthias, who is the Executive Assistant at HJTEP, who is set to be the next generation of leadership at the program. Everyone glowed with satisfaction as the night went on, and as the tables were cleared, a glass of champagne was toasted as the stress of the weeks leading up to the event was finally released. If you know anything about non-profit, you know that the staff of HJTEP had to do a ton of work to make this happen even with hired help. The funds raised that evening will go on to support such bright and dynamic young people such as Vashni Belleste, now an alum, who will be attending college in New Orleans in the fall. To all of the staff at HJTEP I say “Job well done, now let’s pop champagne.”
The second event I attended I literally had to drag myself to, but I’m so glad I did. I was invited to sing at The 40th Annual Spring Poetry Festival at City College held by the University’s Poetry Outreach Center. I was sick as a dog that morning, but was able to visualize doing one of my favorite things (performing) in the Great Hall that evening. It worked. Writer, professor and Director of Poetry Outreach Pam Laskin, whom I met through JP Howard, founder of the Woman Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon (WWBPS), invited me to sing at this event after she heard me sing at WWBPS’s anniversary (but it was only their first!). I gladly accepted but had no idea I’d be sick that day. Still I arrived. They honored Barry Wellenstein, who founded the Poetry Outreach Center which services public school children and the writing community as a whole. The Great Hall, where the event was held, was mighty and massive in its architecture. The acoustics make you sound like you’re in a cathedral in the late 18th century. I was called up by Pam to sing my one or two songs a capella, and I was seemingly shy, because I was confident in my skills yet nervous because I was so congested. I sang a snippet of a standard, “Body and Soul” and then an original, “You Told Me You Loved Me” and then it was over. The gracious audience continued to thank me the whole evening, and I felt my sense of gratitude for sharing my gift grow. (And a sense of missed opportunity, because so many great people, so little energy and so little cards! Oh how I need a business card. That’s gotta be on my to-do list before 40!) The conn
ections you can make through people are amazing. I met JP Howard through a long time friend of mine, Akinfe Fatou, who’s new book of poetry Swoon is out now. The Universe is something, ain’t it?
So, there you have it. Two 40th’s in one week and here I am. I survived. I’m intuiting that the events of this week are only going to mirror, in a grander way, what’s in store for me when I get to 40. I hope you’ll stay along for the journey.