Soulful IV-Deeply Rooted/ July 6th 2013/The Beast Crawl Oakland

*Note-Hey people I’m hosting this event and I would love to see my friends from the blogosphere there.1008384_529224677113757_1678015846_o

We’re going to end Beast Crawl 2013 (http://beastcrawl.weebly.com/) with a bang!

“Soulful IV: Deeply Rooted” is a cultural explosion just waiting to happen. The line up includes a group of consistently published, standing ovation getting, conscious minded, game spitting, self-loving artists who know how to move the crowd and know just exactly where they come from. So if you’re not there on July 6th then tsk, tsk. Don’t say I didn’t tell you. Check out the stellar line up:

AUDACIOUS IAM is not only a national performance spoken word artist but she is a host, educator, empowerment speaker, social service worker, and youth advocate. She received her MFA from Mills College in the spring of 2013.

BRANDON HUGHES is a writer from Oakland, CA. He’s been featured on CBS 5, was an invited guest speaker at Yahoo, and the Oakland Tribune wrote a full article on him, calling him ”a promising writer.” His novel, The Man Behind The Curtain, is set in Oakland, and is being taught in middle schools and high schools. BRANDON WILL HAVE COPIES OF HIS BOOK TO SELL AT SOULFUL!!!!!

CANDICE ANTIQUE WICKS Antique is an independent singer/songwriter and co-founder of Antique Music, a multifaceted project that uses music and theatre as a tool for education, healing and activism. She is also the lead singer for the band Antique Naked Soul, an a cappella band featuring renown beat boxer Tommy Shepherd, that uses loopers and beat boxing to create live beats on stage. Antique Naked Soul has opened for Les Nubiens, Mos Def, Talib Kwali and many more. CANDICE WILL BE SELLING MUSIC AT THE SHOW!!!!!!!!

DONTE CLARK (artistically known as DonBlak) is a 23yr old Richmond Native. He is a poet, activist, playwright, actor, and musically inclined people’s champion who embodies the struggle of the people and uses his words to heal the wretched of the earth and unshackle the minds of the masses.

JAMES CAGNEY Oakland native James Cagney is a Cave Canem and VONA Fellow. He was a featured artist in Midnight In Mumbai, Miko Kuro’s Midnight Tea, Celebration of the Word and San Francisco Public Library. His poems appeared in Ambush Review, Oaklandlocal.com and Sparring with the Beatnik Ghosts. JAMES WILL HAVE COPIES OF HIS DEBUT POETRY COLLECTION “DIRTY THUNDERSTORM” FOR SELL AT SOULFUL!!!!!!!

MUTHONI KIARIE is a Kenyan writer, living in Oakland, California. Her work has been published in Narrative Magazine, Generations Literature Magazine, 580 Split and The Weeklings. She is an MFA graduate of Mills College.

Hosted by Roger Porter

Trust me when I tell you “Deeply Rooted” is going to be THIS soulful (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IexQYkNO2Ec).

So plan on being in attendance and trust me you will be grateful that you came. And if you need more incentive check out how beautiful these Deeply Rooted writers are: http://beastcrawl.weebly.com/soulful.html
See ya on July 6th.

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SOULFUL II in Review

Last Saturday I got a chance to be the host of a phenomenal literary event entitled Soulful II: Telling Our Own Stories Our Own Way. It was an extremely powerful happening that was dedicated to raising money for Kim Glanville a youth advocate who on October 27 was shot three times in a tragic case of mistaken identity. She told her story in a manner that only she could tell it; with humor, passion, and depth.

It was clear that she had been feeding off of the energy left on the stage by the other performers. Sean King blessed the audience with a poem about love and an always-relevant story about police harassment. Rami Margron who is the curator of http://www.theshoutstorytelling.com   told a very engaging tale about an encounter with a deer, Sayre Quevedo shared a few stirring poems about what it’s like to be 20 in the year 2012, and Jezebel Delilah X straight up ripped it. And then there was the Russian literary sensation Zarina Zabrisky. I could use a thousand fancy adjectives to describe how amazing her performance was but thanks to youtube I can just let you see it for yourself.

Enjoy

Write or Run

 

 

 

It’s come down to this. My need to perfect my craft has been overcome by my urge to run away from time. My fear for the future has moved me into the past and my detachment from reality has created an unrealistic sense of nostalgia.

 

I work hard during the day and I often times bring my work home with me. I have a child who lives with me on most weekends. I have a 2nd job that isn’t quite as demanding as the first but it still requires my time. I also have to dedicate at least five hours a week to my personal crusade against obesity. For my metabolism has gone down quite considerably as my age has pushed past 30 and the last thing I want is to become a fat ass. So I run.

 

As you can see there are many things that pull me away from my writing but, alas, none of these things should be enough. In my youth I had ambitions of being the literary voice of my generation and for many years I actively tried to make that happen; but as of lately I have been immersed in a prolonged state of reflection. My production has slowed down. There are so many thoughts in my head that need to be released; I need to know what I’m feeling.

 

It has been a while since I’ve been on the literary scene. I haven’t performed at a reading since July but I think I found a new venue. I went to a place last week and the people read work that came from all angles. There were poems, essays, and declarations and there was an abundance of culture. Last week I checked it out and perhaps next week I’ll perform. Then maybe once I have an audience (that I can actually see) I will write more.

-YB

Unconquered and Still Dreaming

It’s pretty painful for me to lose a thought before I can write about it. I’m sure one would have a hard time believing all the brilliant things that come into my mind when I’m away from paper and pen.  Sometimes they come to me while I am working and therefore I can’t even take my phone out and text them to myself. Thoughts are often fleeting like the seeds of a dandelion when I make a wish. Unlike misery, beautiful thoughts are difficult for me to retain. And to make matters worse I believe I may have lost a little bit of trust in the page. I sense that our relationship has become somewhat estranged. I’ve been meditating about the past more often. I’ve been involved in several conversations that have ended with me rambling on about my past. Perhaps I’ve been trying to replace my craft with an actual person. Instead of using human beings as my muse to create more art I’ve started to join them in all of their social activities and verbal communication.  This could mean no good for a writer.

I feel my life getting better. My goals are beginning to become more visible. So I suppose that’s why I’ve fallen off the scene as an artist. I haven’t been to a reading in months and old manuscripts remain unfinished. I think about the ever-growing conflict between my artistic ambitions and my professional endeavors. I liken it to the war between my own carnal lust and my spiritual well-being.  Everything is sacrifice. Everything is balance. Money, sex, heaven, peace, climax, rage, passion, judgment, poverty, shame, success, failure, depression, cultural death…and I oscillate between these themes of life as if I still haven’t got a clue. For I know where I want to go but at times I become confused as to how to get there. I can sense myself getting closer but one can never be too certain. At the moment life is still very perplexing, however, I am adjusting to it. I do sincerely love my life and I cherish all those who love me. Life, as ill-defined as it is, is so good. I’m blessed, I’m alive, and I will never be destroyed.

-YB

You Need to be at this Event! BEASTCRAWL 7/7/12

Hella SOULFUL 7/7/12

Trust me when I tell you this is the ONLY place to be at 8:00pm on Saturday July 7th if you love good soulful, spiritually uplifting, Baycentric, culturally relevant, dynamic, and downright beautiful poetry and prose.

Join host Roger Porter at “Hella Soulful” for Leg 3 of Beast Crawl. Trust and believe it will be the hippest literary trip in America. The Hella Soulful train is coming on July 7th so drop your worries on the floor and catch it! Whooot! Whoooot!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B-DpRcxK_N8

The readers:

Safiya Martinez is a playwright, poet, performer and educator. She is currently working on a one-woman show entitled “So You Can Hear Me” about being a first-year teacher in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. She has performed her self-produced works in New York City and the Bay area.

Mica Valdez is a native, mixedblood, two spirit artist working on indigenous global issues to effect social change and protect mother earth. Check out her anthology:http://machafemme.tumblr.com/

Maisha Z. Johnson lifts up silenced voices through her poetry and on her blog, Inkblot, where she writes about the relationship between writing and social change. She is earning an MFA in Poetry from Pacific University.

i.Ameni and his jazzynastyfunkyfolkyhopopindiesoul amalgamates his many flavors into a one-derful sound. Fierce and tender, pure hearted and soulful, he peers into the ugly and the beauty of this world and invites us to consciously create a new one together. Music that slaps, invites your creative intellect, and speaks to your heart all in one.

Nathan Jones is a poet, storyteller, novelist, journalist, a hip-hop enthusiast, and the author of several books, which includes: Revolutionary Erotica, a collection of poetry; the Novel, Black Man in Europe, and Excerpts from My Soul: Read Without Prejudice. Nathan holds an MFA in English and Creative Writing from Mills College, and is currently an English instructor at Skyline College.


Jessica Dailey is a deep, chocolate, thoughtful, militant, cool ass, round the way girl that keeps them grounded. She graduated with her MFA in poetry from Mills College in 2009.

Very High and So Low

 

 

On Saturday night I felt like an artist but today I just feel broke. The ups and downs of chasing an ever-fleeting dream are very pronounced. I was so high a few days ago. I shared a piece of a story that I have been running away from for five years the other night. The story is fictional but the emotions that the protagonist experiences are completely autobiographical. I had a hard time approaching the stage. No matter how many times I rehearsed those few pages, I still sat in the crowd nervous as hell before I was welcomed to the microphone.

 

I didn’t invite any of my family or friends. I didn’t post anything on social media about the event. I wanted to do it alone. The story is about a man who is dealing with a tragedy but even more tragic for him is that he is asked to speak publicly about what he is dealing with.  He must express his emotions verbally and I was there in that café on Saturday night to do the exact same thing.

 

I was scared. I was the only black man in the room and that’s how I wanted it. I didn’t want anyone else in there that would be able to gage the magnitude of the situation. I wanted every comment afterwards to be a disconnected one. I didn’t want to be felt, I just wanted to be heard.

 

I got caught up in my reading. I got into character and played a little bit with vocal intonation and dramatic pause. I read the piece as if I was coming up with it on the spot. I felt like I was that character, in that place where he was, in front of the people that he knew, and I felt that way because I was. If an artist can catch the Holy Ghost then I did. I never got happy in church but I got happy on the stage in front of all those foreign faces. And when I was done they paid me heavily with applause. They paid me with praise. They asked me if I had a card. I do not but I will order some soon.

 

The performance of a writer is bizarre because all you can do is read to your audience. You can’t tap dance or sing in a falsetto. You can’t show the audience your photography or allow them to marvel at the aesthetic beauty of your painting. All you have are your words.

 

I shared my words and they listened. I got really high. I left and went one way while all those in attendance went another. That’s the way I like it. I was a real literary performer. I was a pure artists, an expert storyteller, a gifted individual, but now it’s Monday. The show is over. The curtains have closed and I am one of a hundred million other people forced to work at a punk-ass job that I hate just to keep the lights on.

 

I was so high and now I’m so low.

-YB

Soul on the Page

January 21, 2012

Can you imagine what it must have been like for Langston Hughes to wait tables at a restaurant full of people who didn’t know that he was one of the greatest poets ever born? Can you see him humming the weary blues while he doses off on a New York City subway nearly missing his stop? I wonder if he ever seriously considered giving up. Perhaps he even  doubted whether or not the written page is the best place to put African rhythm. There were probably days when he thought about joining a band like everyone else.

Hard times for a black scribe.

I can’t picture Zora Neale Hurston cleaning up some white ladies kitchen after she wrote down some of the most outstanding stories ever told. After she perfected the craft of creating  imagery with words, after she captured black vernacular in a way that no one has either before or since, after she immortalized her little colored town. What must it have been like to be unappreciated by nearly all of her black contemporaries? How must it have felt to have to walk through the back screen door of a white families house and clean their kitchen in the hot Florida sun? Perhaps she felt like her gifts to literature had never been accepted. Perhaps she died not knowing that she was supernatural.

They say that Ralph Ellison became unraveled when a young writer dismissed him by calling him an Uncle Tom to his face. The same people said they saw Richard Wright shedding many a tear when James Baldwin proclaimed that “Native Son” was one-dimensional. But they don’t tell me whether or not they instigated. I’m sure that they did.

There must be something a little off about a person who decides to write a letter to entertain a man who is accustomed to having fantastical tales whispered into his ear. Abiyoyo and Anansi and the spider were just as rich before they were printed and published, but now the western tradition of book worshipping has been infused with soul. Open up a black book and you can see a nappy head and taste candied yams.

It’s tragic that the great prophets of the written page struggled so mightily but what they left is divine. I’m so grateful that none of them quit before their voices were read.

-YB