Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Christian Wiman on Poetry, God, Metaphor and Death

“I have a hard time conceiving of a God completely removed from suffering,” says Christian Wiman, a lecturer in religion and literature at the Yale Institute of Sacred Music. “Once I understand the notion of Christ participating in suffering, then it makes more sense to me.”

Saturday, October 26, 2013

A Massive Archive of Emily Dickinson's Poetry Now Available Online

Photo courtesy of the New York Times

An awesome accomplishment, here. Emily Dickinson's poetry has been made available through an online archive and quite the collaboration between different parties who own the rights to her poems. With this, we get to see her work in her own hand writing. For an article about this, via The New York Times, click here. To view the immense archive, click here.

And here are a few of my favorite Dickinson poems:


I took my power in my hand
And went against the world;
'T was not so much as David had,
But I was twice as bold.

I aimed my pebble, but myself
Was all the one that fell.
Was it Goliath was too large,
Or only I too small?


Before I got my eye put out,
I liked as well to see
As other creatures that have eyes,
And know no other way.

But were it told to me, to-day,
That I might have the sky
For mine, I tell you that my heart
Would split, for size of me.

The meadows mine, the mountains mine,—
All forests, stintless stars,
As much of noon as I could take
Between my finite eyes.

The motions of the dipping birds,
The lightning's jointed road,
For mine to look at when I liked,—
The news would strike me dead!

So, safer, guess, with just my soul
Upon the window-pane
Where other creatures put their eyes,
Incautious of the sun.


Prayer is the little implement
Through which men reach
Where presence is denied them
They fling their speech

By means of it in God's ear;
If then He hear,
This sums the apparatus
Comprised in prayer.

(a side note: Emily Dickinson never wrote out titles to her poems, so I have numbered them according to their order in this blog post, not the order she wrote them in)

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Tour Pt. 2

I once saw Macklemore do a show at Lewis and Clark college in Portland for like 50 people. Nobody knew his songs, he was opening for Grayskul. Good to see good people making quality music and having success.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Art By Mear One

Los Angeles based artist Mear One has been putting in work for years now. I first found out about him from Myspace in the early 00's. He started as a grafitti artist in LA and has since continued to do murals and large pieces around the globe. Today we celebrate his continued greatness and dedication to making beautiful and moving art! For more information, you can go to his official website by clicking here.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

White Panther: A Legacy Interview With John Sinclair

"I'm here to tell you that apathy isn't it. And we can all do something if we try." - John Lennon

"I just considered it part of my job. If you were gonna be a revolutionary, you were gonna have to go to prison." - John Sinclair

WHITE PANTHER: A Legacy Interview with John Sinclair from Charles B Shaw on Vimeo.

Arcade Fire - Reflektor

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Cornel West Interview at Medgar Evers College

Dr. Cornel West is interviewed by Gloria Browne-Marshall at the National Black Writers Conference at Medgar Evers College. 5 parts. Topics discussed include: what "we shall overcome" means, Jay-Z, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, the prophetic elements found in religion, the power of unconditional love, the parallels between Jesus' crucifixion and black people's history in the U.S., the politics of the music industry, looking at the world through the lens of the Cross, Bill Clinton, the history of the Black Arts Movement, and much more.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Comedy Central Presents Greg Giraldo

Classic Greg Giraldo right here. This aired on Comedy Central sometime in the early 00's, before he died. Rest in peace, Greg!

Miraculous Magnificence

"The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are." —Joseph Campbell
Miraculous Magnificence
This week’s message and meditation celebrate the magnificence of your radiant, joyful spirit. If you could see your body as a physicist can see it, you would observe atoms or particles moving at lightning speed around vast, empty spaces. These particles aren't material objects at all. They are fluctuations of energy and information in a huge empty space. And what is this space? It is the womb of creation, the field of all possibilities. It is the same place that nature goes to fashion a galaxy and to fashion a thought.
This field of pure potentiality is within you. It is your inner space that gives rise with amazing fertility to all of the divine qualities of the universe, including love, grace, abundance, joy, creativity, and freedom. You are a unique expression of everything in existence, and you shine with the beauty of a million stars.
Our centering thought for this week is:
I cherish the beauty in myself and others.
There is a beautiful saying in India’s ancient Vedic tradition: “If you want to recreate the world, look at it with fresh eyes.” This week have the intention to see one thing as if for the first time. Look without the camouflage of your memories. Sometimes the hardest thing is to truly see someone we have known for a long time, such as our partner, child, or friend. We assume we know who they are, and so we stop seeing. It is also important to look at yourself as though doing so for the first time. We may assume that we know ourselves, but as we are discovering, who we are is much more than our limited ego-mind can envision. Through the eyes of your true self, take a few moments to consider how truly magnificent you really are.

(this is a series of meditations taken from Deepak Chopra and Oprah's meditation challenge, to view previous meditations, click on the "Meditation" label.)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Saul Williams Interview and Performance Footage

Mixed with live footage from Saul's performance at the Great Hall on September 7th, 2012, Sol and Saul chop it up regarding the politics of the poetry business, how MTV truly does care about innovation, and they explore inside the mind of a poet who can't afford to hold his tongue. Sharply critical and refreshingly honest, Saul Williams walks us through the process of putting a "why" back into what we do.

Czeslaw Milosz - Table I & Table II

Table I

Only this table is certain. Heavy. Of massive wood.
At which we are feasting as others have before us,
Sensing under the varnish the touch of other fingers.
Everything else is doubtful. We too, appearing
For a moment in the guise of men or women
(Why either-or?), in preordained dress.
I stare at her, as if for the first time.
And at him. And at her. So that I can recall them
In what unearthly latitude or kingdom?
Preparing myself for what moment?
For what departure from among the ashes?
If I am here, entire, if I am cutting meat
In this tavern by the wobbly splendor of the sea.

Table II

In a tavern by the wobbly splendor of the sea,
I move as in an aquarium, aware of disappearing,
For we are all so mortal that we hardly live.
I am pleased by this union, even if funereal,
Of sights, gestures, touches, now and in ages past.
I believed my entreaties would bring time to a standstill.
I learned compliance, as others did before me.
And I only examine what endures here:
The knives with horn handles, the tin basins,
Blue porcelain, strong though brittle,
And, like a rock embattled in the flow
And polished to a gloss, this table of heavy wood.

(Both poems written by Czeslaw Milosz. Taken from New and Collected Poems 1931-2001)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Charles Bukowski - something for the touts, the nuns, the grocery store clerks and you...

This poem is found in Charles Bukowski's book Burning In Water Drowning In Flame.

we have everything and we have nothing
and some men do it in churches
and some men do it by tearing butterflies
in half
and some men do it in Palm Springs
laying it into butterblondes
with Cadillac souls
Cadillacs and butterflies
nothing and everything,
the face melting down to the last puff
in a cellar in Corpus Christi
there's something for the touts, the nuns,
the grocery store clerks and you...
something at 8 a.m., something in the library
something in the river,
everything and nothing.
in the slaughterhouse it comes running along
the ceiling on a hook, and you swing it--
and then you've got it, $200 worth of dead
meat, its bones against your bones
something and nothing.
it's always early enough to die and
it's always too late,
and the drill of blood in the basin white
it tells you nothing at all
and the gravediggers playing poker over
5 a.m. coffee, waiting for the grass
to dismiss the frost...
they tell you nothing at all.

we have everything and we have nothing--
days with glass edges and the impossible stink
of river moss--worse than shit;
checkerboard days of moves and countermoves,
fagged interest, with as much sense in defeat as
in victory; slow days like mules
humping it slagged and sullen and sun-glazed
up a road where a madman sits waiting among
bluejays and wrens netted in and sucked a flakey
good days too of wine and shouting, fights
in alleys, fat legs of women striving around
your bowels buried in moans,
the signs in bullrings like diamonds hollering
Mother Capri, violets coming out of the ground
telling you to forget the dead armies and the loves
that robbed you.
days when children say funny and brilliant things
like savages trying to send you a message through
their bodies while their bodies are still
alive enough to transmit and feel and run up
and down without locks and paychecks and
ideals and possessions and beetle-like
days when you can cry all day long in
a green room with the door locked, days
when you can laugh at the breadman
because his legs are too long, days
of looking at hedges...

and nothing, and nothing. the days of
the bosses, yellow men
with bad breath and big feet, men
who look like frogs, hyenas, men who walk
as if melody had never been invented, men
who think it is intelligent to hire and fire and
profit, men with expensive wives they possess
like 60 acres of ground to be drilled
or shown-off or to be walled away from
the incompetent, men who'd kill you
because they're crazy and justify it because
it's the law, men who stand in front of
windows 30 feet wide and see nothing,
men with luxury yachts who can sail around
the world and yet never get out of their vest
pockets, men like snails, men like eels, men
like slugs, and not as good...

and nothing. getting your last paycheck
at a harbor, at a factory, at a hospital, at an
aircraft plant, at a penny arcade, at a
barbershop, at a job you didn't want
income tax, sickness, servility, broken
arms, broken heads--all the stuffing
come out like an old pillow.

we have everything and we have nothing.
some do it well enough for a while and
then give way. fame gets them or disgust
or age or lack of proper diet or ink
across the eyes or children in college
or new cars or broken backs while skiing
in Switzerland or new politics or new wives
or just natural change and decay--
the man you knew yesterday hooking
for ten rounds and drinking for three days and
three nights by the Sawtooth mountains now
just something under a sheet or a cross
or a stone or under an easy delusion,
or packing a bible or a golf bag or a
briefcase: how they go, how they go! -- all
the ones you thought would never go.

days like this. like your day today.
maybe the rain on the window trying to
get through to you. what do you see today?
what is it? where are you? the best
days are sometimes the first, sometimes
the middle and even sometimes the last.
the vacant lots are not bad, churches in
Europe on postcards are not bad. people in
wax museums frozen into their best sterility
are not bad, horrible but not bad. the
cannon, think of the cannon. and toast for
breakfast the coffee hot enough you
know your tongue is still there. three
geraniums outside a window, trying to be
red and trying to be pink and trying to be
geraniums. no wonder sometimes the women
cry, no wonder the mules don't want
to go up the hill. are you in a hotel room
in Detroit looking for a cigarette? on more
good day. a little bit of it. and as
the nurses come out of the building after
their shift, having had enough, eight nurses
with different names and different places
to go--walking across the lawn, some of them
want cocoa and a paper, some of them want a
hot bath, some of them want a man, some
of them are hardly thinking at all. enough
and not enough. arcs and pilgrims, oranges
gutters, ferns, antibodies, boxes of
tissue paper.

in the most decent sometimes sun
there is the softsmoke feeling from urns
and the canned sound of old battleplaness
and if you go inside and run your finger
along the window ledge you'll find
dirt, maybe even earth.
and if you look out the window
there will be the day, and as you
get older you'll keep looking
keep looking
sucking your tongue in a little
ah ah   no no    maybe

some do it naturally
some obscenely

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Macklemore & Ryan Lewis Europe Tour Pt. 1

Documentary of Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' tour through Europe. Part 1 of 5. I got chills watching the Dublin performance. Looking forward to more footage.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

James Baldwin Interview

Art by Rudy Franklin

James Baldwin is interviewed in what looks like the 1980's. Three parts. Topics discussed include: the relationship between laughter, suffering and love. the shattering of illusions. why he writes. his thoughts on time. themes in his writing. being saved from hatred ("hatred is always self-hatred"). the history of slavery. progress. and much more.

Amir Sulaiman - The Medinan Openings (Review and Free Download)

If you want to hear intelligence, humility and strength manifested through the art of rhyming
and story telling from an incredibly gifted MC, then Amir Sulaiman is for you.

It’s hard to tell if Amir Sulaiman is a poet or a rapper. But he harkens back to a time where the line was always blurred. Rakim comes to mind. KRS-One comes to mind. Wu-Tang Clan comes to mind. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not comparing him to them, not at all. But the energy is shared. Sulaiman brings that same energy that makes you question the limits of this incredible art form. Let’s be honest, kids today and perhaps in the future won’t be reading as many books, they’ll be listening to music. And this artist is blurring the lines, bridging the (perceived) gap between poetry and rap, putting his own flavor into the words he says and the manner in which he says them. As an architect draws a line, as a carpenter chooses his tools, so Amir Sulaiman devours a beat.

Sulaiman’s voice is powerful. Whether angry or sad, his voice is powerful. Among the plethora of emotions aside from anger or sadness, he is also celebratory. He’s celebrating the occasion of bringing his message forth to you, the listener. And it’s a symbiotic relationship. He relies on your energy just as much as you rely on his energy. The Medinan Openings is an album I’d like to see live, because it is a rich experience listening to it. Sulaiman commands your attention to the music and to the words.

Perhaps Sulaiman’s album is great because there’s nothing that sounds like it. He’s not mimicking anybody else. He is carving out his own lane, his own sound and style. Which is the essence of Hiphop: it is poetry, it is spoken word, but you have to have style. With this in mind, Sulaiman is not lacking any tools to bring forth his perspective. It borders on spoken word all the while walking the line of spitting great bars, rapping and talking to you as if you’re sharing a cup of coffee or a beer at the café or bar around the corner. But he’s not talking at you. He’s opening the dialogue, sparking a conversation, talking with you in mind.

On the opening track, “Secret Art,” Sulaiman raps: “Only if the human beings knew who the human beings are, my Lord.” And after that line, it is clear Sulaiman is on to something. He could easily fall prey to the pompous spewing of “knowledge” that he claims to have and assumes the listener does not possess. Yea, he could easily have done that. But instead, he continues humbly including people who he feels attracted to. He continues: “I’ve got a soft spot for widows and killers, for orphans and oracles, for saints and sinners, for prophets and niggas, every shore is a picture, every boat is a sentence, every sound is a scripture.” With those few lines, Sulaiman lets you know his heart is focused on unity, resilience and togetherness. He’s not shouting from the mountain top. Rather, he’s in the trenches, he’s letting you know who he feels affinity for, therefore who he represents and who he’s speaking to.

On the Brother Ali assisted track, “Herenow,” Sulaiman says, “I ain’t God, but his image. It’s in my genes true religion, true and livin.” With that pun, it is clear Sulaiman has studied this art form. He’s student. He’s teacher. This track also hosts the best hook on the entire album. This is where his voice reminds me of KRS-One. Sonically, it also sounds a bit like Rick Ross. So there’s some familiarity with his voice. But that’s not a comparison (again). His sound is his own. I can’t say that enough. There was nothing like his sound that existed anywhere in Hiphop until he did it. By now it is apparent that Sulaiman cares not what label you throw at him. Poet? Rapper? Song writer? Whatever you want to call him, it is clear that his main goal is quality. With a product this great, does it matter what box he fits in?

 What is the downside of this album? Every track has 5 stars in my iTunes, so that should say something. What is the point of that engine sound on the beginning and conclusion of “Catatonic”? There are a few occasions where I felt like the rhyme strayed from the overall meaning of the track, like he said it just to rhyme. But I’m reaching. There is no filler. At 9 songs, that is a given. There is no song you can put on in the background while you’re doing something else. Is that a downside? I suppose it depends on who you ask.

I don’t want to sound like I’m working for Sulaiman or just trying to get you to download this. But really, I can’t find many faults with this release, and I did search. I enjoy being inspired, challenged and provoked. If you’re like me, you will love this album. If you’re not like me, and you need background music, steer clear. But if you enjoy charisma, soothing and intriguing beats, and high energy rhymes, this is for you. Follow the link below and you will be able to download this and his previous releases if you hear this one and are left wanting more.

Some highlights:
“If I don’t have peace with me, how can I have peace with God?”

“Everything in this life is cursed except for those who remember, so I open the universe and wrote a poem in the center, a post-it note, you’ll hold it close like your coat in the winter”

“Call me a lyricist, but I’m a synthesis. Between an abolitionist and a quantum physicist.”

“I’m a master without P, I’ve got no limit.”

“A load this heavy make Atlas look like an actress”

“If you’re broken hearted, it’s fine sweetheart, here, use mine”

“When it’s all done, my life will sit between awesome and arson”

“Knowledge reigns supreme so my mind’s still criminal”

“They know the power of language so they tap my line”

“Sweetheart, I’m from a class of men, and in this class of mine, the mind is sacred, we true n livin’”

To download Amir Sulaiman's "The Medinan Openings," for FREE, click here.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Killer Mike's Montreality Interview

Killer Mike, a favorite artists of mine, is interviewed by Montreality. Topics discussed include jobs he had as a teenager (and convincing his grandparents that he was going to be a professional rapper), what kind of student he was, favorite books, artists he'd like to collaborate with, his legacy and a host of other topics.

Miraculous Esteem

"Most of the shadows of this life are caused by standing in one's own sunshine." —Ralph Waldo Emerson
This week we have a new opportunity to cleanse the lens of perception and see ourselves as we really are: completely loved and completely lovable.
Despite what you may have been conditioned to believe, there is nothing that you have to do or achieve to be worthy of love. Your true self is pure love and you are already infinitely precious exactly as you are. This awareness of who you really are connects you to your true self-esteem. This esteem is solid and unwavering. Your soul loves you unconditionally. The approval rating of your ego, in contrast, is fickle and forever shifting. Your ego may approve of your performance one day and then the next day judge you as inadequate or lacking. As we shift from identifying with our ego’s insecurities and fears, we open to the gifts of the soul. It all begins with self-awareness. Each day as we spend time in the inner quiet of meditation, our awareness will expand and awaken us to love.
Our centering thought for today is:
I am a perfect, divine creation.

Make it your practice for this week to cultivate self-awareness and self-love. No matter how much you have suffered, your soul sees you as whole. When you feel out of balance, anxious, or alone, pause for a moment and take a deep breath. In the quiet moment of a pause you can assess the gentle refuge of your heart. Take a few moments to close your eyes and sit quietly, feeling your heart as a soft, warm enclosure. Let your attention settle there and rest as long as you wish.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Counting With Milarepa

May the blessings of the Lama enter into my heart. 
May he bless me that I may realize the Void. 
To you faithful patrons as thanks, 
I sing this song with which the gods and protectors will be joyous. 
The Appearance, the Void, and the Inseparable are three. 
These three are the kernels of contemplation. 
Illumination, no differentiation, and no distraction are three. 
These three are the kernels of meditation. 
Freedom from passion, freedom from desire, and freedom from attachment are three. 
These three are the kernels of practice. 
Not hoping, not fearing, not mistaking are three. 
These three are the kernels of accomplishment. 
Freedom from fraud, freedom from imposture, and freedom from deceit are three. 
These three are the kernels of precepts.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

David Meltzer Reporting Live From Venice, CA

David Meltzer and Julie Rogers read poems at Beyond Baroque in Venica, CA. Rogers appears and disappears rather quickly, while Meltzer reads from his classic piece "When I Was A Poet."

Miraculous Self

"Our bodies are our gardens to which our wills are gardeners." 
—William Shakespeare
Miraculous Self
This week you’re invited to relax into the infinite space of your heart and let yourself receive.
Many of us were taught that it is better to give than to receive. We easily give our time, energy, and attention to our family and friends, yet we may find it difficult to receive these same things. In reality, giving and receiving are different aspects of the same flow of energy in the universe. Just as every exhalation depends upon an inhalation, the flow of love in our lives depends upon our ability to receive and to care for ourselves. As we meditate this week, hold yourself in loving awareness and let your heart receive.
Our centering thought for this week is:
As I love and honor myself, my relationships blossom.

This week, begin a practice of daily self-care. Begin by making a list of the loving things you can do for yourself this week—then set the intention to complete one of the items on your list every day. Consider posting the list somewhere prominent or maybe schedule a daily reminder on your phone or computer. Here are a few suggestions: write down one quality you love about yourself, remember to pause and take a few deep breaths when you’re feeling stressed, take a walk or enjoy a good meal with a friend rather than grabbing a sandwich at your desk. As you give freely to yourself you’ll experience the loving awareness that is your natural state.