Friday, May 30, 2014

Dave Chappelle and Maya Angelou In Conversation

"And you develop courage. The most important of all the virtues. Because without courage, you can't practice any other virtue consistently." - Maya Angelou

"If you're not angry, you're either a stone...or you're too sick to be angry." - Maya Angelou

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Maya Angelou. April 4th 1928 - May 28th 2014

Still I Rise

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I'll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you? 
Why are you beset with gloom? 
'Cause I walk like I've got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I'll rise.

Did you want to see me broken? 
Bowed head and lowered eyes? 
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you? 
Don't you take it awful hard
'Cause I laugh like I've got gold mines
Diggin' in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I'll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you? 
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I've got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs? 

Out of the huts of history's shame
I rise
Up from a past that's rooted in pain
I rise
I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

A Huey P. Newton Story

Originally born in a small town in Louisiana and later moving with his family to Oakland, California as an infant, Huey P. Newton became the co-founder and leader of the Black Panther Party for over 2 decades.

Director Spike Lee and Roger Guenveur Smith collaborate for the 7th time to bring Newton's thoughts, philosophies, history and flavour to life in A Huey P. Newton Story.

Produced by Luna Ray Films, A Huey P. Newton Story is the film adaptation of Smith's Obie Award-winning, off-Broadway solo performance of the same name. It was filmed before a live audience and Spike Lee directs the film with his signature mix of film and archival footage to capture the thoughts of this revolutionary political leader.

This website explores many of the subjects only briefly touched on in the film, bringing them into greater focus and creates opportunities for further investigation into the truth behind the man and the movement he founded.

He was a modern day American revolutionary.

Source: PBS.ORG

Huey P. Newton's To Die For The People via Amazon, here.

Huey P. Newton's Revolutionary Suicide via Amazon, here.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Miraculous Awareness

"The quieter you become, the more you can hear." —Ram Dass
Today, as we continue on the journey toward creating miraculous relationships, we explore one of the richest gifts we have to offer others: our undivided attention. In the enlightening stillness of meditation, we will focus on the many gifts available through listening with our ears, heart, and soul.
Consider for a moment the last time you truly felt heard. What a gift it is when another person is truly present, hearing our words as well as receiving all the unspoken messages we send through our energy, body, and nonverbal communication. Listening is a form of mindful attention that brings us fully into the present moment, where miracles can unfold in our relationships and in every area of our lives.
Our centering thought for today is:
I am present.
Set the intention to have at least one conversation today in which you truly listen with your heart and soul. Give yourself permission to pause your busy inner dialogue. Listen to the words being spoken and make the choice to listen beyond the words to receive the full spirit and potential of the message. With fresh and attentive eyes and ears, witness the miracle of the person before you, seeing them through the eyes of your heart. With this practice you invite true connection, infinite possibility, and abundant love into your life and relationships.

We Were Never Born (Jack Kerouac)

"I have lots of things to teach you now, in case we ever meet, concerning the message that was transmitted to me under a pine tree on a cold winter day. It said that Nothing Ever Happened, so don't worry. It's all like a dream. Everything is ecstasy, inside. We just don't know it because of our thinking-minds. But in our true blissful essence of mind is known that everything is alright forever and forever and forever. Close your eyes, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, stop breathing for 3 seconds, listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world, and you will remember the lesson you forgot, It is all one vast awakened thing. I call it the golden eternity.We were never really born, we will never really die. It has nothing to do with the imaginary idea of a personal self, other selves, many selves everywhere: Self is only an idea, a mortal idea. I know this from staring at mountains months on end. They never show any expression, they are like empty space, but the emptiness of space will never crumble away because it was never born."

WE WERE NEVER BORN from Dosnoventa on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Mic Crenshaw at TEDx Portland

Chicago-born poet and emcee Michael (Mic) Crenshaw fell in love with music at a young age while living in Minneapolis. His teenage years were challenging as he actively confronted white supremacist gangs that were a growing part of the hard-core music scene. He eventually chose to escape the violence and moved to Portland, where he quickly became one of the most respected artists in the Northwest, and his community efforts have had both local and international impact.
In addition to his highly-acclaimed work in spoken work and hip hop, Mic founded GlobalFam, a non-profit project to create and maintain a computer center for disadvantaged youth in Burundi, Central Africa. Over 400 people have received free training, and it is now expanding, generating revenue and creating jobs. Mic also partnered with Education Without Borders (EWOB), which supports education, music and art initiatives in Portland and beyond and serves as an umbrella for the local Books For Prisoners chapter and GlobalFam itself. GlobalFam has blossomed into a music label, production, promotion, artist management, and education company providing mainstream entertainment that supports Social Justice Activism.

Atmosphere's New Album Southsiders

Some Atmosphere happenings. The Minneapolis duo released their seventh album last week. There's been some buzz across the internet, including my Twitter and Facebook timelines, and rightfully so. Here's what Slug has to say:

While Southsiders is a celebration of the group’s fortitude, it is also a deeply introspective, and sometimes conflicted, work. “It’s a natural progression from the last record, The Family Sign, which was about growing my family,” says Slug, now a father to three, who finds himself contemplating mortality. “I’m starting to think, ‘What is post–family man? What am I supposed to rap about now?’ I’m sticking to my roots, rapping about what I’m doing, what I think about. 

For a radio interview with Sway, where the Atmosphere MC also performs two songs, click here. For an interview with Jay-Z's Life+Times, click here. For an interview with NPR's Arun Rath, click here.

For album reviews of Southsiders, click hereherehere and here.

And finally, to order the album via Fifth Element, click here.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The [R]evolution of Immortal Tehnique

Follow Harlem rapper Immortal Technique as he treks around the globe, performing and speaking with some of his friends like Woody Harrelson, Chuck D, Poison Pen, Dr. Cornel West and more. Some of the places visited include Peru and Afghanastan where he helped build an orphanage. Full documentary.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Studs Terkel in Conversation With American Poets, Episode 3

In this brief but rich audio file, from a radio show in Chicago, Studs Terkel talks with American poets Howard Nemerov and Gwendolyn Brooks. The two poets also share some of their own poetry.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Neeli Cherkovski - EVICTION!

Angela Y. Davis on what's radical in the 21st century

Forty-five years after her first UCLA teaching gig attracted the wrath of Gov. Ronald Reagan, Angela Y. Davis is back on campus this semester, as regents' lecturer in the gender studies department. Her Thursday address in Royce Hall, about feminism and prison abolition, sums up some but not all of her work — a long academic career paralleled by radical activism. President Nixon called her a "dangerous terrorist" when she was charged with murder and conspiracy after a deadly 1970 courthouse shootout. She was acquitted, and since then, the woman born in the Jim Crow minefield of Birmingham, Ala., has written, taught and lectured around the world. Her iconic Afro has morphed from its 1970s silhouette; her intensity has not.

To read the full interview, via LA Times, click here.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Guilty or Not Guilty By Unknown Author

So I've got this poetry book that a coworker let me borrow at work. It is really worn. The cover is taped together and the spine of the book is worn and falling apart. There's a few loose pages because of this. The actual covering on the spine is completely detached and now rests in behind the cover before the first page. This is a loved book. It's a gem. There's a lot of great poems from a lot of great poets most of whom I've never heard of or, as in this case, are simply credited to "Unknown." Anyways, here's a poem.

Guilty or Not Guilty 

She stood at the bar of justice
A creature man and wild
In form too small for a woman
In feature too old for a child.
For a look so warm and pathetic
Was stamped on her pale young face,
It seemed long years of suffering
Must have left that silent trace.

"Your name," said the judge, as he eyed her,
With kindly look, yet keen.
"It's--" "Mary Maguire, if you please, sir."
"And your age?" "I am turned fifteen."
"Well, Mary,"--and then from a paper
He slowly and gravely read--
"You are charged here--I am sorry to say it--
With stealing three loaves of bread."

"You look not like an old offender,
And I hope that you can show
The charge to be false. Now, tell me
Are you guilty of this, or no?"
A passionate burst of weeping
Was at first her sole reply;
But she dried her tears in a moment,
And looked in the judge's eye.

"I will tell you just how it was, sir:
My father and Mother are dead,
And my little brothers and sisters
Were hungry, and asked me for bread.
At first I earned it for them,
By working hard all day,
But somehow the times were hard, sir,
And the work all fell away."

"I could get no more employment,
The weather was bitter cold;
The young ones cried and shivered
(Little Johnnie's but four years old);
So what was I to do, sir?
I am guilty, but do not condemn;
I took--O! was it stealing?--
The bread to give to them."

Every man in the courtroom--
Graybeard and thoughtless youth--
Knew, as he looked upon her,
that the prisoner spoke the truth.
Out from their pockets came kerchiefs,
Out from their eyes sprung tears,
And out form old, faded wallets
Treasures hoarded for years.

The judge's face was  a study,
The strangest you ever saw,
As he cleared his throat and murmured
Something about the law.
For one so learned in such matters,
So wise in dealing with men,
He seemed, on a simple question,
Sorely puzzled just then.

No one blamed him, or wondered
when at last these words they heard.
"The sentence of this young prisoner
Is for the present deferred."
And no one blamed him or wondered
when he went to her and smiled,
And tenderly led from the court room.
Himself, the "guilty" child!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Lenelle Moïse at VERSeFest 2014

where our protest sound
by Lenelle Moïse

jazz is underwater
vodou atlantis mute
aborted ultrasound
fetal fish in flood
haiti's first cousin
forcibly kissed
by a hurricane called
katrina. hot winds
come one fat
old levee leak
explodes. fixing funds gone
to homeland
security. soldiers
stationed in iraq. said,
jazz is underwater
days like laissez-faire
manna does not fall
saviors do not save
hunger prays to rage for
resilience, improvisational genius
implodes, anarchy duets
with despair.
bassist fingers loot—nimble
like a deft pianist. said, vodou
atlantis mute. the fragile
eardrums of instant orphans get
inundated with someone else's mama's
soprano saxophone screams.
(meanwhile televised tenor
voices report monotonous
drone to drown out)
the deafening beat
of funeral marchers
can't swim.
bloated trumpet
carcasses, a singer swallows human
sewage. her last note, a curse
on america. aborted
ultrasound. cacophonous
warnings scatter brains.
pedestrians hear calls to
evacuate, escape, and think, how
fast can on-foot run? the poor, the weary
just drown. abandoned elders
just drown. people
in wheelchairs just drown. the sick
in bed cannot leave. their doctors stay
behind too. new emergencies engulf
the e.r. swamped hospitals ain't
hostels, ain't shelters.
resources slim
like hope. nurses stay
behind too. their loyal partners
will not leave. ill-fated
rejects just drown. said, fetal fish
in flood. outside, a breaking
willow weeps like a father
on his rooftop, murmuring
his wife's last words: clutch tight
to our babies and let me
die, she had pleaded, you can't
hold on to us all, let me die.
she, too, like jazz, is
underwater. her love,
her certainty, will
haunt him. their children's
survival, a scar. sanity also
loses its grip, guilt-weight
like cold, wet clothes.
eighty percent of new orleans
submerged. debris lingers, disease
looms. said, days like laissez-faire.
manna does not fall. shock battles
suicide thoughts.
some thirsty throats cope,
manage dirges in cajun, in zydeco.
out-of-state kin can't
get through.
refugees (refugees?) remember
ruined homes.
a preacher remembers the book
of revelations. still saviors
wait to save.
and the living wade with the countless
dead while
a wealthy president flies
up where brown people look
up where
brown people look like
spoiled jambalaya, stewing
from a distance
in their down-there
distress, said,
he's free—
high up—far up—
vacation fresh—eagle up, up
and away
from the place
where our protest
sound started, still
sings. american music
gurgling cyclone litanies
man cannot prevent, the man
cannot hear.

This is a poem from Lenelle Moïse's new book Haiti Glass. To order a copy or to read more about this incredible work, click here and here.