Make Art, Not War

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Party and I'm off to D.C.

And then all of a sudden, I look up and it's November!

In less then a week, we are having a fundraiser party to send me and Sophia (Sophia and I) to this summit in D.C. that Code Pink is putting on. I was asked to go by Medea Benjamin herself when she came to Minneapolis for a talk and I got to perform my poem about drones at the event. She really liked it, and asked if I would perform it at the summit. So, I am going to be performing sometime on Saturday, and then they asked if I would lead a workshop about poetry on Sunday!

I am really excited to be going (even if I hate to travel) and to participate in the summit in general. The AWC has been part of the effort here in Minneapolis to address the issue of drones, because as a movement we really need to get a handle on it. Along with opposing the war, we need to oppose these monsters as the new preferred tactic of war. Sophia and I are going to bring our energy, and experience, and hopefully learn a lot and come back better equipped to build an anti-drone peace movement. I am also really excited to talk to fellow activists who want to see art play a part in such a movement. I have never run a workshop before, but I've certainly been to plenty. I hope some creative people come and bring good questions. I'm nervous, but also I can't wait.

Before that, however, we party! Meredith Aby and her family, are hosting a dinner and drinks type fundraiser for us to raise the cost of plane tickets. Hopefully, we will have a place to stay for the weekend. So, we are asking our friends and members of the peace movement to help get us there. I will be performing at the party too! (Cause, as a poet, I know how to sing for my supper) So, if you haven't been able to make it to any of my performances this year, and you wanted to, come to this one! It should be a lot of fun!

Saturday, Nov 9th 7-9pm
3731 44th ave s, MPLS

Here is the facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/438770089567175/

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

An Open Letter to the FBI (3 years too many)

[The following is a poem that I wrote about the on going investigation of the antiwarcommittee and others around the country. Today we mark the three year anniversary of the day our office and several committee members homes were raided by the FBI and we found out that one of our group (a woman who'd been organizing with us for years) was actually a government spy. Our Orwellian nightmare has been going on now for three and enough is enough. This poem is dedicated to all the subpoenaed activists who refuse to testify or cooperate with this witch hunt of an investigation. Their bravery and perseverance is a constant source of inspiration.]

An Open Letter to the FBI

Seriously, fuck you guys.
Fuck you for this history of repression from Fred Hampton to Ernest Hemingway. Hell, they've still got Leonard Peltier, and now they're here, in the midwest, looking for the antiwar and then all the rest.
So fuck you for the 23 peace and solidarity activists (and Carlos Montes) that you've opened you're investigations up against now. I just want to know how many times you have directly interfered with peace and justice in this country, I wanna know how many lives you have disrupted, how many movements you've brought down...

And I wanna talk about it. I want all our stuff back-fuck- I want our old spy back. She did the grunt work around here, and I've never seen my tax dollars so well spent. I wanna talk about your budget, FBI, gone unchecked since 9/11. Twelve years later and you're tailing peace activists just to bill the time, spying on us with drones and tapping everyone's phones? How much money do you make when you are playing the mole? How much when you are raiding a home?

And looking for what? Proof that we disapprove of this government? Well, we haven't been at all shy about that, now have we? We show up. On your Capitol lawns with our signs and our banners and our bullhorns and we SCREAM at your buildings, from behind your police lines, I-I guess I should feel honored to have this much of your attention. Tear gas in my eyes and all. Those plastic zip-tie handcuffs as they round us up like cattle and now the heat is really coming down because it was never a fair battle and the Grand Jury inquisition has already begun. It's some of that good ol'fashion McCarthyism, except now the red tag term is Terrorism. Meanwhile, the real war criminals are   walking free. 
Chelsea Manning goes to prison, Bush gets a library.
Don't even get me started on Obama wants another war before we even ends any. Remember when he said he would end the war? He didn't, did he?

Anyway, fuck them. I came here to talk to you. To ask what the hell we're ganna do now that they're kicking in doors in Dinkytown looking for dissenters. Man, they're taking down posters off the walls calling it evidence to be used against us, and you're next if you don't think so. Anybody left with an opinion.
Anybody here consider themselves outspoken? I am talking to you.

So, here's a quick history lesson in FBI repression:
John Lennon
They tried to deport him (did you know that?) for speaking out against the war. It was right before the republican National Convention of 1972 and Nixon was afraid it was going to cost him reelection, so they tried to kick him out of the country for having a concert--you see? They were afraid of a concert.
Dr. Martin Luther King's home was raided by the FBI (now we're on to something). He received threats and harassment from them for half his Nobel Peace Prize deserving career, and was in the end assassinated. I read that he was under surveillance when it happened, that under cover police watched from across the street as King was shot. But they couldn't kill the dream he started dreaming and we are still coming ready or not
and I do mean ready or not.

So don't forget about the RNC back in '08 cause you know we've got a real movement in this state, and in case you haven't noticed it is going on right now. And hold your breath for the peaceful 23 whose Grand Jury subpoenas are still hanging over all of our heads. Don't be silent! Tell everyone you know about this. Go to stopFBI.net and get involved. Call the president and tell him to call it off, we said end the war AND the witch hunt, restore the first amendment, enough is enough! Free Lynne Stewart and quit threatening the rest of us who work for peace and justice because we will not be silenced. When our civil rights are under attack. What do you do?

Stand up, fight back!

Take Away: a spoken word showcase of Verve grant Recipients

So the final showcase for the Verve grant is this weekend! It's coming up fast and I have a lot of work to do still as far as putting this thing together, but I'm excited about the show. Here's the flyer:

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Peace is not won
by the bullet or the gun.
It is not won
by the greatest show of force.
War is not humanitarian.
It is not safe for anyone.
And when the bombs start to explode,
and fear takes over,
and chaos reigns,
you will not feel safer here.
You will still hear the screams
(though they are muted on the TV screens)
you will hear them with your heart's sad ear.
I think the human-animal is as connected as a bee hive.
The shared mind of 7 billion people
can feel it.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What's your art? (NEW VIDEO)

Yay! I finally have the video up for my latest poem "What's your art?" And I love it!
I've been going out and doing performances all year and collecting them in videos for this grant project, and I don't know if I have been more excited about any poem I've done, as much as I am this one. And the video of it is great. Well, there's a weird shadow over my face and a typo at the end, but those things matter little. This poem and this performance of it are the crucial piece to the whole project, really. This is it's debut, at the Future Roots fundraiser, and even though I'm reading it off a page it works well for this piece. It's almost better then if I had it memorized.
That, and the content of the poem is exactly what my whole project is about. I want to inspire people to create art. I want to engage people, who wouldn't normally think of themselves of fans of poetry. I want to make the world a better place through my words, and my art. And that is what this poem is. It's my attempt to articulate this goal, or this wish.
I'm really happy to share it with you.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What's your art?

Believe it or not, I am an introvert.

I mean, I know I’m standing up here on a stage
trying to communicate with you all now,
but I prefer my interactions with other people
be of a one on one variety.
When I find interesting people, and get them alone,
one of my favorite pry-them-wide-open questions to
ask them is “What’s your art?”
You know? 
What’s your art, as in, what is it that you live for?
That means more to you than just survival?
What do you pay your bills, and do the dishes and set aside time for?
--And it weirds me out that some people don’t even know.
I mean, it’s an important question 
(which is why I ask them).
Now, I am a poet, which means that I spend an exorbitant amount of time observing the world around me, and then                  writing about myself.
So that I can stand here    and ‘fess up’
which may sound terrifying to some, but trust me, it feels better just to let it go.
Making my little observations about the things that I admittedly don’t know.
I know one thing:   Art  Heals
I mean, that’s why I write.
I write because my heart is crying out almost all the time but without a voice it would go unnoticed.
I am only speaking for it. A secretary taking notes, 
but art-
Art sheds light on the dark things we bury 
and makes us grow.
It demands the best of us,
consoles us in our misery, 
rejoices with us when we are happy
really, a true friend.
Always pushing me to do better, 
and to try harder
and if I fail…?                 To try again.

So, practice your art. Put your time and energy into it
If you haven’t got one, get one,
it’s important.                (Let me explain)

My Best Friend  was talking to me about energy.
She is endlessly curious about the world in which we live, which is what makes our conversations worthwhile, which is why- She’s my best friend.  She said-
Whatever you do, your brain, the learning machine, is getting better at doing it.
Whatever it is. Whether it’s surfing the channels for something to watch
or performing the mundane daily tasks of your job, 
your brain is finding ways to do it faster, and more efficiently.
Isn’t it important then? How we spend our daily energy?
I don’t just mean your “free time” I’m talking every minute of you day to day life.
How do you spend it? 
Frustrated that you’re stuck in traffic?
Same old argument with a loved one?
Think about it- cause some of us are going to our death beds with a whole section of our brains dedicated to Minecraft … or to CSI
(Which does not make you a forensic scientist, by the way, just because you play one in your living room).

But which is also not to say that imagination doesn’t play a role in creativity
because of course it does.
And to tap into that energy we must be ready
we must be rested, well fed, and taken care of (or at least inspired).
The question is, what do you love?
What you do really want to get out of life?
and what is required to make it happen?
What is your art, as in what’s in your heart?
Cause what it comes down to in the end is just to
have dreams and believe in them.
(Or at least that’s what’s been working for me.)
And lately, I am only into make believe and I believe
the world is what we make it, so I see
the beauty of each moment, unfolding,
and I try to make that my reality.

And I write it down, just to get it out of me
like breathing air, a complimentary action to breathing in,
a necessary function.
That’s where the art come in
and sorta sorts me out.
Indeed, it’s an important part.
That’s why I like to know, when I meet new people, what’s your art?

Slam dunk!

Ok, I could probably try harder and come up with something that isn't a sports reference, but that is how I feel right now. Both of the performances this week went great! I finished my new poem "What's your art?" just in time to do it Saturday night at the Future Roots Fundraiser, and then last night Medea Benjamin loved my poem about drones so much she asked me to come to the national conference on Drones in Washington DC this fall. (I was hoping that she would. I had heard of this thing getting organized and it is the perfect chance to get my drone poem out to a national audience!). I got my picture with her too. In fact, I got my picture with her, Liz and Jamie, which perfectly encapsulates my week in poetry. And it's a good picture of us all too (nobody is blinking or anything).
Seriously- nothing but net.

So, I wanted to share the new one, which was very well received, and I am excited to see the footage. I was very nervous because I wasn't sure what these bar patrons, family members, and well wishers were going to think of my stuff. I am not used to that bar energy, you know? I had to raise my voice just to get over then, and then I had their attention. The guys up in front, who were there to see the other band, were visibly impressed by my first number "I'm having Issues". There was an old man, sitting by the door like he'd been sitting by that door for the last ten years at least, and he'd seen acts come and go at Palmer's. He got up, came over and shook my hand when I came down off the stage and told me to run for political office.
I was also really happy that so many of my friends made it out to this show. I felt like I had my own posse, my own team of supporters, which is really nice when you are trying new work and you don't know if people are ganna get the jokes and whatnot. But it went great.

I feel like I am winning. At both the fundraiser and the speaking event, I felt overwhelmed by the fact that there is no where else I would rather be then here. Nothing I would rather be doing than this. It's a good place to be. Hopefully, there is lots more of this to come.