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.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Starting August off with a bang!

So summer is in full swing, and I have been enjoying a lot of time outside. Unfortunately, this means not much progress has been made on making this website more interesting, but the good news is I've had some great opportunities to perform, and do things like lots of writing by the lake, and attending fun events like Peacestock. I feel like I am filling up on experiences, so that in winter when I'm hunkered down and working hard on introspection I will have lots of sunny energy stored up-like a plant or a a bee hive.

With that in mind, there are two things in the first week of August that I am so excited to be performing at! The first is tomorrow, Aug 3rd, which is a fundraiser for the Future Roots Project. This is an amazing endeavor by two friends of mine, Jamie and Liz, who are going to a small town in Nicaragua called Nueva Esperanza to volunteer at a school there. Jamie is a teacher, who wants to work with the amazing children there and teach them how to read. And Liz is planning on building with them a community garden, and teaching them how to plant, harvest, seed save for themselves.

Isn't that beautiful? The ingenuity of these two is also commendable. They just wanted to go, so they found a way to make it happen. This fundraiser is part of that effort to raise funds, so I hope lots of people can come and I hope we raise a ton of money.

You can donate to this good cause by attending said show, or by going to their page here http://www.gofundme.com/futureroots

Second, is an event that WAMM is having on August 6th (next tues) which I was surprised and thrilled to find out about. Medea Benjamin is coming to Minneapolis! Medea is the co-founder of the group Code Pink, author of many books, including Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control, and a personal role model. Her activism is a fresh and provocative. In an antiwar movement that sometimes seems to need a little stirring, she is pushing her way into the mainstream conversation.

I am thrilled (did I say THRILLED?) to have the chance to perform my poem, Military Drones (and tearing them to pieces), at this event and for Medea. I confess, I wrote the poem directly after reading her new book (it just came out this last year) and basically poemified her work (yes, that's what I said). Now she is coming here to give us a talk and I get to share my poem with her! I've already asked my friends in WAMM and they love the idea. And I've already got the night off work.

So, August 3rd
Future Roots Fundrasier
at Palmer's Bar in Minneapolis
form 4pm to 9pm
cover at the door $5

then, August 6th
Women Against Military Madness is hosting Medea Benjamin
at The Spirit of St. Stephens Church in Minneapolis
from 7pm to 9pm

I hope these are both well attended and successful events. I am performing at both, and I hope that part goes well, but I am also really just glad to be going to both. This is the way I want to spend my summer. This is my definition of fun.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Stop NSA surveillance, stand with Edward Snowden!

My speech (from a while ago) at the protest outside the Hennepin county government center (aka People's Plaza)

Hello, my name is Misty Rowan.  I am a member of the Anti-War Committee and once upon a time I slept under the stars here at People’s Plaza with Occupy Wall Street. But today I am here as "your average citizen" and I am outraged by the recent discoveries about our government’s data collection program.

I am shocked by this discovery. And the only thing more appalling than the amount of data, and the scope of the surveillance is the response from the White House.  Instead of so much as fumbling through an apology, they’ve said it’s all routine stuff, nothing to worry about – no big deal.  Meanwhile, they are going to be hunting the person who told us down like a dog, prosecuting him to the fullest extent of the law.  And all of it will be kept quiet (as much as that’s still possible) as a matter of national security.

Well you know what?  Our 4th Amendment rights are a matter of national security, Mr. President.

I don’t feel safe in a country where the government is monitoring everything I say and do.  I refuse to accept this as the new terms and conditions of living in a nation that’s been ‘terrified’ for the last 12 years.  Enough is enough!

In the Anti-War Committee, we’ve known about the ugly turn this war on terror has taken for a few years now.  In 2010, the FBI raided our office and the homes of several of our members and others across the country, calling them to a Grand Jury in Chicago under investigation of 'material support for terrorism'. Because we organize to end this war based on lies, and carried out against the will of the American people. And the Occupy Wall Street movement also learned quickly of the conduct of these agencies and became all too familiar with snitches, infiltrators, wire-tapping and raids.

But this scandal goes beyond the routine repression of political movement.  What we are talking about is every single person, every single phone number, every transaction.  It’s as if the entire country, and in fact the world, is under investigation by the U.S. government.

People, you need to realize that this isn’t about 'the terrorists' anymore.  This is about you and me.  How your government is treating you and me – supposedly for our own good.

This is a wake up call. We need to realize that COINTELPRO is not a thing of the past.  It is not a history lesson learned!  What happened then, is that people found out about what was going on, and policy changed because people got upset.  The same thing has to happen here.

Now, the high tech gadgets of today’s information age may have changed the game, but what hasn’t changed is the expectation that in a free democracy our government should not be spying on us!  That without reasonable cause, a warrant signed by a judge, and proper oversight of these agencies – as spelled out for you by the 4th Amendment – that all of this surveillance is illegal!

It is time for people to be outraged.  To demand that the surveillance state end and the power our government has given itself to invade our privacy be reigned back in.  I agree with Edward Snowden when he said, “I don’t want to live in a country where this can happen.”  And I’d like to commend him for the action he’s taken to ignite a public discussion about our government’s dirty little secrets.  And Bradley Manning, as well, who is on trial right now for revealing the ugly truths about this ugly war.  He should be considered a hero instead he’s charged with “aiding the enemy.”

We need to demand transparency and accountability from our government.  The people who have lied –  and we have proof now that they’ve lied – should be fired and brought up on charges, not Snowden, and our rights – all of them – need to be restored!  That is the country I want to live it.  And it can only happen if we pressure Congress and the president to act within the law – not their secret court, special executive privilege law – the one laid out in the United States Constitution.  And we cannot rest until this happens!Our civil rights are under attack. What do we do?



Monday, July 8, 2013

Peacestock this weekend!

So here comes another important performance, and I thought I should share. I've been invited to do some poetry at a gathering called Peacestock that is held in Wisconsin every year. It's an all day event (a camp out, actually), the other speakers include Kathy Kelly, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, and William Blum. And it is going to be a lot of fun.

I'm excited about this event because for one thing: I don't really get out that much. Now granted, Hager City Wisconsin, is only a day trip away. But considering I don't drive and rarely even leave my city, it's far enough for me. It will be good for me to get outside of my norm, and it is a chance to share my poetry with a new (and just slightly broader audience).

But then at the same time, it is being put on by Vets for Peace, which is a group we work with a lot here in the Twin Cities. These are my people. So, it also has the feel of being a part of my community that I just haven't met yet. And plenty of people that I know will be going up there this weekend, in fact, my ride is going to be some good friends of mine. I feel weird inviting people to come to this performance, just because it is so far away. But I'm glad I've been asked to go, and I'm looking forward to seeing many of my friends who are going to be there.

Shortly after that is another event I am thrilled to be a part of, but more on that later. For now, Peacestock

Can't wait.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Wendy Davis, you're my hero

I just wanted to collect my thoughts on the recent happenings in the Texas legislator. The eleven hour filibuster marathon by Wendy Davis (and the 'unruly mob' that assisted her stand in the final hour) has given me a renewed sense of hope for women  and our struggles in this day and age. I want to celebrate. Let the voice of Texas women be heard!

The bill SB5, which is meant all but stop abortion in the entire state of Texas, has the votes. The republican right of Texas has control of the senate, and the governor is eager to sign it. The act of filibustering the bill to kill it is brave enough as it is, but because of the way it went down, defeating the bill is actually only part of the victory. Because of Wendy Davis actions (and some 50 arrests that followed), what could have been just some of Texas's dirty business became overnight a national conversation about who is in control of women's rights, and what we as citizens can do about it. And that makes it a victory for all women.

Let's take a look at this Senator for a moment, because Davis is a total bad ass. Raised by a single mom, she became a single mother herself at 19. She started out at a community college, later to graduate from Harvard law. And she defeated the Republican incumbent for her seat, and has ferociously been fighting for women since. If that isn't a success story for women leading their own lives, I don't know what is. And she does it with such style. At one point during her epic eleven hour speech she gave us this quote:

Which lead to the term "Gynotician" being passed around by Planned Parenthood today. A Gynotician is a politician that feels more qualified than women and their doctors to make women's health care decisions.

Seriously though, where do these pricks get off? This thinly veiled hatred for women is passed off as 'safety measures' but not even its supporters believe this is about women's safety. Laws like this are all about control. Who is in control of reproduction, even education about the reproductive systems in our bodies. I believe the person in question (the woman making decisions about her own body) should get to make that call (and have access the medical care we are capable of providing her), not some politician. It is fundamental to our freedom as human beings. 

And without fail, someone will say this is just a 'wedge issue' meant to distract us from the 'real issues' we should care about. (Said a man who never had to think about making such a choice, or the impact it would have on his life if he didn't get a say). The fact that we still have to have this argument with people (women even!) just goes to show that we not so far along that we can forget about feminism. Battles we thought long won are being challenged in every state, every year. The Republican war on women is a real and present danger to us all, but at least today in Texas, all is not lost. Even though they tried everything they could to shut her down, and even changed to the time clock to say the vote took place before midnight when it hadn't (otherwise known as cheating), Wendy Davis and the people stood up, spoke up, and won. Today, we can all be proud of that. So, Thank you.

I'm told this is a temporary victory, that the Governor is already planning to call another special session to push this thing through. But even if that happens, it doesn't change the significance of the events that took place in the wee hours of the last Tuesday night. When I went to bed that night (around 2:30) I was pissed. I decided that it was time to start sending 'outside agitators' down to Texas to stir up a real women's revolution (the Texans, it seems, are ready).  And when I woke up in the morning, the bill was dead, the people had won. Wendy Davis got us there, and the people rose up for the win. That kind of energy cannot be easily put out. Energy like that tends to spread like wildfire. I hope it takes all of Texas.

So, I know I've posted this video before, but this one is for Wendy Davis and the 'unruly mob' in Texas. And for all people everywhere (men and women) who care about the health and well being of women and their children. Stand up, speak up, fight back!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

This is why I love Minneapolis

So, one of the coolest things about winning this grant is that I get to interact with, and learn from the six other VERVE grant winners for 2012. We are all part of this cohort that meets every couple of months for master classes at Intermedia Arts that are facilitated by other spoken word artists from the Twin cities. It has so far been a lot of fun, and really good for me to be able to workshop with other artists like myself (although, it is also kind of funny to me- a bunch of poets getting together to practice being observant and intentional in our choice of words. I mean, good stuff.) I also get to learn about their projects as they go along, and share with them the progress of mine.

Anyway, I wanted to talk briefly about one project because I get to be a part of it! My friend Cole Sarar is doing this thing called Ring-Ring poetry that involves different locations in Minneapolis and St. Paul where you can call this number and listen to poetry on your phone. The idea is that the poetry is linked to a real physical place (and while listening to a poem, you get the sense that the poet who wrote it might have just been there earlier that day, or is there now, somewhere near by). But I wont speak for the project, you should yourself check it out here: ringringpoetry.com

So, I wrote a poem called "My Block" that is being featured this week at the corner of 24th st. and Dupont ave in Uptown. It's about first moving to Minneapolis and learning to call this place home (I remember the ad that I answered on craigslist was titled "In the heart of Uptown" and it really is.) I wrote it when that street corner was my stomping grounds, but actually, I have moved a couple of times since then. Not too far away though, Uptown is still my home. You might even catch me walking by still (ask my friends-I walk a lot).

So call (612) 223-POEM to hear this piece. You can do it from anywhere, but I encourage you to take the adventure over there and stand on the corner and be part of the experience. One of my favorite things about Minneapolis is that there is so much art going on here that is spills into the streets! Just last week I went on a little art tour down Chicago ave, where our guides shared stories with us about the homes and businesses, and the trees in the fronts yards, and the parks. Everything in Minneapolis is an art installation, everything is interactive, some of the poems of Ring-Ring are even "choose your own adventure". We have such a vibrant city!


Perhaps you found your way to my blog because of this poem, or the poster you saw on the street? If that's the case, Welcome! I encourage you to check out my thing here, but also to check out the other poems of Ring-Ring. (If you are already at the corner of 24th and Dupont, then you are not far from Lake of the Isles, my favorite lake in Minnesota, and the location of another poem that I highly recommend). Happy listening!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Fundraiser for May Day Books!

So this weekend approaches fast, and here I am not even mentioning this upcoming show!

I (know I always say this, but I) am really excited about this performance! I am going to be doing a little poetry at the May Day Books Sale and Social this Saturday afternoon, to raise money for this awesome  non-profit, all volunteer bookstore. I think of May Day as a meeting space, a place to host a educational forum, or a movie showing-lots of fun stuff like that. Many years of activism have brought me to May Day time and time again for events by our group and others. And they have all kinds of radical, progressive stuff on the shelves (by people whose work I know I should be reading more of). And everything is always 15% off the cover price. What's not to love? (For the sale, everything will be 20% which is maybe not as impressive when you know it is only an additional 5%, but hey-the point is it's a fundraiser).

Another reason I am excited for this show is because I intend to break out a little bit in terms of my material. Because this is a fundraiser for a bookstore and not a political rally, or a topic-driven event I am going to do some poems that aren't entirely political (you know, my usual). Don't worry, some will be (let's not go crazy here). But it will be nice to do some poetry for poetry's sake. I have some new pieces I am going to debut and it should be a lot of fun. And the audience will be mostly comprised of friends (and anyone reading this blog post is certainly invited) so I'm not too nervous, and we're on track for having it recorded. Basically, I just have to figure out what I'm going to wear (well, that and get through the rest of this week).

So yeah, 

Saturday 3-6pm (I will probably be speaking at 4-ish)
301 Cedar ave S
(right below Midwest Mountaineering)
See you there!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

New Videos!

So thanks to my friend Tom from WAMM, I finally have a youtube channel set up for Missteatree!
We filmed some poems "in studio" with a really nice mic and camera set up, and hopefully we will be doing more soon. I am really happy to have this new version of The Huff and Puff of my Frustration, so it's the first one I am making public. But soon (soon my friends) I will have the beginnings of a body of work that looks great and sounds great, and can be easily viewed and shared by others. (Bah-hah-hah!)

So here is the first of many. Remember, the quality is 1080 times better in hi-def. Enjoy!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Vision board 2013

So my girlfriends and I had a wholesome good time last Friday night, cutting and pasting together vision boards for a fun little girls night art project. A vision board, or dream board, is where you clip images and words out of old magazines and put them together in whatever order pleases you on poster board. The idea is to visualize what you want in your life, things or places you want to be, things you want to be doing, whatever, and the point is to get creative.

Just look at all this fun we're having.

If you’ve never done this, I would recommend it to anyone at any time in your life. I will say it goes best in groups (try to get people to bring different kinds of magazines for variety). We sat around and talked about what we wanted our summers to look like (as enjoyable a conversation as you can imagine on a cold, snowy/rainy April day).  My board is heavily influenced by thoughts of summertime escape.

I really love this thing. I love how it turned out. I have a vision board that I made two years ago that I still really like. But now, looking at the two next to each other, I realize how much I have changed. My friends and I decided we must do this at least once a year from now on. What better way to visualize the near future than to put your positive intentions down on paper? To quote the gracious Ms. Gloria Steinem “Without leaps of imagination, or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all, is a form of planning.” Now I get up everyday and look at it, and can imagine the pathways to getting there. Summer here I come.

So, I wrote a poem out of all of the text that I found to put on this board. I left the phrases intact (except the phrase “Create a life you LOVE” which I literally cut up so it would fit with the images while contextually it stays the same) and this is what I came up with. This is my intentions for the summer of 2013 in a few words:

in the garden
Caterpillar unleashed
Create a life you LOVE
Meet the poet
Sunny days and friendly people
Imagination in more important than knowledge
Reading is sexy


Monday, April 1, 2013

An amazing out of nowhere opportunity!

I have the most exciting news! I received a phone call last week from a woman named Mary, who said she was at the WAMM annual meeting on the 23rd, and that she loved my poetry, and she wanted to offer me a “gig”. I said okay, and she explained that they were having an event at Augsburg College on April 4th with featured speaker Gloria Steinem!!! 

They want me to do my poem “I’m having Issues” at it as an opener right before Mrs. Steinem speaks! I don’t even know how to say how thrilled, how honored, how excited I am to be performing at this event! Gloria Steinem is a living legend, not to mention my own personal idol (if you have somehow never heard of the feminist movement of the 1970s- now is a good time to start www.gloriasteinem.com). The idea of meeting her, much less getting to perform my poetry at something like this, I just… the whole thing makes me light headed!

The woman on the phone went on to say that they were expecting 400 to 500 people to attend the event, and that they want to pay me $50 to perform at it. I wanted to tell her to just stop right there, or else I was going to realize I was dreaming and I might wake up, and I didn’t want that to happen.

I am, of course, freaking out. I mean, she’s Gloria Steinem! What if she likes my poem? (It’s a good thing I have it memorized) I think it’s a really good thing that the event is imminent
because I wouldn’t want to have too much time to think about it. Instead it’s like- Surprise! Activist Christmas! The universe just opened up and offered me this, and suddenly it is the most important performance of my life (so far). I mean think about it- it sets the bar. Because besides the featured guest, an auditorium full of college educated women and men who came to hear her speak will also be there (which is pretty much the target audience for this piece, and this project). Who could ask for more? I’m not asking for anything. I just can’t wait until Thursday.

So, yeah. It’s ganna be awesome. I should mention that the event is free and open to the public (and did I mention that Gloria Steinem will be speaking at it?) You should try to make it. It’s ganna be Thursday April 4th at 11am, at the Foss center on the corner of 22nd and Riverside (in the chapel) at Augsburg College, Mpls.

I will be there with bells on.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Happy International Women's Day!

(Oh my gosh, I'm a terrible blogger. It's been over a month since my last post. Oops!)
 I woke up today feeling like it was Christmas or something! It is a holiday, although, not as well known or observed as Christmas. Today is International Women's Day. It is interesting to note that even though is was started in here, Women's day is celebrated all over the world, and is given a lot more attention in other countries. I want to share every awesome thing I've seen posted on facebook today. Instead, I will just share the poem I wrote last year for women's day (and the whole month of March is Women's history month, by the way.) I first debuted this down at Occupy Mpls, back when we were still trying to hold the People's plaza (ah, the good old days). This video is from a poetry slam I did last month.

Honestly, it is the first poem that I have written on this "issue" because I, too, have struggled with my own identity as a feminist. I grew up thinking that being female meant being weaker-than (wonder where I got that idea). Sadly, I decided early on that I didn't want to be a girl, or do anything considered feminine (like cooking, gardening, sewing- woman's work). I wanted to be a person first, and a woman technically. And I put a lot of energy into this, because I didn't want to be so easily dismissed in this world as 'the other sex'. It is only in the last few years that I discovered how much of myself I was suppressing. And when I started to allow myself these little 'feminine' pleasures in life (the JOY of cooking, how much FUN it is to garden, wearing pink etc.) that I started to realize how I was missing out on, being a girl. (I believe the term for this is 'internalized oppression'). And I started to think that maybe it wasn't even my idea to deny myself in this way, that society (and the backwards views of my parents) taught me it is bad or wrong to be a girl. That if I wanted to be a strong person, it meant not being 'womanly'.

Well-that's crap. Women through out history have been some of the most courageous contributors to the greater good, overcoming oppression, and blazing the trail for the rest of us in terms of equality, peace, and justice. I know so many strong women in my own life now. My whole activist family, and especially the women of the Anti War Committee, have taught me how much women can do, and how important it is that we do! I am so lucky to be here now. Empowerment of women has to start with us, with our own misconceptions of strength, power, even beauty. So, I wrote this poem as a sort of 'coming out' as a feminist. If you haven't made that leap of identifying as a feminist (men and women alike), then consider this your invitation. Think of all the women in your own life, and how much they mean to you. If you think they deserve to live in a free and accepting world, then you might be a feminst :)

 (oh yeah, and the video) Enjoy!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

In Dreams

I wish I could make myself into a mermaid.
Elusive, fictitious, long flowing hair- the works.
I would swim and watch the ships in battle,
watch to see which men are still alive when they
hit the surface of the water.
And then I would swoop in and scoop them up,
wounded and unconscious,
sailors or soldiers or slaves, I wouldn’t care.
I would take them away under the water
and tend to their wounds.

And I would sing to them too.
Mermaids and men don’t speak the same tongue,
but music travels easily through water.
I would tell them without words that it was all a dream
and that everything is going to be okay
(whether or not it was true).
The ones that wouldn’t make it, I’d take down into the blue.
The rest I left beside the sea, and hoped to leave a song inside their heads
so they would know that it was me.

Because, we mermaids are the stuff of dreams
and in their dreams I return to them.
And in our dreams we can be anything
where a pair of legs, like wings, could sprout
have our father part the sea, just so we can walk out!

(It’s funny to dream of being a thing that dreams of being me)

But a mermaid’s heart is a ship inside a bottle.
The want to get out is somewhat inevitable. And the men,
they wake up and they tell themselves that it was just a dream
and rarely go down to the sea to walk along the shore to remember.
The mermaids are out there.
But they don’t seem to see.

And the sunset sends them in again.
And our song is swallowed up by the vastness
of the ocean and its long din.
So we go back in to play with dolphins and wait
for a prince that likes to swim. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

A little slow going to start, and a lot to learn

My, my, my... My project is plucking along, and here I am not blogging one single thing about it. It's not that stuff isn't happening, it is just the unexciting stuff of "getting my ducks in a row" that doesn't translate to amazing posting (and I admit that the holidays took a chuck out of last month where I did nothing productive at all). But that doesn't mean I'm not chomping at the bit to tell everyone all about it- I am.

In fact, I really ought to start blabbing about it to any and everybody because what I am learning fast is that I am going to need a LOT of help! I am suddenly supposed to be the "director" of all aspects of this project, and I am starting to realize just how much work it really is. Work that, as a community organizer, I am used to sharing the burden of (frankly). See, I'm used to working on things as a part of a group. We decide to do something, I volunteer for the parts I can help with or am good at, and the rest just magically happens (sometimes the success of an event or campaign is really magical, because the number of people it takes to pull it off is often smaller than you would think). But the point is, I am a part of a team, group or organization, and trouble shooting and brain storming and all that are a team effort.

 Now, for this project I am my own team. I have to build a team, and I have to be in charge of the work getting done. (Oh god) The bottom line. A leader. All that jazz. So, yeah, stuffs happening but I've got that much more to do. I've got a lot to learn.

But here's how you can help!
I need to get out there and perform some poetry! If you hear of any events, fundraisers, educational forums, organizations, or community groups that could use some spoken word poetry (of the social justice/ anti-war variety) you should definitely let me know! I need to get out there and do poetry. That is the most important thing right now (besides writing new stuff). If you can think of any good spaces/locations or if you know any cool poets or local musical acts that seem like they would be interested in "the project" I'm doing, you should also let me know. I think I am going to write up a more formal appeal on this later for my website (that currently exists, but not in any final form kinda way) but for now, shoot me an email or find me on the facebooks. Missteatree@gmail.com 
And thanks for reading my blog about it! Check it out: New buttons for my new website!!!