Make Art, Not War

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.