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Jun 25, 2012
Comments Off on Poetry Warriors & Other Such Heroes

Poetry Warriors & Other Such Heroes

My wife & sister both said on separate phone calls that I sounded good this week, sounded like I was floating.  We can blame the floating on the Cave Canem summer retreat I attended outside of Pittsburgh this week.  A hard (not soft) break from work, untethered – no Blackberry, no webmail in the cloud.  This type of letting go is usually unexpected when in a position of partially being the glue to an operation.  (check in, check email, answer back, call back, if you’re unlucky dial into a conference call 3,000 miles away – but I couldn’t possibly call my retreat a retreat if I stayed on the work grid.)  I did use a grey Ethernet cable to jack in and set my “out of office” message up on day 2.

The Unexpected – #1 sleep deprivation

I came prepared as a first year fellow to write & write.  I just didn’t know how writing would go.  I am a slow flow-er.  I have written one or two poems as exercises in 30 minutes, and that one or two flash pieces have actually been published without a lot of heavy handed editing.  Usually doesn’t happen that way for me.  Partially because I haven’t been disciplined enough to set a regular date with myself and push a  timer button to work my writing out.  But at Cave Canem the right before bed or hang out on a bench to 4 in the morning fellowship reminder is “10 at 10 in the bin.”  A poem a night, 10 copies printed and ready for a three hour workshop by 10 am the next day no matter what time you went to bed 11 pm (hah!), 2 am (maybe), 3:45 am (too often.)

The Unexpected – #2 mentored craft talk

I came prepared to see Cave Canem founders Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady, the 2012 faculty Thomas Sayers Ellis, Nikky Finney, Terrance Hayes, Angela Jackson, with guests Amiri Baraka & Nikki Giovanni.  I did not come prepared to be with the faculty; I did not come prepared to hear loving gestures in their questions signaling (you might want to take a closer look a this part.)  In one case Terrence asked out the starting gate “why is this a poem?” in a tone that suggested we would engage in a brief (welcome) philosophical discussion on the elements of poetry.  Truth is the tell was – nice job bro but this thing here on the Buffalo Soldier on the western border is a personal essay… or not.  I did not expect Nikki Giovanni to ask come sit in our workshop, ask me a question “Till Pharoah and Tell Pharoah, is that what you meant.”  On the solid, secure in my work but a little star struck,  I answered, “yes” not a bit unsure if my telling Nikki & the class till meant until and tell meant say something about something.  Reading between the lines, those soft faculty questions were a telegraph to the deeper craft talk they often danced around in terms of going all in or not – perhaps you should make that more clear so your reader knows it ain’t a typo.

The Unexpected – #3 star struck – black poetry rock stars & legends

Yes, I brought cash to buy books for signing.  My only disappointment was not having enough greenbacks to buy one of each!  And the readings – I made sure to get front row seats so I could be, see, & hear everything these wonderful poets had to share.

Amiri asked, “where you from?”  (a question I think he asks everyone to break the awkward ice when signing a book for a complete stranger clearly in the state of AWE.)  “LA originally but I live in San Francisco”  He responds with a wicked chuckle, “LA is an awful place.  Don’t know why anyone would want to live there.”  Underneath, I agree with a smile and walk away from the extended line with a signed copy of Razor.

 The Unexpected – #4 City of Asylum Pittsburgh

I had not heard of the City of Asylum in Pittsburgh & sister organizations/projects before Cave Canem.  Thank you Toi for your involvement on the board & connecting your fellows to the mission of this important work providing housing to writers in-exile.

The Unexpected – #5  tears, terror, ferocity dancing at 2 in the morn, teaching a few samba moves.
And now, writing this post on US Air’s Go-Go network – I hope the unexpected will continue in the pages of my writing journal.
Thank you Cave Canem!

 

Mar 4, 2012
SN Jackson
Comments Off on Creativity Explored – Visual art center for people with disabilities

Creativity Explored – Visual art center for people with disabilities

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I got busted by a flat foot last week, but not before I snagged these photos of artist Daniel Green's work showing in an exhibition of developmentally challenged folk of the arts organization Creativity Explored in San Francisco.

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The building I work in (which is an open/public access space in the Financial District) collaborates with various organizations to to curate rotating shows primarily for the benefit of tenants and visitors of The Mills Building.

"NO foto," the security guard barked waddling toward me from the west side of 220 Montgomery.  I smiled, tucked my iPhone in my front left trouser pocket and proceeded to Cave Venue for my large steak salad.

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 Daniel's work and the whole show had a feel of controlled obsession.  I became very curious about the organization and wanted to know more about Daniel.

About Daniel from Creativity Explored:

A San Francisco native of African-American and Samoan descent, Daniel Green was born in 1985 and is one of the youngest artists in the Creativity Explored studio. He began working in the studio on a full-time basis in January 2008.

Green’s artwork conveys an intense and playful fascination with American entertainment and popular culture. Typically working on wood, he draws in ink, figures from television, politics, sports, or history, and then carefully lists dates, titles of shows and songs, cities, and names. The extensive listings crowd the surface in sculptural columns and are seemingly unrelated to his delicately rendered drawings.

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Needless to say, I am a new fan! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 28, 2012
SN Jackson
Comments Off on Moving Behind Moses Project – 11 months down, 6 more to go

Moving Behind Moses Project – 11 months down, 6 more to go

I didn't think I was going to get this grant because there appeared to be a poet purist on the selection committee who didn't think a visual artist/poet/playwright/karate black belt/samba dancer/Berkeley MBA making a living in finance would ever pool it off – "not going to happen," she told her fellow judges/jurists.  She used Paul Hoover's recommendation (editor of Postmodern American Poetry – A Norton Anthology, as well as several poetry books – most recently desolation: souvenir from Omnidawn) against me.  Paul wrote in his letter that I was a poetry student and then switched to writing a play for my thesis.  OOPS.

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People hate the betwixed and between until they are dead and gone.  I'm glad the poet/player hater was overturned.  And here I am – 11 months in.  I've used the grant money received by the San Francisco Arts Commission to travel to New York, DC/VA, and LA doing research.  Wait – you whisper.  I thought this was a poetry book?  Well… it's betwixed and between (just like me.) 

Right now my desk is filled with Harriet Tubman and images from several collections (Schomburg, Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, and the 20th Centurty Fox Research Library.)  The words… still on Moses and reeling over historical facts like she knocked her own teeth out with her pistol to "kill" the pain.  More to come as I get closer to the finish line.

 

Feb 21, 2012
SN Jackson
Comments Off on UC Berkeley “Lost” Sargent Johnson Art – Million $ Relief “$Found” for $150.00 then Reacquired by the Huntington Library

UC Berkeley “Lost” Sargent Johnson Art – Million $ Relief “$Found” for $150.00 then Reacquired by the Huntington Library

This is an amazing report of  a 22 foot relief  by celebrated African American artist tied to the Bay Area "lost" to one of the school's storage stacks, sold for the pre-tax price of $150.00 then resold to the Huntington library – its first major acquisition of an African American artist.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/21/arts/design/art-by-sargent-johnson-berkeleys-loss-is-museums-gain.html?sq=sargent%20johnson&st=cse&adxnnl=1&scp=1&adxnnlx=1329890593-5MP8NaOLMk/sf9zpdimRiA

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