Category Archives: art careers

One Person’s Art and the Interpretation

I recently sat down to watch Lee Daniels’ The Butler. I had mixed feelings about going to see it at the movie theatre because it was close to the holidays and people were calling it the “male version” of the movie, The Help. (which I didn’t see either)  Well, I fixed a light lunch and sat down to watch this movie and it wasn’t about him being butler at all!  At least not from my interpretation.

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I found the movie to be rich in storytelling about spiritual and political growth. It showed the development of one expressing the political and humanitarian side of fighing for freedom.  The movie also displayed parents who allowed their children to actualize themselves.  There was a development of friends into family relationships and I truly appreciated the love stories.  With all of the fully developed story lines and superb acting, I didn’t see the focus being about his occupation as a butler at all.  Perhaps it’s just my poetic eye, but being a butler was only the analogy to set a location.

This is also close to my perception of the movie, “12 Years a Slave.  People cried, “not another slave movie!” But it wasn’t about him being a slave. It was about family, perservance, courage and reciprocity.  Another fully developed story with superb acting that should be seen.

If you are a writer, The Butler is a wonderful example of story crafting.  Check it out! (or watch it again with a new perspective)

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it is what it is…

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1) When you begin to lose that poker face of “fake it until you make it”.
2) When you find yourself not wanting to go to bed because you will have to get up and go to work.
3) When you begin calculating just how low of a pay cut you can take JUST TO GET OUT OF YOUR CURRENT SITUATION!

4)  When you hear the above caption come out of your mouth as you call your job on Monday morning.

it is what it is… and it is clearly time to go!

those famous words

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Those famous words said to a friend during Friday nights’ happy hour or a Sunday night meltdown. Come on, it’s not just me!

I am in a countdown mode on leaving my incredibly well paying management job of six years. Since taking on the parenting of my nephews and nieces, I had to acquire a sense of security for bills, therapy sessions, health insurance, after school activities, etc. And doing this as a single woman would’ve really been a challenge had I not fallen back on my “I know how to build a winning team” face. So, how do I feel?

Today I feel certain. Certain that this is what I must do. Certain that the universe will provide if I follow what fulfills my life. Fulfilling my life is performing, speaking and writing. That’s the end and exclamation point. Of course I have been thinking of this for months now so a financial plan is in place and now it is about how I manage my time so after my 9-5 I can come home and work on my art.

Some days I am filled with fear and anxiety but not today. Today I know for certain I will move forward with my life as an artist and active aunt of four. When will you follow your heart and make it Plan A?

Happy Birthday Lorraine Hansberry!

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First African American woman to produce a play on Broadway, “A Raisin in the Sun” (1959). This classic piece is still being produced some 55 years later. Wow… her name equals the meaning of true art! Creating something that will outlive you…

The Next Few Chapters

For Women’s Month in March I had a focus on celebrating women that inspire me as an artist and a woman. I did pretty good with being consistent and even had my nieces get involved and write about someone as well as honor one another. Now being an artist, for the month of April it was only natural for me to publish a poem a day for National Poetry Month. So here we are in May and the weather is turning warm and summer smells flow from the flowers and the days are longer. By the way, summer is my favorite season! (and my bday is in July 🙂 I am working on some great projects to debut later this summer and in the fall that I am very excited about. And the cherry on top is school being out in two weeks and I get to send the kids to stay with their mother, my sister, for a month or so!

I have my mind involved and wrapped in two amazing projects but I have to continue to be consistent with maintaining my blog. I was tossing between writing love stories for the month of May but what I think I will do is submit a few quotes a week and write commentary on it. This will allow my energy to stay simplified and light so I can be as abandoned of ego as possible. I am a grateful to all the people that have chosen to follow my blog. I truly thank you for your time and interest in my voice.

So join me for inspirational quotes during the month of May.

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somedays i feel like, toni blackmon (by Kyra)

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she is music. she is hip hop. she started free style rapping as a child growing up in washington dc. she has now traveled around the world. she also started her own organization. she is an artist with a lot of talents and worked as the first official hip hop ambassador working with the government. blackman has art as a way to prevent violence against women in the congo and other war-torn countries. the end

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some days i feel like, ntozake shange

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some days I feel like ntozake shange. in the most simple sense of what EVERY artists dreams… to have a timeless piece of art that can transcend across generations.

her award winning play, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf was first produced off broadway in 1975. it moved to broadway and continued to win awards and marked her place in the literary world. some 35 years later, this same play was turned into a movie. timeless art… this play is rich with emotions and complexity. shange’s work is also where I learned the literary style of writing and performing prose. my all time favorite, ellington was not a street.

I always say, ‘I want my art to be able to live without me. To feed my children’s children.’ 39 years after it debuted in new york, her play, ‘for colored girls’ is currently being produced on two different stages in atlanta, ga. some days I feel like ntozake shange and just trust my heart through my pen. trust that this is the piece of art that will transcend time.

some days i feel like a skyscraper (part II)

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Somebody had to do it. And somebody had to re-member. I was there. And it’s not that I want to be given some glory or plaque. I just want artists to know that it wasn’t 1961 when the Los Angeles poetry scene displayed this disproportionately approach to female poets. And now it is so natural for females to get features and travel but not too long ago we were blatantly denied this. And Jaha, Bridget, Rachel and I really changed the perception of when female poets should be allowed to eat.

Did we pave the way? Call it whatever feels good to you. But I know I was there when humiliation and doubt was given to us from our male peers. I was there when the men performers would get paid a different amount than us at the very same show. I was there when our male peers thought the best position for any of us would be next to them in a relationship and when he was denied he campaigned a “she’s gay” rally to save his reputation.

I saw Roni take poetry to the Hollywood comedy clubs.

I saw Sandra, Alice the Poet and MstMuze operate the longest running all female poetry venue in Los Angeles to date.

I saw Deana produce/host sold out poetry shows inside restaurants on Sunset Blvd.

And all I’m saying is, this happened after she/we shared stories and almost cried because we thought we were alone in feeling so indigent for expression. Some days I feel like a skyscraper in the Los Angeles poetry scene. Standing bold, cold and razor sharp with the moods of mother nature, not being erased from the series anytime soon. My love for Jaha, Rachel and Bridget is beyond an ordinary means of measurement. We were there, when it felt like 1961.

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some days i feel like a skyscraper

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I feel part of the smaller story. I feel part of the larger story. Skyscrapers are like small cities with thousands of people that live and work there. Their foundations and superstructures provide different appearances. These tall buildings are seen as symbols of power and greatness. They are improved in live time to stand the test of weather and the moods of mother nature. Yes, some days I feel like a skyscraper… especially when I began spoken word in Los Angeles.

It was clearly the congregated movement of griots and sages before us that declared the time again. Only the shadowless and their corners really thought “they started something new” or “took it to the next level”. Only time would be able to determine those thoughts just as the medu netter has spoken for centuries in the pyramids. Only time, still will reveal that.

One would have thought the time was 1961 and women were still only allowed to be house attendants. When in fact it was 2001. Writing and performing poetry was not new to me. I was shocked that it was being critiqued and shared in seemingly ‘non art environments’. Coffee shops, lobbies of recreational centers, after hours at businesses and theatres in need of publicity. The art form was taking on a new timeframe and would need new walls to hold it’s voice.

In an already big city. A city with the most highly structured designed skyscrapers, one would think she could just pick up where June Jordan left off. Just take the notebook from Gwendolyn Brooks and turn the page. But it wasn’t like that for Jaha Zainabu, Bridget Gray and Rachel Kann, my “come up” crew. None of us were novices to the arts. Together we were decades of stories, poems, lectures, theatre and visual art. Together we split the city and nestled our art amongst those who neighbored our homes. We supported our venues week after week and then by bequest, politics were engaged in our arts but this time the agenda was to undermine. From history our community arts had a focus of meeting weekly to “build and feed each other”. These new politics were of division because all of us would not be able to eat. In fact, it happened so fast we weren’t even able to decide on our seasonings! And many owned microwaves and had never lit a stove or practiced patience with a crock pot. But she/we stood there.

One would have thought it was 1961 they way we were over looked to perform feature poetry shows. One of us was even told, “women can’t hold the audience attention to do a feature segment”. And week after week, we went and supported the self served. And we began to see the bending of the art. This was called open mic, to disavow the necessity for us to hold one another accountable. We were allowed to do and say anything and not read or study and some times not even demanded to practice. Our art scene became like loose, dangled dred locs from an unhealthy scalp. Her voice strewn like sidewalk abandoned Christmas trees. With the desperate opportunity for manhood to be demonstrated, she/we were overlooked. It was not 1961.

Now about this, She was given the mic and then cut short by loud music playing in the background to a host dancing behind her begging for a laugh and a few smiles. She wasn’t given the same time limit, as he. And She, was given time on the stage to express her newest and most intimate poetry piece. She was accepted by the audience with warm applause and finger snaps. Capsized with emotion, she stepped away to gather herself only to have the host scold the audience clapping for her by saying, “We don’t do that here”. And then She, was too serious and her voice was too loud. “You should write some love poems”, he declared to her after she received thunderous applause when all night he received scattered rain drops. And then She, was a performer amidst reading writers. And while both are styles of interpretation, it distinguished her natural flame to a fire and cast her away feeling lost and unheard.

And she/we were paid less. And she/we were heard less. And then one night we all talked. And we almost cried. And we all had the same story and we all reaffirmed it wasn’t 1961. And Rachel decided we should do our own. And we did. And we sold out a night club on Hollywood Blvd with an all female poetry feature show. The first of it’s kind during this wave of poetry in Los Angeles. And we ate. And then our four corners of the city saw what we were made of. That temblor thwarting technology that doesn’t fall during earthquakes. That strong wavering skyscraper that houses thousands of people working and living with stories to tell.

(part II tomorrow)

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the thief of truth

Dear Attachment,

You are the thief of truth. You pretend to make me strong when in actuality you supply me with debilitating thoughts. You cast my feet in promise with a mixture of rocks and mud and you tell me I am “where I’m suppose to be”. So I wave bye to love and water to remain the intelligence you have attached me to.

You are a thief that has labeled some of the most critical minds I know as “activists” when they are flesh and blood

You are a thief that has labeled some of the most creative minds I know as “poets” when they are artists

You are a thief that has labeled brown skinned women as “strong and fierce” when they are growing silently

Your understanding of me is just an illusion. I cannot stand in an understanding phase when it should be digested and turned into wisdom. I should flow. Attachment, you are a thief that has kept me stagnant and I now rebuke you.