All Articles Tagged "poetry"
For a traveling poet/spoken word performance artist, sharing your gift with varying and growing audiences is a dream come true. At least it is for Talitha Anyabwele, an artist who’s traveled state-to-state promoting her passion, and now her business Black Girl Speaks Productions, Inc. Solely headed by Anyabwele, BGS was launched shortly after she abruptly checked out of corporate America.
Although she’s pursuing her passion, most times Anyabwele says she feels like she’s indeed running a business. In late October, due to her daughter’s illness, she was forced to reschedule her show in Minneapolis. It’s situations like these that puts her job as a poet on the back burner and brings Anyabwele’s duties as CEO and artistic director into focus.
“I’m reminded BGS is a business around tax season; when I have to do my reports, budgets and income statements. I don’t like doing those things, but it’s necessary,” she said.
“The weekend I had to cancel my show, I had to eat the nonrefundable costs that come with that. It was a business and personal decision and I know that when I don’t put forth my best effort every single day, I don’t get paid. I am fully responsible for all of the income and all of the output,” she added.
Shaping the Business of Thought and Theatrics
BGS spawned from a much-needed stress reliever. Working as a principal, in winter 2005 Anyabwele performed a few pieces at Amen-Ra’s Bookshop and Gallery in Tallahassee. Prior to her stint in education she worked as a business professional in her hometown of Atlanta.
“I did corporate America because that’s what you’re supposed to do when you’re smart, capable and do it with ease. I fell into the trap of doing what made sense instead of what made me happy,” Anyabwele said.
During her hour and a half commute to Atlanta, she would literally cry out of frustration and having to contain the burning desire to quit. Retuning to her alma mater Florida A&M University for a friend’s graduation, Anyabwele resolved her place in the professional world.
“I saw how happy and eager she was to start her career. I realized I didn’t have that anymore and I abruptly quit,” she tells us. “I just didn’t go back. I wouldn’t advise that, because I completely burnt that bridge. I probably should have left it open, but thankfully I didn’t have to cross it again.”
It was then Anyabwele temporarily left business behind for education. While better satisfied with her professional direction, she still enjoyed an occasional poetic release, revisiting the days when she performed at FAMU with a spoken word troupe. Reactions from her first solo performance at the bookshop set her on her most-desired path.
“It was one of those things that kind of made the decision for me. From the response I realized it was greater than me. This had to be something for the masses, especially for black women,” Anyabwele remembers. “The demand was so great I knew that this was something that could be not only my passion, but something that was profitable.”
Learning to Create Greater Demand and Absorbing Costs
Initially Anyabwele figured that BGS could operate multiple ways. When first starting out, she set up shows just like the one at Amen Ra’s. Once word-of-mouth buzz developed, Anyabwele contacted colleges across the country about the one-woman show, booking 12 schools. With the colleges buying the show, Anyabwele had no costs; the school would pay for her to perform and she would reap the benefits of the show. Eventually she earned enough capital to try a different strategy.
“That’s what set me up to produce the show myself. I’m glad I used that strategy first. Now, I do the show one of two ways,” she said. “I produce it myself and absorb all of the costs meaning I find a venue, I rent it, I have to find a PR team, publish and print the tickets. That’s the most expensive way of doing it. It has the highest risk, but it also yields the highest return if it’s done correctly.”
Depending on the venue’s size, Anyabwele invests anywhere from $10,00 to $25,000 for production costs.
Cancelling or postponing shows of course is never a part of the plan. With Anyabwele’s current method of operation, the impact cancellations put on business is great. Fortunately, they rarely happen and there are a plethora of opportunities to reschedule. Anyabwele’s 2012-2013 season already has seven dates — Atlanta, Detroit, Cincinnati, New York, Charlotte, Minneapolis and Tampa, where BGS is based. One of her ultimate goals is to do an HBCU tour.
Sometimes, celebrities hook up with each other and your eyebrow just has to raise because you can’t see how they’d even get together. In the cases of the celebs on the following pages, they actually had kids together! A couple of them might surprise you…
Man, Common can’t catch a break these days.
I’m thrilled that Common is finally getting some mainstream national publicity after raking and scraping it in the underground rapper niche for the better part of two decades. He’s a talented man (if not actor), and I think he finally deserves his due in the national spotlight. But not like this, man.
First, there was that drama a few months back with the White House invite and Fox News, and then the alleged beef with emo-rapper Drake over their admiration for Serena Williams. But let’s not forget about the recent kerfuffle: the so-called “beef” between the rapper and renowned poet laureate Maya Angelou. The first track on his new album, The Dreamer/The Believer, is titled “The Dreamer” and features a speech written and read by Angelou at the song’s conclusion. A sweet touch sure…except in the song itself, Common spends an ample amount of time flouting around the N-Word. This apparently offended Ms. Angelou’s sensibilities, considering that she’s a living beacon of why one would decide NOT to use the word under any capacity. This makes perfect sense to me, however, my issue is with what she had to say about it.
“I’m surprised and disappointed. I don’t know why he chose to do that. I had never heard him use that [word] before,” she said in an interview. “I admired him so because he wasn’t singing the line of least resistance.”
Hol’ up. We’re talking about the same Common, correct? Dude that’s been rapping explicit lyrics and peddling them to the public for about 19 years, right? The same cat who spit some of my favorite two bars in all of hip-hop way back in 1994?!?: “I stand out like a n**** on a hockey team/ I got goals, and I can like a pop machine” – “Watermelon”
See, through her smoke-blowing, Maya Angelou has revealed that she probably never actually listened to the music of a man she claims to admire. She can’t possibly have ever listened to one full song of his on any of his eight albums before delivering the “singing the line of least resistance” bit. I get Angelou’s disdain for the word, but this is not Common’s fault.
Also, she didn’t seem to make much ado over the rest of the lyrics from “The Dreamer,” like “Tried to f*** the world, she only let me finger” and “Rock Rolls like a Phantom/Mad hoes like they throwing tantrums/I tell them I need space like Richard Branson.” I’m willing to bet she never even made it that far into the track. If one is 243 years old and woefully out of touch with the contemporary music of one’s people, so be it. But perhaps Ms. Angelou needed more people to explain to her that she would be laying down a poem on the album of a rapper who, despite his reputation as a “soft” rapper, has lyrics laden with misogyny and thinly-veiled homophobia. Let us not be too enamored by Maya Angelou’s status of reverence to ignore that this is an issue that didn’t have to be an issue if she’d simply understood and acknowledged Common’s artistry beforehand. I guess this is an example of why it pays to do a little research.
And this is just an aside, but “The Dreamer” is one of the best songs on an already solid album. Just saying.
More on Madame Noire!
Nikky Finney, South Carolina native and professor of English at University of Kentucky, has won the National Book Award for poetry. The National Book Award, which has been around since 1950, is an award given to writers by other writers. Each year the National Book Foundation gives awards to four writers, one for fiction, non-fiction, poetry and Young People’s Literature.
Another black woman, Jesmyn Ward, won the award for fiction for her work “Salvage the Bones,” a story detailing the lives of a family affected by Hurricane Katrina.
Finney’s award-winning piece, “Head Off & Split” details the the history of South Carolina from segregation to integration and mental reformation, the latter expressed in a portion of the poem called “Dancing with Strom.” Strom being Strom Thurmond, the U.S. senator who was known for his views on racial separation.
Finney includes a 1948 quote from Thurmond in the poem’s foreword,
“I want to tell you, ladies and gentleman, there’s not enough troops in the army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and accept the Negro into our theatres, into our swimming pools, into our homes, and into our churches.”
But in his later years Thurmond’s views changed. So much so, that Finney, the daughter of Ernest A. Finney Jr., a former chief justice of the state Supreme Court, watched as Thurmond danced with her mother and other women at her brother’s wedding.
Other critics have received the poem, which reads like a series of short stories, well. Kwame Dawes, founding director of the South Carolina Poetry Initiative wrote that Finney “establishes herself as one of the most eloquent, urgent, fearless and necessary poets writing in America today.”
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(Washington Post) — Despite the protestations of some media figures, a rapper performed in front of schoolchildren Wednesday evening at the White House. Somehow, the Earth kept turning. The Grammy-winning hip-hop stalwart Common was one of several artists who celebrated poetry and the spoken word before an audience of dozens of high-schoolers, President Obama and the first lady. “I woke up with the sunshine, a sunshine I had never seen,” Common rapped gently over a twinkling piano accompaniment. “There was light at the end of it, reminding me to forever dream. I was dreaming I walked into the White House with love on my sleeve and love for each and every one of you, reminding you to believe.” The whole event — part of Michelle Obama’s White House Music Series — was a PG-rated PSA for poetry and arts education, but the media conjured a controversy before it even happened. This week, Common was deemed a “vile,” “cop killer rapper” in headlines on Fox Nation, a Web site run by Fox News.
Even though Fox News slammed Obama for inviting rapper Common to this week’s White House poetry event, the President’s administration today defended it’s decision to invite the Chi-Town cutie. In a press conference, the White House Press Secretary noted that President Obama does not agree with all of Common’s lyrics, but that the sum total of his talent and creativity is more than enough to justify his participation in the poetry event. Our favorite girlfriend in our head First Lady Michelle Obama is also part of the festivities.
Check out the MSNBC video below to view footage from the press conference and more information on which lyrics people found troublesome.
Two of Chicago’s finest will reunite tomorrow to celebrate American poetry.
Common, Jill Scott, poet Elizabeth Alexander (You know her from the president’s inauguration.) and a host of others will perform at the White House tomorrow in front of the president and first lady.
This is not the first time the president has worked with rapper Common. Back in 2010, Common hosted a rally in Chicago’s Hyde Park to help Democrats running in local elections.
Dr. Maya Angelou sat down with Robin Roberts yesterday on Good Morning America to discuss her second cookbook, “Great Food All Day Long: Cook Splendidly, Eat Smart.” As we’d expect Dr. Angelou was a gracious host and allowed Robin to sample some of the recipes featured in her book.
In addition to her recipes she also includes tips for cooks, like the importance of taking your time when preparing a meal and daring to be bold in the kitchen. She also compared the intimacy of cooking, setting the table and presenting the food to another intimate activity. She’s a trip.
If you missed it yesterday, you can see the video over at AOL’s Black Voices.
After taking orders from you for months, trying on itchy, tacky dresses on top of dropping pounds to look acceptable on your big day, your bridesmaids deserve more than a smile and a “Thank You For Sharing in our Happiness” card. According to The Knot, the end all, be all of wedding authorities, the average number of bridesmaids in a wedding party is four to six. Therefore, you’ve got four to six ways to show your appreciation after your big day is over. But you know from handpicking your bridesmaids that they all are different. Jewelry and inscribed pens are no longer the beezneez for everyone. So if you’re looking to order some gifts (online shopping is a lifesaver) as unique as the women you’re giving them to to say thank you, we’ve got ideas for up to six special ladies.
In ’100 Best African American Poems,’ Nikki Giovanni, the award-winning poet and writer, selected more than 200 classic and contemporary pieces and compiled them in a compelling work of art. The book also includes a collectible CD of readings by luminaries such as Rita Dove, Sonia Sanchez, Richard Wright and Mari Evans.
Get the incredible Madame Giovanni here!!!