Frankie Drayus 1.22.02
The Day After Claire de Lune We woke up in San Diego after a fabulous but very late evening/morning at Claire de Lune. (Marc Kockinos and Claire - we love you both.) The morning came much sooner and brighter than we expected. We needed coffee immediately. Why I agreed to start my day at Seattle's Best Coffee I have no idea, because it was not my idea; it was Wayman's. If that is as good as the coffee gets in Seattle, I'm bringing my own the next time I travel. Those pictures on the photo page where we look a bit pitiful - those are after drinking their weak brown stuff masquerading as espresso. And then it was time to hit the road.
Getting lost with Wayman is something everyone should do at least once. Of course Wayman will insist you are not lost, because you are on an Adventure (captital A). On our last roadtrip this turned out all right in the end - I had some of the best apple pie I've ever tasted, because for some reason Mr. Barnes decided that the mountain hamlet of Julian (elevation 4100 feet) was "on the way" home. So was Lake Elsinore in all its wind-whipped splendor. So were other obscure lakes with no names "along the way." There are worse ways to spend an afternoon than riding shotgun on twisting mountain passes before you suddenly descend into breathtakingly beautiful orange groves for as far as the eye can see. And it's fun for the first 3 or 4 hours. I actually have a certain amount of respect for someone who can make San Diego to Los Angeles take 7 hours. But next time I'm packing a thermos with my own java.
- Frankie Drayus
Wayman Barnes 1.22.02
The Claire de Lune Road Trip
Uh oh, watch out LA! The San Diego poetry scene is a growling, slobbering, and pulling-at-its-chain junkyard dog. And we're not sure Orange County is going to be able to protect us from it for much longer.
"San Diego?!" you are probably asking yourself. Well, you're not alone. We didn't believe it either. Even though we kept hearing the rumors. We said, "p-shaw to all that. We're LA, dammit! We invented poetry!!!" Then Steve Ramirez leaned towards us and whispered, "You've got to check out Claire de Lune then you'll know." And when Rachel Kann said, "Dude … Claire de Lune is off the hook!!!" We knew it was time to dust off the ol' car and head down the coast.
When we got there we were surprised at how big Claire de Lune was. We asked if there was a back area or something, because this room was obviously too big for a reading. The barrista smiled at us and said, "I'd order your drink now, because in just a little bit this place will be so packed that you won't even be able to make it to the counter." The host, Marc Kockinos, nodded his head and added, "Like sardines. Just like sardines."
And, good golly, they were telling the truth. Imagine Da Poetry Lounge in a coffeehouse. And there was a large variety of poets, too: young and old, academic and hip hop, confessional and sci-fi (a San Diego thing, we think). And what is worse, someone told us there were several other poetry readings with comparable crowds. Be afraid LA, be very afraid.
Poets: Omar, Anna Zappoli Jenkins, Just Lucky, Teresa F., Kelly Parish, I M Real, African American Writers and Artists (Sylvia, Glenn, Bobby, Shanti, John, and Fia), Dizzy Order, Ken 10, Cat, Frankie Drayus, Trish, Marc Kockinos, Slam Winner, Wayman Barnes, Chris Banoi, Sun, Chris Mosher, Alex Bosworth, Yeshua, and Amara Momo.
Claire de Lune Coffee Lounge
Tuesdays at 8ish
2906 University Ave.
San Diego, CA 92104
Charlotte O'Brien 1.18.02
I swear that I tried to drive straight home on Thursday night but I have to go down Sepulveda which means I have to pass by Tanner's which meant that I found myself swinging the car around and parking and getting out and heading like a poetic zombie towards the sounds of DJ Jedi's groove. It's so fucking Green and I'm so fucking hooked.
I'm like Poetri is about Krispy Kreme donuts when it comes to poets and words and getting the combination flowing with the rythmic beats of music between words.
I love to see Damon host, he does a kick ass job. I have enjoyed him break-dancing and Cosby dancing and rapping and although he does not consider himself a comedian he can be very very funny. It was a nice touch to have him introduce his fiance and baby to everyone. It was also great to have him pass the hosting batton mid-show to Ahmad and then get up and read the most amazing poem about being a dad and not having time for other things any more because this is first and foremost. I don't think the two were related but shortly afterwards Tai puked everywhere.
Ahmad was really getting things started when the show came to a close, but he did some awesome haikus between each poet. More, more, more, please!
Poetri noticed that there was a girl in the room not smiling and she knew who she was and he did Krispy Kreme donuts just for her, and succeeded in making all the girls smile. Including me who was feeling pretty girly and pouty myself.
Jelena did a new poem about being at peace and as I often find with her stuff I knew exactly what she meant. (But just for the record Bashful Goddess, I wouldn't mind hearing "Orange" over and over and over again.)
Kwame was on fire and we can't get enough of his voice. Damn that guy has a beautiful voice. Very Ben Harper. But I'm not sure if I did know what he meant.
New girl called Alfie stood out at the beginning. Can't have been her first time performing. Could it? COME BACK ALFIE, WE LOVED YOU! Damon suggested a rapping contest between her & Raymond. She wisely declined.
Raymond is getting more and more endearing. I'm actually looking forward to hearing Loreena Bobbit again! Damon made sure we understood that Raymond was the world's first English rapper. He brought rap to England, in fact. (Right Damon?)
I got to perform too and all I can say is this. Who needs a therapist when you have such a warm room full of people who are totally into words and putting them together in clever ways and letting them go in rooms full of people (who get what it is that you're doing) just like you? Who needs positve reinforcement when you have a room full of people applauding you? Who needs a family when you've got a friend like GREEN?
Thanks GREEN, I needed you last night and you were there.
The Exorcist 1.17.02
Exorcist reporting on four places in a row. First. Green on Thursday. Poetri posed the $100 million dollar question in rhyme format. He had asked us this at Denny's before and spoke on our reactions in the poem.He said he would take the money with no hesitation and said it could be used to help causes.He talked about the massage chair he would get and his private island and big screen TV.Said he was amazed that the poets looked at him as if he was crazy. I was there that night so I was technically in the poem. I said I wouldn't know unless it was actually laid out in front of me.One poet said if you cut him words would spill out so it's not physically possible for him to stop. I felt the same way. Poetri said he would still have his acting then some point if he was saying that he would or wouldn't give up praying for that amount of money. Imagined God coming down to him and putting it to him and I wasn't sure if he was telling God he 'd take the money or not. Gevon did a poem about fathering poems and taking them to their first slam and telling them not to be concerned about the points and when they have their first wet metaphor telling them it's only natural. Referred to deadbeat poetry dads that write the poem but don't stick around to edit it. He did the poem again at the Poetry Lounge. On Friday at the Midnight Special Dana Snow did his piece again on Bob the brother of Christ. He said Jesus cured leprosy and Bob cured very bad acne. Dana said he told the Jehovah Witnesses they could preach to him if they would let him spend the same amount of time reading from the porn magazine Throb. One poet did a really good poem which was a true story of how a mother got her stroller caught in the escalator with her kid in it and how he reacted quickly and saved the day. I loved one poem cal! led 'Flames and Shadows' about the war in Afghanistan. My fellow poet dropped knowledge that night. Weird because the poets are picked at random and I was straight after him rapping about the same theme.One hilarious poet did a poem about how he used his dog's name when he applied for a credit card and how things developed from there.Talked about his dog in his dog house getting a hit from a bong and wearing his dog collar around his head. Derrick Blakey did his usual Ghetto chess poem.At Mia's on Saturday Jaha featured.John Scofield performed as did Unsaen celebrating the one year anniversary of his 'unsaen' creation.His real name is Sean. Charlotte opened up with a song and did a poem about her daughter Mia.Michelle flowed."Poets make the best one night stands". She did this one at Green too on Thursday. I forgot to say that at Green Thursday Poetri took over from Damon so Damon could catch up on his studies. I loved that he had each of us pass his basketball between our l! egs before we could do our poem. Each poet had a different skill level. Gevon got real funky when his turn came.Reminded me of Halloween at the Lounge when Poetri made us do a step up first because he was dressed up as a black Richard Simmons. He said in his poem on Thursday that a woman asked him if he was a comedian and he wasn't sure whether or not he should be insulted. He thought maybe he'd call himself a com-poet. Mia's is building up an audience base now. I was there from the second or third week when there were only about 6 people. She had it inside but thought it was better outside but it was hard to be heard outside even with a mike. Rain drove us back in and I feel it was meant to be. We didn't think the coffee shop was made for a large audience inside but I feel it works. So come on down! The vibe is right!
Mike the Poet 1.16.02
Luna SoL Cafe on 6th Street in the Rampart District was the place to hear poetry Tuesday January 15th...
Saul Williams & BesskePP were the features..
The joint was packed.... Damn near every poet, old cronie or LA scenester from around the way was there... Mark Gonzalez, Bridget Gray, Manchild, LaVoicE, PhilHarmonic, Yvette Saunders, JB, Ratpack SliM, Rachel Kann, Ordell Cordova, Stricke-9, Pocho Joe, Kool Aid from La Paz, cats I knew from '92, tons & tons of fools it was something to see... DJ Al Jackson from Leimert Park was spinnin'.. Luna Sol was far too small to hold everybody... the crowd spilled out onto 6th Street..
ABout five or six poets into the open mic the power went out...
At that point Saul burst through the crowd & started kickin' poems there in the dark.. People were thrilled... SauL did his money pieces & the crowd joined in with familiar lines like "and were public enemy number one!"
SauL very humbly addressed the crowd after three poems & he suggested it was time to hear Besskepp... Besskepp worked his way through the thick crowd & tore shit up..
He started with his poem "Im'a Write." Besskepp's gonna write till his fingers are gone.. he was on... Saul had warmed the crowd up & at that point the hometown hero Besskepp wrecked shop... When he did "Rewind Time," the Poets of the Round Table family joined in with Now what! raw cut! when i say now what, you say raw cut!
Now what! raw cut!
SauL had to smile Besskepp got the crowd involved.. His earthy poems grabbed the audience.. Besskepp may be the only poet in LA who could follow SauL & take the energy higher... Their contrast in styles complemented each other..
Saul was doin' his abstract lunar poetics.. Then Besskepp came in with his earthy poems & the people were feelin him.. now what! raw cut!
They did a round robin of a few poems each back & forth & a few other poets soon joined in...
watching Saul Williams & Besskepp kickin poems in a dark ass room while the power was out showed the power of poetry..
There was no room to even move but the crowd stayed put...
when i say now what, you say raw cut!
Two of LA's best poets rocked Luna SoL... It was a night that will go down in LA lore...
Now what! raw cut!
The Exorcist 1.16.02
This is the Exorcist reporting on the Lounge.Yesterday was so packed you would think it was a slam. Not enough room on the stage to swing a cat. If the slam next week gets more packed than this people wil have to sit on their friends laps.One guy I was sat next to did a romantic poem for his girlfriend.He proposed at the end and she accepted. She walked down the stairs and he got down on one knee and slid a ring on her finger. They both got a standing ovation. Inq did what I thought was the best chant piece ever. 'Right now!' We had to say it when he raised his hand. 'Right now it's day, right now it's night. right now it's black, right now it's white. Right now someone's doing a drive by, freebasing etc.' Macho did a rap flow too. Seiku did his poem about the girl that drove the beige Jeep Grand Cherokee. My favorite line is when he's just got over her and then he finds a photo of the two of them behind his drawer. The feature's name is Eirik. He's known Poetri for quite a few years. He has a website WussyBoy.org. He was selling his chapbooks but he was kind enough to give me one free because he liked my poetry. So I gave him my Hobbit chapbook. Felt bad because mine's is a lot thinner. He did a poem about a white guy that thinks he's black. Talking in hip-hop slang to his black friend Cas. At the end of the poem Cas says he may be well-versed in black history but he never lived it so he knows NOTHING!He did a great poem about a guy in a mosh pit bragging about his invulnerability and shaking people off him the way a yak shakes fleas off its back.The poem had a similar theme to one of Seiku's bragging poems because at the end he reveals that he's the wuss standing outside the mosh pit in the pink shirt. Also did a piece about a girl trying to get a guy to dance. He declines saying he can't dance. My favorite line was the reference to her being a flesh machete cutting through the crowd. I liked it when he said I am wussy, hear me roar' and then he did like a cat's meow.He talked about the girl dancer seeming to have robot pistons in her hips. Spiffy did a piece about not being able to find a real man and this black guy later on ding his poem dedicated it to her and tried to convince her that there were real men out there. She said she wasn't denying that, she was just saying that she didn't have their numbers so he got somebody to give him a pen. Another black girl had a similar theme. Hers was putting down guys that play Nintendo 24/7. She said at one point that the shaking in her hand showed her that she was in the presence of a! real man. Thea followed and did a piece praising Jesus. Two guys, one black and one white were the best thing I'd seen since Stevie and Paul McCartney collaborated on 'Ebony and Ivory'. He actually rapped over his guitar instrumental. I'd neve seen that before. The rhyme was tight and the chorus was catchy. They deserve a record deal. Got us all doing the chorus. Something about 'what vibe is it?' One Jamaican woman brought back a pleasant memory when she talked about ackee and saltfish. I'm English but my parentage is Jamaican and I haven't had that delicacy in the 27 years since I was in Jamaica at the age of ten. She told me where I could buy it. In the poem she said it is the Queen's favorite dish. Opposed Thumb was tight. Bower Bird and Mark Shaeffer? I think his name is Mark. Anyway, he did a lyrically complex piece. Bower did the best poem I ever heard him do. He talked about the palm trees being fireworks exploding in the sky and the bright red roses bleeding in the snow and at the end he said 'I'm the hologram dancing in your living room'. Nafeesa did her Superwoman poem. I heard a singer called Krystal I think on Jenny Jones singing 'I am Supergirl and I'm here to save the world, but all I want to know is who's gonna save me?' I figure her and Nafeesa should team up. Frank did a poem that referenced John Coltrane and Talaam did a flow that I reckon caused some women in the audience to flow. Same piece he did last week.'I'll make your nipples harder than your life is'. One girl in the crowd said 'say it again'. Poetri did his ant police poem and Shihan did a short piece. I laughed when he cursed out George Bush again. I get the feeling that he was rooting for the pretzel.
Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 1.14.02
A Gift of Giving and Muse in Meaning
Getting a gift for no reason other than somebody wanting to give me a gift has always amazed me. Somehow, most of my life I was expected to "repay" for the gifts I was given, and on those rare occasions when somebody just gave me a gift for no special reason, I would be completely thrown off balance. Last week, I received one such gift: a chapbook by H. Wayne Slappy titled " A Muse Meant." Strangely enough, this time I didn't even wonder what inspired such a gift. The act of giving seemed perfectly natural, and after reading the book, I can say that act of giving was divinely inspired.
In his chapbook, Wayne draws from his experiences as a man, a father, a teacher, a lover, but most of all a spirit, part of the whole called universe. And though he is undoubtedly a master of Haiku, the verses that most resonate with me are the ones that defy any form because they come straight from an open heart:
His into ours,
No matter the hours we dare to share
On this sphere,
In this plane and beyond...
Which after soul abandons body,
Returns to the One Power and Presence.
While we're here
Let our hearts' tuning fork
Hum hymns of Him
In Spirit, in Truth, in Love...
As we grow closer...
As we become One with the One..."
(from the poem "Spirit" by H.Wayne Slappy)
A gift of life in spirit that we are given is our muse and our meaning. Let's celebrate our oneness! Thank you for reminding us, Wayne!
Charlotte O'Brien 1.13.02
Splish! Splash! SPLOSH!
If Rapp Saloon were a pond then on Friday night Wayman Barnes was one mighty big fish. Ok bad analogy. If Wayman Barnes were a duck then you'd be watching water roll off his back. OK that's even worse.
What I'm trying to tell you is that a huge crowd rocked up to the Rapp Saloon on Friday night to see Wayman Barnes feature and he made one hell of a big splash. Wayman Barnes is one big guy with a huge stage presence. There is something absolutely captivating about watching him perform. On Friday night he turned the Rapp Saloon into this big warm bundle of energy. It was so great to feel a shift in the audience as he took the stage. Everyone relaxed and laughed and you could feel the whole room open up to him. I was actually very concerned for the Woman sitting in front of me. I have wet my pants in public before and it can be quite embarrassing.
I never tire of his signature piece Scooby Doo and the audience always seems to love it. Almost without fail every time an open micer will follow up Wayman's performance with the question: Scooby doo ISN'T real????!!!! And as Wayman will tell you, Sorry Kids, no. Actually he's a cartoon character. But this is kind of funny in itself coming from the biggest kid I know. He's just having a great time up there and he takes you with him. Watching Wayman, you are somehow reminded of a five year old wearing big yellow galoshes, stamping through mud and splashing through puddles. Splish! Splash! Splosh! Not only this. Don't ask me why, but I came away thinking about the last four lines of a favorite childhood poem:
"The Captain was a duck
With a feather in his cap
And when the ship set sail
The Captain said QUACK! QUACK!"
Now, back to that analogy. If Rapp Saloon were a ship...
Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 1.13.02
My first impression as we were walking up to "Zoey's Cafe" was something in the style of "Sheesh! Is this a middle-America version of Beverly Hills?" My fears were confirmed when we walked up the stairs into the room where the reading was to take place: a rather formal looking crowd, the venue hostess in a long velvet dress with rhinestones, a huge bouquet of Bird of Paradise flowers on stage, a group of poets discussing a fashion show... Somehow, I felt like a paratrooper who was just about to land in the middle of a lake and suddenly realized he couldn't swim. And the feeling continued to linger throughout the reading of the two featured poets. Then, Pat Payne got on stage to shake things up and made me feel at home again. Pat is one of those goddess-poetesses whose words go straight for one's heart. She doesn't shy away from either painful or seemingly mundane subjects, and she presents them with a force that leaves audiences in positive awe. No wonder she got chosen to compete against Saul Williams at the poetry slam in Taos in June! And Pat, if you get to read this, I'll be rootin' for ya, sister!
Now, I'll let you in on a secret: Pat actually lives in Los Angeles (not Ventura). As a matter of fact, with the exception of Phil Taggart and Gwendolyn, Angelinos took "Zoey's" by storm this time. Pat started the landslide, and then Gauvin followed. Well, technically Gauvin now lives in Ventura, but poetry he performed at "Zoey's" deals with Los Angeles, the Broadway street corridor in particular, the homeless, the crack addicts, and the whole sub-culture of sub-standard living in the area we commonly refer to as downtown. He also told me in strictest confidence that he used to live in Downtown L.A. As a matter of fact, he still sells his paintings in L.A. from time to time. After Gauvin, four other Angelinos -- four Litravers for that matter -- had an adventure in Ventura: Thaine, Frankie, Wayman, and myself. And although I know it is not polite to listen in on other people's conversations, I must tell you I overheard some of the audience saying how any of us could have been featured readers. (No disrespect to the features -- that's just what I heard people say.)
All in all, I had quite an unexpected adventure in Ventura. And for all of you LitRavers, if you hear Pat Payne is performing at a poetry venue near you, go see her! That sister can say it like it is... she sure can!
Wayman Barnes 1.13.02
Ventura Road Trip III
We love Ventura! We love roadtrips! We love Zoey's! We love TJ! We love Nila! We love Pat! We love Phil! We love Gwendolyn! We love Gauvin! We love Doris! We love Enid! We love Roe! We love Thaine! We love Frankie! We love Merlin! We love Jelena! We love Angela! We love Wayman!!! We love Dan! We love John!
Can you tell we had a good time?
451 E. Main Street (in the 'El Jardin' courtyard) - Ventura
for more information call: (805) 672-1756
Yay! The holidays are over!!! We can finally return to our real lives and do the important stuff: poetry, partying, and poetry partying.
Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 1.13.02
Journeys with Jaha and Other Stuff Goddesses Are Made Of
If you are in the mood for some journeying, Jaha Zainabu is definitely the person you need to talk to, or more precisely, she is the person you need to LISTEN to. Her sultry voice and inimitable poetry style will "get you when you are not looking," and take you on a most unforgettable journey of your life. From the streets of Los Angeles at night, populated by people who have "no flyers to make ... no place to go ... and no money for even tea," she will take you to a laundromat in the Valley, the one on the corner of Magnolia and Cahuenga, and right from there, she'll lead you into the depths of her own beautiful being that shines like a star, like the goddess she is. Her words will make you want to go home and "spit-shine your uterus" and be proud of the woman you have become. She will make you want to be a woman just like she is if you are not one already, and she will have men secretly yearning to get her when she's not looking. There is only one, inimitable, unstoppable Jaha! And we were lucky to bask in her light last night at "Mia." If you want to bathe in that light too, go visit her at "Hutch's" in Pasadena any given Wednesday night and join her on her "Journey." Believe me, it will be a journey of your lifetime.
Journey with Jaha
Wednesdays at 8:30
390 E Walnut
626 449 8095
Saturday at 7:30, FREE
At Tanner's Coffee
On Colorado between 2nd and 4th in Santa Monica
Leslie Moore 1.13.01
Hello LitRavers! Has anyone seen the movie "Iris" yet? It's about a writer who ends up with alzheimers. I cried buckets. It has Kate Winslet in it. I love her. She plays the young Iris. Judi Dench plays her when she is older. She is a great actress. She is going to win an academy award I bet. I highly recommend this movie. You'll love it. Especially if you are a writer.
Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 1.11.02
Kicking it with tha homeboys
LitRave at Green?!? What LitRave? Green is my home, my family! And you know how it is when you go to visit family... First, you never get there on time. Then, as if being late is not enough, you practically don't listen to what your family members are saying but instead play with that cute little niece or nephew, exchange some hugs with your favorite cousins, and then you and your special little "family clique" get together and talk about whatever comes to mind without paying attention to the rest of the gang. After that, you get some food, talk some more, and then everybody scatters until the next family reunion.
That's exactly what happened to me last night at Green. I am a Green homegirl for gosh' sake! First, it was Johnny... I mean, Jelena come lately. Then, I couldn't resist playing with Tai, Damon and Robin's 6-month old son. He is soooo cute! And no matter what anybody says, Damon, he looks exactly like you except for those huge brown eyes he must have gotten from his mom.
After that, instead of listening to other people's poetry (like a good LitRaver should), I had to schmooze with my homeboys, Poetri, Gimel and Omari and my homegirl Gina. And then, I got into philosophizing and freestyling with Kwame and Lloyd, and before I knew it, it was the end of the reading. Then, we went to Denny's (a Green tradition), some ate, some talked, some did both. And that's about all I remember about last night's Litrave. So, don't ever expect me to submit journalistically relevant reports about my family, 'cause I'm jus' kickin' it wid muh homeboys. That's all (folks)!
Wayman Barnes 1.10.02
Green goes to Culver City
And there is no better place than Green for that. Especially, with Dj Jedi on the turntables, Damon (or, in this case, Poetri) running the show, and the old gang in the audience. Welcome to 2002, indeed. May we never be apart.
Thursdays at 8
4342 Sepulveda Blvd.
(two blocks south of Washington Blvd.)