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Charlotte O'Brien 1.10.02
I am Woman ... Hear Me

There is a certain Woman that I look for and occasionally find. And when I do find her, I recognize her and I am moved. This type of Woman vibrates, resonates, and you don't know why, you can't put your finger on it but it's there and you can't help but feel touched. I've heard it said that these Women come in threes. Last night I found three of these Women. Imagine that! Three Women weaving songs and stories and of course poetry and how could we not have come away cast under their spell?

One by one the lights were turned low at Hutch's BBQ. Jaha Zainabu stepped up to the stage – not a microphone – who needs a mic when you have a voice like that? Someone turned on the light hanging low behind her, and she was bathed in tiny beads of color. We were hooked…then the cello, then her voice.

Jaha has the type of voice you can't help but be hypnotized by. Her words spill out like a cat purring around your legs, into your lap. You can't help but listen to every word, intonation. You can't help but watch the way she holds her head, the way she moves when she speaks, slow, deliberate: Or the patterns that her hands make as if dancing to her words. You can't help but be charmed by her playful banter between each piece. As she rises out of herself and her poetry to realize that you're there, listening.

The venue was small and intimate and the audience gathered round, clustered. Jaha made her audience welcome and in turn her audience welcomed her. Gradually the performance bellied out as though a whole nine months were s welling into the space of two hours. Intimate, doesn't really cut it. It was almost as though we had stumbled into a bedroom or a living room or a Woman's kitchen and she was performing just for us, unabashed, as though she knew we were there and didn't care. She was just doing her thing…All of them were.

If you haven't seen Ms. Grey perform yet then you need to make it a priority. She was Jaha's feature poet. Sometimes there just aren't words…but I'm gonna give it my best shot.

Bridget Gray stepped up in the most amazing coat I have ever seen. A hand knitted coat of many colors and the way the light strung beads across her shoulders. Well, I don't know how I'd missed it before but I hadn't noticed how delicate, how exquisite, how regal her cheeks bones. It was appropriate for her to start with her signature piece "Shades of Gray". The last time I'd heard this piece it was during a slam and it packed punch. She was beautiful and sassy and I know that I for one wanted to be her and definitely wished that I'd written it. But that's part of what is so unique about her, her pieces could never be mistaken for anyone else's. Last night her edge was different. In this intimate setting, she exposed to us a side of Woman that is in essence in all of us: The part that we as Women are forever trying to hide. She simply spread her colors out on the floor in front of us: so brave and open. She was everything that I admire about that certain type of Woman, and I was blessed to witness such a moving performance. I was weeping with her. She was everything…EVERYTHING, but grey.

She got a standing ovation.

We came to the end of this cypher with someone who I have a hunch is one of Jaha's very close friends Aquiah. She was…well I don't like to overuse this word, and I don't want to devalue what she did, but in this instance I just gotta say it. Like Bridget and Jaha before she was absolutely beautiful. You ever met a Woman who is beautiful only on the outside? Well, I think that part of what distinguishes these girls as Women is this. These Women stepped up beautiful and stayed beautiful, no I take that back…got more beautiful. It was when Aquiah (who admitted that she was shy about singing) opened her mouth and sang like…like…like. Well, like a f---ing Goddess that I knew she was truly how she looked. She followed this song with a piece she had "dug out" of her bottom drawer. If that's' the old stuff then I sure would like to hear her do some more recent pieces. She left as suddenly as she had come and I kinda felt a little cheated. Like But wait a minute girl, I just know you've got more…

And more there will be. Hutch's BBQ is hosting Jaha's show every Wednesday night at 8:30pm. I know that I'm gonna be there every week. This is the type of show I've missing in my life. These are the types of Women I look for and aspire to. I hope Jaha will forgive me for quoting from one of her poems aptly entitled "You…Woman" but "Sister, you Woman when there are some things you just know because the heavens told you." And I know that this is a whole lota Woman for one little show.

Also, don't miss Jaha featuring at Mia this Saturday night OR her upcoming performance in the Vagina Monologues. I guess you'll need to go see her for details.


Journey with Jaha
Wednesdays at 8:30
Hutch's Barbecue
390 E Walnut
626 449 8095

Saturday at 7:30, FREE
At Tanner's Coffee
On Colorado between 2nd and 4th in Santa Monica

The Exorcist 1.9.02
Hi. This is a report from the Exorcist. I went to the lounge. First one of the year. They have a slam on the 22nd.Mr. Young did an old piece, Slim did a new one and so did Thea. She got a standing ovation for hers. The last line was 'what's the use of being a butterfly if you're still in your cocoon?' Steve Conell did a piece and Talaam Acey was the feature for the night. He probably did about 20 minutes.Very racy material. Very sexual. There was another feature in the second half. Talaam closed the first half. The second guy was from Atlanta and he was a host for a poetry spot there called 'Poetry Planet'. He did a really long piece on people's thoughts, the origin of thoughts, tax on thoughts etc. His second piece was called 'Nasty Shit' and dissed McDonald's cheeseburgers. Trippy piece. He talked about the fries coming over on a potato slave ship?! One poet did a great piece on his love of birthday cakes. Talked about not using a fork but his hands instead because he's nasty like that. Ended with taking life one slice at a time.2 girls played guitar. One of them who ended the night had a chorus that everyone joined in on 'I want to fuck John Hanson' Talked about running her hand through his locks and betting that they all had really big cocks. Brought the house down. A lot of new faces and a marked absence of regulars. This has been a report from the Exorcist

Wayman Barnes 1.8.02
I finally, finally made it to Roni'z Bakstreeet Cometri at the Comedy Store and, boy, was I glad I did. Great reading, incredible singers, and a phenomenal backing band. This reading is about to have it's FIFTH anniversary! Which is a millenium in poetry venue years. And that alone should tell you all you need to know about the place. Go!

Roni's Bakstreet Cometri
The Comedy Store
First Monday of each month
8433 Sunset Blvd.
West Hollywood
Must be over 21 years of age
There is a $5 cover and a two drink minimum

The Exorcist 1.8.02
Hi this is the exorcist back from the dead. Quick breakdown on the happenings at Midnight Special this Friday. Lee Slocum tickled me. 'all work and no play makes the Taliban a dull boy'. One kid did a Russian Roulette poem. one verse between each empty chamber click and he getting more frustrated each time he was denied death. Then 'boom' at the end of the poem. Fresh piece. True original. Talaam Acey did his poem about when he was a 15 year old at a vd clinic. This has been a report from the exorcist

Wayman Barnes 1.6.02
Way to go, Schofield!

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 1.6.02
Mamma Mia!

That's exactly what I would have said last night if I were Italian. Not only does "Mia" (@Tanners Coffeehouse in Santa Monica) host some good poetry, but it can get quite kinky, mind you. Just like last night... Matriona and Rev. Dave both read poems that could go under the "kinky" category. The gracious hostess, Charlotte O'Brien wasn't far behind with her poem "Pele," and neither was Leslie Ann Neal. The feature, John Schofield, laced his reading with striptease, and to top it all off, Larry Jaffe had some "Unprotected Poetry" in the end. Next time I'm thinking twice before I go to another poetry reading, or I might end up at an orgy instead...

Wayman Barnes 1.3.01
Don't ask me how I ended up in this situation, but I was watching the Def Poetry Jam with two stoned young men. I don't think either of them realized I was sitting between them, they were too busy staring at the poets on the screen. Then one of them turned to the other and said, "Dude, I want to make fun of this, but I don't know how."

I think that means the show was a success.

Wayman Barnes 1.2.02
Whitman on a Windshield

It wasn't enough to catch people unawares with poetry on their windshield. We wanted to simultaneously cheer them up, inspire them, and make them feel sorta naughty. And there was only one poet we could think of who would fit the bill … Walt Whitman!

Okay, there have been cheerier poets. And, yes, more inspiring ones. And, if you must, naughtier. But very few have been all three as well as our boy, Walt. And that is exactly what we wanted the customers of Von's grocery store to be thinking on their way home.

Wayman Barnes 12.30.01
Of course, if you want to add your own Performance Poetry Manifesto to the LitRave forum send it to moi.

John Schofield 12.30.01
A Performance Poetry Manifesto

1. There are no great performances without great audiences. A great performance is a collaboration between the speaker and the listener. Performers should view the attention, silence, and appreciation of the audience as valuable gifts that should not be squandered.

2. Only perform works that you like. It doesn't have to be finished; it doesn't have to be perfect; you don't have to love it -- but at least like it. Make sure there's something about it you're proud of before you share it with us. If you think it's boring, why should we think any different?

3. Don't be afraid to fail. A good reading is a place where it's safe to fail once in a while. If we don't fail sometimes, we aren't being daring enough.

4. Know your tools. As a poet, your tools are your words, your voice, and your microphone. You should know your words well enough that it doesn't sound like you're reading someone else's scribbled handwriting. Rehearse. This is a performance. Pay attention to how you sound, especially if you're using a microphone.

5. Reach the audience. If you're sweating, you're doing good. If the audience is sweating, you're doing great. If your work does not reach the audience, never blame them. Instead, change your material or your approach. While we all write to please ourselves, we must also consider how other people will perceive our work. If we truly wrote just for ourselves, we would simply put our work in a drawer when it was done. There is no shame in sincere applause, and popularity does not necessarily imply mediocrity.

This manifesto should not be thought of as a list of rules, but a starting point for a discussion among poets and those who love poetry. Please send any comments to coyotehighway.com
--John Schofield

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 12.30.01

Now, about this "incarnation of James Baldwin" business... Although I am at the same time honored and intrigued by the thought, it is virtually impossible for me to be his physical incarnation. I'll let you in on a secret: I was born way before Mr. Baldwin passed away (December 1987). On the other hand, 1988 was the year when I started "taking my poetry seriously," so if there is such a thing as poetic incarnation, I'll take Wayman's insinuations anytime! Besides, the incarnation theory would be a neat response to the question I get all the time: "How did you ever come to an idea to write that poem 'if I were a Black Man, would you take my pain seriously then?"

By the way, for all you uncool cats who don't know who James Baldwin is, check the libraries and the Internet for info. And for all you cool cats, please let me know if you have a copy of Mr. Baldwin's book "Jimmy's Blues." I'd like to borrow it sometime. (Gotta do my research, ya know!)

On a different note, I have no idea who Billy Dean is although it may sound as though he knows me. (He almost fooled me, too!) And although I liked his poem, NO, I did not follow him anywhere. True, recently I followed somebody else, and some of the verses there pretty much describe what happened, but his name is definitely NOT Billy Dean. And he is not the type who'd kiss and tell anyway.


Billy Dean 12.30.01
This Lady is a Moon

The stars put on the same old twinkle, twinkle
Every night
But she takes off her velvet wrap
Curve by curve,
Then stands in the spotlight--
Still, iridescent and nude.

This public face winks at her fans,
But her smile is a thin disguise.
Can you see the scars on her soft cheeks
Where critics have thrown hard things at her?

Wise old owls ask "Who? Who are you?"
Wolves and maniacs beg to see,
But she keeps her private side for only me.
She sends me love notes, too--
Not in tossed bottles,
But riding waves kissing sand.
I read her ebb and flow in the tides
Lapping code upon the shore.

She followed me home last night
Quietly as smoke drifting through the trees.
To light the street?
To tease my dreams?
Who can tell?
But I liked walking,
Wrapped in her big-eyed glow...

Copyright 2001 Billy Dean

Wayman Barnes 12.29.01
The Bashful Dragon Boogaloo

This will make sense to no one except me, but I will say it anyway: Jelena Andjelkovic is the reincarnation of James Baldwin (or maybe I should say the James Baldwin that is in a photo book I have at home). She has the same fire in her eyes, the ready-to-pounce body, and the expressive, dangerous, dancing hands (Can you tell I've been going to a lot of poetry readings lately?). I think I've even seen her wear the same shirt.

I always find it exciting to see someone whose work I know really well do a feature. It allows me to hear the poems in a different context and as part of a larger body of work. I find that I always end up seeing the poet in a different way (in this particular case, as James Baldwin).

The "Mia" poetry reading at the Tanner's Coffeehouse in Santa Monica has been a wonderful place to see up and coming poets do their first feature. Yet another excellent reason to support them (The other being their kahuna-sized mochas. 'nuff said.). ~ WB

PS: For all you unhip cats that wrote me asking what a boogaloo is: it's a dance.

PSS: For all you unhip cats who are about to write me and ask me what a bashful dragon is: it's Jelena's nom de plume.

Saturday at 7:30, FREE
At Tanner's Coffee
On Colorado between 2nd and 4th in Santa Monica
It's usually outside, so dress appropriately.

Mike the Poet 12.28.01

WaymaN & JelenA & all LitRavers..

Much love on a great 2001 & onward into 2002!
LitrAvE will be there bringing the facts on LA poetics..
Brilliant breakdowns full of insight, humor & info..

Respect to you folks, things are gettin' better all the time!

the words are shinin' bright,
Mike Sonksen

Leslie Moore 12.23.01
Merry Christmas LitRavers!!!

Wayman Barnes 12.23.01

I'd like to add that in addition to being a wonderful poet Kwame has a beautiful singing voice.

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 12.23.01
Forget Tuesdays with Maurie -- Think Saturdays with Mia!

I can't tell you why Charlotte O'Brien picked Saturday for her weekly poetry reading in the first place ("Mia" @ Tanner's Coffeehouse in Santa Monica) but I tell you she had a perfect feature last night. Not only is he a poet and musician extraordinaire, but he was BORN on a Saturday and he has the name to prove it (Kwame - personal name of Akan origin denoting a male child born on Saturday).

Without a doubt, Kwame James mesmerized us with his "Magic Words." The mix of poetry and music that "spilled out of his cup that overflowed and spilled in to the void" definitely proved (as though any proof was necessary) that Kwame has "all the style he needs" and persuaded us that he can rightfully claim, "I am that I am." Indeed, there is no other like him... So, if you hear Kwame James is featuring at a poetry spot in town, go see him! That is, if you too want to be mesmerized.

Also, come by Santa Monica Tanner's next Saturday to hear (shameless plug goes here) the undersigned as a featured poet. By the way, I was born on a Saturday too, so that tells you something, doesn't it?


Saturday at 7:30, FREE
At Tanner's Coffee
On Colorado between 2nd and 4th in Santa Monica

Wayman Barnes 12.18.01
It was a very special evening at Monday Night Poetry last night. The Emerging Urban Poets were celebrating the publication of their Fall 2001 anthology. Everyone in the audience was given a complimentary one and read along with the poet. Very cool.

Emerging Urban Poets: Lynn Halley Allgood, Aspartame, Mel Bernstein, Calokie, Don "Kingfisher" Campbell, Circe, Tish Eastman, Thom Garzone, Tom M. Hall, Eleanor Higgins, Rossie E. Stewart, Eugene Topalian, Damon B. Wiliams

Monday Night Poetry
Monday (duh) at 8pm, FREE

Emerging Urban Poets Workshop
Saturdays from 1-3pm, FREE

Santa Catalina Branch of the Pasadena Public Library
999 E. Washington Blvd. in Pasadena
(Two blocks east of Lake)