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Frankie Drayus 12.17.01
RATTLE Poetry Editor Stellasue Lee introduced Lucille Clifton by saying she had bathed in the well of Wisdom. After listening to her read her poetry, I believe her.

Lucille Clifton is my new hero. Many writers claim to be honest, unpretentious, or unaffected by what others think, but Ms. Clifton may be the first person I've encountered who truly exemplifies all these traits. If I ever grow up, she will be my role model; this woman is not afraid of anything. She's never let anything stop her - not poverty, not cancer, not the judgement of narrow-minded people. And having conquered these things (repeatedly), she was able to stand before us smiling, no trace of bitterness to be found. On Sunday afternoon at the Skirball Center, in between sometimes heartrending and always beautiful poems, she told us she first got published "when my children were 7, 5, 4, 3, 2 and 1." Okay - no more excuses for the rest of us about not having time to write! After a generous sampling of her work, she answered impromptu questions from the audience and occasionally had us in stitches. If you get the opportunity, go see this woman. And read "Homage to My Hips." Part of the Rattle Series - for more info check out www.skirball.org and www.rattle.com

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 12.17.01
Haunting and Guidance

What does a poetic diva do if she is "Haunted by Want, Guided by Don't Need" all year long? She makes it into a full-blown dope a$$ spoken word show, of course. And the woman who definitely CAN do that is Rachel Kann. And she did it last night at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood.

"Haunted by Want, Guided by Don't Need" is Rachel's one-woman show (with some help from her friend, DJ Lynk) that takes the audience on a tour of one woman's (Rachel's) year from December through January, February... and so on, ending with another December. Rachel's poetry flows smoothly over the beats DJ is spinning, and she slips skillfully from one mood to another, from whisper to a scream and back to whisper again, emotions flooding the room, bouncing off the walls, hitting the hearts of the audience with little spoken word arrows, so we bleed when Rachel bleeds, and we lust when Rachel lusts, and we feel her every word reverberating through the sea of our own emotions. And when this spoken word flood has subsided, we find ourselves unable to say anything but "Wow!" for about five minutes after the performance end. As a matter of fact, I'm still pretty much in the state of awe.

So, if you want to catch Rachel performing before the end of this year, get to the city of Orange Wednesday night (Wednesday, December 19th). She'll be performing her show at the Ugly Mug Cafe, starting at 8 p.m. The admission is free, so jump into that car and go see her. You won't regret it, I promise!

Charlotte O'Brien 12.17.01

Chromosome X: Yes, It's True

Yes it's true Rachel Kann does have a poem for every month and Rachel Kann is on fire! Chromosome X was a "Dope Ass show" and Rachel was the show, featuring herself with "Haunted by want/Guided by don't need". I was melting in my seat under the heat of WOMAN. Splendid, magnificent beautiful WOMAN. The open micers were smoldering with songs and poems of sex and heat and love and lust, and all of those crazy emotions that go along...the ones you can't pin down, but DAMN did they pin them down. The men had odes and anguish, the Women were howling. I didn't look, but I just KNOW that the moon was ripe and full like a buttered crumpet, dripping down on all of us in heat. Guest hosts were talented and gorgeous. We all left sweating.

The only thing I wonder is, where are all the Women? I swear there are more men at this night than there are Women and I wonder why. It's the most breathtakingly dedicated forum for all of our raw raging complicated complaining openness. Chromosome X is the perfect place to get things off our breasts and none of us are there!?

Chromosome X
Once a month at
The Knitting Factory
7021 Hollywood Blvd
(at Sycamore, 1 blk E. of La Brea)
10 pm SUPER sharp (open mic sign up at 9:30)
$5(no drink minimum, all ages) www.inspirachel.com

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 12.16.01
Kiss of Death

Why is it that poetry venues we rave about close shop right after we have let everyone know how good they are (Aftaglow, Poets Cabin, In the Flow, RHYTHMz...)? We have to examine our editorial policy, Mr. Editor! Or maybe we should get rid of those voodoo dolls... And yes, you've heard it right -- RHYTHMz is closing shop, too. Come support their last run tonight, and let everyone else know. They want to go out with a big bang, and to that end, they have two absolutely amazing features to help them: Mike Sonksen and Phil Martin (aka PhilHarmonic).

When: Sunday, December 16th, at 7 PM.
Where: Zen Restaurant (upstairs)
Hyperion and Griffith Park in Silverlake.
Why: Because we love them. (We'll miss you, Brandon and Larry!)

And, just where did you hide those voodoo dolls, Wayman?!?

Wayman Barnes 12.16.01
I arrived a bit late, but what I heard of Michelle Daugherty's feature at "Mia" was kick ass!

Frankie Drayus 12.16.01
Art/Life at Art City
15 December 2001

Twenty-seven published poets, paintings of nude women in every color and position imaginable adorning the walls, (note to Charlotte: Pele was EVERYWHERE) and countless shivering but loyal audience members all packed into a single art gallery for an amazing afternoon of spoken art... Now what did YOU do on Saturday? We drove up to Ventura for this special Art/Life event with both Phil Taggart and Joe Cardella in the house, not realizing it was the end of an era - Art City will be no more at its present location. People came all the way from Italy and Oakland and Marin and San Luis Obispo just to be there. (Okay - only one foreign country. But Northern California counts as a foreign country when you've lived here long enough.) Amy Uyematsu confessed to putting in her contact lenses backwards and driving around blind for an hour before figuring it out. Wayman was sick but pretending he wasn't, determined to make it through. "It's just allergies," he lied, grabbing for yet another tissue. No one can sneeze as quietly as Wayman in a public place. Other poets stunning me with their brilliance included Tim Pompey, Jeanette Clough (a fisherman knows how to unlock water), David Oliveira, Kevin Patrick Sullivan, Joyce LaMers, Gwendolyn Alley, Glenna Luschei, friday, Adrianne Marcus, David Starkey, Robert Chianese, Philip Greenlief, Jill Waldren, Kimberley Young, Carol Davis, Enid Osborne, Elijah Inlay, Jamie O'Halloran, J.G. Bertrand, Doris Vernon, Shelly Savren, Eleanor McNaughton, Virginia (with the very cute dog), Jackson Wheeler... Thanks to all of you, my head is filled with images of electrons stroking their quarks while Jupiter's moons spin around the Pilot House Motel where no one notices the girl who secretly loves the riots rising from Meeks Bay and shimmering like two giant turquoise glass earrings against lustrous black hair. I am utterly overwhelmed.

When the last poet had spoken (actually, the painter of Pele reading his girlfriend's poems), we headed home down PCH, Red Hot Chili Peppers and REM blasting as waves crashed off to our right under the starlight. We were already filled with words so we inhaled music. Each time I turned up one song, Wayman would try to outdo me and turn up the next even louder. Needless to say we can't hear anything today but we had a great afternoon of poetry. What else matters?

Eat your chicken soup, Wayman. I don't want to ride shotgun with anyone else tomorrow. And the rest of you need to check out Art/Life. It's twenty-one years old and it can do whatever the hell it wants. Be transformed: www.art-life.com

Wayman Barnes 12.15.01
This poetry reading was too cool for school. I really, really liked it. All the poetry was top notch. There was free coffee and cookies. And everyone was as sweet as can be. Definitely worth the trip to OC.

Tebot Bach
Last Friday of each month at 8
Fidelity Federal Bank
19900 Beach Boulevard
Huntington Beach, CA

Frankie Drayus 12.9.01
Dear Wayman -

Thank you for letting me babysit your car while you are in Texas. I'm so used to riding shotgun it took me a little while to get used to the driver's seat. Not that I went anywhere or anything. If all your tapes are not exactly where you left them, perhaps there was an earthquake. Just keep looking. I'm sure they'll turn up. Especially that tape with Prodigy and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Oh, and ignore the appearance of all those extra miles on the odometer. Maybe there was another earthquake and something shook loose. It's been really windy here. Maybe that's what did it.

Oh - and you needed new tires anyway.
- Frankie

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 12.9.01

Now, I know many people would say, "it's either music or poetry -- it can't be both, it can't be in-between." Well... I don't quite agree with that. At least not when it comes to Totem Maples.

I heard Totem Maples first a couple of months ago at RHYTHMz, and fell in love at first sound. Their music is jazzy enough but not overworked, innocent enough but not too sweet, bluesy enough but not too heavy... in two words, their music is just right. And the spoken word, the "unshackled poetry," pulls just the right strings of audiences' hearts. At least, that's what it does to mine. And in one moment I want to snap my fingers to that guitar tune, in the next I want to dance to that conga beat, and in the following one I feel like crying in perfect rhythm with the rainy sound of the keyboard and Larry's poetic word. Totem Maples are mighty indeed!

There is one problem, though: they don't perform in Los Angeles very often. So, when they do, it's a real treat. Last night, that treat was served at the Un-Urban Coffeehouse in Santa Monica, and boy was it sweet! You should have been there! You really should have been there! I'm glad I was.

By the way, Totem Maples will have their first CD coming out beginning of next year, so make sure to get one. I have already reserved my place in line, and will be waiting patiently. Guess, once they become famous, I can start boasting I was their first official groupie.

If you want more information about the band, or to find out where they are performing next, visit their website at www.totemmaples.com and get your name on their mailing list. These 4 guys and a girl are going to be big some day soon. They are going to be really big!

William Myers 12.6.01

We were in the Yule,-
Our hair was done,-
The look was northward,
But heat began our body's ring,
His saving bell and holly's color
Dieing for adjacent berries
Acceptance at the end of time,
The manger gifts of foreign men
Laid no please his mother
By the camel's park
And humor at the pole.

We were inundating by the singing snow
That bestowed glee upon us to mistletoe
Another tree and rank the passing baskets
For the fruit we'd never eat
And oranges all for me,
That nobody had discovered
Bulging in the choir loft
And water's sanctuary
Making haste to sleigh the death that Santa's
Elves had stacked for music's sake,
Or e-mails for the south.

We cried his name is Jesus
The gift of Christmas last
And heading out to sea
When men were the entire west,
The likely for his promise
Skipping though our street,
For the package deals
Waiting underneath,
That he was looking hard
And all the best of me.

We were the falling snow incarnate
Into the our blessed day
The knot was tied and left,
The chosen path a ribbon to hang the waiting day
His own would leave for dead,
These shining eyes the window lights
That passing soldiers spied
On their way to next year
Looking for his mother
And Joseph's kids again:
We were the dawning day;

Now he is again.

Thank-you, and a merry . com o-matic: www tech chief ahead of time

Wayman Barnes 12.2.01

Where in the hell were you?! RHYTHMz was the place to be last night! Frankie Orange Superstar was featuring with her baby brother, Neil Aitken. They were trading off poems like ol' school wrestlers. Slammin' em down on the mat and everything. They even gave each other noogies, I swear!

It was a very special show, one of those "you had to be there" nights. But RHYTHMz is always like that. The last time we went there were a bunch of rock bands mixing it up with the poets. You never know what to expect when you go there, which is part of the charm. They are keeping the poetry edge sharp.

Check them out!

The other performers were: Eva Stippel, John Schofield, Brandon Backhaus, Cindy Bailey, Mark Gonzalez, Alice Pero, Larry Jaffe, Tom M. Hall, Keith Myers, Sharifae, Wayman Barnes, & Russell Salamon.

Sundays 7-10pm, free
Zen Restaurant Theatre
2609 Hyperion Blvd., Silverlake

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 12.2.01
PS: For those who want to know, Wayman has a brand new chapbook out there, titled "Titty Titty Caca." Now, if you don't mind owning something sounding this suspicious, buy it, buy it, buy it! You'll definitely get your laugh's worth, I mean your money's worth. And yes, I have to promote my friend shamelessly, since he didn't think to do it himself.

Wayman Barnes 12.2.01
Dear Jelena,
No one thinks of you as a shameless self-promoter. Anyone with half a brain knows that I am the shameless self-promoter and the reason I posted your personal e-mail on the News page is because I want some wearable art for Christmas. In particular the piece called "Afrika." Okay? ~ WB

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 12.2.01
Shameless (Self)promotion

Wayman the Magnificent really was magnificent. A whole bunch of people risked coming down with pneumonia (from sitting in the cold in front of Santa Monica Tanner's) or freezing their behinds off, to say the least, JUST TO HEAR WAYMAN feature at "Mia." And, judging by after-the-performance reactions, and during-the-performance chuckles, none of those people were disappointed. Moreover, all of them walked away happy they braved the elements and certain to follow Wayman wherever he goes. The world has a new leader: Wayman the Magnificent! Well... not quite, but I have to promote my friend who made me look like a shameless self-promoter by posting a personal e-mail I sent to him on the News page for everyone to see. So, I guess, I'll have to rely on the good old "tit for tat" strategy, and let him promote himself if he wants to have a full house at his next feature. In that spirit, I won't say another word. My lips are sealed! And if you want to hear Wayman perform, you have to ask the man himself where he is featuring next.

Wayman Barnes 12.1.01
Wayman the Magnificent

Magnificent (mag nif'e sent) adj. [Ofr < LL magnificens: see prec.] 1. beautiful in a grand or stately way; rich or sumptuous, as in construction, decoration, form, etc. 2. exalted: said of ideas, etc. and also some former rulers, as Lorenzo the Magnificent 3. [Colloq.] exceptionally good, excellent 4. Charlotte the beautiful singing a song 5. Olga Riviera reading a story about sexual communication 6. Michelle sharing a poem about the perils of growing up 7. Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon showing us a different side of her 8. Seth telling us about pity kisses and Hemingway 9. Dana Snow and his comedic bits 10. Gene doing two pieces about his daughters 11. Katie and her wonderfully thick hair 12. Raymond the Exorcist getting the demons out 13. Jenny Gabrielle's poems about love 14. Unsean's poem about his jism 15. Rev. Dave 16. Wayne doing a poem for Mia 17. Thaine H. Allison, Jr. and his friend 18. Lloyd talking about buses 19. Me being Wayman the Magnificent 20. All the LitRavers who came out to support - SYN. GRAND - mag nif' i cently adv.

Saturday at 7:30 (7 sign up)
Tanner's Coffee - Santa Monica
On Colorado between 2nd and 4th
310-829-0884 (ask for Charlotte)

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 11.30.01
The Color of Envy

"Green" is making other poetry venues in town green with envy again. Last night was another perfectly slamming (or slammingly perfect) night at "Green." Put together fourteen poets in the first round, full house, and poetic (and physical) warmth on a cold night, and you get another perfect monthly slam at "Green." DJ Jedi was spinning, poets were poeticizing, competition was hot, hot, hot... In the final round, it came down to the battle of two L.A. slam team members, one Long Beach slam team member, and Steve Connell who defies any categorization. Going into this round, Steve Connell and Rachel Kann were tied at perfect 30 each, and Shihan and Poetri were tied at 29.9 points. As a consequence of being harrassed by LAPD for speaking to himself in the street (!) just before his performance, Poetri forgot his lines. Shihan did not forget his, but judges still didn't think his performance deserved a perfect 30. Rachel Kann read a brand new poem and informed us she quit smoking 13 days ago. And then, it was time for Steve. And boy, was it a good time! The judges felt his vibe and awarded him another perfect 30. However, he ended up with a 0.5 deduction for going over time, which dropped him into 4th place. (Scream bloody murder!!!) Poetri finished in 3rd, and Rachel and Shihan were tied for the first. Since Shihan and Poetri have already qualified for the grand slam that will take place in 2002, two November spots went to Rachel Kann and Steve Connell. So, the Los Angeles slamming line-up now looks like this: Thea, Gimel, Mark Gonzales, Jovan, Rachel Kann, Steve Connell, plus the 2001 L.A. slam team -- Sekou, Shihan, Poetri and Omari. There are six slots in the grand slam still open, so if you want to run with the best, get over to Green before April next year, and slam! I just have to warn you: brace yourselves, 'cause slamming can be highly addictive.

Oh, and Steve, I hope you can hear me all the way in Burbank: I'm still screaming bloody murder!

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 11.26.01
Mea Culpa

Wayman is still my friend, but I have to give props where props need to be given... Congrats to Mike Cirelli for winning the November slam at The Big Damn Poetry Slam in Long Beach last Sunday!

And I also have to stick a foot in my mouth... I'm ashamed to say I've been misspelling Mike's last name all this time. It's not Sorelli but Cirelli with a "C". Mea culpa!!!! Hope he can forgive me...

And, Wayman, I'll be rootin' for ya at the next slam. You can do it! You can do it...

Leslie Moore 11.26.01
Hey LitRavers. I just read that JK Rowling will be the first billionare author. I am so happy for her. Hard to believe she was on the dole just a few years ago. Maybe some of her luck will rub off on us. I'm definitely going to go see Harry Potter again. Just for JK.

William Myers 11.25.01
auto taxes and substitution-landlord, homeowners; the appendage of no-return

all like minded seated tickets, whether or not the Rothschild vote is substitutionary, itself: the frequent trip by bus, a man called adam, the atomic player, final buzzer in a cohabitation mode, O streaker, your mother, her wish, a card, your date, the other, relaxation; mine the power, hitler's nose, when turned around together, the other rocks, my takeness reaching over fences, ventura, church think tank, the poor, pride and baskin, no other names, a finger, the results of this, all others, the god of yesterday, clothes, your name, your greatness, yesterday, a dose, your youth, good-bye.

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 11.24.01
Welcome to The Asylum!

There are different types of asylum. When your country's government is trying to exterminate you like a bug just because you don't agree with the official ideology, you defect and ask for political asylum. When you are "missing a brick in your wall," they send you to a different type of asylum. And when you are koo-koo over some dope spoken word, you go to Sekou's asylum.

Now, in keeping with that old adage about going to the mountain, and since Pomona wouldn't come to him, Sekou (Tha Misfit) went to Pomona and opened his asylum in front of A MIC AND under some DIM LIGHTS last night. Yes, yes, for all of you matter-of-factly people, Sekou was the featured poet at the weekly poetry happening at the Millennia Lounge. However, before we were allowed to enter the asylum, we had to warm up to eight open mic readers. First Besskepp, the gracious host of the show, got himself into "Trouble" by forgetting his lines about trouble. Four more poets followed, and then Bear confessed about his search for love saying, "When I find you with my eyes closed, I want to be able to read you like Braille." (Is that a dope line or what?!?) Three poets later, we were ready to knock on the asylum door. The MC opened the door and started us on a tour of sanitarium rooms. In the second room, a spiritual Koo-Koo was having a rather heated argument with God. In the third room, shouting could be heard: "I hate beige Jeep Grand Cherokees!" And then, since it was already early morning, he wished "Good morning, pain." In the next room, a socially conscious Koo-Koo urged us to "one brother show two brother, show three brother, show four brother, show more brother ... that's the only way we can grow, brother ... I'll tell you all you need to know, brother ... One sister show two sister, show three sister, show four sister, show more sister ... that's the only way we can grow, sister..." We closed that door quite satisfied, repeating for ourselves, "one brother show two brother..." when someone completely unexpected jumped in front of us: Uncle Four-Lips. Now ladies, you know Uncle Four-Lips, don't you?!? And if you don't, you'd better pray you meet him in this lifetime! To round out the Koo-Koo sanitarium tour, the MC returned rapping over a nice beat, and our heads were left spinning like a turntable. Not even the last three open mic readers could bring us back from the asylum. We were positively koo-koo over Ga-Ga, or should I say, we were positively ga-ga over Koo-Koo. So, if you hear Sekou Tha Misfit is featuring somewhere in town, make sure to go see him. You won't be sorry. The only thing that can happen is that you voluntarily join the asylum. Koo-koo!!!!

Also, when you get a chance, go say 'hello' to Besskepp some Friday night, grab the (open) mic, and poeticize under the dim lights. I bet you'll like it!

A Mic and Dim Lights
at the Millennia Lounge
121 W. 2nd Street (2nd and Garey)
Fridays, from 10 p.m. until whenever

Leslie Moore 11.23.01
Hi LitRavers. I just finished a book called White Teeth by Zadie Smith. I loved it so much.