About Us


Wayman Barnes 5.25.01
The Jamaica Kincaid Birthday Bash

Jamaica Kincaid turned 52 today. To celebrate we went to Cha Cha Chicken and had a grand old time. We had all kinds of Caribbean cuisine: plantains, jerked beef, cocoanut chicken, and Reisner family brownies (okay, the last item wasn't Caribbean, but was pretty damn yummy).

We each took a turn reading a passage from Jamaica's wonderful book, Lucy. We think everyone's favorite part was the section about going to a camera shop and getting laid. Funny stuff.

Besides the obligatory Happy Birthday Song, there was a lot of singing at our table. David and Wayman sang a beautiful version of "On Top of Spaghetti" and Nathalie did a very cute Twenties-style lead-in to "He's a Jolly Good Fellow" to the delight of all the customers in the restaurant.

After Cha Cha Chicken closed we went to Nat's house and told stories late into the night. We don't know how Jamaica's party went in Vermont, but the one we had here in California was superb.

Wayman Barnes 5.22.01
If you haven't gone to the Dialogue Among Civilizations Through Poetry website, do so. Back in March Poetic License and a couple hundred other poetry readings from around the globe celebrated poetry month the right way, by promoting world peace. Go to the site and read all about it. Cool stuff.

My favorite part is Los Angeles 2, photo 15. Can you figure out which poem Frankie Drayus is reading? I can. In fact, I can even tell you which word.

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 5.21.01
If you are an ethnically conscious spoken word artist, and you want to contribute to the enlightenment of your community while meeting people with the same aspirations, then Leimert Park is definitely a place to be.

Every Saturday night, from 8 to 10 PM, Aroma Zone tea and coffee house in Leimert Park hosts the Soul Speech poetry reading and open mic. Soul Speech is produced by Soulforce Communications, a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising consciousness, betterment and enlightenment of the community through poetry, spoken word, and other types of artistic expression. And you don't have to be of African descent to be welcomed at the Zone -- just bring the message of peace, understanding, and belief in the Most High, and you are on your way to becoming one of the "souljahs." (souljah = warrior, but also "soul jah" - hence the spelling)

Aroma Zone coffee house is located at 3546 Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard in Leimert Park, just east of Crenshaw. The telephone number is 323-298-1555, and one of the three (very) friendly owners would be happy to give you directions how to get there if you are not familiar with the area. By the way, while you are there, try some of their tea lattes. I can personally testify they make a mean Moroccan Mint Latte.
Raving about Soul Speech and speaking from the soul for LitRave,
Jelena aka Helen The Bashful Dragon

Enter the Dragon 5.21.01
This is the Enter the Dragon staff:

a vista volunteer with long hair
plays drums
did some freestyling

former employee of ARTScorpsLA
cofounder of etd
plays keyboards
and chinese violin

new employee of ARTScorpsLA
alumnus of chinatown service center
musical director
etd workshop coordinator

cofounder of etd

toe knee
cofounder of etd
former musical director
freak advocate

love, knee :)

Wayman Barnes 5.19.01
I don't remember much about last night. I got into a groove playing the sticks and before I knew it, the night was over. Maybe next time ...

Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon 5.19.01
On Entering the Dragon
In eastern cultures, dragons are considered to be benevolent creatures symbolizing great power and strength. As power hungry as we are at Litrave, we decided to Enter The Dragon on Friday, May 18, 2001. And, we came out alive, without even a single hair on our heads burned by the dragon's fire. Enter The Dragon is an alternative spoken word happening in the old Chinatown Plaza, housed by the ARTScorpsLA, a nonprofit organization promoting fine arts in the inner city area. Every Friday night from 9 PM, a group of poets, musicians, and artists gathers around the Dragon to create a unique blend of poetry, spoken word, live music, drum circle, chanting, and whatever-your-hearts-desire type of performance art. There are no sign-up sheets, no MCs, no rules. The only rule is "respect others and don't hog the mic."

Some of us at LitRave were brave enough to "tickle the sleeping Dragon," as Harry Potter would say, and we had a pretty good time at it. Wayman mastered his skill of playing a chair instead of a drum. Kwame graced the mic with some absolutely awesome alternative freestyle spoken word. Jelena explained to everybody how poetry can change the world, and Frankie coached from the sidelines and made sure that none of the litravers become the Dragon's dinner. On the contrary, Toe Knee - our host "in the belly of the Dragon," offered us some food instead. And who says dragons are not hospitable creatures?!?!

So, if you are up to tickling the Dragon yourself, tiptoe over to our Links (careful! the Dragon is sleeping...), and click over to the Dragon's site for more information and directions. Believe me, the Dragon won't mind being awakened from the sleep any given Friday night.

With all due respect to the fellow Dragon, raving for the Litrave,
Jelena aka Helen the Bashful Dragon

Wayman Barnes 5.18.01
Enter the Dragon

If you haven't been to Enter the Dragon yet, do yourself a favor and go. It is a really cool open mic. Actually, it is more like an anti-open mic. There is no stage. No MC. No audience. No "look-at-me-I'm-a-poet" poets. Enter the Dragon is a one of a kind experience. Everyone is playing music (if you don't have an instrument, you bang on whatever you can find). Some people read their poetry or write it on the spot or improvise something to go with the moment. If you want to you can paint, or dance around, or go grab some Chinese food from across the street. At Enter the Dragon pretty much anything goes.

Enter the Dragon is at ARTScorpsLA
936 Mei Ling Way in Chinatown
Enter the Dragon is located at the ARTScorpsLA studio in the Central Plaza of Chinatown. It can be accessed either from Hill Street or Broadway. The studio is set away from the street.

Wayman Barnes 5.6.01
My San Diego Diary
~Ahmad calls me and asks if we would like to go to San Diego for the annual Love Jone's Poetry Night. I tell him that San Diego is a long way to drive for a poetry reading. He tells me that it is being sponsored by the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority. I tell him that I will be there.
~I find out that Frankie doesn't share my fascination with sororities. In fact, she doesn't seem to like them at all.
~So I go alone. San Diego is a long trip! Especially in this traffic. And I have brought the worst mix tape ever recorded. I must have been high when I made this. It is a strange combination of the Chemical Brothers and Paul McCartney.
~I am early. UCSD is a very strange place. It is too Sci-Fi for my tastes. I am going to check out the beaches.
~Wow! This is the California I always dreamed of growing up - all bikinis and bushy blond hairdos. I really need a convertible.
~I am eating something called a rolled-up taco. I am going to call it a taco-in-a-straw, because that is what it looks like. They give you a bunch of these (since they are so skinny) and then top them with guacamole and lettuce. The whole thing is very tasty. And the lettuce (no joke) is the best I ever tasted.
~The reading is at the Cross Cultural Center. It is in a very wooded area of the campus. It reminds me of summer camp.
~There is a big turnout!
~Ahmad and Damon are doing a great job of getting the UCSD students to get up and read their poetry (I was afraid it was going to be just the Green people). It is always great to see someone share their poetry in front of an audience for the first time.
~Damon is being very funny.
~The second half of the show is a slam competition. The students give it the " Old college try " (sorry), but King Lyric G takes the Grand Prize anyway. With Jasmine coming in a very close second.
~We are now eating at Denny's (a Green tradition, apparently). It seems like we have brought a big chunk of the audience with us.
~I am sooo tired. I don't even want to think about the long drive home.
~Gaknew needs a ride home. Ahmad (his ride down here) is a streetracing fanatic and wants to show all the streetracers in San Diego who is boss before he leaves.
~I don't think Gaknew likes my Chemical Brothers/Paul McCartney mix tape.
~I try to keep the conversation going to keep myself awake. Gaknew falls asleep in the middle of his sentence.
~He wakes up an hour later and finishes the sentence.

Wayman Barnes 5.4.01
The Green goes to San Diego

We would like to thank the Green for inviting us to tag along with them on their trip to San Diego. It was a lot of fun. And a heckuva drive.

Do check out The Green. They put on a great hip-hop poetry reading every Thursday night (8-10) at Tanner's Coffeehouse (4342 Sepulveda Blvd.)in Culver City. Tell Damon and Ahmad we said "Hello."

Wayman Barnes 4.14.01
The Hollywood Sign Poetry Reading

About a year ago, a group of us hiked up to the Hollywood Sign. It took about 40 minutes on an old road that snaked around the back way and put us at the top, looking down at the sign. Of course, there was a fence there to keep us from getting any closer. It seemed a shame to get so close without actually touching the sign, so we started climbing over. Just then a loud disembodied voice warned us not to go any farther or we would be arrested. This is when we noticed all the security cameras pointing our way.

We shouted up that we just wanted to touch it. But the voice was insistent that we would be going to jail if we did. So we climbed off the fence, disappointed that we hadn't reached our goal. Still the voice seemed friendly enough, so we stood up there and talked to it for a long time.

Ever since then whenever we saw the Hollywood Sign, we would be reminded of the person stuck up there having to watch it all day. This thought would always make us sad. It seemed like a very lonely job. So this Easter weekend we thought we would do something special for that security guard. We hiked up there and did something we thought they would really enjoy - we read POETRY!

Sandra Andrews - "To My Flaky Friends, Wherever You Are."
B-Tok - "The Nature Versus" And "Hollywood."
Jelena - "Color Coded."
Frankie Drayus - "Ode to the Hollywood Sign Security Guard" and "Needed Things."
Marietta - "The Ocean" and "No One Ever Admits 'Cats'Sucked."
Wayman Barnes - "Welcome to Hollywood, Mr. Barnes."

Cindy 4.10.01
I'm just not a poetry gal.

Vicki V. 4.9.01
dashed from school to catch the voices of the LitRave gang at un-urban cafe, but arrived after the last words had been read. everyone was smiling and chatting so the night must have gone well...till we read again. your struggling student, writer, and friend,

Judith 4.6.01
Hi LitRave!
Comments about Wednesday evening? Well, I really liked listening to all your texts and the way it was presented. The open house and nonconformist atmosphere of the coffeehouse, where you can consume but don't have to, is really nice.

What I admire most is that you all seem to enjoy doing this, because both writing and presenting has always been a nightmare for me.

But, fortunately, we are not all the same: one designs bridges or buildings which the other thinks is difficult and the other writes poetry which the one thinks is a hell-of-a-lot more difficult than designing bridges!! (Designing bridges is learnable, but writing poetry that sounds good is not!)

Ok, I stop babbling and keep on working.

Wayman Barnes 4.6.01
Hey. I'd like to thank all the poets who read at Disturbin' the Un-Urban and all the people who showed up just to watch and support. And David Reisner for risking life and limb to take the photos. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Wayman Barnes 4.6.01

It's the way I remembered it.

Frankie Drayus 4.6.01
That is not what happened at all ..

Wayman Barnes 4.4.01
Disturbin' the Un-urban

Things were just this side of normal when we walked into the Un-urban Coffeehouse. The host, Tony, was setting up the microphone for the usual Wednesday night reading and Isa was making some of  the regulars their espresso. No one had told them that we were crashing their open mic. They had no idea the litrave was coming.

Tony did the intro with his usual panache, starting with one of his favorite poems about a mother who refuses to talk about France. Unfortunately, we had brought along quite a few French-speaking Europeans and they did not know what to make of his comments. Seeing that we were quickly becoming a mob, Tony sat down and told us to just introduce ourselves. And that is exactly what Wayman Barnes did. He then did some poems that made fun of Nietzsche, Sartre, and Foucault  - a blatant attempt to win over the Europeans.

Following him was Marietta who did a poem that made everyone in the coffeehouse feel like they were just chillin'. She then passed the microphone to Thurston Sutton. He laid on the charm and read about a trip he made to Florida and other places "south."

After that Amy Finnochio hopped up on stage and did her "S" poem. It was ssssuperb. She also bemoaned the difficulties of pure carnal connection. It seemed obvious that ssssomething ssssexy was beginning to happen, but Jackie Browne changed the mood with a serious poem that she had written specifically for the evening, "Un-urbanity." It was nice to see Jackie back on stage performing again.

Frankie Drayus then startled everyone by performing a slight striptease and reciting some love poems for her main squeeze, including the clever "Ode to David's Liver."

It seemed Damon Rutledge might have been slightly influenced by her when he did a piece that we all thought was going to be a love poem, but turned out to be something completely different. Apparently, Damon does not do "love" poems.

The mood of the evening became very jovial when the Un-urban regular, Barry, performed his comic monologue about giving piano lessons to breasts with aggressive women attached. Some of us wondered how we could get that job. Barry was then followed by Dan Collins who reminded us that life is not always so happy with his intense poem, "Denial of Day."

Keeping things in a serious vain, Ivan then did his piece about intolerance called, "White Christians." It was beginning to seem like our little soirée was taking a rather bleak turn.

Just then, sensing that we needed a good pick-me-up, Isa the barista emerged from behind the espresso machine and threw down some words of her own. All in all, an excellent night.