Today’s Friday Friends follow this week’s continuing theme
of the transformative power of art
. Roaddawgz drop-in center
is even more than a place for San Francisco’s homeless youth to come for shelter and rest. At Roaddawgz, young people can find alternatives to the risks of living on the streets, such as incarceration
, drug addiction and death.
The best part is that they find that these alternatives are possible through their own power. Roaddawgz help youth develop job and life skills through literary and artistic activities, including recording music, creating art and writing. The youth are compensated for their work, which is published online and in zines. The program also provides mental health support, education enhancement,
and employment and technological training.
And the truth is that the Roaddawgz participants aren’t the only ones who benefit. For those of us who aren’t homeless youth, the project offers a glimpse of the triumphs and struggles of the people who are, so that we may transform our world in ways that support those who are most in need.
Visit the Roaddawgz website
for more information.
Poetry by Yusef Komunyakaa, one of my favorite poets, addressing the risks we take to create meaningful art. Blasphemy*
by Yusef Komunyakaa
You named those lies clustered in each rib cage. Attachedto some circular truth, youglimpsed soldiers of fortunesweeping their footprintswith branches of mistletoe.You showed them the corpse gardencouldn't keep blooming,not forever--black bagsof songs split open at sunrise.You copied down the earthworm'scalligraphy, broke illusion's hymen,uncovered the scars smilingunder Dutch silk, translatedthe hyena's soliloquy. You carbon-dated the skullpaperweight on the commissioner's desk& filled in with charcoalthese mental lapses--when all the gone ones resurfaced as dancing ragsin the wind, you named the beast upon the gallows tree,its sag-belly draggingthe ground. You appraised the medieval rot taking holdof dirt floors, crawling upthe cathedral's high rafters. Madness, you brought it home. *Harold Rubin was tried for blasphemy on the basis of his artwork and exiled from South Africa.
from Neon Vernacular,
I watched a movie this week that has me thinking twice this morning about the trash that I’ve created already, in the few short hours I’ve been awake today.
But Waste Land
isn’t a movie about garbage. It’s not a film about recycling. It’s not even a documentary about art, which was the impression that drew me to it. Waste Land
is about people. People who do what they can to survive. Who also hold their heads high, and smile, and yes, make art of it.
Here’s the trailer. If you get a chance to watch, I’d highly recommend it.
Jesus Angel Garcia, David Corbett,
Evelyn Pine and myself
live writing to some
damn good live music
by Erma Kyriakos
Well, that was fun!It was Easter Sunday, and perhaps I should have been
spending time with my family instead of writing sexy stories. But there I was at the Portuguese Artists Colony reading
, heart pounding, typing away for ten minutes as I put together a story based on the first thing that came to my mind upon hearing the prompt "she listened for breath."Stripper nuns. What? Am I the only one? Well, I guess I shouldn't be
ashamed of the way my mind works, because the story was a success, in the sense that it earned me just enough audience votes to win the crown. My competitors could've easily taken it -- Jesus Angel Garcia
, Evelyn Pine
and David Corbett
each were fabulous, and I was glad just to be writing alongside them. Not to mention how lovely (and distracting!) it was to write to the beautiful live music of Erma Kyriakos
. So this win means that I'll be developing my story to read at the next Portuguese Artists Colony on May 22nd. The good news, for me, is that I'll get to return for another fun evening of music and words, and this time I won't have to be nervous as hell about the live writing part.
The bad news is that now, of course, I have to figure out what in the world to do with stripper nuns in a fully developed story. We'll see how this turns out. But until then, here's part one of my winning story. Edited only to add a title and correct typos. Big thanks to the Portuguese Arists Colony writers and to everyone who was present, in body or in spirit!
Today I'm feeling antsy, because tomorrow I'll be reading, and writing. That, of course, doesn't sound any different from any ordinary day, so I should specify that I'll be doing it in front of a live audience. Scandalous, I know.Each month, the Portuguese Artists Colony
hosts a reading featuring live music, local writers, and the part that's fun for you as an audience member, and terrifying for me as a participant -- live writing. That's right, that means I'll be writing on a topic I don't yet know, to then read in competition with my fellow writers as the audience determines a winner. Fun, yes? Terrifying? ...Yes. But mostly, I'm really excited, because I know it'll be a good time. My competition will be fierce -- Jesus Angel Garcia, David Corbett and Evelyn Pine.
I'm calling myself the underdog, because while they can say "refer to my book(s) and multiple awards for proof of my writing skills," I'll be using the line "refer to my blog, where I regularly demonstrate my live writing skills by posting the first words
that pour out of my head in the morning." There will also be featured readings from writers who are not to be missed, including Shideh Etaat
and Matthew Siegel
. Plus, music by Erma Kyriakos
. It will be quite a night! At least if I'm terrified for part of the evening, I'll be entertained for the rest. And I'd love your support, if you're around the Bay Area and can make it out to the reading.
Here are the details
Sunday, April 24
Doors open at 4:30 pm
Show at 5:00 pm
As for tonight, I'll be getting cozy with some creative inspiration at one of my favorite reading series, the Living Room Reading Series
. Read this post
to learn why I love it so much, and if you're interested in attending check out the details on Facebook
. I hope to see you at some point during this lively weekend of literary life!
Happy Earth Day!
Today is a day to appreciate our natural world. How are you celebrating? Here are a few ideas
. You can also visit the Earth Day Network website
to learn more about how you can appreciate the planet that holds us, today and all year long.
And because it's Friday, today's Friday Friend is earthshots.org
. It's a simple concept, featuring each day a new breath-taking photo that reminds us of all there is to admire on our beautiful planet. There's another idea -- take a camera today, and venture into nature. Maybe you'll capture the next featured Earth Shot. Love your Mother (Earth)!
Naturally, after my fantastically action-packed weekend
, my body has fallen ill and is demanding rest. After all of the self-care and healing, I decided it was best to answer to it. So I'm sorry blog posts have been spare this week. I'll be fully back in action next week!
Today, this is what I'm thinking about as I recover: In my neighborhood, there are signs posted, letting me and my neighbors know that there will soon be a "special school" open around the corner. What makes this school so special, that it calls for neighborhood signs and meetings? Its goal will be to educate youth from the criminal justice system. And while my first thought is of the positive impact this will have on youth, the signs go on to let me know how I can voice my concerns.
No specifics about what these concerns should be. Just the implication that I should be worried that criminal youth will be in my neighborhood, doing their criminal youth things... like, you know, learning. Hmm.I have an idea. How about instead of criminalizing,
stigmatizing and isolating underprivileged youth who have made mistakes, we educate ourselves
about how providing these young folks with the opportunities they lack can help reduce their chances of repeating their mistakes, and help heal our broken, violent world in multiple ways
?Here's a great start. The Ella Baker Center
has put together an award-winning
film that shows concrete examples of how to shift from endless cycles of detention and violence to new stories of change and hope. Here's the trailer for Learning from Our Mistakes: Transforming Juvenile Justice in California
. Visit the Ella Baker Center website
to watch to film online, or to order a DVD copy with a viewer and action guide. Let's give all young people a chance at life.
I haven't had time to put together a proper post reflecting on all of the awesome that was Safetyfest 2011
, so until I do, here's a little preview.
What's left of us
What's left of us now -
the sound of our stomping
the sight of our signs
the glitter from our cheeks
the polish from our nails
the laughter of our children
the crumbs from our meals
our ink on the sheets
our wheels on the streets
Yesterday was awesome. Inspirational workshops at Safetyfest
, followed by a powerfully moving rally against violence that hurts immigrants, communities of color, women, queer folks and especially transgender folks. These are, indeed, days for building queer and trans power. And Safetyfest continues today! Some of my plans:
Here's a piece
- Another installment of Notes from Our Underground, the writing workshop that I'll co-facilitate this time with newly crowned Oakland Grand Slam Champion Sam Sax. Yesterday's workshop was really fun, so I'm excited to see what today brings.
- Then I'll have some tough choices: the youth workshop Express Your Beat, or the Safety Lab on healthy relationships? The theater workshop Change the Plot, or BDSM Safety from Top to Bottom? Where will you be? Find workshop times and locations at the Safetyfest website.
- And finally, I hope you'll join me for Queer Rebellion, tonight's action-packed performance event, where I'll be reading poetry, among other performances you won't want to miss! It begins at 7:30 at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. Click here for details.
I wrote during yesterday's Notes from Our Underground, co-facilitated by Jen Cross
. The prompt was based on brainstorming our ideas about what the idea of "the underground" brings up for us, and the question "What does your underground look like?" It's quite raw, obviously. Click to read more
How will you practice peace
is under way, which means there are plenty of opportunities in the Bay Area!
Here are some of my Safetyfest plans for today:
- From 10 am-6 pm there will be events happening at the Ed Roberts Campus near Ashby BART, 3075 Adeline St. I'll be popping in and out of the wonderful Healing Space and Art Space that will be available throughout the day.
- At 10:30 am, a Transformative Justice workshop will provide a framework for transforming the conditions that perpetuate violence.
- At 1:30 pm, I'll be co-facilitating Notes from Our Underground with Jen Cross. We'll explore how writing freely can change our lives.
- At 3:45 pm, Queers Challenging Policing will feature a transnational panel of fierce queer people of color organizers who will share how LGBTQQ folks are organizing against criminalization and police violence.
There are many other events you won't want to miss! Find the full calendar here
. How are you
spending Safetyfest?Also, please note that tonight's nighttime Safetyfest event has been canceled. Instead, Say No to Violence!/Di No a la Violencia!
will be a demonstration following the April 1 attack
against a transgender woman in the Mission District of San Francisco. It will take place at the 16th and Mission St BART station. I'll be reading poetry, among other demonstrations of community power. I hope you'll join me!