Tag Archives: creativity

Glass Cases

usher box

We are the children of glass blowers.
Hands clasped together.
Knees touching the earth
That taught them how
To birth things that grow,
beat fruit, and give to others,
until they die.
Glass blowers whose wishes
to the Carpenter
that sits on high
become part and parcel promises,
pieces to glass cases
covering us in grace.

We pieces of wonder,
memories of times past
longing for tomorrow to come.
We be knick knack,
trophy,
admirable qualities draped
on mannequins.
We be fine china,
snapshots of happy and unsure,
things none has had
or that others have had but
no longer want.

We sit on thrones,
in tombs,
on cross wood,
in prisons.
The plate at the bottom
holds the names we are given
bur may or may not have earned.
It sits there until replaced
by numbers, a dash, and
remembrances rewritten
by guilt and could have beens.

When you see me
those are not bruises.
They are smudges
I pray the next caretaker
will Windex clean.
What’s here is priceless
but closed off.
They key is in my eyes.
Too many have fiddled
with my lock of a tongue
to never get close enough
to know the inner me.
Some have tried the smash
and grab,
but my mother has
unwavering faith.
She has prayed and cried
until the vision of me is
shatterproof,
bulletproof,
but doesn’t protect
from the trauma of seeing
the attempts come and go.

When your purpose and destiny,
worth and wisdom,
aptitude and ability,
Is on display.
You learn what gaze
Feels like.
You learn that gawkin
is a seductive
dance.
That sometimes presence
isn’t possibility,
it’s momentary possession.
Without the key
it’s just an exhibition.

You and me,
we know these glass cases.
These cursed gifts
of safe distance and deniability.
We know too many living rooms
we never considered home,
too many bedrooms
we never felt completely comfortable in.
We have felt trapped in hallways
where people seem to eager
to pass our pain by.
Know too well that shrines
can be adored or despised
but still left to dust or decay.

We be held on to
for others to enjoy.
We be window shopping fantasy.
We be one day I’ll be able
to get that.
We be look what I captured.
We be look.
Look at that.
Come here look at this.
Look now.
Look later.
Walk past and never look at all.

We be here.
Help up by divinity,
shielded by hope
for all the world
to see

Theatre of the Mind

templeton-intellectual_humility_01

“There’s a war going on outside, no man is safe from…” Prodigy of Mobb Deep

There is so much being done at various fronts in terms of Higher Ed and I think this quote summarizes why it’s such an intense playing field for multiple entities. It’s also why movements to “transform the academy” have been met with so much backlash. Folks in the Humanities and any minority studies scholars can tell you how hard they fight on their campuses. We have to really think about how we move and what we do going forward. There is this push to frame certain academic and intellectual offerings and flights of fancy. Mainly because they enhance critical inquiry, critical analysis, and critical thinking overall. They foster a greater sense of understanding, nurture social and political awareness, and reinforce and affirm a sense of self.

Take a look at this article in The New Yorker on politics and the UNC system in North Carolin by Jedediah Purdy,  “Ayn Rand comes to UNC”.

See, there is this rhetoric about focusing on skills and subjects that employers need. It falls in line with thoughts around having employable graduates. It increases attention to pre-professional majors. What it doesn’t do is fall in line with what is being discussed (see Daniel Pink and others) in the professional world about marketability. Marketability isn’t about what job related skills you learned or what subjects related to the work environment and industry you took. It’s about your ability to think in ways that grows profit margins and market share. It’s about your ability to navigate relationships. It’s about your ability to manage stress and to make necessary decisions. Much of that involves crafting a well rounded student in an interdisciplinary fashion. That involves the humanities beyond narrowing modes of traditional discourse. That is, if you want to graduate a student that isn’t intended to just be a cog in wheel that tends to underpay and overwork and doesn’t like organized labor.

We are not talking eternal truths and morality of capitalism here.

What’s funny is that the very people who are making these decisions will sit with a glass of wine and talk high culture. They will go on about the works of literature that have impacted them. They will credit music, the places they’ve visited, etc. They will speak the value of philosophy. They also endow programs at private institutions that offer classes that they don’t feel are right for public state supported campuses.

Do not believe that the trying to level the playing field of public and private is well intended. It is a filtration process that puts prospective into manageable pools of thought. Public is the control, private is the experimental. This is a white lab coat power struggle mixed with political gerrymandering and right wing ego.

Think about the C Bradley Thompson quote in the article, “If they really want to change the culture long-term in this country, it’s not going to happen through politics. If you think the political system is corrupt, what you’re really saying is the American people are corrupt. And if you’re saying the American people are corrupt, then what you have to do of course is change American culture. And the way you change culture is through ideas…. If we’re giving tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars to political campaigns and we’re giving one-tenth of one per cent to trying to change the intellectual culture of this nation, you are by definition going to lose.”

What is happening in North Carolina is a sign of what is at stake during this political climate. It includes a fight to shape the nature of intellectualism and learning today. Those of us dedicated to widening the scope of thought have to prepare for one wild ride. They ain’t too privy to our kind unless we are teaching where they want us to teach to who they want us to teach.

Now about that increased funding to community colleges….

Thinking of the Cultural Arts and Entertainment Scene…

i-love-art

Ok. Look. Every city should have a cultural arts and entertainment planner serving a position commissioned like a laureate and supported through allocated funds to consistently help curators, promoters, artists, and culturalists move in a way that fosters an ever blossoming scene. 
 
Warning…Warning…Warning…What’s next is a mini rant….
I was thinking about things and trying to figure out how to convey it. Then I started digging. Finally I figured out what it was I was trying to articulate. I immediately thought of my friend, poet/artist/organizer Shelly Bell, who says I have a knack for these things. LOL. I hope this makes sense.
 
Let’s take a moment and look at this information from the Harvard Business School. It’s only a coincidence that I am at Harvard for a fellowship and pulled this quote. It just happened to be the one that had what I was looking for the way I was looking for. 
 
“Total quality management. Benchmarking. Time-based competition. Reengineering. Change management. The quest for productivity, quality, and speed has spawned a remarkable number of management tools and techniques….
 
Simply improving operational effectiveness does not provide a robust competitive advantage because rarely are “best practice” advantages sustainable. Once a company establishes a new best practice, its rivals tend to copy it quickly.
 
Strategy is about doing things differently, not simply doing them better than everyone else. And it’s the key to competitive advantage.”
 
What’s that mean to the arts? It means that having the best event ever is great and having a seamless process for how you run that event is even better, but what you do with the event is even more key.
 
The “differently” is the part that I want to focus on. It’s the part that often gets overlooked. Mainly because too many facilitators confuse “better” and “different” and the venues rarely think about it or care. They have their own competitive interests in mind. It’s not their responsibility unless they are an arts organization. It’s the producers and presenters who have to think strategically about how they are programming. They need to remember that expanding the marketplace is always better for the scene than competing for market share.
 
“There is a fundamental distinction between strategy and operational effectiveness.” – economist, researcher, author, advisor, speaker and teacher, Michael Porter.
Yes, also from Harvard’s Business School. I promise it’s a coinci…never mind. Let’s continue.
 
The broader and more active and robust the market seems the more leverage the producers have. What will also happen is the pool of consumers continues to grow as new people experience what’s being offered across the marketplace. People are engaging with the market more often and having great experiences (because your still focusing on and maintaining operational effectiveness). Word of mouth travels fast. Buzz is built and anticipation for the next offering bubbles. A rising consumer base is hungry for more!
 
As this happens, the best run and operated offerings will solidify themselves as mainstays. The producers and presenters put themselves in position to drive the market moving forward. You win and have helped built a foundation to keep winning. 
 
Somebody ask Cicely Mitchell, who runs The Art of Cool Project (www.theartofcoolproject.com) in Durham, NC about this.
 
So think…how do I expand the marketplace rather than be pushed to fight for market share? What do I really lose by doing so? What are the factors in “different” (time, location, date, space, look, etc.).
 
Habit is what we are trying to break not conform to. If we don’t want our consumer base to be static then why would we be in how we offer our art to them?
Until that position is created and these conversations are being facilitated, we have to think strategically.
 
I’m done.

The HeavyLight Experience

HeavyLight Experience pic

The HeavyLight Experience is a collective of artists that came together to create good music. The core of the collective is myself (emcee/poet/writer/actor/performance artist), Deejay CEO (DJ/emcee), Mic El (producer/emcee), and Tai Allen (producer/poet/vocalist/emcee/writer). Each of us has a passion for art, Hip Hop, performing, and music. We wanted to be able to have an space outside of our individual careers to have fun collaborating. It’s the most fun I’ve had making music in a long time. We weren’t rushing to create an album. We didn’t set a timeline on finishing songs. We let the ideas flow and built the compositions as we went along. Last year we released an EP of some of our initial songs. Here is the link.

The HeavyLight Experience EP “Ocean’s Eleven”

We got some good feedback on the music. We got some great coverage and press. We are still creating music. I am looking forward to what we have in store for 2015. Check out some of the press and stay tuned.

The HeavyLight: Renaissance Men

Ear to the Ground: Reaching Higher Heights with HeavyLight

Experience: The HeavyLight

Music: The HeavyLight Experience “Oceans Eleven”

The HeavyLight Experience

New Music: The HeavyLight Experience “Hyper”

Miracle Whip (a conversation on power)

80b6232d220bf8699b8608383dbd6305

Miracle Whip: A Villainous Villanelle

Miracle Whip is polarizing
Undeterred by contrasting perceptions
The aim is to rally its base

Moderates vary in their condiments
Revolutionaries make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches
See Miracle Whip is polarizing

They say po’ folks beg for cheese in blocs
Instead of working for white bread
The aim is to rally its base

Ketchup goes best with chalk outlines
Mayonnaise is all liberalism and no fight
But Miracle Whip is polarizing

Bipartisan delis seek extravagant expansion
Say menus should be geopolitical
The aim is to rally its base

Privilege packaged all red, white, and blue
Butter knives legislated, privatized, or militarized
Miracle Whip is polarizing
Its aim is to rally its base

Feet (a draft)

bare-feet-8750452

40to40: 40 posts for 40 days until turning 40

A draft of a poem I’ve been trying to conquer for a long time now. More edits will come, but I decided to share it now.

Feet

I’m sorry
I don’t know what happened
I promise I was paying attention 
They were right here
I’ve never been forgetful 
Just optimistic
Probably to a fault
I can’t stand to lose anything
But I promise I’ll find them again

I mean
Harriet don’t leave me
I’ll crawl if I have to
It’s not groveling
If it’s for a purpose

I been following the drinking gourd
Wading in the water
But lord knows I ain’t never needed a sweet chariot more
To carry me home

Maybe I left them by the cotton gin
Standing idly by while black intelligence
Became intellectual property
Became patent
Became passage of fugitive acts
Did I abandon them
Cuz the system keep knocking me on my ass

Nat I wish I had found them earlier
I’d have ran with you
Stood with you
Fought with you
But I misplaced them along the way
Got me still searching for them now

I know I was supposed to take care of them
Must’ve got comfortable on this train ride north
But Harlem look like a runway
I’m fashioning optimism 
Gone walk head high
Get em spit shined in resilience
Gone step it up a notch

Gone get all Bojangles dynamic when I find em
But they all milk box missing now
I’m sorry Savoy
Can’t dance my blues away
I didn’t forget the steps
Just don’t know where my freedom is

Washington and Carver say they in them fields
DuBois say they pounding them streets
Garvey say they waiting to touch African soil
Jackie Robinson say they touching bases
Oliver Brown say they was left in court
Someone said they floating in the Tallahatchie river
But aint nothing there but ghosts and guilt

I’m sorry Mr Louis
I thought I was ready to fight
Wanted to move light on em like Sugar Ray
Swing like Sonny Liston
Tell Ali I lost my rumble in these concrete jungles
I don’t know how to get off these ropes  

I’ll be here when you get back Martin
Can’t make Selma on my knees
Even the closest new day 
Is a hop, skip, and jump away
Aint gone be no crawling
Don’t want no wheelchair
Unless it feels like Bus Boycotts, Freedom Rides

Couldn’t make it to the lunch counters
Wasn’t able to sit in
So I guess I’ll sit here
Trying to figure out what I’d stand for
Die for

I’m sorry Gregory 
I know they’re still here somewhere
I can hear them tapping
They calling for rescue
The staccato is sobering
Reminds me that marching can look a little different now

Tell James I think I got it
A shuffle can say it loud
Be black and powerful
Let the world know you got soul
Double entendre to a funky drummers beat

See Bootsie I had it all wrong
Now I got it funked up
Found my platform
Kneehigh in the thick of things
I’m high stepping to the rhythm baby

Bobbito
Check the footwork
Some say I’m insane to step up
I say I got Crazy Legs
But they Rock Steady
Don’t my passion look fly 
In Diadora’s and Shell toes

Tell Mike I found my wings
Renewed my faith
So these airs and this cross I bear
got me ready to make something happen
Aint gone be no more sitting and watching
Courtside seats aint as exciting as I thought
I want a piece of the action

These feet 
Want to walk down an aisle and promise forever
Step up to a podium and promise change is possible
March side by side with hope
Plant themselves in front of a classroom

These feet
Want to play footsies with love
Line dance at my daughter’s wedding
Draw a line in the sand
Fight for a future fitting for her

They feel comfortable on stage
Feel comfortable on the neck of stereotypes
Feel fancy in hard bottoms
Feel fancier in sneakers
Understand what it means
To be outfitted for the moment

For every ancestor
For every struggle
For every visionary
For every intellectual, fighter, teacher
Leader
These feet
Will never stop moving, working, dancing
Until my last breath leaves
And they put me ten toes up

7 Day Love Letter (Sunday)

love-letter-top sun

40to40: 40 posts for 40 days until turning 40

Sunday

You are my daydream. I get lost in the thought of you. My publisher’s clearing house check. I subscribe to the hope that you’ll be delivered to my door. Make my heart financially secure. It’s tired of worrying about paying for past mistakes.

You are my winning lottery number. I’ve scratched at the wall you put over your heart with this hopeless penny. It has a hole where the wish of you has eaten through. Seems pointless but it is all I have left of my daydreams.

You are my job interview. I want to work for our love. I hope that I’ve answered all your questions. I know this position comes with benefits. I want to retire in your arms.

You are my dusk. You are a light fading over a distant horizon leaving me in darkness. Night is your fear of taking this leap of faith with me. I’ll be waiting for dawn.

Sincerely,

Me

I spent a week having uneasy exchanges with the postman
As he cautiously handed me packages marked “return to sender”
You hadn’t changed your address
Just your opinion of our relationship
Each frame returned fractured like my heart
By the following Monday I was praying you would rest
From creating this world of pain
Then the last frame arrived
Like the misleading truth of a serpents advice
I was searching for a slither of proof
You weren’t moving on with your life
I ended up holding 7 fractured frames
Gauze covered heartache in post office cardboard
Like tombs of broken promises
Where I’ve buried my self esteem
I just wanted to let her know I loved her
These letters show I love her
She used to hang on my every word
I figured she could hang these words
Realize the risk wasn’t so absurd
But now it feels like a weeks worth of suicide
I was foolish
You helped me see that
But I’m not alone
Because only a fool receives a blessing from God
And decides to send it back