Sunday, June 18, 2017

Eaux Claires Recap + Being at a Music Festival While the World Burns

photo by @_scotify
Just getting back from performing at Eaux Claires. Definitely one of the most unique (and best) experiences I've had as an artist. This is not related to what this post is really about, but a quick shout out to the staff, who was beyond nice and very professional; the festival really does have a vibe that's different from a lot of other big events. I also got to hear "California Stars" live, which was cool.

I did two hour-long shifts in the Escape installation, a "tiny house" where 4-7 people would come in for five minutes at a time to hear a couple poems. I also got to participate in a handful of pop-up performances on other stages (both solo and along with John Mark Creative's crew), performing for a few hundred more people.

I mention those numbers because this was also the weekend the Yanez decision came in. Being at a festival like Eaux Claires, I can't say that I didn't have some stereotypes or preconceived notions in my head about just how much people would want to talk about that. Thankfully, everyone seemed a lot less in the mood for escapism than I would have thought. I opened every performance I did with this poem, and had many powerful conversations with people about the dissonance of being at a music festival while friends and family were protesting, getting arrested, and/or just hurting.

Obviously, I don't have any answers or profound things to say here. I'm just appreciative that people were willing to engage, and that many other artists (though it could always be more) were willing to take time out of their sets to make sure we say Philando Castile's name. It's a small act, of course, too small, but still worth doing. Activism can't just happen in "activist spaces" like rallies and social media bubbles; it's also about how we intentionally integrate an activist practice into every facet of our lives-- from the things we do for fun, to our workplaces, to our schools, and beyond.

Another theme of the past few days has been thinking about the many different ways that people process: grieving, expressing outrage, marching, donating to organizations, making vows and commitments, just *being* with loved ones, etc. It's all valid. For me, I find strength in sharing resources, especially for people out there who do feel powerless (as we all do sometimes). So a few links to inform any potential next steps:
Feel free to add more in the comments.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Guante at the Eaux Claires Festival, June 16-17

photo on the right by Daniel Rangel
Excited to announce that I'll be performing at Eaux Claires this year. Specifically, I'll be participating as a writer/poet, doing a series of micro-readings throughout the festival. Musicians this year include Chance the Rapper, Wilco, Feist, Danny Brown, and many more, and everyone I've talked to about Eaux Claires has told me that it's a very unique, community-oriented concert/festival experience.

Get more information, and reserve tickets, here.

In other news:

1. Upworthy just shared my poem "How To Explain White Supremacy to a White Supremacist," so thanks both to them and to Button Poetry for that signal boost. Especially right now, challenging ourselves to see oppression and hate as something bigger than just interpersonal acts of bigotry feels pretty important.

2. Two quick links to pieces that I had originally written for Opine Season but have since migrated over to my site (and cleaned up a bit):
3. That second piece was written in collaboration with UyenThi Tran Myhre; find more of her fantastic work here:

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

New Work from See More Perspective, DC Edwards, Bao Phi, Fatima Camara, Big Quarters; Other Updates

March and April are always hectic: traveled to over a dozen colleges, served as a delegate at my local ward convention (go Jillia!), gave my first Tedx Talk (will share video as soon as it's up), working on new music, blah blah blah, so May feels like a great time to step back and try to get focused again. While I'm doing that, I thought I'd shout out a couple of Twin Cities friends of mine and their work:

1. New See More Perspective album: SEE MORE EYE JACK
See More always shows up with music that is timely, sharp, and well-crafted; he also, however, shows up with creative concepts that are both fun and meaningful. His latest project is inspired by Samurai Jack (a work that is already a genre-bending mashup), and if it were JUST a Samurai Jack-themed rap record, it'd be great. But it goes so much deeper than that, really paying tribute to its muse while expanding and transcending it at the same time. And it's just great hip hop on top of all that; definitely worth a listen.



Sunday, April 23, 2017

TedxUMN Talk on April 30


I'll be giving my first Tedx Talk on April 30 at the University of Minnesota (where I recently finished my grad studies). The theme is "catalyst," so yeah, there's lots to talk about. You can get tickets here, if you want to see it live.

Also, a more general update: I feel like I've written these words before, but this has been the busiest couple of months of my life. I think it's telling--and a good thing-- that that busy-ness hasn't translated to tons of "product," like new songs, poems, or blog posts. I'm trying to consciously shift some of my energy to other kinds of work-- generally, less-visible work. That being said, there is also some new stuff on the way. Thanks for reading/listening.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

The Endowment: A TruArtSpeaks Fundraiser on 4/15

...and also one of the best Hip Hop lineups you'll see all year.


Seriously, save some money and get your tickets early. Also, spread the word! This is very much a people-powered organization.

Additionally, we just wrapped up the 2017 Be Heard MN Youth Poetry Slam Series with a sold-out show at the Walker Art Center's McGuire Theater. Here's a recap:

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

On Pushing Back: People Power, Local Elections, and the 2017 MPLS Caucuses

***UPDATE: Give-a-Shit-MPLS's website is now live, and it's a one-stop shop for caucusing info.***

A few months ago, I worked with designer Olivia Novotny to create these zines, compact guides to plugging into activism and movement-building efforts. We've given out hundreds of them already, and I think the reason they've resonated with people is because they explicitly try to focus less on the power we don't have, and more on the power we do.

One vital part of that power-leveraging process is local politics. Here in Minneapolis, 2017 is a big year for city council races. I thought I'd share some resources related to that here, both so that my fellow MPLS people can get plugged in, and to look at our local races as one example of how important local politics are, wherever you live. A few points:

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Last Reminder: The #BeHeard17 Youth Poetry Slam FINALS This Saturday



Way back in January, I shared three reasons why everyone should be excited about this year's Be Heard series, presented by TruArtSpeaks. It has definitely lived up to expectations. Catch the FINALS bout this Saturday at the Walker Art Center-- get your tickets here.

And whether or not you can make it to this event, please consider supporting the work of TruArtSpeaks. Every donation makes it possible for more young (and not-so-young) people to have access to residencies, workshops, performance opportunities, and beyond.