Wednesday, November 09, 2016

Post-Election Thoughts and Resources

First of all, I think it's worth noting that whatever emotional response you might have to this is valid. I'm not trying to push anyone right into "this doesn't matter; let's just get to work" mode. Similarly, I like the twist on the classic Joe Hill quote "don't mourn; organize." It's possible to do both. It can be necessary to do both.

In that spirit, just wanted to share a few links/thoughts that have been helpful for me; maybe they can be helpful to you too.

1. Space to Support Each Other: First of all, a timely thing: since I know a lot of UMN students, I'm sharing a link to this space for dialogue, processing, and community-oriented self-care today, for anyone who might need it.

2. This interview with Mariame Kaba (@prisonculture on Twitter):
"[We] have to think and imagine bigger and understand that these things take a long time and we’re not going to end things in this moment, we’re not going to rebuild the entire world in seconds, and that we’re part of a long struggle." - Mariame Kaba

3. Real talk from Jay Smooth:
"I don't know if we will survive; I don't know that we'll be okay. But what I know, is that we will resist."

4. A Note on the MN Activist Project:
I put together this database of local activist organizations a few years back; it feels like it's time for a major update. If you have notes for me, get in touch. Either way, I'm going to work on adding to this and making it as useful as it can be. A focus on local struggles is going to be an important tactic for the next four years.

I'm also adding this link, to a big bank of resources regarding legal matters, health stuff, etc. that could be affected in the next few years.

Again-- I wouldn't dream of telling people how to process, or how to grieve, but it is worth noting that change comes from organized movements; now is a great time to get involved. Whether that involvement is showing up and working, supporting that work through donations, signal-boosting and leveraging networks, or something else, it's key.

5. My Thoughts:
I don't think it's helpful to just tell people to "relax." Or, really, to tell people to do people anything. Let's listen. Let's be there for each other. Especially today. Check in on your people. If it is helpful for you to vision/brainstorm about activist plans, do that. If it is helpful to use this as an opportunity to more fully commit to a particular cause or movement, do that. If it is helpful to just hang out with friends or read a book alone, do that.

This matters. It's bad. But I'm reminding myself that everything that we (and I'm thinking about the "we" who cares about equity and justice and empathy) told ourselves we'd have to do under a Clinton presidency is still the work that has to get done under a Trump one. It might be tougher now, and there might be other things that come up that will demand our attention, but again-- I believe in this movement. I believe in us.

Sunday, November 06, 2016

New Video for "Action" Up at Button Poetry + Some Connections

Thanks again to Button for the signal boost-- but especially for posting this poem, right now, in this climate/context. A few notes:

1. You can find the full text here, and this poem is also included in my new book, available online through Button or in person.

2. This is one of those poems that is about a specific topic, but has more going on underneath too. On one level, it's about men's responsibility to talk to other men about gender violence and sexual assault preemptively and proactively. This is not to say that men are always the perpetrators, or that men can't be victims, or that sexual assault only occurs along the gender binary-- none of that is true. It is just to say that statistically, it's important that men bring these conversations into spaces to which we have disproportionate access.

But on another level, this is a poem that attempts to think critically about the concept of allyship, or a framework that only allows for heroes and villains. It's about how much anti-oppression work of any kind is about relationships and the community/culture we build through both our actions and inaction. I hope that we can read/hear this poem in that context as well-- especially with everything going on in the world right now-- the election (my thoughts on that here), #NoDAPL, the continuing struggles against mass incarceration and police violence, and a whole host of other issues. What does it mean to challenge ourselves to do more than just "be" on the right side of an issue?

*EDIT: a handful of post-election resources relevant to this conversation*

3. I got to perform this poem at the United Nations last year, which I think is testament less to the poem or to me, and more to the work that so many have been doing-- on campuses, in communities, on social media, and everywhere else, to fundamentally move the conversation around sexual assault forward. In MN alone, I have to shout out SVC, the Aurora CenterMNCASA, and everyone doing that work.

Please feel free to share. A couple other resources:
  • I put together a list of poems on consent and rape culture as part of an even larger list here.
  • Another relevant poem of mine up at Button: "Consent at 10,000 Feet." 
  • You can find my booking info (for performances, workshops, conferences, etc.) here.

Saturday, November 05, 2016

One Last Post on the 2016 Election

Just voted. Three quick thoughts:

1. If you live in a state with early voting (like MN), do that. Aside from just the convenience of picking which day is easier for you, it makes the line shorter for other people on election day. Here's a link to MPLS sites, just as an example; if you're somewhere else, google it.

2. Knowing the general audience who reads my work, I think it's worth sharing: yes, voting matters. No, it can't take the place of organizing. No, it won't magically stop the Dakota Access Pipeline, police violence, poverty, or climate change. Yes, candidates are imperfect. Yes, we need to think beyond election day. All of that is true, and voting still matters. It's a power bottleneck that allows us to help decide whether that post-election day organizing will be offensive or defensive in nature. That's the key for me, more than any other argument. And especially in down-ballot races and referenda, it can have a real impact on people's lives.

So yeah. Please vote (if you're able). Then, of course, we get back to work on 11/9 no matter what the outcome is.

3. I'm not really interested in telling people for whom to vote (aside from the obvious one: not Trump), but I did share my own thought process regarding Dems vs. Greens (and the larger issues that are part of that debate), in case anyone is interested.

Clearly, I've been talking about this, and everyone has been talking about this, so there's probably nothing revelatory in here. I just think it's worth pushing back against the assumption that voting doesn't matter, or that election time has to be a time when everyone tunes out of movement-building work to focus solely on voting. If anything, I see people more plugged-in, and paying more attention, right now. The key is harnessing that energy. 2017 can be a spectacular, transformative year when it comes to movement-building and people-powered activism. But that work is on us, not our politicians.

Finally, a word from Tish Jones:

Friday, October 21, 2016

Guante's New Book Is Available NOW

at the Twin Cities Book Festival
One part mixtape, one part disorientation guide, and one part career retrospective, this book brings together spoken word poems, song lyrics, and essays from the past decade of Guante’s work. From the exploration of toxic masculinity in "Ten Responses to the Phrase 'Man Up'," to the throwback humanist hip hop of "Matches," to a one-act play on the racial and cultural politics of Eminem, "A Love Song, A Death Rattle, A Battle Cry" is a practitioners eye-view of the intersections of hip hop, poetry, and social justice.

Read the full intro chapter, "Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Spoken Word and Slam Poetry," here.

Thanks to everyone who has already picked up a copy. If you haven't yet, here are easiest ways to get it:

1. Order it online through Button Poetry
Here's the link! They take credit card or PayPal.

2. Pick up a copy in Minneapolis at Fifth Element
If you don't want to order it online and can't make it to a show, stop into Fifth Element (2411 Hennepin Ave S. in Minneapolis) and grab a copy.

3. Come to a show and get one from me personally.
The next show is coming up Friday, November 4 at the UMN Whole Music Club, and it's free and open to all ages. This is our third year doing Page.Stage.Engage, and both of the previous installments have been completely packed. Tish and I will be joined by Asian-American spoken word collective Speakers of the Sun, members of the U of MN's SPEAK Poetry group, DJ Just Nine, and a special surprise guest or two. Hope to see you there (here's the Facebook event page).

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

On College Republicans, "Build the Wall," and Anti-Immigrant Bullying

image via Navigate MN
Very brief background for those who don't already know: at the University of MN, student orgs each get to paint a panel on a long wall to promote what they do. This year, the College Republicans' panel included the phrase "Build the Wall." This made a lot of people angry. Someone painted over the panel. Navigate MN, along with La Raza and others, organized a powerful open mic-style action that allowed student activists, multicultural Greek leaders, community members and others to share their stories and stand in solidarity with each other. La Raza and the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence (along with the Gender and Sexuality Center and Women's Center) each held open forums/processing spaces for further conversation and strategizing. President Kaler released a statement expressing grave concern about, yeah, the vandalization of the panel (as opposed to what the panel actually said). Finally, the school's conservative alternative newspaper printed one of the most bizarre op-eds I've ever read in a conservative student paper (which is really saying something) comparing the vandalization of the panel to rape culture.

Mostly, I just wanted to use this space to link to the various organizations doing good work around these issues (links included below), but I'll share a couple of brief thoughts too:

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Guante's New Book: Preorder Info, Release Events, and The First Chapter Available Now!

I wrote a book. It shares the title of my sampler album, "A Love Song, A Death Rattle, A Battle Cry," and features spoken word poems, song lyrics, and essays on art, activism, media, and more. Part mixtape, part disorientation guide, and part career retrospective, the book represents the work that I have been refining and performing over the past decade or so. It also includes a foreword by the incredible Saymoukda Vongsay. The official release date is October 4, 2016. A few notes:

1. Order the Book through Button Poetry
Here is a link to order the book online. Especially for people outside of the Twin Cities area, who may not be able to attend any release events, this is the best way to get it. The books are signed, and come with a copy of my sampler album of the same name, which contains my favorite songs that I've recorded.

2. Come to a Release Event
I wanted to do something different for the book's physical release. Rather than throw one big me-centric event, I thought I'd support a handful of events that are already happening, and have a "release month" instead. Come to any one of these events to pick up a copy:
  • October 3: Button Poetry Live at Camp Bar in St. Paul; 7pm doors, 8pm event. 18+.
  • October 15: The Twin Cities Book Festival at the MN State Fairgrounds; I'll be at a table there the whole time (10am - 5pm). Free, all ages.
  • October 20: TruArtSpeaks' ReVerb Open Mic at Golden Thyme Cafe in St. Paul; 6-8pm. Free, all ages.
  • October 28: I'll be performing at the Overcoming Racism Conference at Metro State University.
  • November 4: "Page.Stage.Engage" at the UMN Whole Music Club; 7:30pm doors, 8pm show. Free, all ages. More details TBA.

3. Bring Me to Your City, College, or University
If you'd like to bring my book tour to your city, college, university, library, book store, or wherever, thank you. I'm available for performances, interactive workshops, keynotes and more. Here is my booking information

This wasn't originally in the book, but I added it as a kind of intro chapter to frame everything else. As spoken word (at least the kind driven by poetry slams, viral videos, etc.) continues to get more and more popular, it struck me as strange that a piece like this didn't already exist somewhere. Obviously, not everyone is going to agree with everything in this, but I think it's a useful starting point for a broader conversation.

On a personal level, it feels good to have this project done; it's been years in the making. It is more of a retrospective than a collection of new work (though there is some new stuff in it); but I think there is value in that, especially for those of us who are on the indie/DIY side of the arts world. Aside from the poems, lyrics, and essays, the book also contains a big bank of discussion questions and writing prompts, and my hope is that it can be useful for educators in multiple contexts. I also wanted to have the book to increase accessibility to my work, since I work in a primarily audio/visual medium. As always, thank you for reading and thank you for the support.

Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Spoken Word and Slam Poetry (aka the first chapter of my new book!)

                 Me, opening up for Saul Williams at Icehouse in Minneapolis; photo credit: Elliot Malcolm
(Note: this is a slightly edited version of the intro to my new book, which comes out October 4, 2016; for info on ordering it online and/or attending a release event, click here!)