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!)

Friday, September 02, 2016

A Back-To-School Intro to Spoken Word and Slam Poetry in the Twin Cities

First off, here is a list of local spoken word events, open mics, and poetry slams that I put together. As always, a quick disclaimer: that list, and what follows here, are not guides to every spoken word-oriented event or organization in our community. Just a few that I'd recommend.

The Twin Cities has one of the most vibrant spoken word scenes in the country, and whether you're new here or grew up here, here are a few highlights that should be on your radar:

TruArtSpeaks, Be Heard, and the ReVerb Open Mic
This is an organization that I work with, so I'm a little biased, but I also know that we do good work. Be Heard is the annual youth (13-19) poetry slam series; last year was huge, and this year should be even bigger, so watch out for news on that. The ReVerb open mic was highlighted as the Best Open Mic in the Twin Cities by City Pages in 2015. It takes place every Thursday at Golden Thyme Cafe in St. Paul, 6-8pm, and is free and all-ages. It's a unique, intimate space, and the event is built around dialogue and community-building-- all great factors for anyone who is just getting started, or is maybe a little nervous. There's also a free writing workshop at 4:30pm every first Thursday of the month.

Button Poetry and Button Poetry LIVE
If you've ever seen a viral poetry slam video online, the odds are very good that it was a Button Poetry video. With over a half-million subscribers and 125 million views, they've become the premier source for spoken word video on the internet. They're also based in the Twin Cities. What's more, Button hosts a monthly poetry slam at Camp Bar every first Monday of the month that is open to anyone (18+) willing to have their work judged by strangers. Featuring big-name national featured poets, Button Poetry Live is consistently one of the best shows in town. I'll be hosting this month's installment, too.

College Poetry Slams and Spoken Word Organizations
For a lot of college students, the easiest place to plug in is with your on-campus organization. Here are some links to the ones that I know, though I'm sure that there are others too. Keep in mind that student orgs don't always update their social media as regularly as they could; you may have to do a little digging of your own to find out when the next events are:

Equilibrium at the Loft Literary Center
The most powerful spoken word shows that I've attended have been part of the EQ series, which brings together national and local spoken word artists of color. They did a "supershow" last year, and it was incredible-- you can watch the whole thing (including Patricia Smith, Ed Bok Lee, Danez Smith, myself and many more) here. The Loft also offers classes on a wide range of writing topics, if you're looking to sharpen your craft.

More Resources and Opportunities
There's so much more; these are just a few personal highlights. But a few other things to mention:
  • Other Events: check out the full(er) list of local spoken word events here-- the Free Black Table, the New Sh!t Show, Slam MN, OutSpoken and so much more are happening regularly, and new things, or one-time things, pop up all the time.
  • There are also spoken word collectives like Speakers of the Sun, Palabristas, and more; keep an eye out for their events.
  • I've gathered together a bunch of resources for aspiring spoken word artists here, including my video series sharing tips, tools, and tactics that have been useful to me.
  • The VERVE grant for spoken word artists is due in November; if you have a project, tour, or development opportunity in mind, you should apply.

As I've been saying, this is all just the tip of the iceberg. For anyone reading this, feel free to leave links to other spoken word events or resources in the comments. But I hope this can be a start. Spoken word is a democratic, participatory culture, so if you're interested in poetry and/or performance, I hope you can find a place to plug in and get involved.

FINALLY, I had to include this brand new video of team TWIN CITIES from Brave New Voices 2016. This was one of the most-talked about poems of the festival, for good reason. If you're interested in youth poetry slam, check the info on TruArtSpeaks above:

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

New Book Coming Soon, New Videos, Summer Updates

There will be an "official" announcement once all of the details get sorted, but my book is done. It's a collection of pretty much all of the poems that I've been performing over the past five years, plus all of the lyrics from my sampler project, plus a bunch of essays from this blog and elsewhere, plus notes and commentary on everything.

It's definitely a book that highlights process as much as product.

I hope to be able to announce the release date, ordering info, and all that stuff soon.

In the meantime, I've been posting videos from last year's "Page.Stage.Engage" event at the U of MN (which we'll be doing again this year; stay tuned for details). Check out poems from members of the 2015 Be Heard MN youth poetry slam series here: Duncan, Julie, Armand (and more to come), and be sure to check out TruArtSpeaks for info on next year's series.

Also have a new song up on Soundcloud (though it's also been out for a minute because it's on this album): Venom featuring Lucien Parker:

Also, a couple of "in case you missed it" links to stuff I've written recently:

1. My thoughts on the 2016 election and voting in general

2. "Beyond the Benefit: Ten Ways Artists Can Support Social Movements"

3. A collection of links to organizations, reading, and more info about ongoing #BlackLivesMatter protests, here in the Twin Cities and beyond.

Finally, my Fall booking season has already started, with work at summer trainings and orientation programs at a couple of different colleges. If you want to bring me to your school or city, please get in touch. Info here. I'll also be performing at the big 15Now benefit show this Friday, along with POS, Khem Clan, and others. As always, a million other things happening; keep in touch on Twitter and Facebook.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

My Thought Process Regarding the 2016 Election

Wanted to put this here so I didn't have to re-type it in every argument, but even more so for friends and youth I work with who might be feeling frustrated or powerless when it comes to the upcoming election. The short version of this isn't anything too surprising: real change comes from organized movements, and it makes sense to vote for Clinton in swing states in order to be able to continue that movement-building process. But I did want to share my reasoning, plus some links for further reading.