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.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

VIDEO: "Our Relationship is a Slowly Gentrifying Neighborhood" featuring Jayanthi Kyle



New video! Here's the official blurb:

Guante & Katrah-Quey's "Our Relationship is a Slowly Gentrifying Neighborhood" features singer (and constant presence at Twin Cities rallies and marches) Jayanthi Kyle lamenting the deeply personal loss of something that used to mean something. While using the standard structure of a love song, the track attempts to explore the human side of an issue that, for too many, is an abstraction, or "someone else's problem," if it's considered a problem at all.

The song exemplifies the philosophy of "Post-Post-Race," an album attempting to grapple with issues of race, racism and solidarity by pushing beyond platitudes and asking deeper, more challenging questions. Over Katrah-Quey's lush, vibrant production, Guante (along with an impressive roster of guests) reaches for root causes, explores his own complicity in the system, and tries to find pathways to action.

The full album is available here
(a portion of the proceeds benefits Twin Cities youth arts/activism organization TruArtSpeaks).

The video is directed by E.G. Bailey, fresh off appearances at the Tampere Film Festival, Riga International Film Festival, and Sundance Film Festival, where his short film, “New Neighbors,” was selected from tens of thousands of entries. Bailey (along with co-producer Sha Cage) was also responsible for Guante's move to Minneapolis back in 2007, so this video represents coming full-circle, and affirming that community comes first. Full credits:
  • Director: E.G. Bailey
  • Cinematographer: Anton Shavlik
  • Producers: E.G.Bailey & Sha Cage
  • Editors: E.G. Bailey & Anton Shavlik
  • Costume Design: Trevor Bowen
  • First Assistant Director: Sha Cage
  • First Assistant Camera: Casey Bargsten
  • Production Assistant: Autumn Compton
  • Colorist: Anton Shavlik
  • Storyboard Artist: Cecilia Hsu
  • Titles: Eroll Bilibani
  • a Freeztyle film

FULL LYRICS:

Friday, February 17, 2017

New Video: DUST (Day of Remembrance + #NoBanNoWall Spoken Word)



The Japanese American Citizen's League asked me to write a piece for the 2017 Day of Remembrance (the day in 1942 that Executive Order 9066 was signed, requiring internment of all Americans of Japanese ancestry), connecting it to current issues regarding xenophobia and anti-immigrant hate.

Check out this story for a bit more background; there are a ton of other resources online as well. As the poem talks about, this is the kind of story I feel like a lot of people know about in a general sense, but that few internalize and really grapple with. And we need to be thinking about it, especially right now. Full text below.

Finally please support organizations working to build immigrant power and/or fight xenophobia, Islamophobia, and hate of all kinds. Locally, that might mean MIRAC, Navigate MN, CAIR MN, the Young Muslim Collective, or others. Find more at the MN Activist Project's database.

Also relevant, I have another new video up this week on Button Poetry's channel. It's called "How to Explain White Supremacy to a White Supremacist." A few extended thoughts (plus the text) on it here.



Friday, January 20, 2017

Our Fear Is Valid, and So Is Our Courage: On Art and Artists in Trump's USA

A nice photo of me, but look at the writing on the board. These aren't conversations I ever had in traditional arts education spaces, and I think they're ones that we need to have.
Way back in 2013, I wrote a series of pieces for collaborative blog Opine Season, alongside some of my favorite local writers-- Kao Kalia Yang, Ricardo Levins Morales, Vina Kay, Chaun Webster and others.

Using the inauguration as a jumping-off point, Opine Season just relaunched. Here's my first piece for 2017, sharing questions I want to challenge myself and others to ask regarding the role of art and artists in the current historical moment.

UPDATE: Here's my SECOND piece for Opine Season, a collaborative op-ed looking at the phrase "this is not normal," and how that might impact our actions moving forward.