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.

2. DC Edwards' Debut Novel: BRIGHT CITY
A debut novel is always an exciting event, and it's been very cool and inspiring to see DC Edwards break into the spotlight.

"Bright City" is a post-apocalyptic tale of intrigue and adventure, but separates itself from other books with similar descriptions in some surprising and powerful ways (which I won't spoil here). Its listed genres are "new adult" and "urban dystopia," and as much as genre labels don't always work, those two actually feel really appropriate.

The world-building, in particular, is powerful. This is a vision of a future USA that is fantastical, weird, and very sci-fi, but also deeply connected to our world-- especially in terms of how the book explores exploitation, colonialism, commodification, and solidarity. I also like how elegantly the book takes on these issues- they're organically woven into the DNA of the story; so the politics of the book are bold and direct, but always in service of the story.

It's available now.

3. Support Bao Phi's "Thousand Star Hotel" Tour
Bao is one of the reasons why I'm able to do this work, both in the concrete sense of opening doors and creating platforms for others, and in the more intangible sense of just being an inspiration and a fierce writer and thinker. He's got a kickstarter going now to bring his new book to everywhere it deserves to be. Please check it out.

4. Fatima Camara Featured on Button Poetry
Fatima has been a key member of the TruArtSpeaks team, really growing into the role of arts organizer and role model for youth poets. And I can speak from experience-- when you do that kind of work, people sometimes forget that you're a poet too. And Fatima is a hell of a poet:

5. TruArtSpeaks Presents the Inaugural Saint Paul Youth Poet Laureate Slam on May 19
Speaking of youth poetry stuff, our big Spring event is on May 19 at the Black Dog Cafe in Saint Paul. This is the first-ever Saint Paul Youth Poet Laureate competition, and the actual event is a slam featuring the ten finalists.

As always, the competition is more just a way to showcase the great work that people are doing. Get the details here.

6. Big Quarters Reissue "Cost of Living" on Vinyl
Minneapolis is one of the best places on the planet to be a hip hop head, and this album is one of the best local releases ever. These guys are such important voices, and model in so many different ways how to do this work in a way that is intentional and community-minded. Check out Ali Elabbady's profile of the duo here, and get the album here:

7. "Ten Responses to the Phrase 'Man Up'" Reaches a Million YouTube Views, Ten Million Facebook Views
So yeah, the last shout out here is to myself. The YouTube version of "Ten Responses to the Phrase 'Man Up'" up on Button Poetry's channel just reached a million views. The Facebook version is up past ten million now too. Numbers aren't everything, of course, but it's always cool to see a counter-narrative poem like that resonate with so many people. The links will take you to those versions, although this one is still my favorite performance/video of the piece:

Some exciting stuff on the horizon. Thanks for reading.

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