Friday, September 20, 2019

"There is no light at the end of this tunnel/ so it's a good thing we brought matches"

New over on Button Poetry's channel: an a capella rendition of my two verses from the song "Matches."



You may know it from the Sifu Hotman album, or from it being featured as the weather on an episode of Welcome to Night Vale. It's kind of a personal "mission statement," something that drives a lot of what I try to do. The full lyrics are available here.

The song wasn't written about the climate crisis, but let's talk about it.
I'm thinking about this song in the context of today's Global Climate Strike. Part of the song is about rejecting the narrative of the individual hero or revolutionary, and instead attempting to tap into something larger, something more communal, something more connected. Because when it comes to this work, individual action will not be enough. We need large-scale, sustainable policy change, the the mass movements that can drive that policy change. So that means joining organizations, donating to organizations, voting for candidates with bold plans to tackle the problem, pressuring the politicians who don't, and dreaming bigger.

And yeah, if I recycle, use less plastic, and pick up litter at the park on the way there, that's fine. But those actions are not a substitute for organizing. There's a reason the song ends with "it's a good thing we brought matches" and not "it's a good thing I brought matches."

Here in MN, today's climate strike is sponsored by a bunch of organizations that are worth a follow, from MN350, to TakeAction MN, to MN Youth Climate Strike and beyond. Check out the "hosted by" list at the event page.

I'd also recommend checking out poet Bernard Ferguson's fantastic "Hurricane Dorian Was a Climate Injustice" in the New Yorker, on the difference between unavoidable tragedy and avoidable injustice. Also, this profile of MN's own Isra Hirsi, who makes vital connections between environmental justice and racial justice.

"Who do you want to be at the end of the world?"
When it comes to the climate crisis, there's one essay I recommend everyone read: Kelly Hayes' "Saturday Afternoon Thoughts on the Apocalypse." THIS QUOTE:

"And there is nothing revolutionary about fatalism. I suppose the question is, are you antifascist? Are you a revolutionary? Are you a defender of decency and life on Earth? Because no one who is any of those things has ever had the odds on their side. But you know what we do have? A meaningful existence on the edge of oblivion. And if the end really is only a few decades away, and no human intervention can stop it, then who do you want to be at the end of the world?"

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

"More Or Less Live" Online Performance & #PowerAndPresence Campaign


EDIT: the show is over (though you can still watch it here), but you can still help power TruArtSpeaks' Power and Presence campaign to expand access to spoken word and Hip Hop arts programs: here!


Sunday, September 15, 2019 (from 3-5pm CT) via Facebook Live at the Guante page.

***HERE IS THE TRUARTSPEAKS DONATION LINK; today, I'm matching $500, so think of it as a way to double your donation!*** Donations can be made via PayPal, credit card, or mailing in a check (info at the link).

One of the most important functions of art is to build community. That’s often done in-person- you go to the open mic, or sign up for the poetry slam, or head to the local venue for a Hip Hop show. And that’s all beautiful, and TruArtSpeaks (an organization I’ve worked with for ten years now) does that work with so much power and intention.

I’m also interested, however, in expanding how that work can be done. Because honestly, I’m an introvert, and I don’t like crowds, and my schedule is hectic. Those factors can make it hard for me to show up to all the cool stuff I want to support. I know I’m not alone in that, either. So this month, I really wanted to throw a benefit show for TruArtSpeaks, but I also wanted to experiment a little, and maybe expand how we think about that kind of work.

So on Sunday, September 15, as the official kickoff to TruArtSpeaks’ “Power & Presence” campaign, we’re going to throw a virtual benefit show. I’m going to “go live” via my Facebook page, share some poems (including some brand new work), talk about new projects, answer some questions, and illuminate just why I think TruArtSpeaks’ work is so vital. If that can inspire a few extra people to donate to our campaign this year, I’m putting up $500 to match it. All of the money raised will go directly toward supporting the next generation of artists and leaders in Minnesota and beyond.

Here's the donation link, which works whether or not you check out the show.

Even if you can’t give now, though, you can still tune in and join the conversation. Because this campaign isn’t just about raising money; it’s about expanding the cypher and bringing more people into this work. Hope to see you then.