Monday, March 26, 2012

GOOGLE ME... or not!

About a year ago, I went to and typed a close relative's name into the search field. To my utter shock and admitted disappointment, I scrolled through a lengthy array of provocative photos, articles, links and videos that I thought painted a limited, bawdy picture of said nameless relative. What I found out later was that rather than the fear and vulnerability I felt on said relative's (SR's) behalf, SR is rather proud of the display and the notoriety gained from it.

As a person who loathes judgment and the implications of it, I hated that my visceral response to what I'd found was so negative. My tsk-tsk-tsk and shaking head over the idea that SR had carelessly let the world in on some of the most sacred and intimate spaces of life. Even further, my response went against every fiber of my being that tries not to perpetuate judgment, only to realize my own painful truth... that I REALLY hate to be judged.

I guess that's a sort of universal truth, hating to be held under the stage clip of some not-so-objective lens. That's pretty ironic coming from someone who, on a semi-regular basis, offers her own tidbits and perspectives that people openly form opinions about; occasional poems and other moments of naked wit and (dare I say) wisdom via cyber missive-to-self and anyone-who-will-read-them-blogs.

Finally, and probably most pointedly, my experience with SR made me wonder who, if anyone, has ever gone to Google to specifically search, or "google," me... other than ME, that is. These days, it would seem that the answer to that - otherwise hypothetical question - would be... perspective employers!

For several unnamable reasons, I am posting this. In part, as an experiment. But mostly, this post is in response to a number of graduating seniors I know (and mentor) as reiteration and proof that neither (A) the profiled photos of their bare, flexed abs, flanked by flailing, wagging tongues, nor (B) the statuses that have more four-letter-words than Lil Weezy’s last hit record, are the best ways to make a possible first impression on prospective jobs. (A “hoodie photo" of myself and my family may not be best either but I would hope the national concerns of late make it permissible and understandable… but I digress.)

Since my verbal counsel seems not to suffice, I offer Kit Eaton’s 2009 article, “If You're Applying for a Job, Censor Your Facebook Page,” from (written long before any of my students could tell a tweet from a twit; before any of them even knew there was a Facebook). Some of the stats may be a bit confusing, but, give the article an entire read through… then, when we meet again, tell me what you think.

Until then, my beloved myspace-facebook-tweet-blogger darlings, keep your clothes on in your profile pictures, hope for world peace in your status updates, keep your public social networking private, and keep your job prospects… prospective.

Onward and upward...

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Poetry for the People: 20th Anniversary Celebration!
UC Berkeley African American Studies Department presents June Jordan’s Poetry for the People A 20th Anniversary Celebration Featuring P4P extended family & Patricia Smith [National Book Award & 3X National Poetry Slam winner]

Friday, March 16, 2012
An Evening of Poetry Featuring STP Alumni, including
Xochiquetzal Candelaria
Ariel Luckey
Terry Taplin
Sandra Garcia-Rivera
Milani Pelley
Shia Shabazz Smith
Lateef McLeod
Alicia Zakon
Javier Zamora
Hosted by P4P Director Aya de Leon

7pm @ 145 Dwinelle Hall (UC Berkeley)
FREE! Wheelchair Accessible. All are welcome!!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A day of conversations, workshops, panels, performances, open mics, booksignings & honoring the memory and legacy of founder June Jordan for current & former P4P poets, STPs, Bay Area artists & activists, teen poets, aspiring writers, slammers, page poets, novelists, community builders, poetry lovers, etc.

Patricia Smith will give a talk in the afternoon (space is limited!)
An Evening of Poetry
Patricia Smith + P4P & Bay Area Poets & artists

Saturday location:
UC Berkeley Multicultural Center
1st Floor MLK Student Union
near corner of Bancroft & Telegraph in Berkeley

Conference is FREE! Wheelchair Accessible. All are welcome!!

Evening Performance featuring P4P & Patricia Smith is priced as follows:
$20 suggested donation
$15 college studens w/ ID
$5 youth 18 & under w/ ID (ltd qty)
Poetry for the People “a political movement anybody anywhere can join, imitate, or improve…a literary movement no one can stifle or erase.”
–June Jordan

For more information, please go to

Monday, March 05, 2012

put a leash on your dog!

a coworker recently informed me that 2012, the year of the dragon, is supposed to suck for those of us born in the year of the dog. born on the "day of the top dog," in fact, my year so far is starting to make sense. so, the direction given to those of us dreading the oncoming year is to lay low, hang in the cut, breathe, and get ready. sounds like pretty good advice,

so, that's what i've been trying to do... well, as much as possible... so i will be ready. for what? i'm not exactly certain. (for more ease/for a better payday/for all of the torents to smooth themselves and for the sails to swell with promise... perhaps...) i feel like i've done too much work and prepared for far too long for my opportunity/"my luck"/ my blessing to be much further than around the proverbial corner. that said, i'm trying to remain present. trying to pray, read and listen; meditate... here I go...

if only this woman sitting next to me would PLEASE stop smacking! SHEESH!

Thursday, January 05, 2012

52 things in 52 weeks
first off, let me say... HAPPY NEW YEAR!

anyone who knows me, knows i am a lover of lists. i don't abide by them always but there's something comforting about lists of things to be accomplished and acquired... goals lists, grocery lists, task and to do lists (honey-do lists), wish lists, "40 by 40" lists, favorite moments lists, favorite songs lists, people i admire lists, favorite food lists, best books lists... even list poems. they are easy and they inspire me; they keep me moving onward and upward.

so, in the spirit of lists, i am writing my first blog of the year... you guessed it... as a list. not a list of resolutions. more like a list of 52 things i hope to do before year's end. things to help me break out of my daily routine and awaken the muse in me. in 2011, i don't feel like i had enough writerly moments. this list is meant to inspire the writer in me throughout 2012. i invite you, dear reader, to adapt it, or create your own, to see how much of it you accomplish by year's end.

(numbered, but in no particular order... here we go...)

  1. write a list of 52 things I can accomplish this year (good start, right?)

  2. read a blog (see, you can already cross one thing off of your list)

  3. start/write a blog (it will get the juices flowing)

  4. (PRIVATE)

  5. read a screenplay/work in your favorite genre

  6. finish writing a screenplay (ScriptFrenzy)

  7. enter a writing contest

  8. read a book of poems (suggestions?)

  9. read the autobiography of an author or a memoir

  10. see 12 movies (1/month)

  11. mentor a young person

  12. write a letter to 6 family members and mail them

  13. write using a prompt (suggestions)

  14. read the newspaper cover to cover

  15. take a dance lesson

  16. visit an art museum

  17. go to a poetry reading (venue suggestions?)

  18. read at a poetry reading/open mic

  19. parle francais avec ma soeur

  20. paint on canvas

  21. write a short film

  22. shoot a short film

  23. get a massage

  24. get a mani/pedi

  25. eat sushi

  26. eat tiramisuBold

  27. swim in an ocean

  28. walk barefoot

  29. ride a bike

  30. buy a cozy robe

  31. attend a professional conference

  32. apply for a fellowship

  33. skip

  34. sing

  35. (PRIVATE)

  36. make bookmarks

  37. make a carrot cake from scratch

  38. take a writing workshop

  39. lead a writing workshop

  40. make a tshirt

  41. create/order business cards

  42. buy some red toms

  43. get a new journal that i LOVE

  44. new collection of pens

  45. acquire 12 classic movies

  46. begin a collaborative project

  47. pitch a project

  48. volunteer for a day

  49. work freelance (builds muscle)

  50. write at least a poem/week during poetry month (APRIL, which is also ScriptFrenzy month so...

  51. journal, journal, journal!

  52. learn tai chi and incorporate it into my daily/weekly schedule

WHEW! that wasn't as easy as I thought it would be, though it was as, if not more, liberating! the tasks in bold type feel a bit more intimidating than the others for whatever reason, which means i'm likely to dive into those heart first. (my habit is to stare fear down and poke it's eyes out, no matter how much my knees knock, my stomach moans.)

so, this is it. if you write a list, i'd love to read it. not just so i can knock item #3 off of my list. i want to be inspired.

onward and upward, beautiful people...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

what are you pretending not to know?
my real-life homage to Nikky Finney

NOTE: rarely will i write on the same topics for Torch posts (forthcoming) and my person blog (here) but there's neverenough praise for Nikky Finney... *sigh* ... this telling is more a personal account. besides, as you can see, i haven't written in this space in nearly two years, so, whatever gets it going again, right? anyway... here we go...

during my first year at Cave Canem, one of my most memorable moments of that unforgettable experience was the morning i sat with Nikky Finney in the main room on the campus of cranbrook in bloomfield hills, michigan. my life, on the whole, was secretly in turmoil. but, for Nikky's sagacious eye, the chaos was evident in everything my poems weren't saying. "what are you pretending not to know," she'd asked me in that way that requires you to pay attention... real attention. the abridged version: that moment was the beginning of the beginning for me. it was the first time in my life that i realized i wasn't fooling anyone, not even myself.

her walk with me that first year was so generous and care-full and loving and supportive and intentional... she is a REAL student's mentor, the every-person's poet AND a poet's poet. she is never simply art for art's sake; writing to hear her own voice. she is dedicated to the articulation of life itself through art, through a lens that is neither colored nor distorted by the truth; rather, enhanced by it.

Nikky Finney... I salute you. asking myself that question every now and again requires me to do the real work my life deserves when things aren't quite working out. and let it be said that if i could put my husband and our little prince in our car (with the assurance that it could actually make it outside of california), take the time off of work without pay, pick whatever flowers led us to you and lay them at your sandled-foot so that you'd know what gratitude looks like, i would. i walked for three summers under your tutelege, then with Rice and The World Is Round. From "The Errand Girl...", Head Off and Split has been the collection I've lauded from the moment the Books Inc., clerk handed me the receipt and i pulled away the front cover. you are what brilliance looks like. 2011 National Book Award... ahhhh... it's about damn time. (the world can no longer pretend not to know!)

OCCUPY EVERYWHERE! by divesting from "routine" and supporting indie book shops, businesses and local artists!