Are you a poet and/or spoken word performer? If so, I want to share with you an opportunity to showcase your phenomenal talent on national television! First, I should say that I am in no way affiliated with or endorsed by Lexus Verses and Flow. I follow them on Twitter, and discovered that Verses and Flow are now holding auditions for next season’s shows. I’m thinking about trying out, and since I know a lot of my followers are poets, I want to give you that opportunity as well.
If you are not familiar with the show, it is known for showcasing dynamic spoken word poets and musicians on a national level. You can check out some of their featured poets here.
In order to apply you need to submit a video link of you performing along with a written version of one poem. If it seems like something you might be interested in click here for the submission application and guidelines. Please make sure to read the rules and regulations carefully, so that you won’t be disqualified. Best of luck!
So the other day I was scrolling through my newsfeed on Facebook (the absolute definitive source for foot-in-mouth syndrome) and I came across an author avidly defending a tweet in which she compared self-published literature to the slush piles of major publishing houses. This author spewed out about 24 paragraphs on Facebook to explain away a mere 140 characters on Twitter. I’m not here to cast stones, so I won’t reveal her name or go into all the ways I both agree and disagree with her. I will say that I was a little offended. She let the air out of my tires, so to speak. She also got me thinking.
You see, I like to indulge in the fantasy of comparing my own budding self publishing efforts to that of unsigned musicians. Don’t judge me. I like the idea of emerging as an underground artist having struggled to get my ‘demo’ into the hands of discriminating fans, most of whom obtained it at bass pulsating smoke filled clubs. Independent artists have ‘street cred’. They come up the hard way and they have a fan base that makes the industry labels take notice. Indie artists have more control over their work and the respect of their peers since they’re able to focus more on authenticity and less on commercialization. All that being said, the overall goal is to get signed. Because when you get signed, you have a money machine behind you that’s able to reach far more people than any unsigned artist ever could in clubs across the nation. The difference is that the independent artist doesn’t wait for the labels to give them permission to make music. They make the music, and put it out there to succeed or fail. Then, if they’re lucky, the labels come to them.
I’m not a musician. Please don’t get that confused. I was just momentarily caught up in an analogy that went on a little longer than I anticipated. But, I’m a writer who’s new to the game. I believe I have something to say that other people need to hear. I believe that what I have to say is relevant whether a major publishing house agrees or not. Self-publishing is changing the publishing industry in ways that have authors, editors, agents and publishers up in arms. Writers now have the privilege of putting their work out there and letting readers decide if they want to see more. Writers also have the responsibility of producing quality work that makes readers ask for more. Publishing power has shifted. More of it belongs to writers, however the majority of it belongs to readers; and that’s exactly how it should be.
Macklemore said it best:
Money, stay on my craft and stick around for those pounds, But I do that to pass the torch and put on for my town Trust me. On my I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T s**t hustler, Chasing dreams since I was fourteen with the four track bussing Halfway cross that city with the backpack, fat cat, crushing
Labels out here, Now they can’t tell me nothing We give that to the people, Spread it across the country
So let’s put our pens up like the ceiling can’t hold us.
Sarah Kay and her poetic partner Phil Kaye offer a new spin on spoken word poetry. They are story tellers, forsaking traditional rhyme and clever word plays for mellifluous performances that put one in the mind of peeking into a friend’s journal. Artistic creativity is as individual as the timbre of your voice. No one can create quite like you, so don’t let anyone box you in and tell you it must be executed a particular way. Your art is just that: your art. Hope this inspires you!
Who are some of your favorite spoken word artists?
In 2004 when I decided to get a MA in English/Creative Writing
Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How do you make time to write?
Part-time, but I’m in going through the somewhat extreme process of trying to turn it into full-time.
What’s your writing process? (Number of days you write per week, a.m. or p.m., specific music you play while writing, or anything else that you feel is a vital part of your creative process.)
I like to write during the day, mornings are ideal (hence my strong desire to make the transition to full-time). My ideas for characters are often birthed while listening to music, especially while driving. When I’m writing dialogue, I often have instrumental (or very soft vocals) music playing in the background. When I need to render an emotional scene, I like to listen to music that helps me get into that emotional space. But when I’m working on plot, I need silence and I often work that out while walking.
Do you keep a journal? If so, for how long? Do you find it helpful for your professional writing?
Not really, though I know I should and that I’m breaking a major writers’ rule by not doing it. That being said, I do often do morning pages as prescribed by Julia Cameron in the Artists Way (my creative living bible)
What’s your inspiration?
Music and Life
What kind of legacy do you expect your writing to leave?
I have no idea, but whatever it is, I hope it includes messages of inspiration.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
To read and write as much as often as you can. And to continually surround yourself by things and people that affirm your aspirations.
What’s on your bookshelf or in your e-reader library?
Who Asked You – Terry McMillan and A Week in Winter – Maeve Binchey
Blurb –“I was twelve years old when I first experienced my own soul.” This line from Lovenia Leapart’s“Girls Don’t Play Guitar,” captures the spirit of this collection of short fiction by new and emerging writers. The stories survey a variety of issues affecting African American women through the theme of searching for one’s self and identity.
Tell us about your main character? What actress or actor would you cast to play him or her in a movie about your book?
The main character in Girls Don’t Play Guitar is a female jazz musician who has had to go against the grain and embrace the calling to play the guitar during a time when being a woman and and having an interest in jazz music meant either learning to play the piano or being a vocalist. A good actress for this part would be Jada Pinkett Smith, I think. The main character in Marked by Temptation is a librarian who’s recently been laid off. She’s smart, full-figured, and a bit too shy for her own good. I think Sanaa Lathan would be great for this role.
How can we purchase your work?
Girls Don’t Play Guitar at Plenarybooks.com (publisher’s website) and Marked by Temptation at Amira Press (publisher’s website), Amazon, or Barnes & Noble online for download as it is an eBook.
No, I’m not here to spout the evils of reality television. I have no desire to rant about how the prevalence of reality shows are slowly spoiling the cultural appetites of an entire generation. I’ll leave that to the literary and artistic snobs more versed on the topic than I will ever be.
The other day was Kim Kardashian’s birthday and I happily wasted some brain cells by watching a few episodes of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. While watching, I noticed something that disturbed me. Well, I noticed a few things that disturbed me, but that’s not the point. My point is that the entire cast seems to have a cell phone perpetually glued to their hands. No matter what they are doing, a cell phone has at least some part of their attention. Whether they are driving, having dinner or even using the restroom a cell phone is nearby. What disturbed me was that I realized that I often do the same thing. I have the habit of being more involved in the cyber world while out and about, than the real world.
I’ve decided that I need to break the Kardashian habit for the sake of my writing. Writers are by nature studier’s of human behavior. When I’m constantly engaged with my phone, I miss the opportunity to engage with the people around me. I do my artistic creativity a disservice when I perpetually indulge in the singular universe that my cell phone provides. The world around me is ready and waiting for my full attention.
My observance can mean the difference between flat stilted dialogue and dialogue that leaps off the page. It can mean the difference between generic descriptive narrative and a reader’s total immersion in a vision I create. It can mean the difference between true authenticity and regurgitated dribble.
Art imitates life and it’s hard to do that if we’re not studying the real thing. So, cell phones down and heads up. Hello world.
What’s your artistic kryptonite? Let us know in the comments below!