Thursday, April 30, 2009

Blogging for Spoken Word: iWrite

My good friend and colleague iWrite is a spoken word artist and blogger like myself. DC/Baltimore's spoken word and underground poetry scene is beginning to surface, and she's giving you the information you want to know about it.

Her blog diVERSEcity gives you the scoop on what's going on in mainstream poetry today, including clips from the new hot HBO series "Brave New Voices", interviews with up and coming artists such as Under_Score and the Twitter Poet, and she even includes some pieces of her own work.

Her second most recent post explores the misconception of the female image and glorifies the beauty in woman with a bigger waistline and more bodacious booty. If you love Georgia Me (Def Poetry Jam) like I do, you'll love you some iWrite.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Amanda Fair: 5 questions on PXDC

Miss Amanda Fair not only dances, she performs spoken word. To me she is the epitome of a Renaissance Woman. If she isn't lighting up a microphone at you local poetry venue, you can find her practicing with Poetic Xpressions Dance Company at the Experimental Concepts Dance Studio on Falls Road. You can find my interview with her below.

What is PXDC? When was it founded?
PXDC stands for Poetic Xpressions Dance Company. The company was founded in 2008.

What inspired you to create PXDC?
I've been dancing and writing poetry since i was seven years old and i've always had to choose between the two. Both art forms require a lot of work and attention and were always extremely hard to balance. I got tired with choosing between the two and then one day it hit me, a way that i could could combine both of them. I dance Monday though Sunday from 9am-9pm non stop. My "breaks" are spent driving from one location to another while trying to have lunch in my car. So it's easy to say that I'm hooked and I absolutely love my job.I barely make it out to perform in poetry shows or at open mics anymore lately but i am still writing. So it's still a bit of a struggle.I wanted to see both worlds combine. And that's another reason why i started the company. Very rarely do we as artists go out and really check out and get into the other art forms that exist. We usually stay in our tight little circles. You know what I mean, the dancers go to the dance shows, poets check our the poetry slams and events, actors check out the plays etc. It's just nice to see all different kinds of artists come together or come out and support.

How does poetry and dance connect in PXDC?
Basically I become interested first in a poet's work, I invite some of them to come and rehearse with the company, and the end result is pure art unfolding right before your eyes. The audience really gets to witness something special and real take place, the dancers get to work with some of Baltimore's best spoken word artists, and the poet's get to see their work take on a second life through dance. It's such an awesome feeling for the poet's to witness that
as well. As poet's we paint the pictures with our words, but to actually see the piece form physically is nice as well. Not all of our dances include poetry by the way.

What has been the best experience that you have had while working with PXDC?
Just being able to give this opportunity to artists in this area.(the dancers) I feel really good about that each day.

What type of impact do you want PXDC to have on the community?
Well I definitely want it to be there to be some sort of an Awakening. (small plug for our June shows- PXDC:The Awakening, June 27th and 28th) You learn how to just slide those shame-less plugs right on in there. But really i do want us to wake up a bit and take a look around and explore certain issues or subjects that may be a bit hard to face. We do have some very light and fun technical pieces in our rep. but i really do want to touch on the hard stuff as well. The Wakening when speaking of our June Concerts just simply means our beginning as a company for our first full length show. But that other awakening that i am speaking of can mean a lot of other things.Audience members will be able to see what I mean when they come check us out. I also want PXDC to bring out even more of an audience for dance in the state of Maryland and beyond.I want people to be both entertained and inspired as we continue to share the gift of poetry and dance. I want us to just dance for the love of dance and I also want us to touch on some very heavy and important topics that need to brought to the attention of the community in an "in your face" sort of way, so that we can at least start the necessary dicussions.

What plans do you have for the future of PXDC?
Wow, I have so many things planned for the company i couldn't even begin to know where to start. .You don't want me to get into that too much because I'm full of ideas and I'll keep going like the Energizer Bunny. I'll just say that we are going to do some amazing and exciting things, work with some great poet's, spoken word artists, and other guest choreographers and continue to create our own shows and perform at as many venues and for as many people as we can. We will have a second company in the future as well as go back to offering open community dance classes. Let's just say we have our hands full with plenty so definitely stay tuned. We won't disappoint! Thanks Janae.

To find out about PXDC's upcoming events AND to read the full length interview, please visit the website.

Baltimore City's Yo Trakz Part 2

Here is more footage of my experience with YoTrakz. This first clip includes an interview with another hot artist named Teck and more commentary from Hot Spitta on what mobile recording is all about.

This clip introduces Derin who stumbled upon the scene while recording was in process. I was very impressed with the level of involvement YoTrakz has with community such as this one-allowing him to take a chance at the mic even if it's with poetry written on paper. Former gang member Derin now writes as inspiration for Baltimore's troubled society. Here he reads his poem "Niggaz on a Mission".

In this last clip I got a chance to speak with L.J., the master mind behind the technological aspect of the company (also a Towson graduate) . L.J. expresses why he thinks there is a need for a "YoTrakz" and what he plans to do with the company. He also manages the Yo Trakz blog in order to keep fans up to date on new events with the group. So if you didn't get enough of the hip hop vibe from my video, you will find way more interesting content on his site.

The DVD that Hot Spitta previews at the end is the Mobin 2008 DVD which is free for download on the blog site. YoTrakz also produces DVD's showing live "mobin" and freestyling sessions from all over Baltimore. The DVD features artists such as Hot Spitta and Park Height's own Shaka Pitts. If you're a hip hop lover, make sure you get a copy...I did!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Baltimore Up for Debate

Do you think that Baltimore is the Greatest City in America? What makes it great? What makes this line fake?

Photo credit for all photos: Janae Griffin

I'd like to hear from you. In the meantime, here are some pictures that I took around Druid Hill Park and Fulton Avenue. I think these may help illustrate the point here.

Baltimore Public Art: Archie Veale

Photo Credit for all photos: Janae Griffin

I drive pass this image everyday but have never stopped for a minute to take it in. Unfortunately, I think that I am one in thousands of Baltimorians who do the same thing.

On 400 Pulaski Street at Route 40 (or Franklin Street) there is a block long mural of a giant African American male planting trees barefoot. The image of the male is centered. The beginning of the mural is beautifully covered in bright colors emphasizing day time/summer. However, night time/winter begins just over the male's back with a deep royal blue and white stars lingering over bare trees painted towards the end.

"Untitled", was created by Archie Veale in 1994 for the Pulaski Street Project and the Baltimore Mural Project. According to Veale's website,

"The mural... marks the end of the construction of the Route 40 expressway. Construction was halted during that time due to financial problems and protests from several community organizations. The expressway would have cut right through Leakin park. The image is meant to recognize the need for community growth and individual effort."

In his artistic statement, Veale explains that his art is "...a narrative exploring the themes of self-examination, personal knowledge, choice, destiny, and escape."

You can visit the Baltimore Mural Project's website to check out several other amazing murals that Baltimore city has been blessed with.