We all make crucial decisions that, whether or not we know it at the time, alter the course of our lives and determine how much money we will make and the company we will keep, among other things. A long time ago I decided that I would write without prejudice, or put another way, without concern for the commercial value of what I was writing.
I could and can make money in various ways, but despite the fact that I identify myself as a writer, I’d be hard pressed to eat every day on the money I have made, or more accurately, not made. Personally, I believe that we all need to cultivate our artistic and creative natures. Cultivation is the pre-requisite to culture; without culture we would live a bleak existence. What’s the point of learning to read if there is nothing interesting to read? Do we just need to be able to read instructions?
It is almost counter productive to attach a commercial value to what we produce with inspiration and sweat. The problem with that equation is that a person needs time and space for freedom of expression which isn’t always free and never guaranteed. Opening a poetry café in Downtown Vallejo, California, is certainly not the type of venture guaranteed to attract crowds of people looking for something to buy. But it is probably the perfect type of venue for you, the discerning individual who knows that reality isn’t a TV show and poetry can speak directly to your Soul. And your Soul does need speaking to. That’s why I’m stuck on poetry, for that soul-to-soul connection that reaches beyond physical borders toward fulfilling the promise of diversity.
Tony, my husband, co-publisher, and co-conspiritor in creating Listen & Be Heard Poetry Café, and I have made the extra effort each year for five years now, to present a poetry marathon. It is an event that brings together poets and lovers of poetry from around the bay area to connect with each other and the community through spoken word. As I was writing this column, Q.R. Hand Jr. stopped in to tell me that he and Reginald Lockett would be combining their time and talents with the other members of Wordwind Chorus to inaugurate our 5th Annual Poetry Marathon at 6pm sharp on Saturday, April 28. We can make those kinds of adjustments because we are free. Free to express everything that needs saying. After Wordwind Chorus will come performances by Vallejo’s own young superstar Gabi Wilson, poetry slam queen Ilieah Thomas and the multi-talented Irman Arcibal. Coming in from around the bay area will be Kim Shuck, Slim Russell, Jennifer Foerster, Bill Vartnaw and Wordslanger. You can find more information about each of these fine poets at http://www.listenandbeheard.net/marathon5.
After our featured poets, Tony and I will perform a set we call Poetic Symmetry this time with the Charlie Channel Trio, a subset of The Talons, who have appeared at the café on World Music Saturdays. We hope that if you haven’t caught Poetic Symmetry previously you will join Tony and I this time as we explore the limits of jazz and spoken/sung word.
It wouldn’t be a Listen & Be Heard event without an open mic, your chance for naked expression. Whether you are a Listen & Be Heard virgin, or well, otherwise, this is the open mic that you won’t want to miss. Already signed up for the open mic list are 1. Marie Joshua 2. Kevin Currie 3. Simone 4. Erika 5. Karisha 6. LaRisha 7. Missy 8. Michael R. Merris 9. Truth B Told 10. Adrianna Monroe-Adams 11. Matu Feliciano 12. Maureen Crawford 13. Dan Blake. That leaves 7 more advance spots that you can still sign up for at http://www.listenandbeheard.net/marathon5/poetrymarathon.php. If you want to take your chances, we will leave 5 more slots open to sign up on the night of the marathon.
You don’t have to commit your life to poetry, but if you commit a few hours of your life on Saturday you will have the chance to join in a celebration of poetry and spoken word with people in the bay area who have been cultivating the garden with patience, fortitude and love.
Wishing you all Peace and Poetry