Friday, July 30, 2004

A Begining

I want to write this blog so I can look back on this crazy time in my life, and in the future understand it. Even looking at this first line makes me think that there is always more under surface than appears. When has my life not been crazy? That’s not a bad thing. I wouldn’t trade the choices and forks in the road I’ve chosen for something else. It is what it is, and here is where I stand, some regrets, but mostly intact.

At this point in my life I am a professional artist. It's hard to categorize what I do. Primarily, I am a spoke word artist, that's where I got my start like so many others, reading poems in a coffee shop. I've always been more ambitious than that so I started looking for any place that had a mic outside of Jacksonville. Luckly for me I stumbled into the slam scene and made a name for myself. I'm proud of my accomplishments in the field. Since that time I've stopped slamming, although, I day dream about returning. There is something intoxicating about performing, and the competition of the poetry slam that calls out to me. Since then I have tried to take the artform into different areas. The first has been my collaboration with a filmmaker name Dan. We have filmed two of my poems and turned them into movie shorts. This collabo, really got me thinking about how to expand the work. After the first movie was completed, I started working on a one man show, Essential Personnel, that has since traveled to many different theatres and recieved great reviews all over. One of the Theatres that brought the show in The Theatre Project, commissioned me to write a new piece for them. I also was commissioned by the Baltimore School of the Arts to write a play for their senior ensemble.

I think one day I'll look back at these commissions as the catalyst to launching my career. The work that was created has a buzz that I think will help propel me into bigger things. The first commission was "Griot: He Who Speaks the Sweet Word" Griot is a collaboration with two other poet/playwrights, Larry and David. They are great guys at the begining of their careers. Each brought something else to the project. For the most part I wrote the play. Larry and David gave great creative input along with a good friend Holly and my long time director Barbara. My music man, the incredible Zane 3 created a beautiful sound track that moves the play forward. "Griot" Deals with the tradition of storytelling in it's many incarnations from poetry to songs, to drama. The play has gone over like gangbusters.

The second commission is entitle "Chalk". "Chalk" is what I call a Poetical. A Poetical works just like a musical, but instead of the characters breaking out into song, the characters perform slam poetry. The BSA commision went really well. The new genre I'd created worked. (Ok so really I didn't create it, maybe I just named it, but reguardless, it worked) Since then, the Ophelia Project and picked it up and will be using it, as a teaching tool. We are talking about creating a "Chalk Day where schools all across the country will perform the play on the same day, and we use this to talk about the central issue in the play Relational Aggression. The play in it's roughest form is about girl aggression and how girls can be nasty with each other, and how it effects their future.

So all three plays are working for me right now, and I am always looking to work the poetry circuit. But I look back on it all, and honestly, I don't have much to show for it right now. For the last two years, I've been living gig to gig, which is worse then paycheck to paycheck, because gigs can be months apart. My family, and I will not talk about the specifics of my family on this blog, but I do have a family and several children. My family suffers the most.

Sometimes I want to stop writing and performing altogether and just work a regular job somewhere, but i've tried, and I can't cut the mustard anymore. I feel like I'm dieing working for someone else. Meanwhile, I'm not making enough money on my own to support my family and that weights heavily on me. So I guess this is what this blog is all about. Hopefully I'll obtain success, whatever that is, in the future and be able to look back at the road I took according to this Blog. I plan to chronical the ups and downs of being an artist struggling to juggle the family life, and at the same time maintain a certain amount of dignity. So fasten your seatbelt, get comfortable, and feel free to write me and tell me to stop whining when needed.

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