open letter

things for the last year and a half have been crazy. i have seen you go through the lows and the highs (and it all tastes like forgetting) the times for excuses is running out fast. i wish you the best of luck and hope that you come through this all right. i understand that we won’t be speaking as much as we used to and i’m ok with that. you don’t have to talk to me but i am going to talk through you… a lot. let that voice come through. that’s what got you hear. for good and bad. tell them all about the lattice that keeps the glass from harming the children, the ‘new’ american express card, the dance through the branches, the choice of being who you are and what they think you are and please tell them about the last songs… i hope you can explain to them about the first song and its color and how it tastes like chicken. for your own sake, tell them about it all and don’t leave anything out.

change that, ima go through this with you because i cant trust it just to you. YOU cant trust it just to you. you have to finally let people in and let them share in the glory and in the failure.

i think it can change really quick and you can have a good night of sleep, in an uncluttered room, without worrying about the sounds, not sleeping in jeans for fear you may have to run out, dusting the old souvenirs, picking up that brush and admitting how much it meant to you, acknowledging your tears and how they don’t mean shit to the souvenirs.

ima go now. our visits will be less frequent but more meaningful and ima hug you like a brother the next time i see you and you can tell me all about the days getting longer and how that feels good and i’ll tell you about the nights and how i’m fighting her off for you. keeping her away so that she doesn’t hurt you no more. there’s no reason one person should have that type of power over another.

take care,


beau sia

ah… the man, the myth, the legend. well, i didn’t always feel that way about him.

beau was the very first person i ever saw on the mic at 13. here i am half-expecting some finger snappin’. laid back poetry and i walk into this raucous reading of the ‘asians are coming.’ it was almost enough to make me leave. remember, at that point, my longest poem is 100 words long and they are all about the sun & the tides and booty. on the other side of the coin, we have this guy reading from memory, at the top of his lungs, looking like he’s going to hurt somebody.

as we know, i didn’t leave. saw beau finish his poems and stuck around for the rest of the night. i was so impressed with beau that i went out of my way to tell him so. the very first taste of poetic ‘awe’ and what did i get for my troubles? a simple ‘uuhhmm, thanks’ in the most low key voice you ever heard in your life. my quick math said… exhuberant spoken word artist mumbling at me in a half-monotone voice equals someone not looking to talk to me.

my next few experiences around beau were no better. he would occasionally drop by 13 and hang out in the farthest corner of the bar and would speak to only a few people. i didn’t think much of it. considered him very aloof and didn’t bother getting within 5 feet of him for fear that i may bore him to death again.

flash forward to the 2002 nationals and my role as ‘sacrificial poet’

the bout that i sac’ed for included beau’s san fran team. i got to hear beau kick his ‘extreme’ piece and, despite my preconceptions, was once again wowed by his performance. after the bout ended, i was chilling outside plotting my next move when the enigmatic mr sia comes up to me and compliments me on my performance of ‘mercy on the battlefield’ in the same low-key voice i first heard from him but now i was armed with a greater understanding of pets and realized that whatever happens on-stage stays there. you may be displaying this manic revolutionary but inside you could be just as confused as everybody else/ you could be the most rico sauve poet and not know jack about women/ you get the point.

and that is beau… this wonderful mix of different personalities that explode on stage, mostly his in.yo.face.motherfucker! side but if you listen well, his comes out.

it all cemented a few months back when i got to check out ‘def poetry on broadway’ with some school kids. after the performance, i was chilling with their teacher and waiting for some of the poets to come out and hook up the kids with autographs. i see beau, compliment on his performance and i get the same low-key ‘uhhmm, thanks’

here is the moral of the story kids… whenever you approach a poet, talk to the person, not the character on stage, or even the poem itself. it’s hard because the words and persona may be so provocative and you are really curious to find out if all those things happened and what happened to the people in them. don’t do it. just chill and respect the person in front of you. they may share with you or they may not. just deal with it and move on. you never know said person may become a cool friend down the road and then you may find out more than you ever wanted to know about all them poems.

or you could find a cool mo’fo like beau who, in front of one of the most prettiest woman i have met in quite a bit (thank you poetry), offered to comp me the next time i go to his show.

beau sia… the man, the myth, the legend… for real y’all

another monday night in the books…

a true adventure last night at 13 as we started late, had extra people on the open mic, had someone go 9:43 seconds on the mic(!), had an extra two poets in the slam, a surprise second feature popped up which all resulted in a very, very special episode of ‘a lil bit louder’

but the fun was only just beginning as jerry quickley was spending his 25th hour in new york before heading out to baghdad. we met up at this spot called maxfish which was more club than bar. pool tables, couches and a half-decent jukebox kept the energy up and i was acting the groupie taking pictures of jerry with all kinds of mo’fos.

if you are ever at a louderARTS event and see me, be careful, i may have my camera and i may be takin’ pictures of ya. not bad ones. just shots that people don’t expect.

it was approachin’ 2am when jerry decided that this had to go to an actual dance club. you know it’s new york when you can find a dance club at 2 in the morning on a monday night. normally, i am all about the hanging hard but i knew that there would be NO dancing for me. read the bio in the corner… thirty-sumthin’. once (in band camp) i could have handled that but not no more.

my groupie.ness was also coming out when i was trying to chill with jerry, even though we are more acquaintances than friends and i was running the same old “call ‘rog a dominican’ joke”. me thinks i was trying to catch some of jerry’s glow, that thing that makes him even consider risking his life for a cause and then actually having the balls to do it.

there was a new tidbit that I picked up when i jumped into the middle of a geo-political discussion that jerry, roger, lynne and dj frank were having… did you know that towards the end of world war 2 the japanese were negotiating terms of surrender with the russians? and that the talks were almost finished when the u.s. dropped the bomb on hiroshima and nagasaki? that the u.s. upped the time table on the bombing so that the japanese surrender would not be to the russians? throws that whole ‘the japanese would have fought to the last man’ / ‘dropping the bomb saved lives’ argument out the window, dontcha think?

hopefully this wasn’t as painfully obvious as i perceived it and jerry left saying ‘that little mo’fo with the camera is pretty cool.’

so the night ends with jerry hopping into his limo with the stalwart heading out to a club and not even thinking that this same time next week he is going to be in the middle of the conflict and that all hell could break loose at any second.

“entre amigos no se dice ‘hasta dios’ pero ‘hasta siempre’”

“friends never say ‘good-bye’ just ‘see ya latah’”

yo jerry! i know i aint ya friend but ‘hasta siempre’!

god speed

the war seems imminent. here in the states all we can do is wait.

a man that is like a brother to me is losing his wife. she is off in kuwait right now. as an army reservist, she has been called into action and waits.

poets across the nation have protested this action and it hit a flash point last monday. when first lady, laura bush, canceled her symposium on poetry last month, for fear that it would turn into an anit-war protest (which is exactly what was gonna happen), a separate symposium was gathered. in new york’s lincoln center, the nation’s top voices came together and through their work denounced our government’s arrogance and now, they wait.

one person is not waiting. jerry quickley is a new yorker that has spent the last few years in l.a. as a poet and radio voice, jerry has been in the trenches for a while. i first saw him november of 2001 at urbana where he dropped a dope set as the featured poet. he then came around new york again in september of last year. calling his friends together, he put on a super-dope show at the bowery poetry club. when your friends are roger bonair-agard, marty mcconnell, taylor mali, jeff mcdaniel, bassey &steve connell… well, you know you’re good. he dropped some pieces at the end and then most of us headed out as a group to have dinner.

this is always the best. when you see people relax and talk about everything under the sun. ol’ stories, new adventures and future plans. we finished dinner at around 1am and then jerry invited the remaining intrepid over to his hotel for some drinks in the lobby.

jerry was travelling with a film crew that was documenting a poetry tour he was on and they put him up at the soho grand hotel. their lobby was dec’d out like a funky-ass night club with a dj and two bars bookending the marvelous layout. more drinks, more talking and by the end of the night (5:15 am!), all was good with the universe.

i left that night happy to have met another poet that was equal parts great-writer/awseome-performer/socially-conscious/cool-motherfucker.

that’s why this e-mail jerry sent to the slam family has me bummed the fuck out.

Date: Sat, 22 Feb 2003 05:13:07 EST

Subject: B-Boy in Baghdad

Hello Slam Folk,

I just wanted to let you all know that I'll be traveling to Iraq next week to

shoot a documentary about the effects of the US sanctions and bombings. I

will be there before and during the bombing and invasion (should all of the

efforts and realities of the anti-war movement be ignored by the US


I don't know when I'll be returning. I will be there for a minimum of one

month. But once the "Shock and Awe" bombing breaks out, and the invasion, I

have no idea when I'll be able to leave. There is no exit strategy in place.

The goal is to contribute to a peaceful resolution of this US instigated

crisis by telling some of the stories of the people and children of Iraq. In

addition to that I will also collect images of the devastating reality of

this continued war on Iraq. I will be doing some radio broadcasts from

Baghdad as well. They will be carried on most Pacifica stations and perhaps

on some NPR stations as well.

I'm not arrogant enough to believe that I can tell the story of the Iraqi

people. But I'm hopeful enough to try and tell some of their stories with

dignity and integrity. I will be no more safe or less safe than any citizen

in Baghdad. I remain hopeful that instead of staying at hotels that I'll be

able to live with Iraqi families. I choose to go to Iraq at this moment

because as much as I love the people I know in this world, and as much as I

love my life, I'm certain that I have a great deal to learn, and I'm

definitively certain that the value of my life is not any greater than the

life of an Iraqi student, or dentist, or soldier, or baker, or cab driver.

We all have value. There are people walking this earth that I have not met

yet, that I will love. Who will have a deep impact on my life. I go to bear

witness for them. I go to cast my lot with the people of Iraq because I'm a

citizen of the world and information on the circumstances of the war should

not be exclusively offered by wealthy network anchors.

If you're in LA I'll be having a send off party on Saturday night at

Michelli's in Hollywood. It's from 10pm on in the basement. Tell the door

people that your "with Jerry".

If you're in New York I'll be having a gathering of some friends on Monday

2/24. You can call my hotel and ask for my room. I'll be arriving there

Sunday night, the ***** hotel, 212.***.****.

I hope to see some of you before I leave. My email will be shutting down as

well as my cell phone. Send good energy and love to the people and children

of Iraq. They have suffered too much and are worthy of our hopes and good


Peace and Solidarity,

Jerry Quickley

b-boy in baghdad

what jerry plans to do is fucking amazing!

no words can do this man justice.

all i can do is share with you his story, wish him god speed on a properous mission & safe return, pray and wait.

the middle ground…

on one hand, you have someone that has put a good deal of thought into the content of their work and can tell you why every word is in the poem but has the a delivery so flat that you have no idea when the poem begins and ends.

on the other hand, you have someone that is just ranting, is repetitive, unoriginal and could care little about literature but is so animated that you are more into their performance than their poem.

which do you choose?

being difficult, i choose the middle ground that says your work has to relevant, poignant and be able to succeed on page while simultaneously given the same treatment in the oral tradition. meaning, with as much heart and conviction as you wrote it– you have to deliver it.

impossible? maybe. but then you can always check out jimmy santiago baca’s book ‘Martin & Meditations on the South Valley’ and you will find an amazing group of semi-autobiographical poems that deliver on the page. i’m looking forward to one day seeing jimmy read and see if they can also come alive on stage.