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.

putting your money where your poetry is

if you have been checking the ‘upcoming events’ box then you know i went to exoterica last night. exoterica is the name of rick pernod & elizabeth bassford’s reading series. i’ve heard about it for a while and have been meaning to check it out.

one of the reasons i wanted to check it out is because it is in the bronx, well, not really. it’s in riverdale which is like a piece of suburbia transplanted into the north bronx.

the journey begins with me and fish driving through some seven-figure neighborhood and accidentally coming up someone’s high driveway and inquiring if their home is the community center. (that’s how big this house is) it’s not and the lady was equal parts friendly and cautious, good to know that she has some bronx in her, and points us in the right direction.

the center that exoterica uses is DOPE! straight out beautiful, add some candles and the thermostat set on high and you have an incredibly cozy setting for poetry. the reading went well for ‘off the cuffs’, a poetry anthology filled with work form cops, perpetrators and onlookers that comment on/for/against the police. an ambitious project and I commend jackie sheeler, the editor, for getting it together. after the reading we had a brief break and then the open mic. fish and i represented and did well, made some new friends and promoted Acentos.

while still on a poetry high, we decide to hit kay’ kafe in the bronx. the south bronx. no suburbia here. kay’s is run by ebony washington, who also hosts the barnes&noble reading in the bronx. ebony has always been warm and receptive to both me and fish. we get there and see ebony, r l the gifted one, nocturnal roots and some other cats who I don’t know. just like exoterica, we chill for their reading, hit the open, promote and bounce.

the only regret of the night is that there aren’t enough hours in the night to check out the semi-final slam at urbana, which promised to be kick ass.