#WBW = Write Bloody Wednesday — #13: Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

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Continuing my series on my favorite Write Bloody poets… LUCKY #13 is Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz!  …

From the Write Bloody website:
Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz
Founder and host of the three-time National Poetry Slam Championship venue, NYC-Urbana, Cristin is the author of five books of poetry. She is currently a rights agent for the Artists Rights Society.

As you might have guessed with my meeting of Derrick C Brown in 2008, I was on the mailing list of Write Bloody. This is how the name Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz came to my attention. With her overtones of wit in her poems it definitely shows in her performance. Definitely one worth reading/hearing more from!

 

#WBW = Write Bloody Wednesday — #12: Karen Finneyfrock

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Continuing my series on my favorite Write Bloody poets… This week is another that I have NOT met face to face (Hey, I do like poets who I haven’t met. It happens! :-P)

From the Write Bloody website:
Karen Finneyfrock
Karen Finneyfrock is a poet, novelist and teaching artist in Seattle, WA. She is a Writer-in-Residence at Richard Hugo House in Seattle and teaches for Seattle Arts and Lectures’ Writers-in-the-Schools program. A member of four National Poetry Slam Teams, Karen has toured across the US and Canada reading poetry in bars, coffee shops, theatres and the occasional living room. Karen was honored as a “Slam Legend” at the National Poetry Slam in 2006.

I’ll be honest, Karen Finneyfrock is another like Robbie Q Telfer that has been mostly a name on a screen. I know of her more as a go to person for issues in the world of slam  and as a champion of the movement in the national community for safe spaces to perform and watch than for her poetry. She is one that after I read her insightful thoughts on poetry community issues, THEN I read/watched her work. INSTANT FANDOM. Even if you don’t agree with the pro gay lean of the poem performed in the video above, you must acknowledge the skill with which the imagery is assembled and the eery haunting quality of the calm with which Karen performs it. It’s no wonder she makes it onto my list of favorite Write Bloody poets!

#WBW = Write Bloody Wednesday — #11: Robbie Q Telfer

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Continuing my series on my favorite Write Bloody poets…

From the Write Bloody website:

Robbie Q Telfer

Telfer lives in Chicago where he curates the Encyclopedia Show, writes the serialized blog-novel The Chronicles of Professor Fliggins, and is the Director of Performing Arts for Young Chicago Authors (YCA). He was a finalist at the National Poetry Slam in 2007.

Robbie Q Telfer is one of those people who if you pay attention to slam poetry on a national level you have at least heard his name. I don’t remember how we came to be connected online but he is one of the few people that I added to my online circle of acquaintances without having met him at least once first. Honestly, I know Robbie more for his events than for his poetry and have found him to be an alternately insightful and entertaining online friend but only have read his poetry a few times over the years. Still, good enough to put him on my list of Write Bloody favorites for this blog! His writing is witty and insightful with a fair balance of the serious just like the poet himself.

#WBW = Write Bloody Wednesday — #10: Jeanann Verlee

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Continuing my series on my favorite Write Bloody poets…

From the Write Bloody website:

Jeanann Verlee

She has represented New York City three times at the National Poetry Slam at the Urbana Poetry Slam and The louderARTS Project. Verlee was the highest-scoring individual poet at the 2008 National Poetry Slam Finals, is the 2009 NYC-Urbana iWPS Champion, and represented NYC-louderARTS at the 2010 Women of the World Poetry Slam.


I have never loved someone I have never met quite as much as I love Jeanann Verlee. I was exposed to her via Myspace back in 2008 via another NYC poet who went by the name Survivor. Her poetry was (IS) a rock slide in the brain. Sometimes this was a good thing.She is one of the NYC-louderARTS poets that I connected to that year and she is definitely an example of how AMAZING those poets are! I kept up with her for NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month) back in April 2008 and was totally enthralled with her style and creativity. 

As if my utter respect for her as a poet wasn’t enough, I found reason to have the highest regard for her as a person as well. When the females (including transgender) gathered together online to talk about issues specific to women in poetry slam, I had the honor of being invited to be in that circle. The things that were brought up were deeply important and necessary even if they were harsh and hard to hear sometimes. In one of the deep heartfelt issues that came up Jeanann put herself and her story out there. I don’t know about anyone else but for me her bravery was a source of strength and a reason for solidarity as a fellow member of woman kind.  Sadly, if she has ever been in Phoenix or anywhere in AZ, I missed the show. Hopefully I get a chance to see her perform live someday soon!

http://ragazine.cc/2010/02/jeanann-verlee/

Image from an article: http://ragazine.cc/2010/02/jeanann-verlee/   (Click the image to see more of her poetry)

#WBW = Write Bloody Wednesday — #9: Brian Ellis

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Continuing my series on my favorite Write Bloody poets… In case you hadn’t noticed over the weeks, I started off with the poets that I have had the pleasure of meeting personally. This week is no exception!

From the Write Bloody website:

Brian Ellis
Ellis began performing for audiences in spring 2006. Since then he has been on the the Cantab Lounge Poetry Slam team twice and has represented the Cantab at the individual world poetry slam. He is a local slam champion and has been featured at poetry venues from New England to various regions of the U.S.

When my life was much more normal (meaning I had a regular day job and disposable income), I would go to EVERY poetry event in the Phoenix, AZ area. This is how I came to be friends with a LOT of local poets who were serious about there craft and would compete in slams and go to the National Poetry Slam nearly every summer. Well in this slam circle there were names that would get spoken with reverence and respect. One of those names was Brian Ellis.

Brian was one of the many poets I heard how good he was long before I ever read a word of his work. Then came my joining of the MySpace community and the chance to connect as a fan to this poet. Eventually he came to our humble valley and performed at one of my favorite spots A Shot of Java coffee shop in downtown Glendale, AZ. This delicate looking young man tore us all a new poetic perspective with the power of his feature performance that night and (as I’m sure you can guess if you have been reading the past weeks) I *had* to get his book from him. Such an amazing writer!

Sadly, I have not been able to repeat my experience since then, but fortunately there is always his book(s) and YouTube videos to tide me over.

#WBW = Write Bloody Wednesday — #8: Megan Falley (Red Rover FOREVER)

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Continuing my series on my favorite Write Bloody poets and moving on to Megan Falley…

From the Write Bloody website:

Megan Falley

Megan Falley is one of a mere handful of poets to be published both on Penmanship Books and Write Bloody Press. After representing SUNY New Paltz for four years on the college slam team, Megan later earned her degree in English Literature and Creative Writing and returned to New Paltz to coach the team. In 2009 she helped found the second largest collegiate spoken word tournament in the country, The Wade-Lewis Poetry Slam Invitational. In 2010 she represented New York City on a competing team at the National Poetry Slam and her work began appearing in several literary magazines and anthologies including The Nervous Breakdown, PANK, Muzzle, Kill Author, The Legendary, Danse Macabre, and The Literary Bohemian. When she is not writing poems, Megan occupies herself by turning her ex-lovers into pies.

Megan Falley is another name I heard before actually reading or hearing her poetry… I didn’t actually look up anything by her until after reading threads on the Women in Poetry Slam facebook group about something other than her poetry. Her story is one that sadly mirrors mine in some ways and THIS is what led me to want to know the poetry put out by this brave and vocal advocate. Of course as a Write Bloody author, she completely rocks socks.

After reading her story and interacting with her on facebook, I had the pleasure of seeing this woman perform live here in Phoenix at the wonderful Lawn Gnome bookstore on magical 5th Street in the downtown Phoenix arts district. I of course bought a book from this amazing woman who was touring cross country by car alone. Her book is one of three poetry books that made it into my suitcase for the planned sailing trip around the world so you know her poetry is good.

Oh and the “Red Rover FOREVER” thing? That’s for those who were there. :-)

Click the image to see Megan's tumblr blog

#WBW = Write Bloody Wednesday — #7: Sierra DeMulder is OK by me

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Continuing my series on my favorite Write Bloody poets and this week is Sierra DeMulder’s turn…

From the Write Bloody website:

Sierra DeMulder

Sierra DeMulder is a Pushcart-nominated touring performance poet. In 2009 she won the National Poetry Slam, was awarded Best Female Poet at College Union Poetry Slam Invitational, and ranked 9th at the Individual World Poetry Slam. She lives in St. Paul, MN.

I had heard Sierra DeMulder’s name before I ever read her poetry. The magic of the internet brought her words into my world. I remember liking what I read and then later what I saw on YouTube. Then one day she was in my town doing a double feature with her then boyfriend. I’ll be honest, as a rape survivor I found her poem from the perspective of the rapist deeply troubling and triggering but I didn’t hold that one poem against her. I still bought her book and her boyfriend’s CD (I’ll get to him later).

If you hadn’t noticed, so far my favorite writers have also been performers as well. This is the great thing that comes out of the slam poetry community in North America: poets learn to speak well and not just have clever word play (check the video link above for what I am talking about).

#WBW = Write Bloody Wednesday — #6: Anis Mojgani and the creepy touching

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Continuing my series on my favorite Write Bloody poets and this week is no less of a heavy hitter than any of the prior: Anis Mojgani

From the Write Bloody website:

Anis Mojgani

Anis Mojgani is a two time National Poetry Slam Champion and winner of International World Cup Poetry Slam. A Pushcart Prize Nominee and former resident of the Oregon Literary Arts Writer’s-In-The-Schools program, Anis has performed at numerous universities, festivals, and venues around the globe. His work has appeared on HBO, NPR, and in the pages of Rattle magazine.



I first heard of Anis Mojgani when I saw his name on a compilation CD that I bought to help my Phoenix slam team get to the National Poetry Slam. The poem was the one in the video: Shake the Dust = Instant fandom. When I heard that the Junkyard Ghost Revival was coming to my state with not just my favorite two poets Derrick Brown and Buddy Wakefield, but ALSO my new favorite Mojgani… well… I had to get down to Tucson to see this guy live!

Anis did not disappoint! It was an amazing show just as I had come to expect from Derrick and Buddy. All the rest of the cast stayed in for the night but Anis hung out at the get together at the host Lindsay Miller’s house. Yet again I was surprised at how down to earth poetry super stars can be! Sadly, I only had enough funds to get down to the show and pay to get in and not any extra to buy any CDs or books other than the collaboration book that the tour was about. If I would have had enough at the time, I would have definitely gotten Anis’s CD!

OH! I guess I should explain “creepy touching”! The explanation of the title of this post is in the caption of the picture below…

Derrick and Buddy demonstrate while Anis describes the "Creepy Touching" game they played on the road... This was Derrick driving up to a toll booth and Buddy pretending to be the toll booth worker. What you DON'T see is Derrick creepily touching Buddy the toll booth worker's hands and arms in a reenacted exchange of money.

At the Junkyard Ghost Revival tour show in Tucson, AZ 2009… Derrick and Buddy demonstrate while Anis describes the “Creepy Touching” game they played on the road… This was Derrick driving up to a toll booth and Buddy pretending to be the toll booth worker. What you DON’T see is Derrick creepily touching Buddy the toll booth worker’s hands and arms in a reenacted exchange of money. Poets… so crazy!

After the show shot of all the cast: Ed Mabrey, Buddy Wakefield, Sonya Renee, Derrick Brown, host Lindsey Miller, and of course Anis Mojgani

After the show shot of all the cast: Ed Mabrey, Buddy Wakefield, Sonya Renee, Derrick Brown, host Lindsey Miller, and of course Anis Mojgani

#WBW = Write Bloody Wednesday — #5: Mike Mcgee is awesome

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Continuing my series on my favorite Write Bloody poets… What better way to continue than with one of the nicest guys I have ever met: MIKE MCGEE (I know a lot of nice folks so this is no easy task to make my top 5!)

From the Write Bloody website:

Mike Mcgee

As a Poetry Slam competitor in the U.S., Mike has competed at the National Poetry Slam on team San José several times. In 2003, McGee won the coveted National Poetry Slam Individual Grand Championship, besting over 300 nationally ranked poetry slammers.


I met a lot of GREAT writers back in 2009 when Ed Mabrey moved to Phoenix, AZ and started the Thursday and Friday night Black Pearl poetry events. One of the first ones I remember was Mike McGee. His performance was lively and mostly humorous. He could even tackle the serious stuff without being preachy about it. I of course got his CD and also got his book (which will be going with me when I sail around the world). I wish I had a more detailed story to illustrate why I say Mike McGee is awesome but anyone who has seen him perform and/or has met him can definitely cosign on the awesomeness of this man.

Sadly, the few times I spent with Mike we never got a picture together! So… I’ll have to settle for this pic off of facebook instead. *sad panda face*

#WBW = Write Bloody Wednesday — #4: Adventures with Jon Sands… sort of…

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Continuing my series on my favorite Write Bloody poets…

From the Write Bloody website:

Jon Sands

DOB: 6/15/1983

Jon Sands has been a professional teaching and performing artist since 2007. He’s a recipient of the 2009 NYC-LouderARTS fellowship grant, and has represented New York City multiple times at the National Poetry Slam. He is the Director of Poetry and Arts Education Programming at the Positive Health Project, as well as a Youth Mentor with Urban Word-NYC.

I found out about Jon Sands fall of 2007 when I checked out the MySpace profile of a poet called “Survivor”  who was scheduled to come out to Phoenix. I connected with him on MySpace and carried that connection over to facebook because honestly his poetry is AMAZING. I was a super huge Jon Sands fan gurl every time he posted anything or was coming to AZ. I would repost all of it. I still really enjoy his work.

I got to meet Jon when his ride to the venue fell through and I got enlisted by local poet and host Jeremiah Blue to give him a ride to the event. Jon is a great guy in addition to being a wonderful poet. I must say I love that about the national poetry scene, there are so many absolutely great people!

If you get a chance, you DEFINITELY should check out Jon’s work!

Me with Jon Sands back in 2008 when he featured at Words In The Alley. My friend Tufik who took the picture told us to act like we were drunken newlyweds at a Vegas chapel. I think I took the direction a bit too well!

 

#WBW = Write Bloody Wednesday — #3: Taylor Mali is a swell guy…

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And so continues my weekly Write Bloody obsession… This time around it’s Taylor Mali.

From the Write Bloody website:

Taylor Mali

Mali is the author of two books of poetry, The Last Time As We Are (Write Bloody Books 2009) and What Learning Leaves (Hanover 2002), and four CDs of spoken word. He received a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant in 2001 to develop Teacher! Teacher! a one-man show about poetry, teaching, and math which won the jury prize for best solo performance at the 2001 Comedy Arts Festival. Mali was formerly president of Poetry Slam, Inc.

So… Taylor Mali…
My first experience with him was when he appeared on Def Poetry Jam and I just loved his true to life monologue style of spoken word poetry. His great enunciation and inflection. His exaggerated mannerisms. Etc, etc. Taylor Mali has always been kind of an iconic symbol of slam poetry for me just as much if not more than Marc Smith himself.

Now for those who know him personally and have competed against him in slams, from what I have heard from a few my title of this entry would be the opposite of what they would say… but then again, I have never had to compete against him or deal with him in the role of slam master or PSI president.

My experience? It’s kind of convoluted but here goes… I was giving poet Ed Mabrey a ride from Phoenix, AZ to his feature in Tucson, AZ and along the way he gets a random phone call from a friend telling him he was in town and would try to catch Ed’s feature if what he was doing ended soon enough. The friend? You guessed it: Taylor Mali.

So Taylor shows up to the event and no one expected or asked him to perform (not like the little venue could afford his fee last minute ya know?) but… he was moved to share after watching a round of the slam. WAY TO GO TUCSON! Yeah, that’s my hometown. Uh-huh!

Honestly, I was WAY more fan gurl excited to meet Taylor Mali then when I met Saul Williams a year prior. So I was super excited when I got to be in the picture with him and my friend Aaron (an amazing poet in his own right). So… one random show up and a short conversation and a photograph later and TAYLOR MALI IS A SWELL GUY!

 

aaron - taylor mali and me

Me and my friend Aaron with Taylor Mali back in 2009 at the Ocotillo Poetry Slam in Tucson, AZ. Ed Mabrey was the feature and Taylor Mali showed up to support him and even performed even though he had originally said he wouldn’t. (!)

 

#WBW = Write Bloody Wednesday — #2: Everyone loves Buddy…

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Another installment in my new weekly series “Write Bloody Wednesday” to highlight the awesome poets whose work I absolutely LOVE. I think the only poet that I appreciate as much as Derrick C Brown has to be this guy: Buddy Wakefield.

From the Write Bloody website:

Buddy Wakefield

Wakefield is the two-time Individual World Poetry Slam Champion featured on NPR, the BBC, HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, and most recently signed to Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe Records.

So lets go back to that first night I saw Derrick C Brown… That same night another poet I had never heard of hit the stage: Buddy Wakefield. And again… I was BLOWN TOTALLY AWAY. For real. Seriously. There is no way to describe experiencing this man live in a great venue like Paper Heart. watching the video above does NOT even come close. Not at all. And yes, I bought another CD that night.

And if you read my last post, then you know the magic wasn’t over yet. Not by a long shot. I road tripped to Flagstaff, AZ the following night for a Saul Williams show and I got to see this miracle on stage again. It was a nearly magical performance that I wish had some youtube to go along with it to save it for posterity. Oh well… at least I got a picture with him that night!

4/20/2007 at the Orpheum in Flagtaff, AZ with Buddy Wakefield after the Saul Williams show

SIDE NOTE… Remember how I said Derrick Brown made me cry? Well, at that same time I was also listening to Buddy’s CD. Derrick’s CD relaxed me but Buddy’s CD had the opposite effect. When I was suffering in my heart break and I was tired of crying, I popped in Buddy’s CD and was healed of my affliction. Don’t ever forget: POETRY SAVES LIVES!

Picture with Buddy at his show in 2011

#WBW = Write Bloody Wednesday — #1: Derrick C Brown made me cry…

This is going to be a new weekly thing for me to highlight and share poets who’s work I admire. It just so happens that a lot of the poets I admire most are published by Write Bloody.

I may as well start with the big Kahuna of Write Bloody Derrick C Brown himself.

From the Write Bloody website:

Derrick Brown

DOB: 2/7/1973

Brown, former paratrooper for the 82nd Airborne, gondolier, magician, and fired weatherman, now travels the world and performs his written work. As a poet, he has toured or performed with indie rock act, Cold War Kids, The Flaming Lips and Comedian David Cross. About.com called his latest collection, Scandalabra, one of the best books of 2009. To date, Brown has performed at over 1500 venues and universities internationally including The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, All Tomorrow’s Parties, Glastonbury and La Sorbonne in Paris. He is the founder and Captain of Write Bloody publishing.

The first time I ever saw Derrick Brown I had never heard of him before in my life. I was supporting two things at once by showing up to the show he was performing at. #1 being my favorite Phoenix, AZ venue The Paper Heart and #2 being my favorite slam master Bob Nelson of Mesa, AZ founder of Anthology.org. I already LOVED the local poets and scene and really wasn’t expecting much from this Derrick guy… and then… HE TOTALLY BLEW ME AWAY!  I of course bought his CD (All Black Cinema if you were wondering) and as it so happened, he was one of the poets opening for Saul Williams show in Flagstaff that I was going to the following night. Turns out he isn’t just an AMAZING poet, but an all around cool guy. All of that happened back in 2007 and I have absolutely poetry stalked him ever since!

Me and my friend Kristin hanging with Derrick C Brown after the Saul Williams show 4/20/2007

OH! Almost forgot! I guess I should explain the title of this entry “Derrick C Brown made me cry” huh?

As I mentioned above I bought his CD All Black Cinema and played the heck out of it. His smooth voice was just so soothing it was the perfect way to unwind after work with a glass of 3 Buck Chuck from the Trader Joe’s up the street. Later that year I had some heart break and the soft almost melancholy tone of his poetry was too much to take and when I listened to it the effect was no longer relaxing but more throwing me deeper into the emotional pit I was already in. So OK…Derrick C Brown did not HIMSELF make me cry. but his poetry sure was a catalyst for emotional catharsis. Hey, sometimes you just gotta get it all out, right? And there you have it… The story of how Derrick C Brown made me cry.