#WW = Writers’ Wednesday — #3: Ed Mabrey

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The series about poets I admire and respect continues! This week is the inevitable Ed Mabrey…

From Ed Mabrey’s website:

An accomplished poet, spoken word artist, writer, life coach, motivational speaker, comedian and actor, Ed Mabrey is driven by an incredible passion for creating experiences with every performance. His performances are often noted for their unique blend of passion, grace, creativity and fire. Ed has created characters that are unforgettable and experiences that prove to be life changing.

 

I am pretty sure the poem in this video is a FREESTYLE… Seriously Ed??? Yeah, he’s THAT dude…

So… Ed Mabrey…
I remember the first time I saw Ed Mabrey as a feature performer at the semi-monthly Downtown Phoenix slam hosted by local poet Jeremiah Blue. This guy… the video does NOT do him ANY kind of justice even as amazing as it is. Seriously. He has this deep booming voice that demands your attention from the first syllable and then has the audacity to have actual skill with his wordsmithing! He did the poem about a teddy bear that BLEW ME AWAY. He was immediately my favorite poet ever at that moment. I of course bought a CD (if you have been reading this series for any length of time then you know that if a poet is good, a CD purchase is mandatory).

Phoenix, AZ had the good fortune to have Ed move to our town and tear it up with his Black Pearl poetry shows. The very first venture was HUGE. It was a concert at the Herberger Theater downtown that just was way more than anyone expected from the new guy on the block. He followed that up with a weekly college open mic at the MADCAP theater in Tempe’s Mill Ave district which had the second highest consistent attendance in the valley with 70-80 people being a slow night and also his youth show on Friday nights at the Civic Park location of Fair Trade Cafe in downtown Phoenix. His coaching of the Phoenix slam team got them further at nationals than any team from Arizona had ever gone. With him on the team in 2009 we made it to the top 10!

Basically, this guy is an amazing poet and knows his stuff. If you have not heard him, then you really need to click the link and youtube search this guy and then I know you will want to buy his book and or CDs. Seriously. No, really.

Since the only Ed pics I have are pretty silly… I figured I would put a professional looking pic here first!

After a Black Pearl show in 2009. Shenanigans at IHOP with that night’s feature Kevin Sandbloom, me, BP staffers Randi and Elly and of course the ever serious poet Ed Mabrey between them.

And the fun continues!

Writers Wednesday — #2: Saul Williams

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Continuing the “Writers Wednesday” series with yet another poet who I have the utmost respect for: SAUL WILLIAMS   … Yes, his name is ALL CAPS worthy. If you don’t believe me, you just have not listened to enough poetry but specifically enough of his poetry. I mean he was on DEF POETRY JAM among many other things! (check the video below)

From Saul William’s website:
“Who I am and what I do seems to vary by mod, mood, and mode of expression. I write. I act. I perform. Most of the labels that are projected onto me are seldom how I would choose to refer to myself. Yet, regardless of how much I might dodge classification, the one label that I tote freely is that of being an artist. And it is the art of self expression that has heightened my experience on this planet and fueled my understanding of love, compassion, and humanity.”


The first time I ever heard of Saul Williams was back in 2004 when I found out that a poet that lived here in Phoenix at the time who I think is absolutely BRILLIANT said that he was very much influenced by Saul Williams. Once I heard that, I searched for all things Saul to immerse myself in his writing. He used to have a monthly or so email of one of his new poems (or maybe they were just new to me) and
I LOVED IT!!! So GOOD! Seriously.

When Saul Williams started focusing on his music, I kind of fell off the Saul Williams bandwagon. That didn’t stop me from buying a ticket to the show he did in Flagstaff,AZ in April 2007. I could have went to meet him then, but I was having too much fun with Derrick Brown and Buddy Wakefield at the time (Check my archive for those posts). I was still not back on the bandwagon after that show, but after the next show I saw him at in Tempe, AZ in 2008. At this show I had a chance to observe him behind the scenes while I waited for my friend to finish taking down the stage equipment. That close proximity (even though we didn’t really interact) rekindled my interest in his work.

Fast forward from 2008 to 2012… I somehow got it in my head that my goal would be to perform on the same stage as Saul Williams. HOW? Heck if I know but I got that bug in my brain and fortunately for me the opportunity came up when a show was scheduled in Phoenix, AZ at my favorite local book store. I submitted my info to the promotion company and I GOT TO BE ONE OF THE OPENERS FOR SAUL WILLIAMS!

This was the serious high point of my career up to that point and I have been somewhat on hiatus since then while I prepare to sail around the world with a friend (click to see the Emuna Endeavor wordpress). That show was also great because it had been YEARS since I had heard his poetry and I realized again why I was SO enthralled with his work back in 2004. Such a great night! Check out my grin in the pic below if you don’t believe me! ^_^

Me and Saul Williams back stage at his November 2012 show at Lawn Gnome  Bookstore in Phoenix AZ

Writers Wednesday — #1: Malcolm-Jamal Warner

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OK so I was doing “Write Bloody Wednesday” and I highlighted my absolute faves from Write Bloody Publishing but not ALL of my favorite poets are with them… so… starting a NEW weekly series of just writers I appreciate regardless of who publishes them (if they even are published). I figured I would start with Malcolm-Jamal Warner since I happened to have met him back in October 2006.

Of course Mr Warner is mostly an actor first, and a musician second with poetry just as an additional outlet for his creativity, but that doesn’t stop me from putting him on this list!

From Malcolm-Jamal Warner’s website:

“It’s funny, people aren’t so much surprised that I have a band as much as they are that we’re good,” chuckles Malcolm-Jamal Warner, contemplating the buzz surrounding his jazz/funk band, Miles Long. Having performed to packed houses on the LA club circuit, playing in several jazz festivals, and opening for high profile acts such as Earl Klugh and Luther Vandross, Warner has finally released the debut EP, “…the miles long mixtape..” Warner comfortably and convincingly leads his crew through several head- bobbing tunes with heavy bass grooves (electric and upright) and dynamic spoken word.

 

 

So from that blurb above, exchange “have a band” to “do spoken word” and that about sums up my surprise at seeing Malcolm-Jamal Warner on Def Poetry Jam! I had watched him on The Cosby Show when I was a teen and later I watched Malcolm and Eddie and I streamed Jeremiah on Netflix when I found it. (I forgot what I was originally searching for but it was a great find!)

I was thrilled when local host Divine Muhammad brought him to my favorite venue Paper Heart for a one man poetry show. Of course Mr Warner put on an excellent show and I bought his CD. He was very low key and down to earth so taking the picture with him didn’t have the OMG SUPER STAR TIME WOW feel that I expected. All in all it was a great night!

 

Me and Malcolm-Jamal Warner October 2006 at the Paper Heart gallery

SIDE NOTE… I kind of miss the days when everyone was using MySpace because he was much more approachable back then. Ah well…