PROFILE: The P.O.E. Reflects on His Week To Remember

Cytopoetics Events

James O. Brown, best known to local poetry aficionados as The P.O.E., had already established himself in the GTA poetry slam scene before National Poetry Month 2012 rolled around. A past member of the Burlington Slam Team, P.O.E. was a well known (poetically organized) entity who qualified for the finals at slams in both Burlington and Toronto by virtue of his ever-improving performance style.

But no one, least of all Brown, was prepared for what he managed to pull off last week. First, he claimed victory at the Burlington Slam Project $75 Slam on Thursday evening. Then he travelled down the QEW to participate in the Toronto Poetry Slam Finals on Friday night, where he claimed the Grand Slam Championship. Then the proverbial cherry on top came with an epic victory in the first annual edition of The Last Poet Standing on Saturday night.

After allowing him a…

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VIDEO times TWO: Performing 3 Cities and an Interview w D.I.V.A. Mag

Writing in a Tree

Way back in March, I blogged about performing at the Steam Whistle Brewery for a Literature for Life event called Voices. The wonderful people of D.I.V.A. Mag did an amazing job covering the event it’s from their website where I snatched these videos: One of me performing the poem 3 cities to a packed bar and the other, an interview alongside the amazing Jo Atilia, a dear friend and the founder of Literature for Life.

Warning: I speak really fast. A common symptom of being nervous

D.I.V.A. Magazine is an arts and culture magazine and online forum celebrating women of colour, founded by Trey Daley and Geena Lee. D.I.V.A. stands for diversity in video audio and arts. For more info, check out there website here and check out full coverage of the event here.

Over and out!

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Nodin Says…April 2012

Nodin is the youngest of my wolf pack…an exurbanite 6 year old who has started droppin’ sum knowledge on the verbal that actually has been school’n me. So I thought I would blog a series of monthly Nodin Says moments for my readers….

I was using goat milk soap in the bath:

Nodin: “if you use goat soap you will smell because goat soap come from goats. If you eat goat cheese or drink goats milk you will smell like goat”

Mom: “Why do babies have to grow up?”
Nodin: “To be like you.”

Carrying a heavy Nodin up the stairs for bed on my back:

Mom: “Oh god help me!”
Nodin: “God is helping you.”

After talking to the wolf pack about how hard I work:

Eldest Son: “Mom work puts food on the table.”

Nodin: “No, work doesn’t do nothing it just makes you tired.”

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It’s 2012 We Are Not Chief Wahoo!!

When I was a teacher candidate @ York U I had a placement at a suburban elementary school in the affluent Lawrence and Yonge area. The school lacked the visual diversity I was accustomed to during my middle school and HS years in Scar-Town. The minority group in this school were Jewish students. The majority group were Anglo-Saxon students. I was placed in a grade 5 class of 20 students, only two were of colour. With few teachers of colour on staff it was clear non-white cultural and historical identities were not being showcased or learned about. I soon changed that. One of the curricular focuses my classroom teacher asked me to examine with the kids was Media English. She knew I already had a BA from Ryerson in Radio & Television Arts. The first thing I taught the kids was how to write for radio. And specifically how to create editorials. I don’t think however the school administration was quite ready for the subject matter nor the method of delivery. I spent several sessions on exploring contemporary issues affecting First People’s. One of great interest to the students, especially the boys was the use of Native imaging in American sports teams. Yea those white kids woke up…they created an editorial segment on the use of these images and why it is inappropriate by reading their pieces during the morning announcements. This was the first time student voices were heard on the morning announcements at this school.

Fast forward ahead I’m starting Living Through the Arts Workshops for the RCM at Food Share. The focus is Anti-Oppression through Spoken Word. I was specifically brought in because youth in a summer internship program were regularly exchanging racial slurs and stereotyping each other to the point where things were escalating to physical violence and youth were starting to drop out.

In one of the first sessions we examined the top 10 most oppressive visual symbols in history. Amongst that top 10 were images such as the burning cross, confederate flag and the swastika. Also making this list was Chief Wahoo….I asked the youth participants to give me the first words that came to mind when they saw that image. Some of the words included:
Stupid, red skinned, foolish, disrespect to Native Americans….nobody said, “That’s an honorable Native Chief”….

Nevertheless the youth who was sporting the cap the first class didn’t want to sport it after that.

As a member of the Hip Hop community I see Chief Wahoo often on caps, jerseys and T’s. Everyone has a reason for wearing an “Indian Sambo”…whether their white, black, brown, yellow or red….

I’m still not down with Wahoo and maybe after reading this you’ll know why: Four Decades of Chief Wahoo!!

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Revelations

“Sometimes dreams are wiser than waking.”

Black Elk – Oglala Sioux

“The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us.”

Black Elk – Oglala Sioux

The Real Red Light District

For along time I must admit that even I associated sex trafficking with foreign parts of the world like, Asia, Africa, South America and Eastern Europe because of the media we get here in North America. Since getting some nishedumahcation from Jessica Yee around the exploitation of Native Women right here in Turtle Island, I realize how invisible this epidemic is in my own backyard. Is there a link to Residential School abuses and Native girls and women being sex trafficked? Many now argue yes. I came across this and it reopened that question for me. Have a read: our women caught in the traffic.

Connections

Humankind has not woven the web of life. We are but one thread within it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. All things are bound together. All things connect.

Chief Seattle, 1854